Lawmakers' Pride and Romans 13

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Original Sin Is Pride

sin was not just disobeying God’s Commandment on not “eating” of
a certain “tree”; the sin was also pride, which made man think he
can decide for himself what is right and wrong, and doesn’t need
God’s Word to tell him that.

<God said to Adam> But of the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that
thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

  • In the
    phrase, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” this “tree”
    is apparently symbolic, since no tree seems likely to be able
    to impart knowledge. Trees can symbolize several things. Trees
    are upright and upright has a double meaning that includes righteousness,
    so righteousness is compared to the tree of life. Pro. 11:30
    “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth
    souls is wise.”

  • A similar
    feature of trees is loftiness, which can connote pride. The
    Hebrew word for “knowledge” in Gen. 2:17 can also mean cunning,
    which relates to pride. The word for “good” can also mean pleasure
    or wealth, types of self-seeking. The word for “evil” can also
    mean “affliction” and Jesus often implied that people’s afflictions
    are generally a result of sins. God said Adam would die on the
    day he were to eat of the tree. Since he didn’t die physically
    when he did eat of it, God must have meant he would die spiritually,
    which would eventually result in physical death as well. Sin
    causes our deaths and pride is a sin that blinds us to our own
    sinfulness. Therefore, pride is the most dangerous sin.

  • Substituting
    then in Gen. 2:17 for tree “pride,” for knowledge “cunning,”
    for good “greed,” and for eat “partake,” it says: Of the pride
    in the cunning of greed and evil you shall not partake of it
    <or you shall die spiritually and physically>.

<The serpent said to Eve> For God doth know that in
the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall
be as gods, knowing good and evil.

  • In the
    Bible, “god” often means magistrate or judge, and, when Satan
    said you will be like “gods, knowing good and evil,” this likely
    means you will be like a judge, able to decide right and wrong.
    But Satan is false. Man, with limited knowledge and wisdom, cannot
    decide right and wrong. We need God to tell us this, which is
    why we have God’s Law or God’s Word, found in the bible and in
    the minds and hearts of his people. God gives us free will to
    choose between what he says is right and wrong. But choosing wrong
    does not make it right. Lawmaking, by Government etc, that opposes
    God’s Word, is Us acting as gods by deciding Right & Wrong,
    instead of letting God decide for us. Groups and governments that
    make laws that contradict God’s Law are acting as false gods and
    the First Commandment tells us not to submit to any false gods.

Bible often uses names of governments, such as Egypt, Sodom, Babylon,
Rome and symbolic terms, like “beast,” to refer to wrongful Lawmaking
and dominion. Terms like Fornication, Harlot, and Prostitute in
the bible often refer to people who submit to such ungodly governments.
Fornication in such cases means that we act as lovers of Satan,
having intimate relations with him. The term Israel in the bible
is sometimes used symbolically to mean God’s Kingdom on Earth. Those
who submit to God’s rule, instead of man’s rule, are called Israel,
faithful, the Bride of Christ, the Bride of God, etc.

Are Powers and Rulers in Romans 13?

Vance has complained in a previous LRC article that many ministers
wrongly use Romans 13 as an excuse to excuse nearly any kind of
government atrocity or abuse. I believe that Romans 13 is generally
misunderstood and that the wider context of the New Testament shows
the correct meaning. Let’s look at the first 7 verses of Romans
13 in the larger context.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there
is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

  • Higher
    powers means God and his ministers and ordinances, not worldly
    rulers. God does not ordain worldly rulers, but only his ministers
    who do and teach his Word, or Law. The Greek word for “powers”
    also means privileges, freedoms, or rights. This is saying that
    all rights or freedoms come from God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance
of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

  • Resisting
    man’s ungodly laws does not bring damnation or judgment. Only
    resisting God’s Law brings damnation. Many worldly rulers have
    had laws against God and God’s Law, even against being Christian
    etc <as per the new Iraqi government>, so obviously this
    is not referring to the power of worldly rulers, but only to the
    power of God and his Law and ministers. Worldly rulers again are
    not higher powers. And, since the word for power here means rights
    or freedoms, it’s likely saying that anyone, such as a worldly
    ruler, who resists or opposes human rights also opposes God’s
    lawful order.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt
thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and
thou shalt have praise of the same:

  • Rulers
    again means ministers ordained by God, not worldly rulers. Likewise,
    the power again means God and God’s Law, not that of any worldly
    ruler. Worldly rulers praise evil as much as good.

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that
which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain:
for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon
him that doeth evil.

  • Worldly
    rulers are not ministers of God. His ministers teach the Word
    of God, which is God’s Law. The Word of God is sometimes called
    a sword, as in Eph. 6:17 and in Rev. 1:16 & 2:12,16 where
    someone like Jesus is said to have a sword, meaning God’s Word,
    coming from his mouth, which destroys, i.e. destroys the pride
    of, the ungodly. Ministers use the same sword, the Word of God,
    to rebuke evil doers. Rebuking sinners is sometimes called the
    Wrath of God. This wrath begins with hurt pride.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also
for conscience sake.

  • This wrath
    is uncomfortable and embarrassing and manifests as ill health
    of body or mind. It tortures and destroys our pride. But we should
    be concerned not just about the pain of wrath, but also about
    righteousness, which is conscience.

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers,
attending continually upon this very thing. [7] Render therefore
to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom
custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

  • Tribute
    here means voluntary tithes to our ministers, who attend to our
    salvation. Customs may refer to tithes to other ministries, when
    we travel.

Pet. 2:11-14
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and
pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
[12] Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas
they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works,
which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. [13]
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake:
whether it be to the king, as supreme; [14] Or unto governors, as
unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers,
and for the praise of them that do well.

  • This passage
    and the previous one in Romans 13 are often misinterpreted to
    encourage undue submission to worldly rulers. This passage is
    talking about how to behave when traveling in other nations. It
    says to obey the laws there that are for the Lord’s sake, those
    that discourage evil and those that encourage righteousness. It
    does not say to obey laws that are not for the Lord’s sake, that
    encourage evil or oppose righteousness. And, indeed, the Apostles
    did not obey such laws, such as those against preaching about
    Jesus and his salvation or preaching about serving God rather
    than worldly rulers.

of the U.S.

it’s okay to obey the powers that be, even if they’re not ministers
of God, then, what if two different powers say to do two different
things? For example, the Constitution is declared to be the supreme
law of the U.S., because it is considered to be the will of the
people and the people are the rulers, while government officials
are servants of the people, i.e. public servants. No one is a higher
authority than the Constitution, except for the bible. So, if the
president or Congress or the Supreme Court command anyone to do
anything contrary to the Constitution, which one do you obey, the
public servants or the Constitution?

the president or Congress tell you to support a war, but they don’t
follow the procedures outlined in the Constitution, do you obey
the public officials or the Constitution? If the Constitution is
the higher authority and it says there can be war only if the Congress
declares war by a proper vote of both houses, but Congress doesn’t
vote to declare war, then, if you obey them by supporting or participating
in the war, you’re breaking the law, just as the public servants
are breaking the law. And if Congress passes laws that are unconstitutional,
such as parts of the misnamed Patriot Act, can we obey such law-breaking,
or vote for such law-breakers in Congress who pretend to make such
laws? Does God excuse law-breaking, if a large majority of the people
break the law?

7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad
is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which
go in thereat.

11, 2005

Kinder [send him mail] is
a Peace & Justice activist. His website is
article is from a new book, The
World Needs Miracles: The Bible & Peace,
compiled by Lloyd Kinder with other articles contributed by Libertarian
& Progressive writers from and elsewhere. A
second volume is expected in November.

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