When God's Law Conflicts with Man's Law

Mark 12:17 states, "And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. And they marvelled at him." This was the response of Jesus when certain Jews asked him if it was lawful for the Jews to give tribute to Caesar. Along with the statements Paul made in Romans 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1 and Peter in 1 Peter 2:13-17 there is no doubt that we Christians are to submit ourselves to every ordinance of man (including traffic laws) and be subject to government officials since their power is from God. However, we also read in Acts 5:28-29 that Peter and the apostles were commanded by the authorities not to teach in the name of Jesus. Peter's response was that they were to obey God rather than men.

 We Christians are to obey the laws of the land and our rulers. However, we can see that there are exceptions and it is not blind obedience. The government exceeds its authority when demanding subjection of law contrary to commands of the scripture. This happens two ways. The first way is when an individual is commanded to do something God does not permit. In Daniel (chapter 3), the king of Babylon orders everyone at a certain time to fall down and worship a golden image that he erected. When the time came, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego would not obey. As a result, they were thrown into a fiery furnace for their refusal, but they came out unharmed. We Christians should remember the answer they gave the king when confronted with their disobedience. Daniel 3:17-18 states, "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."

 The second way it happens is when the government wants to prevent a Christian from doing something God has commanded. In Daniel (chapter 6), Daniel's political foes could not find any problem with Daniel except concerning the law of his God. His foes got King Darius to establish a law that for 30 days no one could petition any god or man, save for Darius. If they broke this law, they would be cast into the den of lions. Daniel did not change his custom of prayer and went to his house with the open windows and kneeled and prayed to God. This resulted in Daniel being cast into the lions' den which he survived. Note that both of these examples involve God's people who were government officials.

 When the government or any corporation requires us to be disobedient to God, a Christian is left with no choice but to obey God. Christians need to remember Romans 12:2 which states, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Jesus said in Matthew 5:13, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." Those who claim to follow Christ, but have conformed to the world and lost their savour have become good for nothing and as Jesus said should be cast out and trodden under foot. For those of us who remain faithful, may we be mindful of the example of those Christians in Acts 5:41, "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." It would appear that Christians in America are finally to be counted worthy to suffer for His name.

 Charles Royal, Decatur, AL