Defying authority can either catapult the church forward or result in judgment.
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.” (Romans 13:1–2, ESV)
2002 has given the church an unusual opportunity to learn a critical end-time lesson. When is it time to defy authority, and when should we remain submitted?
Choosing correctly can launch the church forward in the face of tyranny and persecution.
Choosing incorrectly can result in God himself bringing judgment against the church.
There seems to be a misconception among many Believers that God is cheer-leading a spirit of rebellion as we fight against the very authority that he put into position.
News flash: We are mandated by Scripture to honor and obey all authority, be they good or evil, just or unjust. Yes, there are exceptions, but we don't start there. The exceptions are not the norm. By default, we submit.
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.” (1 Peter 2:18–19, ESV)
I'm confident many will argue this point. That's okay, but I want to challenge you. Argue it with Scripture, not with your own emotions, intellect, common sense or ego. The Word of God is the authority, no matter if it makes sense to us or not.
Remember, God requires us to obey both good and evil authorities, both good and bad laws.
The Bible couldn't be more clear. Every person is required to subject themselves to (submit to) governmental authorities. Why? Because God placed them in position and granted them authority. Further, if we resist the authorities that God has empowered, we will (not may) incur judgment.
A SPIRIT OF LAWLESSNESS
It's easy to accuse rioters, for example, of operating from a spirit of lawlessness. After all, it's obvious to all that they are boldly breaking laws.
I propose it's the same spirit of lawlessness that is driving the rebellion in many Christians who refuse to follow state and local mask and social distancing mandates. We don't have the option to reject an ordinance simply because we disagree with it. We are required by Scripture to be subject to governing authorities, and if they require masks in certain situations, we as representatives of Christ must respond with integrity and wear masks.
I am personally not a fan of masks (though I must admit they may be beneficial in certain circumstances) and I believe there are some nefarious influences behind all that the coronavirus has unleashed. However, I also realize I am not authorized by God to defy the mandates. I'd be in rebellion both to man and God if I did.
It's disturbing to see pastors breaking the law by allowing meetings, small groups and other events to take place without adhering to local mask and distancing ordinances. This rebellion invites God's judgment, even if we are convinced the masks are unnecessary or that the government is attempting to implement freedom threatening controls.
By all means, do what's appropriate to have the laws overturned. Attend city council meetings, vote politicians and policy makers in or out of office and sound all of the alarms you can in hopes of drawing attention to the cause. But until the laws are overturned the laws must be obeyed.
If we truly fear God, we won't play games, rise up in pride or arrogantly resist those he put into position.
The exception to all I have written above is simple: if the Word of God would be violated by us obeying an earthly authority, then, and only then, do we refuse to submit. We honor God and not men in this scenario.
So, if the government mandates that churches remain closed and that Christians don't gather to worship, we can't comply.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24–25, ESV)
The Bible clearly requires us to meet.
If the government allows the church to meet, but demands we not sing, again, we refuse to obey that order.
“Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly!” (Psalm 149:1, ESV)
When (not if) the time comes that we are told by lawmakers that we cannot preach certain truths of Scripture, we boldly reject their mandate.
“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:27–29, ESV)
The principle should be quite clear and simple. If the Word of God would be violated should we submit to a governmental decree, we do not submit. If the Bible wouldn't be violated, we do submit.
One response results in the favor of God and another the judgment of God. It's not about being a champion of what is right (in your own eyes). It's about aligning with God's commands. Many are shouting “Persecution!” in selfish arrogance simply because the government is requiring them to submit to laws that are merely inconvenient and that in no way violate Scripture.
We see this truth played out in the Book of Daniel:
“He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;” (Daniel 2:21, ESV)
“If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”” (Daniel 3:17–18, ESV)
God put the king in position, and then the king gives an unrighteous decree. The king was to be honored until he mandated worship to an idol. At that moment, the three Hebrews had no option but to refuse the command.
WHAT SHOULD THE CHURCH DO?
The church should obey the laws of the land unless those laws are clearly unscriptural. Gathering together and worshiping as Believers has been instituted by God. So, gather, with masks on if the local ordinance requires that.
