Skubalon
I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus and count them but rubbish.

Christianity and Government: Duties of Government

Here is the second part of this sermon series. Hope it again adds to your understanding of what the Bible teaches us about the duties of government and our relationship to them.

Please see the first sermon in this series for the links to those resources that greatly helped in this series.

JOK.: The Lord spoke to Noah and said, “ Noah, I am going to make it rain until the whole world is covered in water and all evil things destroyed. But, I want to save a few good people and two of every living thing on the planet. So I want you to build an ark.”

 

Well time passed the sky began to cloud up and the rain was about to fall. The Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping and there was no ark.

“Noah!” shouted the Lord, “Where is My ark?”

“Lord please forgive me!” begged Noah. “I did my best, but there were problems- big problems. First, I had to get a building permit for the ark’s construction, but Your plans did not meet the code. So I had to hire an engineer to redo the plans, only to get into a long argument over the need for a fire-sprinkler system.”

 

“My neighbors objected claiming that I was violating zoning ordinances by building the ark in my front yard and it was bringing down their property values, so I had to get a variance from the city planning board. Then I had a problem getting enough wood for the ark b/c there was a ban on cutting trees to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists and the US Fish and Wildlife Service that I needed the wood to save owls but they wouldn’t let me catch them so NO OWLS.”

 

“Next I started gathering up the animals but got sued the animal rights group that objected to my taking along only two of each kind; they wanted me to save them all. The IRS seized my assets claiming I was trying to leave the country and I just got a notice that I owe a usage tax. Really I don’t think I can finish the ark like this.”

With that the sky cleared the sun began to shine and a rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up and smiled. “You mean You are not going to destroy the world?”

 

“No,” said the Lord, “I am too late, the government already has.”

 

It seems like at times there are many things that make our government very complicated.

 

I bet you have come across those laws that seem in your eyes especially unrealistic or outright wrong.

 

It’s apart of our lives living in an imperfect world with often time’s imperfect governments.

 

  • But as we saw last week God has established three forms of authority on earth: Parental, Church and Government.

 

  • We saw according to scripture that all government is established by God and thus we can take comfort in the fact that he is in control.

 

  • And even in those times when governments do not do as God has said they should God takes care of us by bringing those rebellious governments down.

 

 Today, our focus is on government who has a specific purpose and it is the duty of government to carry out those purposes.

 

This week we look at what those purposes God are…

 

  • We will see what Government should do

 

  • What it is that a corrupt or misguided government looks like.

JOK.: The Lord spoke to Noah and said, “ Noah, I am going to make it rain until the whole world is covered in water and all evil things destroyed. But, I want to save a few good people and two of every living thing on the planet. So I want you to build an ark.”

 

Well time passed the sky began to cloud up and the rain was about to fall. The Lord looked down and saw Noah weeping and there was no ark.

“Noah!” shouted the Lord, “Where is My ark?”

“Lord please forgive me!” begged Noah. “I did my best, but there were problems- big problems. First, I had to get a building permit for the ark’s construction, but Your plans did not meet the code. So I had to hire an engineer to redo the plans, only to get into a long argument over the need for a fire-sprinkler system.”

 

“My neighbors objected claiming that I was violating zoning ordinances by building the ark in my front yard and it was bringing down their property values, so I had to get a variance from the city planning board. Then I had a problem getting enough wood for the ark b/c there was a ban on cutting trees to save the spotted owl. I tried to convince the environmentalists and the US Fish and Wildlife Service that I needed the wood to save owls but they wouldn’t let me catch them so NO OWLS.”

 

“Next I started gathering up the animals but got sued the animal rights group that objected to my taking along only two of each kind; they wanted me to save them all. The IRS seized my assets claiming I was trying to leave the country and I just got a notice that I owe a usage tax. Really I don’t think I can finish the ark like this.”

With that the sky cleared the sun began to shine and a rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up and smiled. “You mean You are not going to destroy the world?”

 

“No,” said the Lord, “I am too late, the government already has.”

 

It seems like at times there are many things that make our government very complicated.

 

I bet you have come across those laws that seem in your eyes especially unrealistic or outright wrong.

 

It’s apart of our lives living in an imperfect world with often time’s imperfect governments.

