Understanding Our Need for Government and its Real Nature
The following study will make even more sense if we first understand moral government
One Nation Over God
Mention the word government to a typical twenty-first century American and s/he is most likely to think of Washington, D. C. But if that same American were to travel back in time to 1828 and open a copy of Webster’s newly released dictionary, he would discover that the first definition of government describes “self-government.” Other forms of government, including family (1 Corinthians 11:3, 8–9) and civil government (Deuteronomy 16:18–20, 25:1; Romans 13:1–5), are secondary.
This definition points us back to the Bible, the only source to properly understand our need for government and its real nature. We learn from the Bible that man is to give his heart to God (1 Peter 1:14–16) and to exercise self-control over his mind (2 Corinthians 10:4–6), his members (1 Corinthians 9:26–27), and his actions, so that he can fully honor his Creator (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3–5, 5:2–3).
Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language reflected this distinctively biblical worldview in its definitions of government and sample usages:
“Direction; regulation. ‘These precepts will serve for the government of our conduct.’”
“Control; restraint. ‘Men are apt to neglect the government of their temper and passions.’”
In this modern age of lawlessness, where morality is believed to evolve based on changing culture rather than eternally fixed principles for self-rule, it is not surprising that the only “government” modern man recognizes is an all-powerful state. The biblical doctrine of government, on the other hand, emphasizes a multiplicity—family, church, and state—each grounded in self-control under God. The tension between these two views of government finds its root in the Genesis record, from the Garden of Eden to the Tower of Babel.
Creation and Self Government
In the beginning, God created man and gave him the first law: to keep the Garden but not eat of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:15–17). The law was meant to be a blessing to man, but it came with sanctions should man break it. Both the law and its sanctions communicated truths of vast significance about the Creator, including His righteousness, His love, His authority, and His justice.
At first, there was no civil government to enforce the law. Man was to be self-governing under God. He was to delight in the law of the Lord and keep His commandments. But man proved he would not be self-governing. He broke the law and lost fellowship with His Creator (Genesis 3:23–24). He also fell under the condemnation of the law and brought disorder and confusion into mankind’s relationships.
Family government was introduced at the moment of Eve’s creation. Adam was to be the jurisdictional head of the family, and Eve was to be a helper suitable for him (Genesis 2:18). But Adam failed to honor his governing duties. He should have refused to eat the forbidden fruit that Eve offered him. At that moment tension entered their relationship. God would then declare to Eve: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
In the years that followed, three distinct units of government emerged, each with privileges and duties. Today, they are known as family, civil, and church governments. Each government carries a God-ordained instrument of punishment to enforce the moral law of God: The family is given the rod (Proverbs 23:13–14); the state, the sword (Romans 13:4); and the church, the keys (Matthew 16:19). But self-government under God remains the defining obligation of every individual.
The Origins of Civil Government
There is no biblical evidence of a sword-bearing, civil government in the pre-Flood world. The two most notable killers in the world before the Flood—Cain (Genesis 4:8–18) and Lamech—feared retribution from their brothers, but neither of them suffered at the hands of a civil magistrate.
God apparently instituted civil government after the Genesis Flood when He introduced capital punishment for murder (Genesis 9:5). Here we discover that the very first principle of godly civil government is the protection of innocent life. The Lord declared to Noah that “whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” God instituted this law because of the creation doctrine of the imago dei (“for in the image of God made he man”).
Nimrod and the Tower of Babel
After the Genesis Flood, God restated His mandate, originally given in the Garden of Eden, for mankind to multiply and fill the earth (Genesis 1:26–28; 9:1). But in the generations that followed, man expressly rejected that mandate. Rather than dispersing and demonstrating self-governance under God, the people gathered at the tower in the city of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9). Their mission: an empire of rebellion—a one-world, centralized government under man. Many commentators believe that the tyrant Nimrod, a “mighty man” of violence described in Genesis 10:9–11, led this enterprise.
