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Question:
Yesterday you wrote: “where God’s Commandments differ from the government…”. You said that we are to obey God rather than the government. Can you give me an example? The Scripture clearly says to obey the law of the land and God NEVER will lead us to go against His Word. I am having a problem with your comments. This would pretty well negate His Word in that anyone can say God “told them to do such and such”, and truly be sincere, and it completely violate His Word. Can you explain?

Answer:

The question is based on:

Romans 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a ter ror 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. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 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. (NKJV)

It’s a question of authority. There are higher authorities, even in man-made entities. Whenever two authorities conflict, the higher authority, well, has authority. That is a simple fact that is true and easily understood.
The quick answer is: God is the highest authority, and when lower authorities contradict Him, God’s authority reigns. Otherwise, in the absence of clear contradiction of the Written Word, we are to obey the authorities over us, whether we agree with them or not.
I personally, am not a higher authority than my government. My government is not a higher authority than God.
Now, looking at the question, the standard is not “God told me to…” unless by that someone means that clear Scripture was what “told them”. God gave us His finished written Word as the baseline and measurement of all things we are “told” by God. Yes, God leads and directs us on a personal level (Eze 36:27), and you are correct, He will never lead us to contradict His own Written Word. It would go against His very nature.
SINCERITY is not the standard by which we judge what God has commanded. Sincerity is certainly necessary or else we are hypocrites but God’s Word is the final measure. If I sincerely believe God told me to cheat on my taxes because the politicians deserve it, I would be sincerely wrong because it contradicts God’s written Word in several cases.

However, if I were to say, in sincerity, that God told me to refuse to pay lawfully ordered union dues that I knew were going straight to Planned Parenthood to encourage abortion, I would have pretty good Biblical grounds to stand on.
If I were to refuse to abort or murder my children because the government passed a “one child” law, then I would have irrefutable Biblical grounds to disobey the laws of the land.
I don’t really even need a Scriptural example to prove the point, but I’ll give you one in a minute anyway. First, think about the simplicity of the statement “when God’s commands differ from the government…”
God is God. Government is human and we don’t have to look very far too see the extreme corruption in government. Wherever “governments” (men) tell us to do something (law) that goes against God’s clear commandments (Bible) we are to exercise dissent.
Pick a government: Communist, Islamic, Fascist, pagan – and loyal Christians have died for refusing to obey unGodly laws.
In China, you are required to abort, murder, kill, extinguish all but one child. God’s commands about life and murder certainly are “higher” than the Chinese government.
In America, we don’t yet have any blatant laws that attempt to force Christians to go against God, but we’re getting close. “Hate crimes” (crimes of thought and opinion) are on the precipice of forcing Bible teachers to avoid any teaching from Scripture on homosexuality and abortion (just the start, wait and see). People in Canada and Europe are already going to jail for that. Just a matter of time in the US.
Abortion and infanticide; silence about certain sins found in Scripture…. would you tell Christians they must follows those “human authority” commands because God’s Word says to obey the laws of the land? Does it not also say to follow all of God’s commandments? Where there is conflict, what is the higher priority?
It is simply Christian common sense.
Scripture interprets Scripture. Yes, God’s Word says obey the laws of the land because God has ordained the government authorities. The Bible also says to follow all the commandments of God, and clearly those commandments are higher in authority than any of man’s commandments. It’s a question of authority.
In addition, there is very clear Scripture to support the idea of dissent in both the New and the Old Testaments (in the old: Daniel, Shadrach, Meschach, Obednego, Joseph, Moses among others) of people who refused to obey man’s authority when it went against God’s.
The Early Church throughout their persecution, refusing to bow in worship to the Roman Emperor gives us thousands upon thousands of living examples of the principle obeying God rather than man.
The Reformation period also gives us countless other examples of Godly men and women who were tortured and slaughtered for refusing to conform to church-state authority which would have them disobeying clear teaching in Scripture.
So the history of the authentic Church is replete with examples for us, starting with the early church in Acts (here’s your example from Scripture; one of many I could have chosen):

Acts 5:12-42 (emphasis mine; my comments in brackets)
And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Then the high priest [human authority] rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison [human authority exercising force].

But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” [God commanded them to do something that against what the authorities were allowing}.

And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, saying, “Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!” Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.

So one came and told them, saying, “Look, the men whom you put in prison [human authority] are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? [human authority] And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them [human authority exercising punishment], they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go [human authority]. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. [God’s higher authority] (NKJV)

So you see, both in common sense, principle, example, and plain Scripture, it is the duty of Christians to obey the government (even if we don’t like it or agree with it) UNTIL it violates God’s commandments, at which point we are not only free to refuse obedience, but have a duty to refuse and rather obey God despite the consequences.

We are to obey. God has placed men in authority over us, but when (not if) they contradict God, God is the Highest Authority.

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