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Who is God here?

April 27, 2015

coin“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” This Biblical phrase has entered into our culture and become a kind of short hand to express a person’s obligation of obedience to one’s government, especially in the matter of paying taxes. Jesus uttered this phrase in the first part of His answer to a difficult question put to Him by His enemies. His answer is obviously reasonable and just. Since Caesar prints the money, circulates the money, backs the money and uses the money for the general benefit of the nation, then it is only proper that those who benefit from the government return a portion of the benefit received.

Many stop there, but Jesus did not. To end the quote with Caesar is to miss a major part of the truth Jesus is proclaiming. “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Give to Caesar the things that pertain to him, and give to God the things that pertain to God. The government is due some things, but there are some things it is not due. The government is due the Christian’s honor, prayers, obedience and financial support. The government is not due the Christian’s worship. The government does not get to bind the conscience of the Christian. Though the government is an authority, it is not the highest. Every government is an authority constituted by God and under God. God reserves to Himself the right to dictate matters of morality, conscience, doctrine and worship. Governments greatly err when they attempt to step outside their authority and act as if they have the right to demand the worship of men, to dictate how their subjects worship will take place or to attempt to compel a citizen to violate his conscience.

As America moves into a time in which the government feels increasing freedom to dictate the conscience of the Christian, believers must remember to always give the government that which is just and right. No matter how wicked the government may become, Christian’s must still must obey its laws, honor its officials and pray for its leaders. However, no matter how wicked the government may become Christians must still reserve to God those things which are God’s. The federal courts, the president, congress and other officials do not have the authority to order the consciences of men. They do not have the authority to countermand the commands of God. The Christian must stand firm on the commands of God, unmoved by all the threats of a nation. The Christian must stand firm in his respect to those very officials who would seek to coerce him to disobey his God. The right path of a Christian citizen will at times be very narrow with snares and pitfalls underfoot, but this narrow way must be taken. Pay your taxes, honor your leaders and be good citizens. Worship your God, obey His commands and be faithful Christians. Don’t confuse the two sets of duties and do not neglect either.

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