God’s mandate to disperse around the world implied decentralization and self-government (Genesis 1:28, 9:1). The express purpose of the tower, in contrast, was for humans to “make a name” for themselves and to avoid being “scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
The new Babel state was distinctively religious in nature. It appeared to have a messianic vision of salvation by government and glory to man, symbolized by the erection of a tower to the heavens. Under this centralized religious state the people were one. The Lord Himself revealed the dangers of this Satanic unity: “Now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Genesis 11:6). In the end, God judged man’s self-seeking attempt to centralize power at Babel by sending confusion and dispersing men by language groups.
It is likely that the city of Babel served as the model for most of the state-sponsored pagan mystery religions of the ancient world. Many early cities adopted major architectural projects, like the ziggurats of Babylon, which perpetuated ideals similar to those of the centralized human government at Babel.
Since the Garden of Eden, mankind has yearned to restore the sense of order and justice that was lost at the Fall. But the question has always been—will man be self-governing under the authority of a multiplicity of God-ordained governments, each with defined and limited powers, or will he seek a Babel-like solution?
Recall that the Hebrew nation insisted on a king with vast powers like their pagan counterparts, while Samuel pleaded for them to remain self-governing under God (1 Samuel 8:5, 10:19). The totalitarian Roman Empire arose in large part as a response to the perceived inefficiencies and weakness of the more decentralized Republic.
More recently the German people of the 1930s looked to a strongman with absolute authority to bring order after the devastation of World War I. This desire for unity under a modern-day Nimrod-like leader—in this case, Adolf Hitler—brought unprecedented horror, not only to the people of the world but to the very Germans who demanded the new regime.
Salvation by Government
Just six thousand years ago, the Serpent asked Eve the question, “Has God said?” (Genesis 3:1). Modern man is asking the same question. He hates the moral law of God and refuses to be governed by it (Habakkuk 1:4). Instead of seeking the favor of the Lord through obedience to His law, modern humans seek deliverance through endless legislation and the promises of an all-powerful “nanny state.”
God intends civil law to be a restraint against evil, not a source of spiritual deliverance (Romans 13:4). Ironically, those who believe in evolving morality are the ones who most vocally argue for salvation by legislation. Because they believe man’s problems arise from outward circumstances rather than sins of the heart, they hope to solve man’s problems through government programs and better education. In such a world, the State, not Jesus Christ, is honored as the true redeemer.
The spirit of Babel is alive and well. Men and women still crave “government” solutions to spiritual problems. At the heart of this crisis is a misdiagnosis of the basic problem. Man’s problem is not his environment; it is sin (Romans 6:23). The solution begins with spiritual redemption, not social reform or state-imposed order. Because nations are comprised of individuals, the solution requires a change in heart, which only God can do.
The disposition of the individual influences what kind of people rule over him. Because civil governments are ultimately ruled by individuals, the state of their hearts impacts the prosperity of the whole nation. The bottom line is this: Freedom requires self-government; self-government requires righteousness. This explains why, “when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2).
As God makes clear from Genesis, proper government begins with self-government and then extends to the family, church, and state, as each jurisdiction honors their God-ordained duties and boundaries.
Genesis—The Source of Traffic Laws?
It is impossible to pass a law that is free from moral implications. The real question is not whether man can legislate morality, but which system of morality will be legislated. All laws are either explicitly moral or procedures that uphold a moral concept. Even laws requiring traffic lights impose “morality.” The purpose of traffic lights is to stop people from having accidents, thus protecting property and preserving life.
Even simple laws, like traffic lights, presuppose that (a) order is good and chaos bad, (b) property rights should be honored, and (c) life should be preserved. Each of these principles is rooted in the Genesis account of origins: (a) God the Creator, who declared His work “very good” (Genesis 1:31), is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33); (b) He commanded man to bring order to creation by taking dominion over the earth, thus laying the foundation for property rights (Genesis 1:28); and (c) He established the sanctity of life as the first principle of lawful government (Genesis 9:5–6). These are the unspoken moral assumptions behind a traffic light. [Source]
Greek: exousia (Strong’s NT:1849), delegated authority. All authorities are ordained (Greek: tasso (Strong’s NT:5021), appointed or determined) of God. That is, in God's plan He has determined that human governments shall exist to carry on moral government and enforce moral laws on His behalf. They are appointed by God, but He is not responsible for their acts. If they get out of line He will judge them, as He will gospel ministers.
