Revisiting the Christian and State Relationship.


We respect and appreciate the positive intention of those desiring to remedy injustice through political action. Still, energies are poorly spent attacking sparks instead of fire.

The way to transform the world is to transform men. What is needed is the restoration of the image of God in man—something that can never be achieved through force. Political action is the wrong tool. Unrenewed, fallen people cannot force other fallen people to become moral; a corrupt tree can only produce corrupt fruit (Matthew 7:17, 18). Indeed, the command of Scripture is to cut down the tree which is the source of bad fruit (Matthew 7:19).

The full allegiance of the Christian is to Christ and the government of God. He recognizes the Creator as rightful Lord over His creation (Exodus 20:10, 11). Adam and Eve were given dominion—self-government—directly under God’s government (Genesis 1:26). But mankind fell (Genesis 3:15), and the earth was divided between those who refused His lordship and those who returned to it.

Two systems of government were now in play. To bring the universe to a clear understanding of the end results of liberty versus coercion the two systems must be permitted to play out. Each must manifest its fruits.

Men would not be forced to do good. A space would be allowed for the demonstration of Satan’s principles of coercion, and for God’s principles of liberty. As such, the believer does not in civic matters exercise lordship over any other person. The Christian’s citizenship is above (Colossians 3:1; Galatians 4:26); he is called an ambassador for God’s government (2 Corinthians 5:20; Ephesians 6:20). Ambassadors do not vote in the civic matters of the country of their embassage.

In a state like America, a majority of citizens exercises lordship over a minority; a majority vote determines elections. But we are not to exercise lordship over other persons made in God’s image (Mark 10:42-45; Luke 22:24-30). Jesus Himself is Lord. People are granted freedom to chose evil or righteousness. Men are to reap what they sow (Galatians 6:7, 8)–something confused when coercion is applied.

Moreover, the governments of earth—all of them—stand in opposition to God’s government (Psalm 2:1, 2; Acts 4:24-28; Revelation 18:1-4, 9, 10, 23). If the Christian votes in matters of civil government, he is advocating that the state coerce; he is acting in favor of goodness by force. This is not his work. He is undergoing renewal of mind, he is learning self-government, to think and act for himself as an agent in cooperation with the government of God (Philippians 2:12, 13).

He is friendly but no friend of the world, storing up his deepest interests in the things of the kingdom. He is just a stranger here; heaven is his home. But while he is here, he represents a kingdom of righteousness. Thus, it is imperative that he in no way coerce. This may be called the “self-government,” or “direct lordship” position. Jesus is Lord. A state is sometimes permitted but never endorsed by Him (1 Samuel 8; Romans 13:1-7).


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