Church and State
Before you begin your Bible study, as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, be sure you have named your sins privately to God the Father.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
(Known, Unknown and Forgotten sins) (1Jn 1:9)
You will then be in fellowship with God, Filled with the Holy Spirit and ready to learn Truth from the Word of God.
"God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth," (John 4:24)
CHURCH AND STATE
The Christian’s Responsibility to Church and State
The issue before us has been a political “football” for centuries: is there a conflict of responsibility between the Divine institution of nationalism and or; the State and the Church?
Can a born-again Christian serve his country in the military, kill the enemy, and at the same time Think with the Biblical Thoughts of God as a believer-priest? The objective of this study is to demonstrate the compatibility between the Word of Truth and our national heritage. Many great believers have fought and died so that we might have the very freedom of speech which makes this message possible. It is time that Christians learn the Biblical Facts. Some of these questions are answered from the standpoint of: (Matt 22:1-14)
At this time in which we live there are three types of kingdoms on the earth today: Satan's false Spiritual kingdom, (Acts 26:18) and natural earthly kingdoms, (Rom 13:1) which we shall refer to as the State; and the Spiritual Kingdom of God. “…The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” (Matt 22:2)
The “King” (God the Father) is the Author of the Divine plan for the human race. The Divine plan centers in the Person of His Son through whom a Spiritual Kingdom on earth would be formed. (John 18:36) The Father planned Salvation so that all members of the human race could be saved. (1Ti 2:4) Grace found a way!
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that [Salvation] not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
All those who have received Jesus Christ as Savior make up the Spiritual Kingdom. (Gal 3:26)
However, at this point in the history of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ has been rejected by the nation as a whole. Once the Gospel is rejected; “religion” (Salvation by works) is substituted; (Gal 5:4) and it is religion which constantly opposes and attacks Jesus Christ and His Word. (Rom 10:3)
One of these attacks occurs in this chapter, and forces the issue of the relationship between Church and State.
The decline of a national kingdom
The Jews were about to fall apart as a nation because, as individuals, they had REJECTED the person of Jesus Christ. (cf. Hos 4:1-6) Because the Spiritual Kingdom within the National Kingdom was in such a minority, the freedoms, the blessings, the powers and the joys that this nation had enjoyed for centuries were about to be removed under the “Fifth Cycle of Discipline.” (Lev 26:15-39)
The group of people called Israel today; DO NOT CONSTITUTE THE JEWISH NATION as a Theocracy under God! Israel is dispersed and will continue to be scattered throughout the earth UNTIL JESUS CHRIST RETURNS. (Matt 24:31) Here is the Principle: if a national entity, which is a Divine establishment; is to exist as God would have it exist, with perfect liberty, there must be inside that national entity, a remnant of Spiritually mature believers with the Kingdom living in the THEM; and through THEM; (Luk 17:21) which has an influence, but WHICH IS IN NO WAY COMBINED with that national entity!
The Word of God teaches that any ecclesiastical or religious organization which seeks to be the State is false and degenerate. Don’t you, as a believer, ever support ANY organization that seeks to be the State!
It is possible for a believer to be so ignorant Doctrinally that he cannot orient himself politically! God help us when we become so naive politically that we back such organizations as the UNITED NATIONS and the NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CHURCHES. You see, that is exactly where Jewish Spiritual degeneracy was in the days of Christ’s earthly ministry.
That is why the Jews are scattered all over the world today and why; Israel does not exist as a Spiritual nation. (As a Theocracy under God) For many centuries the Jews had marvelous freedoms, blessings and Divine Thoughts which no other nation possessed. Yet they lost all of these things, and thousands upon thousands of them went into eternity without Christ and without hope because they were not straight on the very points that you and I now have the privilege of studying! (Acts 4:12)
(Matt 22:15) introduces this subject: “Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said.” The Pharisees were the religious crowd. Religious people go to Hades; because Satan and religion blind them to the Truth of God’s Word. (2Co 4:4)
For not knowing about God's righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. (Rom 10:3)
Religion is man seeking the approbation of God by his own works, in contrast to God's Reality, where the work has been done; and man has but to receive it. Now these Pharisees wanted to rule the State; but this was never God’s intention. Instead, God has ordained certain institutions in the world for all members of the human race for their preservation and proper function.