Seven Facts About Human Governments:
1. They were instituted by God (Genesis 9:1-7; Romans 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
2. Their purpose was to punish criminals and enforce law and order among people (Romans 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Genesis 9:6; Isaiah 11:4-9; Isaiah 65:20; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 4:17-25; Daniel 5:21).
3. It is the duty of Christians and others to help establish and support human government for the preservation of society and promotion of the highest good of man (Romans 13:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17).
4. Governments were instituted to govern by force and to punish, not only local and individual criminals, but also universal and national criminals (i.e. Nazi Germany). This includes execution of war to put down criminal nations as well as criminal individuals (Romans 13:1-5; 1 Peter 2:13-17; Daniel 2:21; Daniel 4:17-25; Daniel 5:21).
5. Christians are not to leave popular government up to the ungodly. To neglect good government is to neglect the salvation of souls. Promotion of public and private good is one of the greatest means of saving souls (Romans 13:1-6; 1 Tim. 1:8-10). Christians should vote and enter public life to promote good government so that the gospel will not be hindered and stamped out. Both reason and experience, as well as the Bible make this obligatory upon all. Since government is necessary for the best good of all, it is the duty of every Christian to help bring about the best government to secure this end.
6. Human governments, therefore, are not founded upon the arbitrary will of God, but upon the needs of humanity in securing their highest good. If in a small family, law and penalties are needed, how much more are they needed in communities, states, and nations. If government needs reforming, then let the Christians bring about such reforms. If they require nothing contrary to God, moral obligation, and the conscience, and if they meet the needs of those governed, they should be perpetuated (Romans 13:1-6).
7. Upon the grounds of the best public interest, it becomes the duty of human governments to use all necessary means to attain this end. It is absurd to believe that rulers have the right to govern and not the right to use the necessary means to carry on good government. Such error or belief causes many Christians to object to the right to deal with mobs, to suppress rebellions, the right of capital punishment, and to make wars on criminal nations (i.e. Nazi Germany). When a person sells himself to destroy the best good of others, it becomes necessary to take him from the society he seeks to destroy. In such cases it becomes necessary to deal with individuals, and nations to enforce law and order for the best good of all. It must be both the right and the duty of government and all its subjects to use every necessary and possible means to suppress rebellion and enforce respect for law and order. Rulers are God's ministers to execute God's wrath upon the ungodly and preserve moral law and government for the good of all (Romans 13:1-6; 1 Peter 2:13-17). [Source]
The following passages also help us understand what God expects from Government:
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” —Psalm 33:12
2 Samuel 23:2‑4 states: “…He who rules over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.”
Two simple requirements for a ruler are here stated: s/he must be just, and he must rule in the reverent fear of God. No doubt there is a prophetic reference here to the kingdom of Christ, and these words will find their complete and final fulfillment only in Christ. Nevertheless, the general principle is firmly established and applied to every man who exercises government. God's two requirements are that he will be just and God‑fearing. Whenever such a man is raised up to rule, God promises that blessings will follow: “He shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun rises, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” [Source]
“The [reverent] fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and good knowledge of the holy is understanding.” —Proverbs 9:10; 15:33; Psalm 111:10
“The [reverent] fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” —Proverbs 1:7
“A wicked ruler is as dangerous to the poor as a lion or bear attacking them.” —Proverbs 28:15
“With good men in authority people rejoice, but with the wicked in power, they groan.” —Proverbs 29:2
“When rulers are wicked their people are too, but good men will live to see the tyrants’ downfall.” —Proverbs 29:16
“Where there is ignorance of God, the people run wild, but what a wonderful thing it is for a nation to know and keep His laws.” —Proverbs 29:18
“Evil men don't understand the importance of justice, but those who follow the Lord are much concerned about it.” —Proverbs 28:5
“A good man knows the poor man's rights, the godless don't care.” —Proverbs 29:7
America, 1776: The Declaration of Independence was the promise; the U.S. Constitution was the fulfillment.