In my city of Branson, Missouri we are required to wear masks in any public setting unless we are able to remain six feet away from others. Since this is a theater town, the law allows us to remove our masks when seated in an auditorium as long as we maintain social distancing. Public speakers, singers and performers can remove their masks when on stage. The same rule applies to the church. So, this means masks must be on at all times except when socially distanced in the sanctuary or speaking, singing on the platform. Prayer lines, altar time, greeting time and other times would require masks to be worn. Small groups and other gatherings should adhere to the same guidelines.
We need to be wise and carefully choose our battles. Again, favor or judgment hang in the balance.
I've heard all sorts of extreme arguments in opposition to what I'm addressing here.
“What about Anne Frank? Are you suggesting she should have obeyed her government and turned Jews over to the Nazis?”
Several people have angrily blasted that argument my direction. Of course the the answer is no. Why? We'd be complicit in murder, and murder is forbidden in Scripture.
“What about Rahab who lied to protect Israeli spies?”
Rahab was commended for giving lodging to the spies, but not for her lie.
I find it disturbing that Christians are becoming more enthralled with their own wisdom while at the same time looking for loopholes in the Bible so they can do what they desire. Many don't consider the Bible to be the final authority on a matter or to be the infallible Word of God. We are most certainly in the end times.
FAVOR OR JUDGMENT
I don't want this point to be missed.
No matter how convinced of how right you are or how righteous your position is, if you defy God's established authority, God's judgment rests on you.
However, if you honor authority in every instance except when they would require you disobey Scripture, God's favor rests on you.
Oh, and by the way, understand that the written Word of God is the final authority, not your own prophetic revelation. We can't use the God card here. If your local government requires you to wear a mask or a seat-belt or to pay your taxes or to wear pants in public, and you think God told you something different, you can know it's not God's voice you are hearing.
PHARAOH IN THE CHURCH
As I close, I want to encourage you to read an article that will give strategies to resisting tyrannical and wicked human governments. I understand the arguments about masks and lock-downs and control. Greater persecution (by far) was experienced in Egypt under the rule of Pharaoh. The strategy there wasn't to defy Pharaoh's authority, as God placed him in that place of ruler-ship.
God sent a messenger and immense pressure to Pharaoh. The goal? For Pharaoh, the Hebrew's legitimate authority, to make the decree that they may go. He released them. It was at that moment in time that the authority over the Hebrews shifted from Pharaoh to Moses.
This is why we must be living, walking and praying in the Spirit. Prayer movements and prophetic decrees will bring down unrighteous human systems. Pride, arrogance, anger and rebellion however will only strengthen them as God's fury rains down on us all.
750 police officers were injured defending Americans from violent rioters. Now the defended are demanding the police are defunded.
9 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers… 1 Timothy 1:9 (ESV)
Make no mistake, anyone with the slightest hint of discernment can agree a vile spirit of lawlessness is overtaking this nation.
This buildup has been at work for years. It's clear we are blazing quickly toward the end zone of the end-times.
3 Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 (NLT2)
Lawless people are ravaging our cities, businesses and lives, most often, black lives. The core of my emotions as a human have been rocked by what I've witnessed. A lawless act of murder by a police officer has resulted not in love or forgiveness, but predictably in revenge. Lawlessness.
Don't misconstrue my words or my motive. Racism is pure evil. We should all be deeply hurt by what has ravaged our black brothers and sisters. If we don't, we have no soul.
My motive is to shine the light on the invisible realm, on the spiritual reality of our natural situation. Truth must prevail in the midst of a volatile emotional situation.
DEFUNDING THE DEFENDERS
It doesn't take a theologian to appreciate the connection between the call to disband and defund the police and the spirit of lawlessness. The extremely high majority of police officers in America are amazing individuals, driven by passion for people and operating in extreme integrity. Demonizing the world's greatest peace force is shameful.
Our nation's police, though imperfect as any and every human institution is, represents law and order. A push to disband and defund exposes the motives and spirit of those seeking to uproot and tear down. Lawlessness.
