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  • Rick LoPresti

Do not comply

The Bible is the best piece of literature ever written. It is the word of God. It has everything we need to know about God and life in this world in one volume of about 1,200 pages. That is a miracle in itself. It covers many themes and topics, but at its core is a simple question which runs throughout – are we submitted to the authority of God? It starts in the garden of Eden with a choice presented to Adam and Eve – obey the word of God or do their own thing (Gen 3:1-7). It continues until its close in the book of Revelation with the choice to worship God and identify with Him or take the mark of the beast (Rev 13). It is basically the same choice Adam and Eve had and all of us have. It is the great question of life and will be the criterion we are judged by in the end (Rev 20:11-15). We can either submit to God and resist the devil, or we can submit to the devil and resist God (Jam 4:7).

God has absolute authority. However, He has chosen to delegate the authority to choose to man. He does this because He wants His relationship with us to be based on love and love must be chosen. He has also delegated certain other authority to man. For example, after the flood, He delegated the authority to execute the death penalty upon murderers (Gen 9:5-6). This continued through the law of Moses (Ex 21, etc.) to the new covenant (Rom 13:1-7). God has delegated other areas of human authority such as parents (Ex 20:12, Col 3:20), church leaders (Heb 13:17), and government (1Tim 2:1-2). However, God did not delegate unlimited authority to man. Man sins when he exceeds the bounds of what the Lord has authorized him to do. Therefore, we should submit to human authority when it aligns with the word of God, but we are not required to do so when man is requiring us to violate the principles of the word of God. Then we can and should choose to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:28-29). Jesus did not teach by word or deed to generally practice rebellion against authority, but He did not submit to the sinful, hypocritical abuse of authority by man, and neither should we.

So, what should Christians do when confronted with this dilemma? There are basically three choices. They can be compared to the choices in an active shooter scenario, and they are all found in the Bible. We can run (Mt. 24:15-21, Acts 8:4, Acts 9:25), hide (Ex 2:2, 1Ki 17:3, Is 26:20, Jn 8:59), or fight. Fighting for Christians means something different. We do not fight fleshly battles but spiritual ones (Rom 8:1-13, 2Cor 10:2-3, Eph 6:12). Therefore, we do not use the same weapons and tactics (2Cor 10:4). Fighting can mean simply staying and facing the situation when there is an opportunity to leave (Acts 8:1, Heb 11:35). It can mean praying (Eph 6:18). It can mean disciplining our thoughts (2Cor 10:3-5). It can mean applying the word of God (Eph 6:17, 1Tim 1:18). It can mean maintaining a separated lifestyle (Rom 12:1-2, 2Cor 6:14-18).

There are many examples in the Bible of people who refused to comply with the world’s demands on them, even when it was from people in authority. They include Moses’ parents (Ex 2:1-3), Moses (Heb 11:24-27), the three Hebrews (Dan 3), Daniel (Dan 6), Micaiah (1Ki 22), Jeremiah (Jer 21, Jer 27, Jer 32), Jesus (Lk 13:31-32, Jn 19:9), and the apostles (Acts 5:29). Even Balaam the soothsayer understood this (Num 22-24). They were not rebels. Their enemies were the rebels. Christians sometimes have to make the choice to obey God rather than man when man is trying to force them to disobey God. Taking a stand for what you believe is not always convenient. It will cost you in this life, but it will pay eternal dividends (Mt 5:10-12, Jn 12:25, Heb 11:26).

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