Did God Tell Us to Stay Out of Politics?July 1, 2020 Save Article
What does God say about Christian citizenship—our responsibilities, our duties, our rights? Is the Bible against our participation in politics? Would God ordain human government, then tell His people to stay out of it? What are Christians to do and think about participating in politics?
Many Christians have simply dropped out of government, seeing involvement as supporting “the social gospel.” There’s only one Gospel—the saving Gospel of the blood of Jesus Christ. But many activists have substituted culture for Calvary, and some Christians fear if we get involved in politics, all we’re doing is making the world a better place to go to Hell from.
Others drop out because they’ve given up hope, saying America has crossed the point of no return. They’re just waiting for Jesus to come rescue them.
Some see politics as dirty—it would defile them: “Our kingdom is not of this world, so we’ll just stay away.”
Some are intimidated by the ACLU, prating “separation of church and state.” Cowering believers think because we’re Christians, we have no rights—we’re disenfranchised. The ACLU says, “Why don’t you shut up? Go back inside your little stained-glass prisons. Leave it to us.”
What’s the truth here? Will we allow self-serving politicians to co-opt the church, using us for their purposes, or intimidate the church so they can have their way? Are politicos going to dictate what’s right or wrong? Will we get the answers from humanists and secularists who don’t believe in Christ? From egg-headed philosophers telling us what they think?
No—we’ll get the answers right here in the Word of God. Our question isn’t “Should we be involved in government issues?” but “Can we be a Christian and not be involved?”
Romans 13:1-7 speaks clearly about Christian citizenship. We’re going to look at it from two aspects.
God’s Reasons for Human Government
God ordains human government.
"The authorities that exist are appointed by God." (Romans 13: 1)
"He removes kings and sets up kings." (Daniel 2:21)
God sets rulers up and brings rulers down. Sometimes they’re wicked. A prime example is Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel told him where his power came from: "You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory…." (Daniel 2:37)
Yet Nebuchadnezzar was far from godly. In fact, he got so full of himself that God judged him, and he ended up crawling around on all fours, eating grass. God raised him up but had to bring him down.
Pharaoh was another—a wicked, malevolent murderer of little babies. But of Pharaoh, Romans 9:17 says, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth."
Pilate was a weak-willed politician who didn’t have the moral courage to release Jesus; he washed his hands of Him. Jesus said to him, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above." (John 19:11)
All three were wicked, yet God allowed them to rule. When Paul wrote Romans 13, Caesar was the authority in Rome. Christians were disenfranchised. Christianity was illegal because they wouldn’t say “Caesar is Lord.” Still, the apostle wrote in verse one, “The authorities that be are ordained of God.”
God ordains human government for two reasons:
First, to restrain evil.
"Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves." (Romans 13:2)
Since no law on earth can make you moral, we have to legislate against immorality. No law can make you honest, so we have laws to keep you from stealing. Law can’t make you good, only God can make you good. Government is here to restrain evil.
Second, to reward good.
"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same." (Romans 13:3)
Our Constitution’s framers were soaked in the Word of God. They wrote that government is to “Promote the general welfare,” not “provide the general welfare,” and to “provide for the common defense.” Where did they get such wisdom? Right out of the Scriptures.
What are our rights and responsibilities according to Scripture?
Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. (Romans 13:5-7)
When some religious leaders tried to trap Jesus with the political question, “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar,” He answered, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). This passage is key to understanding our responsibilities as citizens. The framers of our Constitution knew this. Far from “separation of church and state”—which is not in the Constitution—they wrote, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” That’s exactly what Jesus was saying. The framers knew our rights come not from government but from God, and you don’t separate government from God, for He ordained it.
Government must be free to restrain evil, so the church can be free to preach the Gospel. The church is not the servant of the state, not the master of the state, but the conscience of the state. We’re here to uphold the standard of truth.
Requirements of Christian Citizenship
Jesus paid His taxes; you should pay yours. Ever-increasing taxes are a burden. When half the people get the idea they don’t have to work because the other half will take care of them, and the other half gets the idea it’s no use to work because somebody else gets what they work for, that government is on its last legs. Excessive taxes are sinful and dangerous. But we are to pay for our government.
2. Pray for your government. 1 Timothy 2:1-3
Should I pray for my leader if he’s wicked? Pray for him all the more! God can change a ruler, remove a ruler, or overrule a ruler.
"The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water. He turns it wherever He wishes." (Proverbs 21:1)
The greatest responsibility in America is not in the White House but in the church house: to pray for our leaders.
3. Praise your government.
When our government is good, praise it.
"Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king." (1 Peter 2:17)
Patriotism, love of the fatherland, is not wrong.
4. Preach to your country.
God’s people dare not be silent. Nor should we dare identify the Christian faith with either the Democrat or Republican party. We need to tell both to repent and get right with God. We’ll be civil, but we won’t be silent.
Nathan warned David. Elijah preached to Ahab. Eleazar warned Jehoshaphat. Daniel preached to Nebuchadnezzar. Moses warned Pharaoh. John the Baptist preached to Herod. As long as government legalizes killing babies, practicing infanticide, and trying to normalize sexual perversion, I won’t be silent. We must say to government, “Whatever is morally wrong is not politically right!”
5. Participate in your government.
Our government is “of the people, by the people, for the people.” If you don’t participate, get informed, and vote, you’re disobeying the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 22:21). It’s inconceivable that God would ordain human government, then tell His people to stay out of it. Who does that leave to run it? Christians must participate not on the basis of parties, persons, or politics, but principles.
6. Persuade your government.
We’re not here to start riots or kill unbelievers. We’re a republic, representative rule by law. All America is based on public opinion. The only hope for America is to change public opinion. And the only thing that can change public opinion is the Word of God. We’ve got to proclaim the Bible. We’re not going to out-argue the lost. They’re blind, they don’t see it. They’ve got to know Jesus Christ. We’re to persuade people, taking them back one at a time, winning souls to Jesus Christ.
That’s where the power is. It’s not political influence we need, it’s the power of God. If we change America, we’ll change politics.
Pray for America right now: “Oh, God, bless America. Lord, we deserve judgment, but we need mercy. Bring this nation, Lord, back to You. Maybe the crises we see today are tokens of Your love to bring us to our knees. God, we need You in America.”
If you would like to discover Jesus, we would love for you to listen to this message by Pastor Adrian Rogers.