Submitting to Governing Authorities

November 5, 2023 Preacher: Michael Clary Series: First Peter

Scripture: 1 Peter 2:13–17

Good morning church. It is good seeing all of you here today. And if I haven't met you yet, my name is Michael. I'm the lead pastor here and I would love to have a chance to meet you after the service if you're around. So, I'll be hanging out in the cafe. We're doing a series in the book of First Peter; a big theme is hope in the midst of suffering.

And over the next three weeks, we're going to be talking about submitting to various kinds of God ordained authorities. And today in particular, we'll be looking at submitting to governing authorities, submitting to governing authorities. And the timing is really interesting because we have an election coming up in two days on Tuesday.

And I didn't plan it this way. It just happened to be that this was the text that we would be hitting right around this time. And it just happens to coincide with an election. But I see that as God's timing so that we can talk about what our responsibility is as citizens in this society.

The American system is unique in that we're self-governed and we don't have rulers over us the way other nations in history have had. We elect representatives instead. And that means, biblically speaking, we all bear the sword collectively. We all possess this authority as the people, as a self-governed nation.

So, we as the people, we have a voice and a vote in our government and the way that we are governed. And that also means that in our system of government where the people have the authority, we are both in authority and under authority. At the same time, we are in authority, and we are under authority at the same time.

So, when it comes to governing authority throughout history, it seems to oscillate between two extremes. Between tyranny on the one hand and anarchy on the other hand. And we see these, these shifts that oscillate between those two. So, tyranny is a corrupted authority where someone abuses power to control and oppress and dominate other people.

But on the other extreme, you have anarchy, which is rejected authority, where people reject and overthrow it, and everyone becomes a law unto themselves. And the Bible warns against both of these things. So, Pharaoh, in the book of Exodus, he was an evil tyrant, who oppressed the people of God, and yet God delivered them from his tyrannical rule.

And then later, after God's people had been set free, and God had established them in the land, in the book of Judges, God's people, they wanted to cast off the rule of God. And so, they went in the more anarchy direction. They rejected God's rule, and the book of Judges says, In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

So, what we see in scripture is that governing authority is a good thing. It's a good that even though it is corrupted by sin, it's an essential feature of the created order. Now, God is the ultimate authority, but God appoints human rulers, human authorities to govern on his behalf. And they are appointed to settle disputes and to provide justice and to enforce law.

So, whenever as Christians we are in authority, our duty is to govern in the love of Christ. According to the law of God. And that's what we, we will do this Tuesday. Whenever we go to the polls for election day, we are going to exercise a right, a voice, a vote that we have in our system of government where we are, we are exercising rule as a, as a corporate body.

We are exercising rule, in the way that we vote. And that's why we encourage you to, to, to vote according to the law of God. Vote according to what is Christian and biblical. So, that's when we are in authority. But whenever Christians are under authority, our duty is to submit to governing authorities as unto the Lord, unless it conflicts with the law of God, and at that time, we are required to resist it.

So, in our system of government, we are both in authority, and we are under authority, and every citizen has the authority to vote, and that's an important responsibility. And then whenever we are under authority, every Christian has the responsibility to submit to that authority. Today, we're talking about the submitting to authority part.

And that's the focus of our text. How Christians should submit to governing authority that God has placed over us. So, let's dig in. We're in 1 Peter chapter 2. First Peter, chapter two, and we're going to look at verses 13 through 17 in first Peter, chapter two, starting here in verse 13, be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil, and to praise those who do good.

Now we'll, we'll pause here for a second and we'll talk about these two verses. We're going to cover verses 13 through 17 today. First two verses be subject, be subject for the, for the Lord's sake to every human institution. The word be subject. The force of this command is self-evident. We should be law abiding citizens.

That's, that's our Christian responsibility, to be law abiding citizens. Christians should submit to governing authorities. Christians should obey the law, even when we don't want to. And that's, that's the trick, right? We don't always want to submit, and yet that's what we're required to do as Christians.

Why is that? So, let's look here. He tells us here, be subject, and then here is why. For the Lord's sake, to every human institution. We submit because it is a reflection of our faith. We are submitting to governing authorities out of reverence for Christ. So, submission to human authority should be rendered as service unto Christ.