 

  • But as we saw last week God has established three forms of authority on earth: Parental, Church and Government.

 

  • We saw according to scripture that all government is established by God and thus we can take comfort in the fact that he is in control.

 

  • And even in those times when governments do not do as God has said they should God takes care of us by bringing those rebellious governments down.

 

 Today, our focus is on government who has a specific purpose and it is the duty of government to carry out those purposes.

 

This week we look at what those purposes God are…

 

  • We will see what Government should do

 

  • What it is that a corrupt or misguided government looks like.

 

I.  Duties of Government

 

Romans 13:3-5 (NIV), For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

 

This passage breaks down for us the duties of government and gives us the purpose of government…

 

            A. The Purpose of Government is to Maintain Law and Order.

 

The duties of government at its base level fall into three very simple duties…

 

  • Protect the innocent

 

The government passes laws and provides protection with police and military.

 

Make sure that those who are doing right are treated right and fairly protected.

 

  • Punish those who do evil

 

The government upon having people breach those established laws must have those laws take action and that often means the usage of police, judicial system and even punishment.

 

  • Promote the general peace and well being of the people.

 

In all these steps the government is to promote a level of peace and well-being.

 

By establishing laws and strictly enforcing those laws when they are breached.

 

The whole organization and proceedings of government should be focused on these three tasks.

 

If a government at its foundation does not focus on these three they are not performing their duties.

 

(PAUSE)

Now understanding that very simple purpose statement for government, we have to look at how the government does this…

 

            B. The Principle by which Government Operates is Justice.

 

Government has these three God established duties and they are founded on the principle of justice.

 

Ill.: Justice is simply concerned with making sure that each person is treated strictly as he deserves; no more or no less.

 

Justice is carried out in two ways…

 

            1.  Positive: Distributive Justice.

 

  • Our main passage tells the good citizen, “Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.”

 

This form of justice is related to the justice for the many who are law-abiding citizens who do right.

 

Our basic right is to live a godly life in peace, unhindered and unthreatened, free from the fear of evildoers.

 

There are also some basic rights that go along with this ultimate form of justice by also promoting basic freedoms…

 

  • Freedom to work where one wishes if hired.

 

  • Freedom to have the friends you would like.

 

  • Freedom to own property and possessions.

 

  • And other secondary freedoms.

 

But the second form of Justice is for those who do wrong…

 

            2. Negative: Retributive Justice.

This is when justice is carried out to make sure the evildoer is punished for the crimes he has committed against the innocent.

 

It being the duty of government to protect those innocent persons then the wrongdoer is prosecuted.

 

And that leads us the final element of government…

 

            C. The Power by which Government Controls is Force.

 

Ill.: James Madison said, “If man were angels no government would be necessary.”

 

Madison’s words are true and b/c man is intently evil there is a need for control.

 

But laws, judges, jails, police, military and other forms of restriction would be of little value if they were not used rightly.

 

So along with a firm foundation of laws must come a time in which government is willing to forcefully use it.

 

Ill.: All of you who have handled children in anyway know of a time in which you had established a set of rules, and at some point that rule was breached and it came time for force of the obedience of that rule. What did you do?

 

If you let it slide like it can sometimes be the temptation to do in time you probably found that there was a higher level of rebellion out of that child and unwillingness to take you seriously b/c they had nothing to fear.

 

  • Our main passage says, “If you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.”

 

The force of government is more than flashing the sword to indicate that it could be used but to use it.

 

(PAUSE)

 

Another reason that government must use the force is that it sets a standard for all to see.

 

In the OT Mosaic Law God gave to Moses for the Hebrew people, this was one of the reasons that punishment was carried out, to show what would happen to evildoers…

 

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (NIV), If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town shall stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

 

What would they have been afraid of? Justice that will be administered for their evil actions.

 

So justice is essential so that all might see the consequence of the wrong done.

 

I think that is something that is so very important in our day and age. For people to see that crime will be punished to its fullest extent.

 

B/C of what I would consider lax use laws we see many do not fear the law as they should…

 

  • Criminals no longer fear killing b/c the death penalty has been removed or its implementation stalled in many states.

 

  • Criminals no longer fear running from the police b/c of the police being hindered by lawsuits and complications every time they pull a gun.

