Because of conscience. (Romans 13:5)
In our last study of Romans 13 we considered what actions are legitimate for Christians who live under unjust authorities. Multitudes of Christians do. Should they simply submit or pay the unjust consequences of resistance? Or do they have a Biblical basis for trying to overthrow the government?
If the government is not doing what Paul says is their responsibility under God, have they forfeited the right to expect believers to submit and obey them? Some would say, “Yes. They don’t deserve to continue to rule.” They might even feel justified in opposing them and trying to overthrow the government.
If at all possible, if that is someone’s intent, they should first do whatever they can in a peaceful way. Often, that is not possible. Then they are left with accepting their unfortunate circumstances or taking up arms themselves. The latter step is a very serious one.
Paul puts it this way in Romans 13:5, “Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.” It is the conscience that requires clarity of conviction. Remember, Jesus never took up arms, nor did the first century church. But God did at times directed Old Testament leaders to take up the sword and overthrow governments that were unjust.
It seems clear that our first initiative should be spiritual. We should pray, as Paul urges, in 1st Timothy 2:1-2. We also should live in an upright way ourselves. Then we should seek peaceful means. Only as a last resort should taking up arms be considered.
Are you fulfilling your civil responsibilities with a clear conscience?