Disobedience, therefore, to human authority is disobedience to Christ. Even when the authority is evil and pagan. And we'll flesh this out as we go along. And so, we have to keep this in mind. The government that Peter is referring to is the same government that crucified our Lord. That crucified Jesus.

And that's the greatest injustice that's ever been committed. So, at least, this means something. This text means something. And so, at the very least, it means that we have to submit to things that we don't like. That's how submission works. Now, you might think, well, the laws are wrong, and the government is wrong.

I'm sure Peter knew that. Peter was aware of that. That may be so, but God requires us to submit anyway, even though we may not like it. Because here's the thing. Most of the time, a bad and corrupt government is better than no government at all. And most of the time, anarchy is worse than tyranny. So, we need some sense of authority to provide order.

This does not mean that we have to comply in every single thing they might require of us, and we'll flesh that out as we go along, but we do need to comply in most things. Because we're told here, be subject to every human institution. And then he gives a few examples, the emperor, supreme, or a governing, a local governor or something like that.

But that is, that is what we're called to do. Now here's, here's why I say it this way, in my view, our government in the United States is becoming increasingly corrupt and it's overbearing and there's a lot of injustice. There's a lot of things that our government does that is, that is unfair. And I don't like it.

Maybe you feel the same way. And so, you have some Christians, conservative Christians like myself, we object to this and we're right to do so. There's nothing wrong with raising an objection to not liking the way that our government is behaving. And we're right to do so because, at least in our system of government, they are accountable to us as the people.

And so, it's like that we are not ruled over by, by these autocratic leaders. We are, we appoint representatives who are supposed to represent us in a governing body, but we don't have rulers. And so, we have a responsibility to hold them accountable. Our rights as citizens should not be used as a coverup for evil.

And we'll look at the text that talks about this in a moment. We can't, we can't allow the fact that we are the ones who would hold government accountable. We cannot use that as a coverup for evil, as a way to, to do bad, to, to rebel against the government. So, we need to, as Christians, we need to resist the temptation to turn our legitimate rights as citizens into some form of rebellion against authority.

So, Peter is establishing the principle that as Christians, we are to be subject to human institutions for the Lord's sake. We do it not for the sake of the ruler. We do it for the sake of the Lord to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance. So, just to give you an example, I mean, I think that our government taxes people unjustly.

And they confiscate people's money to fund pet projects that politicians have. I think that's wrong. And so, it's tempting then to justify cheating on your taxes if you have the opportunity to do so. And you think, well, that's theft. Taxation is theft. You know, don't tread on me. You know, you can have some kind of a mindset.

It's like, I'm going to reject this, this authority that I think is wrong. I think it is unjust. And so, we just have this rebellious mindset because we think the authority is wrong. And the authority, I think, is wrong. But that doesn't give us the right to rebel against it in a sinful way. And there are a lot of, a lot of ways that people can cheat on their taxes to get away with, with sinning against it.

I talked to, Alex earlier this week, or sent me a, it was a text message, but he told me a story of somebody that he knew that bought a car from an individual. And when you buy a car from an individual, you, you go to the BMV and you register the vehicle, and then they'll ask you on the title what the sale price was.

And you, the guy who, who sold the car, or maybe it was the guy that bought the car, I don't know which, but the guy that, he, he put the sale price, I guess it was the guy, was it the guy buying the car, wasn't it? Yeah, the guy buying the car. He put the sale price on the title and then you have to pay sales tax on the purchase price of the vehicle.

So, if you're like, well I think this is corrupt and unjust, I bought it for a dollar, and I'll pay taxes on that. And there's not, since you bought it from an individual, there's not the same kind of a paper trail where you can track that down. So, it is an easy way for somebody to cheat on their taxes if they wanted to.

So, whenever this guy went to register the vehicle, he couldn't recall the exact sale price. And so, he put down the number that he remembered, and registered the car and he paid the taxes and so on. But later he realized, you know what, I was incorrect about that. I actually had the wrong number. And he's a Christian.

He's a man of integrity. And he's a man that would take a text like this seriously. So, he went back into the BMV. He went back up to the window and told the person at the counter, I underrepresented what I paid for that vehicle. I owe you more taxes. And the person at the window was like, I won't say nothing.

