There are two reasons a person might not be afraid of authorities: either he is sure he is obeying the law or he thinks the law will not catch him or not take action. The former is the hope of human government, and the latter is the motive of fools.
God included capital punishment in human government: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed” (Gen 9:6). In Romans 13:4, the implication of “it does not bear the sword in vain” is that the government can use weapons against disobedient civilians. Government is the establishment of authoritative justice in any society.
The Bible recognizes this authority and tells us to pray that it brings peaceful conditions for the free propagation of the gospel. Paul acknowledged this authority in his trial before Festus in his appeal to Caesar: “If then I am a wrongdoer, . . . I do not refuse to die” (Acts 25:11).
The command is to fear “if you do wrong” (“bad, worthless, harmful”). Human nature is bent toward anarchy, which can only be brought under control by governmental power and punishment.
Paul told Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Tim 2:1–-2NIV).
To pray efficiently, we must watch officials closely to pray specifically, and whatever they might do that interferes with our ability to live quiet lives of faith should be exposed, confronted, challenged, or appealed in prayer.
When nations fail to function as “God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer,” God eventually brings His justice to the nation. The state is charged with the responsibility to be an avenger for the innocent, a responsibility forbidden to individuals (Rom 12:17, 19).
Fear of disobedience is a good thing, whether it is disobedience to parents, governments, or to God. None of these can be disobeyed without painful consequences. Remember to pray that all leaders will execute justice in their spheres of influence.
“Lord, teach me to correctly fear disobeying the laws of society You have allowed to be instituted. May my life always reflect attitudes that will bring respect for Your word.”
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