 

  • Kids no longer fear schools b/c the schools cannot punish like they should for fear of retaliatory lawsuits.

 

  • Kids no longer fear parent’s b/c if a parent punishes then the child reports it and the child is taken away.

There is no fear b/c there is no example being set that we should fear retribution from the government.

 

If a government is a godly one it will not be afraid to administer justice through means of force and punishment.

 

(PAUSE)

 

Now that is the basics. And for most of us it’s not hard to understand these three very simple principles.


But we add to those simple understandings by next looking at what happens when government is abusive.

 

II. Abuse of Government.

 

Ill.: In the original Greek the “servant of God” we see in our main passage means, “a minister of God.” Government is a spokesman for God and that is a high calling to have.

 

But unfortunately just as the minister who is called to preach the Word truthfully can go astray and preach falsely so also the government can go astray and lose site of its duties.

 

And if a government who is doing right will work hard to protect the innocent and punish the evildoers then what happens when a government begins to abuse those duties?

 

Here are a few characteristics of a poor government…

 

            A. Abuse of Power.

 

In 1 Kings 21 it tells us of government corruption…

 

  • King Ahab of Samaria, was obsessed with getting a vineyard from the local citizen Naboth of Jezreel.

 

  • Ahab’s wife Queen Jezebel, seeing her husband’s depression over having been told he could not have it, conspired to take it.
  • Jezebel bringing false charges against Naboth for treason ends in his being stoned to death.

 

  • This opens the door for Ahab to lay claim to the vineyard, but Elijah comes from God with a message from the Lord for his abuse of power.

1 Kings 21:17-19 & 23 (NIV), Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’ ““And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’”

In our time it seems as though abuse of power is at every turn seeing those who are called to use power for good instead use it for evil.

 

Its no wonder many citizens are completely skeptical of the political figures in our government b/c they are constantly in the news for some wrongdoing in office.

 

Abusing power for personal gain is abuse of the people and is not God’s will for the government

 

            B. Morally Unsound.

 

Now the bible doesn’t tell us that the person in government position has to be a Christian, but he must be morally sound in his actions to lead effectively.

 

That is especially true of the need to follow the very laws the official is called to protect and enforce.

 

If the government refuses to follow its own laws and ordinances then that sends a message to the citizens.

 

Ill.: I was watching a DVD series on Presidents with my son the other day and two presidents stood out as corrupt in the last 35 years in a time when there was such a need for moral stability in our government b/c of the impressions that were left on the country in a time of change…

 

One was in 1974 when Richard Nixon resigned b/c he had used illegal means for which to operate his office. What stood out to me is right before he resigned he said, “Americans have a right to know if they’re President is a crook. Well I’m not a crook I have worked for everything I have.”

 

Second was in the late 90’s, a time when it seemed the “do whatever feels good” generation was taking off full force. Our current president Bill Clinton having been accused of improper behavior in the White House defiantly said, “I did not have relations with that woman.” Only later did he admit to it but only with the forever-debated question of what the definition of “is” was.

 

Both were in a position were they should do all that they could be morally sound for the good of the nation but both lied and by doing so they sent the message of moral carelessness.

 

When a government is morally loose even hypocritical in its actions or the actions of its leaders you will see a decline in the moral actions of the people.

 

            C. Refuse to Administer Proper Justice.

 

When a country does not fairly administer justice in the way God has commanded then they are an abusive government.

 

Now that can come in several different ways…

 

1.      Ignores Justice.

 

When there is a problem or an instance when some one or group is not being treated right but their right is being ignored that’s abusive.

 

Ill.: The civil rights movements of the 60’s was a time in which many politicians chose to ignore the rights of the black persons who had the right to be treated fairly. Instead of addressing the issue many politicians simply ignored it.  It wasn’t until LBJ that a president took what was considered open and decisive action.

 

The government that chooses to ignore the needs of its people is not promoting an atmosphere of peace and stability.

 

            2. Twist Justice.

 

Isaiah 5:20 (NIV), Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

 

When justice is twisted around then there is an abuse taking place.

 

When the things that are obviously wrong go unpunished and even worse when the good and innocent are in turn punished then justice is corrupted.

 

There are also those instances when justice is twisted b/c there is a contradiction in political stance.