Go on out of here. You know, don't worry about it. And the guy was like, no, I need to do this because this, this is a man who takes seriously his duty to submit to the governing authorities. He was submitting to a law that he might've thought was unjust. But he did it as to the Lord. He didn't do it because he's just so, eager to give more money to the government that's probably just going to spend it on some stupid project and waste it.

He did it because he loves the Lord Jesus. And so, when he was in there, he was paying taxes because it was an act of worship and service to the Lord. And that's the way that we need to approach this as Christians. All right, verse 15, for this is the will of God that by doing good, you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Let's pause here for a bit. Christianity was not popular in the first century. Whenever Peter wrote this book, a first Peter, there was lots of slander and accusations, false accusations against Christians. I read in one commentary this week, here's a quote, it says Christians were often charged with spreading disloyalty against the government, of disrupting trade, and of all manner of shocking practices including cannibalism and incest.

That's what they thought of Christians. Now, these are pretty serious charges. If that's what a group of people's doing, then certainly, those are, those are people you don't want to have a thing to do with. You want to avoid them. And that's, that's the kind of rumors and lies that were being spread around about Christians.

But at least some of those charges could be attributed to the ignorance of fools, right? The ignorance of foolish people. And Peter says we can put them to silence by doing good. And that's God's will for us. So, we have foolish people ignorantly making false accusations against Christians. And Peter says there's a way that you can put them to silence.

Now whenever these people were accused of incest, there's a, there's an obvious response to that. We call each other brother and sister in Christ, not because we are literally brothers and sisters. So, if you have a husband and wife that are brother and sister in Christ, some foolish ignorant person could say, ah, that's incest.

He married his sister. He's like, no, I married my sister in Christ. That's why they thought that they were guilty of incest. What about cannibalism? Well, every week, whenever we come up to the table, we are eating what Jesus called the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. For cannibals, we come up to the table and we're eating the Jesus and we're drinking his blood.

It sounds like some weird cult ritual where that's all satanic and demonic. And it's like, no, this is, it's a symbol. It's a symbol of, of our, of our union with Christ and his sacrifice. And we do this in remembrance of him, but ignorant fools don't know that. So, there's a way to respond to some of these charges.

But the charge of sedition, of disloyalty to the government, that was a more serious charge is more difficult to deal with that. And it was more difficult to deal with because of what is called the emperor cult, the emperor cult, which is basically the fact that Roman citizens worshiped. the emperor. They worshipped Caesar. They were required to do so.

So, I'll give you some examples of this. In the year 29 BC, so, this is before the time of Christ, 29 BC the Romans built a temple honoring Julius Caesar as a god and later Caesars followed suit and they started to, to kind of pick up on this tradition of seeing their, their right to rule as divine and themselves as divine.

Whenever Rome would conquer some foreign land, they would take this public announcement that they would nail and nail on a, you know, in a public place where everybody could read it. And on this sign that would be in this conquered land, it would be these words. They would say salvation is to be found and none other save Augustus.

And there is no other name given to men in which they can be saved. That's what the Roman government would post on a conquered land and towards a conquered people. And the idea was that you're conquered now, it's like, we're in charge here. Now if you want to be saved, the way that you can be saved is by proclaiming Caesar is Lord.

And you can, then you can receive the salvation of the benevolent governance of Rome. And that's, that's how, that's how people would receive salvation is by proclaiming Caesar is Lord. And if you don't recognize that language, it's almost identical to what the Apostle Peter preached in Acts chapter four.

When he said, there's no other name given under heaven in which men may be saved, but the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was explicitly referencing this idea that Caesar is not Lord, Jesus Christ is Lord by virtue of his resurrection, because he is God, not Caesar. But this emperor cult was very common in this time, and they, they saw it as an act of citizenship.

It was your duty as a citizen to not only be, you know, faithful to the government, but also to worship the Emperor as divine. In fact, one of the Caesars, Octavian, he changed his name to Augustus, and that's the title. The name Augustus is a title of supreme majesty and reference, and then he would circulate currency, and on the coins, there was the name Caesar Augustus, divine son of God.

