Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Romans 13 (6) Doing Good or Evil

Excellent judges are raised by God to do good to everyone. In contrast, rulers sometimes do what God wants them to do, but it is usually not good, or even nice. They do what is good for themselves, not what is good for everyone. At best, it is a lesser evil.

If we trust Jesus and obey him, we will live good lives. No one would become a good person by submitting to Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar or Pharaoh. Rather, they would struggle to be good, and would frequently have to compromise with evil to survive. Their only benefit is that they would be forced to trust in God for their safety.

Daniel served under several emperors, but it was a precarious life. He owed total allegiance to the emperor, and if he refused to obey his decrees, he could lose his place, and possibly be killed. (Actually, Daniel and his three friends would all have died, if God has not protected them from the lions and the furnace).

God placed Daniel in his role so he could speak prophetically, but it was a testing role. In the areas, where Daniel was governor, he had to implement the emperor's decrees, mostly with violent force. He would have to seize any wealth that the emperor demanded. Daniel was not able to establish the Kingdom of God in the places he was governor. His survival depended on his establishing the emperor's kingdom.

God put Joseph under Pharaoh in order to provide food for Abraham's descendants during a famine that the spiritual powers of evil planned to use to destroy the chosen nation before it got started. God did not put Joseph in his role to do good for everyone. Joseph actually enslaved the Egyptians who were land-owning independent farmers and turned them into serfs, totally dependent on the Pharaoh for their survival. They were rescued from a famine, but they paid a terrible price. Joseph was not able to advance the kingdom of God. Rather, he had to do everything that Pharaoh wanted, usually with ruthless force.

We should not be naïve about rulers. They are not good people that God has raised up to rule us so that we will become good, or even so that we will have good lives. God will sometimes use them to eliminate something evil that he is concerned about, or to accomplish some other important purpose, but mostly they will pursue their own good. They are usually manipulated and controlled by powerful government-spirits, so they will mostly be pursuing evil, even if they don't realise it.

We should only submit to a ruler because they have the power to make us do their will, and fighting against them would be a waste of effort, and would distract us from preaching the gospel and advancing the Kingdom of God. We should not assume that submission to rulers advances the kingdom of God or does good, because that would be naïve. It advances their kingdom and allows them to good for their friends.

The idea that submitting to a political ruler is the moral equivalent of submitting to God is absurd. Saying, as many do, that we don't have to obey if they are asking us to do something contrary to God's will does not help because it means we have to test every decree or ruling the political powers make to see if it aligns with God's will. We might just as well cut out the middleman and submit directly to Jesus and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we do that, we will be doing God's will, regardless of what the ruler does.

No comments: