There are many Christians who are filled with confusion surrounding the idea of how to Biblically view government.
Thankfully, we do not have to live in a perpetual state of confusion because Scripture provides us with a precise picture of the purpose and task of the institution of government.
Paul, in chapter thirteen of his letter to the Romans, reveals three key truths about government which allows us to better understand this institution.
1) God Established Government
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Rom. 13:1)
It is important to note that government is not the product of human genius, thought, or invention. Nor did government arise organically as humanity collectively saw the need for it. The institution of government was created and established by God Himself. We may then ask, why is it that God established the institution of Government? Thankfully, Paul answers this in verse four.
2) Government is for Our Good
“For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.” (Rom. 13:4a)
It is worth pointing out that Paul classifies government as God’s “servant.” Paul writes that government is to serve God for the good of its people. Government is not necessarily to strive to do good for the rulers and kings, but rather for the people who are under the authority of the government. Government was established by God so those under the government could flourish, prosper, be protected, and enjoy their lives.
3) Government is to Restrain and Punish Evil
“But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” (Rom. 13:4b)
From this verse, it is evident that God established government as His agent to bring punishment and wrath on those who act wrongly. Justice is to be primarily carried out by government as it was instituted by God for that specific purpose. Dr. Wayne Grudem puts it this way, “The civil government, in this life, is the means that God has established to carry out justice.”
In summary, God established government to “further good” and “restrain evil” in our society. Unfortunately, sin has corrupted government which has too often resulted in wicked acts, injustice, and evil of all kinds. For government to fulfill its divine command to promote righteousness and restrain wickedness, Christians must actively be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16).
Thankfully, here in the United States, we are greatly blessed to play an integral role in our governmental process and have the freedom to advocate for God-honoring laws.