..... Keon's
....... Commentary

............. "Helping You Find Answers To Life's Questions"
Home | Hot Topics | Personal Concerns | About the Bible | About Jesus | Learn More
Government Responsibility

..... Why do we need government? What is its purpose? To answer those questions, we must go back in time to see how government came about and who started it.

Early Man – Wild and Free, or Just Wild?

..... You remember the story of the first siblings, Cain of Able. Cain murdered his brother because he was jealous, but what happened to him? Did Cain go to jail or get executed? No, the Bible says, “So now you are cursed from the earth which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” (Genesis 4:11-12) Cain became an outcast but never got justice as we think of it because there was no law and no government. Unfortunately for early man, there were a lot of Cains. “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5) These evil people made Earth a horrible place to live. “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” (Genesis 6:11) People acted on every evil impulse and would not allow respect for God or man to tame them. Since man would not restrain the wickedness in his heart, God sent the Flood of Noah to wipe them out and started over with an external restraint system.

God Created Government

..... After the Flood, God instituted a method to restrain the sin in man from ruining the Earth again. He said, “From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. Whosoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed.” (Genesis 9:5b-6a) God gave mankind authority to deal with criminals and protect us from evildoers. The Bible makes this point clearly, for example, “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil…for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” (Romans 13:3-4) Authorities are actually God’s ministers—they work for God! In many countries like ours where we get to choose our rulers, we think they work for us, and in a sense they do. Yet the office they hold and power they execute are ultimately from God and not man. We are blessed that we get to choose and can hold leaders accountable. However, every leader, ruler, and authority on Earth will one day answer to God for how he used or abused his office.

Why Do We Need Government?

..... James Madison, architect of the US Constitution said, “If men were angles, no government would be necessary.”1 If we could take care of ourselves, respect others, and honor God we wouldn’t need Government. Can’t we do that? Aren’t we better than early man? Friends, sadly the one we thing we learn from human history is that we haven’t learned anything from history. Be honest, we are no better than the people who lived before the Flood. We have the same needs and desires, the same passions and faults, the same selfishness and evil lurking in our hearts. The only difference is that most of us are afraid to let the evil on the inside come out because the Government will enforce some consequence on us. If you bristle at such a thought, that is pride—pride is evil, see you are the same as early man, get over it! You can watch any news broadcast and see that the human heart still has wickedness in it as you learn of rape, murder, and corruption. Thank God for the institution of Government otherwise lawlessness would soon take your possessions and life.

The Role of Government

..... So we see that God instituted government to protect the innocent, but how is it supposed to do that? Recall the Almighty’s words, “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which the LORD your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.” (Deuteronomy 16:18) Judges are to be appointed by the people to keep order and they are to dispense justice from the bench. “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.” (Deut. 16:19) God forbids taking bribes, partiality, and perversion of justice. He requires that, “You shall follow what is altogether just.” (Deut. 16:20a) The Supreme Lawgiver demands that not only individuals do right, but governments, also. Everyone will be held accountable for his actions.

When Government Doesn’t Do Its Job

..... The Lord has said that Government is to protect and execute justice. Since God is the inventor of Government, it makes sense that we should run ours like He said. Government is not to be lax (let criminal get away with crime) and it is not to be absolute (ruling over people). When we stray from God’s plan for Government, people suffer. If you go to a place like Somalia, where Government is so lax that it really doesn’t exist and people live in poverty and terror. If you go to a place like North Korea where the Government is absolute and lords over everyone, the people live in poverty and terror. Any nation can quickly and easily reach either extreme. All it takes is for people to become so dependent on the Government, that they stop thinking for themselves. Then, either the Government will run out of resources to take care of everyone and collapse or a strong man will come to power and take all the resources for himself. Nowhere in the Bible does God command Government to do more than protect people. And nowhere in the Bible does God tell people to abdicate care of themselves to a Government. Yet, history is filled with the stories of suffering people who corrupted God’s design for Government.

..... Even today people have not learned what Government is supposed to do or not do, though it is written in black and white. Government is to protect you from criminals so you can work, get money, and take care of yourself. (Romans13:3-4) It is not supposed to take care of you. Government is supposed to make sure businesses operate justly, not run them. (Deut.16:20a) Government is to regulate safety, not run hospitals. (Exodus 21:28-36) Why is Government not to do for people what they can do for themselves? Because God has commanded us to care for ourselves AND the poor. Those who depend on the Government to solve their problems are ignoring God’s plans. “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10b-12)

God Intended For Man To Be Free

..... Humans screwed up God’s plan for us to live freely, but that is still God’s design. However, the plan now calls for Government to protect freedom. Remember, God is also the originator of liberty. “And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.” (Leviticus 25:10a) He freed the Israelites from Egypt, giving physical liberty, but also the Lord provides spiritual freedom. “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (II Corinthians 3:17) What purpose do government and liberty serve? The two actually go hand in hand. We have liberty so that we may serve God and tell others about Him. We have government to protect our liberty. When freedom is used in ways that honor the Lord, government is a servant of the free. However, when freedom is used for evil purposes, regimes quickly become corrupt and oppressive and liberty is taken away. It is crucial that the blessings, which the Lord has provided, be used and not abused if we wish to keep them or be able to pass them to future generations. In fact, we are commanded to pray for authorities so that we can live in safety and enjoy the freedoms that God has given. Pray “for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.” (I Timothy 2:2)

1Benjamin Hart, Faith & Freedom, (Dallas, Texas, Lewis and Stanley Publishers 1988), p.321

About Us | Contact Us