Of the Civil Magistrate.
Chapter 24, Paragraph 1.
“God the supreme Lord, and King of all the World, has ordained Civil Magistrates to be under him, over the people for his own glory, and the public good; and to this end hath armed them with the power of the Sword, for defence and encouragement of them that do good, and for the punishment of evil doers.”
When our hearts are regenerated, we see obeying God as our Lord and king as desirable. After all, He is most holy and good, so He is worthy of our obedience. It is an honor to serve Him. Obeying other people, though, is sometimes a challenge. Why should we listen to those who might not have our best interests at heart, who are fallen sinners? What makes them worthy of our respect and subordination?
It is not “what” that makes them worthy of our respect, but “who”. God Himself has ordained the governments that rule over us. Our leaders may be godly Christians, or ruthless atheists, but it is our obedience to Christ that compels us to submit to their authority. Why would God set up governments? Ultimately they, like everything else, exist for the glory of God. Yet governments also have a specific role: to protect its citizens. To fulfill this purpose it is granted by God the ability to wield the sword; that is, to administer justice and defend against those who wish to harm the people under its care.
In countries where our government officials are elected, it is easy to think that their appointment is only due to the outworkings of various groups. Frustration towards the political “machine” can take our eyes off the One truly in charge. Yet God has sovereignly decreed who is to lead each nation, for His own glory. No matter who is in power, may we strive to respect and submit to their decisions as much as Scripture allows.
Questions to Consider
- What is your attitude towards your government? Is your attitude Biblical?