So, he was regarded as a divine human mediator between the nation of Rome and the gods and Caesar was this mediator between heaven and earth. Caesar Augustus even offered sacrifices to the gods. This is the emperor cult, this is the culture of Rome, and this is the context into which Peter writes this letter telling them, submit to governing authorities.

So, what's going on there? The point here is that In, in ancient Rome, politics was religion, and emperor worship was a civic duty. And those who refused to worship the emperor was open, at least to the charge of sedition. And that's a serious charge. It's treasonous. That's the very charge that got Jesus crucified.

Now obviously Christians aren't going to worship the emperor and Peter would not have them do so. And, but if they refuse to do so, that at least leaves them open to this serious charge. They're vulnerable to the charge of sedition. And so, you have some Christians who might have felt that. Open rebellion was the only option.

The only thing, it's like, I'm not going to worship Caesar, therefore, I'm going to openly rebel. Which would actually be sedition, and Peter says, hey, that's not the only option. You don't have to just go into open rebellion against the government. So, Peter gave them an alternative. He's not saying submit to the emperor cult whenever he says, submit to the authorities.

So, whenever he says, be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, he's not talking about submitting to the emperor cult. What is he saying? Peter's saying, submit as much as you can. And there's a reason for it. For this is the will of God that by doing good through your submission, you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.

Does that make sense? If you want to put to silence these foolish, slanderous accusations that you're actually launching some kind of insurrection against the government, you can prove them wrong by submitting to the government, at least as much as you can without venturing into sin. Now, the time for resistance may come, but that's not the first option.

Peter's, Peter's saying here that that sort of resistance, that should be the last option. As Christians, we have a duty to submit to the government. But also, to not be guilty of these charges that they might claim against it. So, there's, there's really two reasons going on here. There's first the moral reason we submit to the government because it's morally right to do so.

God created a world of order. God established legitimate human authorities and our duty as Christians is to submit to legitimate human authorities as unto the Lord. It's our duty to Christ because we are ultimately having allegiance to him, and he commands us to submit to governing authorities. It's in his word.

So, there's the moral reason. But there's also a strategic reason, and that's what he's talking about here in verse 15. The strategic reason is to put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Who are the foolish people? They'd be those who bring false accusations against Christians. And how are they put to silence?

By doing good. That's how you put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. It's your good behavior. In other words, you need to make sure that the charge that they're charging you with is actually false. If you're secretly plotting an overthrow of the Roman government, then you're actually guilty of the very thing they're charging you with.

Now, they may have drove you to it, but that doesn't matter. You're still guilty of it. So, you can't be guilty of sedition and then claim that it's an injustice for them to accuse you of it. And that's what they were doing to Christians. They were accusing them of sedition. And Peter's saying, don't actually be guilty of sedition.

Submit to them as far as you can go until you meet a point of resistance. We'll talk about that in a bit. So, here's the thing, there's, there's a lot of ignorant fools out there. There's lots of foolish people who ignorantly accuse and slander, Christians. They love to slander God's people. They love making us look bad and evil.

And if we respond to those ignorant accusations in an evil and bad way, then won't that just prove them right?

The world is going to call you things. We should, we should be, we should be used to that. We should be ready for that. And you've already heard it, especially if in the media a Christian is being represented; they're going to go out and find the, the dumbest, most ignorant, poorly spoken Christian to be the representative of us all.

And then they're going to find ways to make you look unloving, hateful, stupid, mean spirited, bigoted. They're going to find any way to make Christians just look bad. That's, that's part of this world that we live in. It's going to happen. And they're going to call you that either way. So, what we need to do is make sure that that's not actually true.

Because if it's true, then it's not a false accusation, is it? By doing good, that is the way that we silence these false accusations. If they say you're a mean-hearted bigot, but you're a mean hearted bigot as a Christian, then you have no basis of putting them to silence.

It's by doing good that you put them to silence. We have to, we have to behave in such a way that the charges won't land because any reasonable person would be able to see that they're not true.

So, we have to be diligent to behave with integrity and godliness. Your good conduct can make those bad reports seem implausible. So, back to this guy that went into the BMV. Now, maybe that person at the window thought, you know, Christians, they're just greedy. They're greedy people and I hate working with Christians.

