I include this as evidence that we are not living in the most evil of times, especially concerning the world’s persecution of Christians. Yet, we must face the fact that more and more Christians are facing increased persecution.
None of this is a surprise to God. He is sovereign over all the affairs of men. He ordains those who are in authority both good rulers and evil rulers. He ordains everything for His good purpose. But, God is never the author of sin. He ordains all things and that includes the evil behavior of second causes. We refer to those second causes as evil men.
The principle outlined in Romans 13:1 is not a sliding scale. That is, it is an absolute standard. Christians are to submit to the governing authorities because God has ordained all authority.
God has given instruction concerning what believers are to do when forced to submit to a human authority that commands that which is opposed to God’s law. For example, when a ruler commands killing for evil purposes, we who profess Christ are to obey God rather than man. (Acts 5:29) In so doing we must understand that the evil ruler will likely execute his own wrath against us.
I immediately think of those who resisted the Nazi mandate to exterminate the Jews. Many were executed by the Nazis for harboring Jews. Now this is an extreme picture. But it serves to remind us of consequences for doing what God requires. Jesus told His disciples not to be surprised when the world expressed hatred for them because it hated Him first. (John 15:18)
So then, from God’s word here are several things He has commanded concerning the Christian’s relationship with civil government:
• Believers are to submit to the governing authorities.
• God ordained civil authorities for the good of all.