 

Ill.: I recently overheard a presidential candidate speaking of his opposition to the war in Iraq, b/c of the death of those women and children who are in the middle of the current war there.

 

Yet this is the same candidate who stands on a platform of pro-choice. That is pro-abortion which allows children in the womb to be discarded at a rate far greater than the Iraqi War could ever kill women, children, soldiers, and opposition forces combined.

 

That is a twisted and hypocritical justice. 

 

Instances of twisted justice seems to be the norm in our time…

 

  • Elderly ladies are prosecuted b/c the assailant was injured in his attack on her.

 

  • The police are charged with excessive force against a felony convict who is running from them and is shot and killed.

 

  • Marines are being charged with murder when they shoot and kill a potential enemy combatant who would not comply.

 

Unfortunately justice is being corrupted by these kinds of twisting of law that protects the wrongdoer and punishes the innocent.

 

When justice is twisted like this then there is a problem with the system of justice.

 

            3.  Special Justice.

 

Ill.: Remember earlier I told you justice was, “making sure a person is treated as he deserves, no more or no less.”

 

Unfortunately there seems to be a great deal of what I would call, “special rights” going on.

 

And though I promote the American Constitutions foundation of fair rights in everyway.

 

There are many persons or groups of persons who are not just getting fair treatment but that they are getting rights that go beyond equality.

 

Their rights have even begun to infringe on the rights of the majority in the process.

 

Ill.: I recently heard on the radio where an instance of what I would categorize as special treatment was enacted in CA.

 

Titles like,Mom and Dad” as well as “husband and wife” effectively have been banned from California schools under a bill signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who with his signature also ordered public schools to allow boys to use girls restrooms and locker rooms, and vice versa, if they choose.

 

He signed this b/c he was trying to make those parents who identify themselves as gay feel ok about being parents in the school system. B/C after all what if there are two dads? And one of those dads’s would rather be called mom?

 

Those students who identified themselves as gay would also feel secure and accepted by being able to use the facilities of their choice. This has been done much to the dismay of many who are embarrassed at having to share these facilities with persons of a different gender. They are getting rights they do not deserve.

 

Now do these people who identify as gay deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and not be harmed physically by those who oppose them?

 

Yes of course. They deserve just like any America citizen to be treated respectfully and with kindness despite our moral opposition to them.

 

But in an attempt to make them feel accepted they have actually taken the rights of the majority and given this group special privilege.

 

Lawmakers have been fooled into getting onboard with a movement that is taking them toward offering more than what is deserved treatment.

 

            D. Oppress the Poor.

 

Ill.: The issue of immigration from Mexico is a big one for this upcoming election. Do they deserve to be here? Do they need to be sent back? What is the solution? All questions that are very hard to answer or solve simplistically.


But one thing that many do not know is that one of the reasons many flee Mexico and the life there is b/c in Mexican the government operates on systematic oppression. To keep the people under control and obedient they keep the people poor, demoralized and hopeless. Definitely a motive to want to come to a better place.

 

One of the worse things a government can do is to blatantly oppress the people.

 

In the OT King Josiah’s son is cursed b/c he as King brought about oppression of the poor, wasting his position and living in sin…

 

Jeremiah 22:13 & 17 (NIV), Woe to him who builds his house without righteousness and his upper rooms without justice, who uses his neighbor’s services without pay and does not give him his wages, your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion.

 

Scripture clearly speaks of God’s wish for governments to protect those who need to be protected and be cared for and not mistreated.

Psalms 82:3-4 (NIV), Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.

(PAUSE)

 

Now that is not exhaustive in the ways in which government can abuse their power, but it does cover a broad group of issues.

 

I hope both the understanding of what a government should do and what they should not do show how important it is for government to do what is right.

 

Not only for our sake but also b/c God has promised those who mistreat the position given it will pay a heavy price.

 

Jeremiah 21:12 (NIV), This is what the LORD says: “Administer justice every morning; rescue from the hand of his oppressor the one who has been robbed, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done— burn with no one to quench it.”

 

This morning I have laid out what scripture says and in the end you must look at these issues we have discussed and decide if the government you follow is doing these things that are right or not.

 

Next week we are going to see what it is that we should be doing and what we can do to voice our opinions if indeed we seek to do so.

 

 

 

 

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