And then all of a sudden, this guy comes in and he says like, I underpaid and because I'm a Christian, I need to be honest here. And so, I owe you more taxes. That's at least going to make any charge against Christians of greed seem implausible. Because of his good, his good behavior by doing good, he would silence that particular accusation for 16 17 live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover up for evil, but living as servants of God, honor everyone, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the emperor.

So, Peter tells us we're talking about submitting to governing authorities and he tells us to submit to the authority as free people. Live as people who are free. Now, just three or four verses earlier, he's telling us to subject yourself to human institution, every human institution. And now here, he's telling us, live as people who are free.

So, you see, there's this tension here. On the one hand, he's telling us to be subject to governing authorities, but on the other hand, he's telling us to live as people who are free. How does that work? Christian freedom includes two things. There's a freedom from, and there's a freedom to. Now, a lot of times when we think of freedom, we only think in terms of the freedom from.

I'm free from this, you know, I'm free from anything that you might require of me. And so, freedom from is all this: I'm free from any obligations. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want, I'm free. That's the way we think of freedom. But biblically speaking, freedom from also includes a freedom to, which means I am free to serve.

I am free in Christ to obey. So, there's something you're free from and there's something you're free to. We can see this more clearly in Romans chapter six, verse 22. Paul says, but now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end eternal life.

So, there's a freedom from, and the freedom from is this. We're set free from sin. We're free from sin, but then the thing that we're free to do is to become slaves of God. So, as Christians whenever you're lost in sin, if you're not a Christian, you're not free to serve God.

Just like a fish is not free to walk on land or breathe air. They're not free to do that. But as, so if you're not a Christian, if anybody's not a Christian, they're not free to serve God because they don't know God, their sins are not forgiven, they don't have a regenerate heart, so they're not free to serve God.

They're slaves to their sin. They're in bondage in their sin. So, Jesus came along and by his death and burial and resurrection, he broke the bondage of sin that the hold of sin that it has over us. So, if you're a Christian, then you are set free from sin. You're no longer captive to sin. Christ has freed you from that.

So, now having been set free from sin, that doesn't mean you can just go and do anything that you want at any time. If you were to do that, then you would probably go back into your sin, which is what you just got set free from. So, your freedom is a freedom to obey, to become slaves. So, nobody is ever just completely free in the sense that we can just do whatever we want.

Only God is free in that sense. As human beings, we're always subject to something. We're either subject to our sin or subject to the one who set us free from sin. But we're never just completely free to do whatever we want. And so, God has set us free through the, through the blood of Jesus Christ. But we're not free to, to fall back into sin.

What we see here, back in, in 1 Peter 2, He's telling us to live as people who are free, people who have been set free from sinful passions that would cause us to angrily, you know, get so bitter and angry at a, at a government or a law we think is unjust and respond to that in a sinful way and say, well, I think that's wrong.

I think that's unjust. I'm not going to follow that. Well, that's sinful, and that's not living as a free person, that's living as a slave. As Christians, we're set free from sin, which means that we can, we can freely submit to a wicked, evil, pagan emperor and do so with a clear conscience because we are doing so, not ultimately submitting to him.

We're doing so because our Lord Jesus, who set us free from sin, commands us to do so. So, we're actually submitting to Jesus. When we submit to Joe Biden, you're actually submitting to Jesus when you do what your boss tells you to do at work and you don't like it and you think it's unfair. You do it as unto the Lord.

So, we're free to freely submit to government authority as appropriate. And we do so knowing that this is for the Lord's sake. It is the civil authority is not ultimate. In all of these things, the ultimate authority is always Jesus Christ, who has all authority over all things in heaven and earth. So, civil authority is not ultimate, God is the ultimate authority and therefore the limits of what the government can require of us does have a, there are limits there.

So, Christians are free people because the God who created us and redeemed us declares that we are free. Even Jesus Christ, when he was being bound, he had his hands bound and, you know, Pilate was like, don't you make, why don't you defend yourself? I have authority to kill you. And he says, you would have no authority if it were not given to you from above.

