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A Biblical View of Government

By Dr. Charles Stanley

What perspective should Christians have towards human authority? Should believers pay taxes? The followers of Jesus wondered these very things in the first century. Let's look at what the Bible says about officials and other leaders.

A. The Lord ordains all authority.

Leaders rise to power only through the will of God. Daniel 2:21 says that the Lord "changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings." Read Daniel 5:1-31.

  • What did both Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar have in common before God punished them?
  • How did king Nebuchadnezzar's attitude change after his mind was restored to him?
  • Why do you think God's judgment was more severe on Belshazzar than on his father?

We frequently attribute a political candidate's success to his or her ambition, education, campaign strategy, popularity, or financial backing. But no one is placed in public office apart from the will of God. Sometimes the Lord deliberately selects a person to accomplish His purposes. Other times, His permissive will grants people the leader they demand.

Israel insisted on having an earthly king. Read the story in 1 Samuel 8:4-20.

  • What were some of the burdens a king would place on the people?

There will always be a cost associated with demanding the leader of our choice.

B. What respect is due to human authority?

Given that leaders don't always honor God with their choices, should Christians still respect their position of authority? In general, yes. Jesus Himself indicated that believers should be subject to secular authorities.

  • Read Matthew 22:17-22. When the Jewish leaders tried to trick Jesus into sounding as if He was rebelling against Rome, how did He answer them?
  • What does this indicate about whether or not believers should pay taxes?

The apostle Paul also affirmed the authority of the Roman government—a totalitarian dictatorship that often persecuted Christians and Jews.

  • Read Romans 13:1-7. For what reasons are we to be in subjection to secular authorities (vv. 1-5)?
  • According to verses 5-7, why should we pay taxes?

This passage includes more than just the governmental authorities; it can be expanded to include all those in leadership over us.

  • List a few of the authorities over you, whether at home, work, or school.
  • According to Romans 13:7, what do you owe these people?

However, there are times when believers must disobey human authority. If the law of the land contradicts clear biblical teaching, we are to obey God's Word instead.

  • Explain why the apostles chose not to follow the instructions of the Jewish religious leaders in Acts 5:27-29.
  • List a few circumstances under which you would be justified in choosing to disobey governmental or other human authority in order to obey God.

C. Leaders are accountable to God.

When you find yourselves subject to ungodly leaders, remember that everyone—including those in positions of authority—will one day answer to God (Rom 14:11-12).

  • What are some reasons why we should we submit to leadership within the body of Christ (Heb. 13:17)?
  • When anyone—including a leader––becomes prideful and arrogant, what does the Bible predict will result (Prov. 29:23)?

God rewards authority figures who humbly look to Him for strength, guidance, and wisdom. Those who are overconfident He will eventually humble and punish––if not in this life, then at the judgment.

D. We are called to pray for leaders.

Read 1 Timothy 2:1-3.

  • How does Paul instruct Timothy to speak to God about authorities?
  • What will be the result?
  • Do you faithfully pray for government officials and others in leadership? If not, what hinders you?

Here are some suggestions on how to intercede for elected officials. You can pray that they would:

  1. Recognize their personal sinfulness and need for the cleansing power of Jesus Christ, if they aren't already saved.

  2. Become aware of their inadequacy for the tasks before them, and pray for God's wisdom, knowledge, understanding, and courage.

  3. Reject all counsel that violates the spiritual principles of Scripture, and be willing to trust divine guidance.

  4. Resist the pressure of those who would mislead them or tempt them to violate their consciences and the will of God.

  5. Work to reverse the cultural trends of humanism, which deifies man and dethrones God.

  6. Ready themselves to abandon their political careers and personal ambitions if this is in the best interest of our country.

  7. Rely upon the Word of God and prayer as their primary sources of strength and success.

  8. Maintain dignity, honor, trustworthiness, and righteousness in their offices.

  9. Strive to be good examples to the people of this land.

  10. Remember that while they are in office, they are accountable to God for their attitudes, actions, and motives.

Closing: Whether we approve of their decisions or not, the authorities in our lives have been appointed by God. As long as their commands do not violate scriptural principles or our conscience, we have a responsibility to obey them. And no matter what, we are always called to honor and pray for our leaders.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the privilege of lifting up those in authority over me. Convict me when I criticize and complain instead of taking my concerns to You in prayer. Make me into a prayer warrior for this nation, so that believers may practice their faith peacefully. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Copyright 2014 In Touch Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved. www.intouch.org. In Touch grants permission to print for personal use only.


