Are Believers Allowed to Ignore Civil Authorities?

Pastor Hammond

Recently, I crossed paths with a car that was speeding down Main Street in Trumbull.  “Doesn’t that guy care about speed limits?,” I thought.   “How can he drive with so little regard for the safety of others?” Of course, I too am guilty of less than ideal driving at times.   What does the Bible say about obedience to laws?  

In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, God calls Christians to exercise both lawfulness and love.   In Romans chapter 13, Paul writes, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.”  All believers are called to submit to our civil authorities – and to the laws that they institute. Of course, that includes speed limits.   Obeying the speed limit has a practical value.  But Paul also offers spiritual reasons for submitting to the law.  He write, “For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”  The authorities who write our laws are appointed by God; they are part of His plan.   Consequently, when we choose to break the law, we necessarily choose to disobey God.  “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God,” writes Paul. 

Interestingly, the Bible says that each of our local leaders is a “minister of God,” (Romans 13:4).  God uses them for His purposes. And Christians who willingly submit to their authority are blessed with a clear conscience (Ro. 13:5).

Paul continues by encouraging believers to be obedient in several specific areas of civil life, including paying our taxes and rendering “honour” to our leaders.  “For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing,” writes Paul.  “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” 

In Romans 13, Paul also reminds us that we're  called to exercise love toward our neighbors.  "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the (Old Testament) law," (13:10).   When I choose to drive lawfully, I'm also choosing to exercise love toward my neighbors!

Given all of the above, I must ask myself if I would ever break the law.  The pray that the only law that I would willfully  break is a law that would be overtly contray to the Bible.  I would break a law that prevented me from carrying out any part of the great commission:  sharing the gospel, baptizing believers and teaching them to obey the entire Bible.

Today, let’s pray that the LORD will help us set a good example by obeying our local, state and federal laws – let’s live lawfully for Christ and for our neighbors.


On Wednesday nights at 7:00 PM we're studying through Paul's epistle to the Romans.