Our Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [people] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, —That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.—Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government…”
Plainly, the entire philosophical base of our nation was to govern the government—self-governing under God. We the people are all created equal, endowed by our [divine] Creator with certain unalienable rights. Again, The Declaration of Independence was the promise; the Constitution was the fulfillment. The “Bill of Rights” or better named, “Bill of Limitations on Government” further tied the hands of the government. It’s sole purpose was to safeguard our God-given rights by limiting governmental power:
“In order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added…”
Our Constitution of the United States:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America…”
America is the only country that has ever been founded on the premise that the citizen is sovereign. As such, Americans are obligated to rule and govern ourselves.
The Religion of Secular Humanism
The U.S. Supreme Court, in a footnote to the 1961 decision of Torcaso v. Watkins, stated that different ideological systems – including secular humanism could be defined as religion. Yet secular humanism claims to be “pure" of religion and morality.
More Than One System of ‘Capitalism’
Note that socialism and communism are also forms of ‘capitalism.’ It’s important to understand the systems of capitalism. Free market capitalism’s capital is money. Socialism and communism’s capital is people. Is the free market capitalism moral?
Socialism, “An Intermediate Stage”
A communist revolution is a proletarian revolution inspired by the ideas of Marxism that aims to replace capitalism with communism, typically with socialism (state-run means of production) as an intermediate stage. The idea that a proletarian revolution is needed is a cornerstone of Marxism; Marxists believe that the workers of the world must unite and free themselves from capitalist oppression to create a world run by and for the working class. Thus, in the Marxist view, proletarian revolutions need to happen in countries all over the world. [Source] Understand Socialism's Real Nature
“The world has never before known godlessness as organized, militarized and tenaciously malevolent as that preached by Marxism. Within the philosophical system of Marx and Lenin and at the heart of their psychology, hatred of God is the principle driving force, more fundamental than all their political and economic pretensions. Militant atheism is not merely incidental or marginal to Communist policy; it is not a side effect, but the central pivot. To achieve its diabolical ends, Communism needs to control a population devoid of religious and national feeling, and this entails a destruction of faith and nationhood. Communists proclaim both these objectives openly, and just as openly put them into practice.” —Alexander Solzhenitsyn at Buckingham Palace, May 1983
Mainstream Media’s Indispensable Role
Clearly the mainstream news media’s role in creating a world government able to dominate the political system of each country, and the economy of the world as a whole, is indispensable. One clear example. Another historic and decisive example.
“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” says the MIT economist who helped write Obamacare. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing [Obamacare] to pass.” By the way, national healthcare, like Obamacare, is a top priority in Marxism.
A Concise History Lesson and Application for Today
Our modern world is on fire. Syria has fallen apart from genocide. Russia has seized Ukrainian land at gunpoint. And China is flexing its muscles. The diabolical lust for power of dictators and oppressors are replete in humankind’s history. Yet, since World War II, something happened that secured authentic relative peace and world-wide economic expansion for decades. What was it? Hint: It was not about the exemplary lust for power, oppression, terror, or money. It did however, include morality. In less than 6-minutes, NATO's former Secretary General and Denmark's former Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen provides a concise history lesson and application for us today.
This video interview of Dr. Thomas Sowell can sum up America’s form of government well.
Understand Socialism's Real Nature
Understand Separation of Church and State
Understand Islam’s Real Nature
Understand Our Need for Another Look at Immigration
Understand the Same Sex Sexuality Movement’s Real Nature
See “Were We Causing Global Warming?”
Theocracy in Israel
Israel's government was a theocracy: God was their invisible King who chose certain men to lead His people. There were no political parties, campaigns, or elections of popular people. As long as Israel continued under this form of government, depending on God and living righteously, they had victory and miraculous experiences; but when they demanded a king to be like other nations, they came to an end like others that forgot God. When they come back to God, the theocracy will be restored to remain forever (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:44-45; Daniel 7:13-14; Zech. 14; Luke 1:32-33; Rev. 11:15; Rev. 20:1-10; Rev. 22:4-5).
See the 21-fold Plan of God