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  • March 23, 2013 11:43 AM

    by

    Definetly like this. Thank you for reminding us.
  • March 04, 2013 04:13 AM

    by

    Love this study. Some years ago the Lord told me that I had problems with authority. He took me through a season of teaching me hoe to properly respect and approach authority from how He sees things. The lesson that I learned was when I disrespect authority, I am actually disrespecting Him(something that I don't want or need in my life) and I thank Him for the lesson. I may not agree with all that I see but now instead of being rebellious, I allow God to deal with it. Hes bigger than me, so let Him do what He does best which is handle His creation as He sees fit to do.
  • January 03, 2013 11:26 AM

    by

    I as a leader am reminded to pray for my comrades in the Ministry, places of authority and our Government. I appreciate your Godly stand and wonderful insight.
    pastor G
  • January 02, 2013 01:02 PM

    by

    ive alsways prayed for our leaders because i know what the bible said. i dont depend on them for my survival i depend on the lord to bring me through trials. i respect them but i dont worship them like we are doing.i always pray to God for everything. thank you rev stanley for the great job youre doing to help us to get closer to God and not the world to help us . may God continue to bless you
  • October 29, 2012 10:40 PM

    by

    Thank you so much for reminding me to pray for those who lead us.
  • September 17, 2012 10:18 AM

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    Our Heavenly Father has indeed addressed every issue for our earthly lives. I am particularly grateful for His faithful servants, such as Dr. Stanley. Thank God for those who always set God and His truth before us. May God continually bless Dr. Stanley, his family and all who labor with him at In Touch to keep us in touch with The Lord. Thank you all, your labor is not in vain.
  • September 04, 2012 07:34 AM

    by

    Thank you Mr. Stanley for your wonderful teachings. I pray that the Lord continues to bless you so that you may continue to bless the rest of us
  • August 24, 2012 03:33 PM

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    Glory and honor to the most high God
  • August 22, 2012 09:48 AM

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    I myself is a leader. But I did not realize that I am accountable to God. Thanks for having this website. Busy leaders like me are given another option to study God's words, while we are surrounded by so many works and pressures. May I suggest? Maybe it would also be helpful if you could write something about rebels and insurgents. Primarily they would use God and his words to encourage people to join their cause. But the utmost principle, belief of their group is that they do not believe in God, and, instead, they believe of what they call dialectic materialism (its found in most communist books/references) Thank you very much.
  • July 23, 2012 09:05 PM

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    How about appointed leaders in governemnt offices like our respective supervisors how should we treat them?
  • June 05, 2012 10:53 AM

    by

    you said that leaders rise to power only by the will of God, but I thought that the leaders was of the world, and God instructed us to get out of the world and do not indulge in worldly politics.
  • May 18, 2012 10:49 AM

    by

    Though i heard this before, i still took time to read this not for me to remember but for me not to forget...
  • May 17, 2012 11:40 PM

    by

    am so bless with this truth..
  • May 10, 2012 12:51 PM

    by

    I was not sure about our leaders and what was my part towards them. I have complained and been very angered at how our government officials are running our country and tearing it down. They are taking our Lord God out of every aspect of nation. It's difficult to swallow that I should pray first for them, but since I have looked up the reference verses in the Bible, I feel I now know what my next steps should be.
    Thank you Dr. Stanley & In Touch Ministries
    Robbin Harris
  • April 30, 2012 11:06 PM

    by

    This is absolutely wonderful. I knew that I should be praying for leaders but I don't. I will now pray in lieu of criticism.

    May God bless you richly.
  • April 29, 2012 11:27 AM

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    may God bless you and your ministry Dr. Stanley. Thank you so so much...
  • April 20, 2012 09:42 AM

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    Thank you for these reminders. In so many ways it appears the world has gone mad. I;m sure this is history repeating itself. Prayer is the only real answer and knowing we have a loving God that will never abandon us is our hope. I know we are not to know the time of the second coming, but I pray it is soon, to me it does not make sense anymore, when people are fighting each other in ways that are not even honorable.

    God bless our leaders, God bless our Nation. Instead of fear we should have faith,instead of doubt, we should have assurance .
  • March 19, 2012 06:22 PM

    by

    I am so glad that God appoints our leaders for His purpose and time. I believe in my heart that sometimes someone will be put in office to show us and to teach us how unstable our country can become when we do not pray for His guidance and protection over us, to seek His direction, and to pray for those He has appointed as authorities over us that they will seek His guidance and lead us in peace and unity as One Nation Under God. I think that all our leaders are good people but some are without wisdom. I pray for all our leaders. I pray for our peace and protection and for the peace of Israel. Sharen.H.
  • March 16, 2012 10:43 PM

    by

    So often we only pray for ourselves and do not pray for those in authority. It is such a good reminder that The bible told us to pray for them. Let's obey. God will bless our country.

  • July 08, 2010 06:06 PM

    by

    that is beautiful and so amazinfg that some odf us did not know we were to pray for our leaders. thank you

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