Jesus was perfectly free. Even as he was standing before Pilate and Herod with his hands bound, he was a free man. And he was there not because Pilate or Herod made him do it. He was there because his heavenly father sent him to do it, and he was obeying a higher authority. We can submit to a higher authority, ultimately, even when the intermediary authority is evil.

Now, of course, we don't submit whenever they call us to sin, we'll get to that in a moment, but, but our ultimate authority is always the Lord, and so, we submit to governing authorities as to the Lord. Some examples, in Exodus chapter 1, the Hebrew midwives, they lived as free women. And because they were free, whenever they were required to do something that was that was sinful and wicked, they resisted at that point.

They did not throw the baby boys into the Nile and kill them. Another example, Daniel chapter 4, you have Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. And they lived as free men. And whenever there was an edict that would require them to commit idolatry, they freely chose to resist because they were serving a higher authority.

They lived as those who are free. Now they could have, they could have complied. And if they would have complied, then they would have committed idolatry. And that's, that's using, that's using their freedom as a cover up for evil. That is allowing some evil edict to, to have a higher authority over God. And we don't, we don't live that way.

We don't use our freedom as a cover up for evil. Rather, we live as free men and women who are serving our, our highest allegiance, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Alright, I've got three application points as we wrap up here. And these three application points come from verse 17. There are, four, four imperatives, but two of them are the same, and I want to combine those, and you'll see why in a moment. Honor everyone, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the emperor.

So, let's, we'll just take these in order. Honor everyone. So, we have honor everyone, and we also have honor the emperor. I think Peter is doing something subtle here. And I'm not 100 percent confident of this, so, I'll just say that at the outset. But I think what Peter's doing here is a subtle demotion of the emperor.

And what he's doing is saying honor everybody. Honor the homeless guy on the street. Honor the widow. Honor the orphan. Honor everybody. Honor the emperor. You see that? The emperor is on the same plane as everyone. So, we honor the one and we honor the other. And so, he's, he's not, he's, he's giving us some, some subtle indicators here that the emperor is not to be this unquestioned authority over everything, but saying you honor him.

The way you would honor any human being, any image bearer of God is worthy of a certain honor because of the God whose image they bear. So, he's putting the emperor on the same level and Christians then should treat all humans with that same dignity and respect because they're created in God's image.

So, you can simultaneously honor the emperor and also demote him by not putting him on some plane that is above everyone else because he's not that important. He's important. He's a human authority and we should submit to him, but he is not worthy of some higher honor merely for the fact that.

He is an emperor. He is an image bearer of God, and he is worthy of that honor. So, give the emperor his due, but he's not absolute. God and God alone is absolute. And of course, honoring the emperor does not preclude any, any rebuke of sin. Just like anybody else, we have this duty of speaking truth.

And whenever there is a need or opportunity to do so, we can even confront one another in our sin or call something out. So, Joe Biden is my president and I can honor him as a man and as a president that is, you know, the honor that is due as a president, he's worthy of dignity and respect because he bears the image of God and I also would, would denounce him as a wicked man is a wicked man because he supports just full throated, unqualified support for abortion.

He supports the entire LGBTQ agenda, putting up no resistance at all. Whatever they say, he's willing to use all the authority that he has as a president to support that agenda. And I think that's, that's godless and wicked and is harmful to people. That doesn't dishonor him. That is, that is merely doing what a Christian citizen may do, which is calling someone to repent of sin, and do so in a way that is showing whatever respect is, is due for that individual.

We've got to remember John the Baptist, he was, he was executed, he was beheaded for this very thing. He told King Herod that it was unlawful for him to have his brother Philip's wife. Because he took his brother's wife. John the Baptist said, that's wrong. Herod said, your head on a platter, sir. That's what happened.

And John the Baptist was not in the wrong for doing so. In fact, Jesus said John the Baptist was from a human perspective, a very godly, righteous man. So, honor everyone, honor the emperor. Secondly, love the brotherhood. Love the brotherhood. Christians owe a special service of love and loyalty to other Christians because we're family.

So, there is a, there is a unique responsibility that we have to one another within the body of Christ. And so, when it comes to loyalty and service and good works, our, our higher priority should be to the body of Christ, to other Christians. And so, to put it simply, we're obligated to submit to governing authorities, but we're obligated to love the brotherhood.

