Civil government is of God. “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). It is not of the devil as Jehovah’s Witnesses say. Governments often become corrupt, but the principle and institution of civil government is right. Homes also can become corrupt, but the home as an institution of God is good and right.
God in His providence works in nations. “He removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Dan. 2:21). “The most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17). God raised up Pharaoh (Exod 9:16) and used Nebuchadnezzar as His servant (Jer. 25:9).
Christians owe government their obedience. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors…” (I Pet. 2:13-14). We are to “be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates” (Titus 3:1). Only when civil law transgresses God’s law do we have the right to refuse to obey government (Acts 5:29). Otherwise, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” (Rom. 13:1).
Christians owe governments taxes. “For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues…” (Rom. 13:6-7). Jesus said “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21).
Christians owe government their prayers. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty” (I Tim. 2:1-2). Signed petitions may get the attention of lawmakers, but no petitions are as important as those which Christians make to God for the safety of their land.
Governments owe citizens protection from evil men. Civil authorities exist “for the punishment of evildoers” ( I Pet. 2:14). God warns, “If thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Rom. 13:4). These authorities have the power to fine, imprison, punish corporally or punish capitally evildoers according to the severity of their crime. The sword of Roman 13:4 authorizes everything from the policemen’s pistol to cruise missiles when these weapons are used to execute those who would take the lives of innocent citizens.
Governments owe citizens praise for doing good. Authorities exist “for the praise of them that do well” (I Pet. 2:14). “Do that which is good,” Paul said, “and thou shalt have praise” from the government (Rom. 13:3). As far as obligations to God are concerned, government owes us these two things—the punishment of evildoers and the praise of them that do well. If there are other obligations they have before God, these would have to come from other Scriptures or from the fact that the government is bound by its own word to deliver what it promised.
A government must respect the moral law of God to truly prosper. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34). “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted” (Psa. 12:8). “It is an abomination to kings to commit wickedness; for the throne is established by righteousness” (Prov. 16:12).