Racism is evil. Most everyone agrees.
Police brutality/murder is evil. Most everyone agrees.
We should all be horrified by the murder of George Floyd. Most everyone agrees.
We don't have to be convinced.
Now, don't get mad at me, I'd like to ask you something, something that is on the minds of people all across the nation. Here's the question: What evidence is there that George Floyd's horrific murder was racially motivated?
To expand on that critical question, are people just presuming it was because the cop had run-ins with minorities in the past? Or simply because a white cop killed a black man? Is it because other cops have targeted blacks in the past? How does that relate to this specific cop? Further, does that mean all cops, or most cops are racist? Are they the enemy?
This is a VERY important question as the supposition that it was racially motivated has resulted in SERIOUS reactions like riots, violence, attacks, murders, destruction of businesses and assaulted lives (including black lives).
This is a VERY important question as it attempts to confirm that there's racism in our nation (which there is) AND systemic racism in the police department and other American institutions (which is debatable at best).
This is a VERY important question as it draws a line in the sand and forces people to reject deeply held personal beliefs and values that are contrary to the narrative. Beliefs like Drew Brees holds (held?), a refusal to kneel during the National Anthem. The assault against his patriotism was disturbing.
This is a VERY important question because EVEN IF IT WAS RACIALLY MOTIVATED, the violence and the general spirit of many (not most) of the reactions have not only been inappropriate but destructive to our nation.
And, most recently, this has become a VERY important question as the belief that racism motivated the killing is resulting in defunding and disbanding police departments, launching cities into a state of dangerous lawlessness.
Friends, it's possible to hate racism and to love blacks, whites and everybody else in our nation without buying into narratives that are contrary to our personal values. We can love while agreeing or disagreeing. Depending on what the proposed beliefs and solutions others may adhere to are, we can voice concern while still honoring each other. We can agree to disagree while still authentically loving and valuing each other. We can still hurt when they hurt, even if our analysis of and solutions to the matter differ.
DELUSION AND CONFUSION
9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan… 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9,11-12 (ESV)
It's imperative that we take pause for a moment in the natural and lock in to the rapidly evolving spiritual climate. The spirit of lawlessness is not to be taken lightly.
Satan is possibly more active on the earth today than he has ever been as his end is drawing nearer every day. The lawless one is gathering an evil army, anointing all who are interested to assist him in fulfilling his diabolical purposes.
Don't be surprised as the demonization continues to spike and ramp up. Confusion and delusion are overtaking many. This is a terrifying reality as it sets into motion people's eternities. Lawlessness produces a confused, enraged, demonized and delusional people who will do all they can to destroy.
Defunding and disbanding of the police is merely a natural result of an invisible reality. So are the riots, violence and hatred. So is police brutality. So is every sort of wickedness that is suffocating America. It takes a confused and delusional people to do such a thing. It's contrary to common sense.
THE ANSWER: THE GOSPEL
Natural solutions can be helpful, but they will never bring resolution. The only thing that can, quite simply, is wholehearted surrender to Jesus Christ. That's it. Nothing else will work.
When a nation repents, and when sinners surrender to Jesus, healing can begin.
6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Romans 4:6-8 (ESV)
It's time for preachers to preach this truth boldly. It's this message and only this message that can stand against the lawlessness.
Pastor's refusal to regularly engage the topics of culture and politics from behind the pulpit has, in large part, resulted in the chaos in our nation today.
No, you can't “just preach the Gospel.” Applying the truth of the Word to today's national situation is mandatory. Non-negotiable. If you aren't equipping the saints to be a spiritual force in our nation, exactly what are you training them to be? Ushers? Greeters? Your personal armor bearers?
No. They are today's mighty warriors who will assault the kingdom of darkness and expose wickedness. They are a lawful people who will stand opposed to lawlessness. It's time for the people of God to preach, equip and confront with a mighty anointing of God. If we don't, our nation is lost. Cities devoid of police protection would be but the beginning of sorrows.
Originally published by The Stream.