Meaning that there is a, there is a duty that we have to one another as Christians that's higher than our loyalty to a governing authority. I think during COVID, there was a lot of Christians got this backwards, so, they, a lot of Christians would, would say something to the effect of, you know, the, you should submit to the government above all.

You should do whatever the government says. If they want to lock down church and say, you can't worship for a year or however long it is, you just have to go along. And a lot of Christians then, rather than saying, hey, my love for the brotherhood needs to supersede that. Because we're required to worship.

God calls us to worship. And so, I'm going to prioritize my love for the brotherhood and my fear of God, which we'll get to in a moment. Rather than doing that, they said, well, the government edict has to trump that. And, and consequently, they got one part right, which is, there was a desire to submit to the government, which is good and right.

But then that was given precedence over love for the brotherhood, which needs to be some limiting principle on submission to the government. So, there's a, there was this. I think it was, I think many Christians got it backwards and they neglected the church in order to submit to the government, but they, there are competing interests here that we have to keep into account.

So, Peter's telling us this, he's nesting this, this phrase, love the brotherhood and fear God, which we'll get to in a second. He's nesting that within the context of this little, little section about submitting to the government. We have to have multiple things that we're, that we're taking into account.

I'm not saying this is easy. I mean, there, there are prudential decisions, wisdom decisions that we'll have to make whenever we encounter different things, but we can't just disregard one for the sake of the other. We have to hold these things in tension. So, our submission to government authorities should not come at the expense of our love for the brothers.

I'll give you one text on this. this is Galatians chapter six, verse 10. So, then as we have opportunity, let us do good. We just saw that phrase earlier, do good to everyone. And especially to those who are of the household of faith. So, there's a, there's a duty to do good to everyone, but there's a unique priority that we give to the brotherhood, to the church, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Finally, fear God, fear God. Our highest allegiance is to God alone. And Him alone should we fear. This is also a limiting principle on our submission to government. We fear God alone because God determines our existence or non-existence. God is ultimate. Jesus Christ is Lord. He is supreme over all. Now we're told to submit to governing authorities.

But we're explicitly told not to fear them. You can submit to a governing authority, but you're commanded to not fear them. We're commanded to fear God. We're told that here, fear God alone. And I'll show you this. This is in Matthew chapter 10, verse 28. And Jesus speaking here, he says, do not fear those.

He's referring to governing authorities who bear the sword, who can execute you for disobedience. Don't fear those who can kill the body, but they have no power over the soul. God alone has power over the soul. Rather, fear Him, which is God. Fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. So, our fear of God has to be supreme.

We fear God more than any human authority, and we don't, we're commanded not to fear human authorities. So, we fear God and God alone. We submit to the emperor and the president or governor or mayor, but we must not fear them. And we love the brotherhood and we honor everyone, but there's these, these layers of priorities that we have to keep in mind, as we, you know, as we work out these different things.

Okay. Well, let's, we, we can conclude in prayer. We thank you, our Lord and God, that you have created the universe in, in such a way that there are different authorities, there's layers of authority that you've not only created, and it is a good thing, you've created it for our good, but you've also created the universe in this way, and ordered it this way, to provide order.

So, that we would not descend into chaos and Lord, even in a fallen, sinful world, we have difficult decisions that we have to figure out ethical dilemmas about submitting to government. We ask you, God, that you will give us the wisdom to know how to do this in a way that is most faithful to you and Lord, I pray that you will help us to get our, our loves and our priorities in the right order.

That we will, that we will fear God alone, that we'll love the brotherhood, and that we'll honor everyone, including governing authorities. Help us to do this well. We thank you, Jesus, that you used your authority to come and to die in our place, so, that we can be forgiven of our sins, because you alone have the authority to declare sins forgiven.

And we thank you that you used your authority to lay down your life for our sake, and you took it up again, and you rose so, that we can have eternal life in Christ. Thank you for that gift. And we thank you that on your authority, you declared to us, our sins are forgiven and that you have all authority in heaven and on earth.

And so, help us Lord now to know how to submit to your authority as it relates to the government. And we pray all of these things in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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