Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
The Bible commands us to submit to government, but sometimes we have to say no to those in authority. There is a great illustration of that in Acts 5. Peter and the apostles were in Jerusalem preaching the gospel. The more they preached, the angrier the Jewish officials got. So the Jewish ruling council called Peter and the apostles before them and delivered this edict: “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (v. 28). In other words, stop preaching the name of Jesus.
How did Peter and the apostles respond? Did they say, “If that is what you want, then we will quit preaching”? No. Look at verse 29: “Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’”
The apostles were flogged and warned again not to preach the name of Jesus. Verses 41-42 say, “They went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” And ultimately, the apostles gave up their lives for that commitment to God.
We should not be surprised when we suffer the consequences of obeying God rather than men. I believe the time is coming when we are going to have to decide whether we are going to obey God or obey the government. Are you ready to disobey the government if the government says you cannot say every other religion is wrong? In other parts of the world, Christians are being called to give their lives for their willingness to obey God rather than men. To be a Christian does not mean to just hold on to your “get out of hell free” card. To be a follower of Christ means to obey everything Christ has commanded, even if it costs you your life.
Isn’t that the example Jesus left for us? There came a point in Jesus’s life when He said no to human authority. He was hauled before the officials and asked, “Are You the Son of God?” He said, “Yes, I am” (Luke 22:70). The reason He rejected human authority was He had placed Himself under God’s authority. And saying yes to God and no to man is what drove Jesus to the cross. Being obedient to God rather than man cost Him His life. Are you willing to give the same out of your allegiance to God?
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Mr. Solomon Goes to Washington” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.