The Divine institutions (Neh 4:14)
There are both Divine and Christian institutions. A Christian institution is for believers only; the Lord’s Table, learning the Word, Operation Z, prayer, fellowship with God, Spiritual growth, Thinking Truth, the royal priesthood, the ambassadorship, praise, thanksgiving and worship etc.; can only truly be preformed in the Filling of God the Holy Spirit! (John 4:23-24) But a Divine institution is for Christians and non-Christians alike; and is God’s plan to create and preserve order in the human race. Now, what are the Divine institutions?
(1) VOLITION / FREEWILL (Gen 1:26; Gen 2:16-17) this is a personal Divine institution, which is the basis of all true freedom (Liberty) bestowed at the time of man’s creation. (Freedom with no authority is anarchy; and authority with no freedom is slavery; God's plan is freewill submitted to His Authority; (The Word) this is liberty!)
Every member of the human race has the right to make decisions within the bounds of the Law. There are many national entities today that DENY the existence of the Divine Institution of Volition; in fact, all Communist nations come under this category. Communism, Muhammadanism, Fascism and every “ism” in power; is religion and or Satan ruling the State! All Tyrannies deny the basic Divine Institution of Volition and therefore restricts human freedom.
(2) MARRIAGE (Gen 2:21-24) This was instituted by God for both believers and unbelievers, and is the beginning of organization and stability in the human race. (Satan uses Gay marriage, sensuality, polygamy, and fornacation to attack it!)
(3) FAMILY (Num 2:34) This logically follows the second Divine institution, and is the basis for orderly society and protection of the human race. As the parents rule the children, children learn respect for authority; rights of others and freedom with responsibility. (Gay adoption, broken homes and no discipline)
(4) NATIONALISM (Deut 32:8) National entities have been ordained by God to keep the world from chaos and to prevent Satan from completely taking over the world. Nationalism — protecting freedom, guarantees bona fide evangelism. Internationalism enables Satan to have greater control; (Isa 14:12-14) God divided the people into nations to keep them from being destroyed. Internationalism becomes the breeding place and distribution center for concentrated satanic thinking, (Astrology, fortunetellers, tarot cards, the New Age Movement, séances, sorcery etc.) and rejection of God and His Word! God’s indictment against internationalism at the Tower of Babel scattered the human race and gave the people different languages in order to prevent the evils of “one-worldism.” (Gen 11:1-9) God Himself put peoples within boundaries so that they would seek the Lord! (Acts 17:26-28)
The Bible defines nationalism in three categories: geographical, racial and linguistic. It provides common Law and culture, and is the basis of protection externally, (From the sin natures of other countries; tyranny) through the military, and internally, (From the sin natures inside a country; crime) through Law enforcement and capital punishment. The State cannot fulfill its function in keeping Law and order among a large number of families of the same nationality without capital punishment; this started in, (Gen 9:6; thru Exo 21:12; Num 35:16-18; Matt 22:6-7; and still continues today. (Rom 13:4)
Our departure from capital punishment is another great danger to this country. Capital punishment is the basic Concept in Law enforcement. Crime increases in proportion to the decline of Truth in the souls of believers.
The coalition of religious and political parties
Now we are ready for the strange alliance of two antithetical groups, the Pharisees and the Herodians.
Then the Pharisees went and plotted together how they might trap Him in what He said. And they sent their disciples to Him, along with the Herodians, saying, Teacher, we know that You are truthful and teach the way of God in Truth, and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any. (Matt 22:15-16)
This is the oddest group of bedfellows you would ever encounter. To the Pharisees, true religion was a strict observance of the ceremonial Law, and they controlled the religious life of the Jews through legalism.
On the other hand, the Herodians were a political party of Jews organized and perpetuated to support the dynasty of Herod. They wanted Herod to take the throne of Palestine and to throw out the Romans. The Pharisees wanted neither Herod nor the Romans — they wanted to rule the State. Now, when you find the religious crowd combining with this particular political group, there has to be some dire emergency! And that great emergency is JESUS CHRIST!
Since His rejection, the Lord Jesus is now proclaiming not a kingdom on earth but a Spiritual Kingdom composed of all believers. (As a Theocracy under God; inside each believer. (1Co 6:19-20)
Thus Jesus Christ and Truth has become an enemy to both parties.
Since the Pharisees were chiefly a religious party and the Herodians a political one, we have in this unholy alliance; the union of Church and State! God, in His Word, has separated the two to protect the world from religion as a source of conquest and enslavement. But whenever the Principle is violated, there is aggression, torture, abuse, enslavement and violence in the name of religion. When Church and State unite, the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ is attacked. Hence, the union of Church and State in this Age is always, without exception, satanic, anti-Christian and anti-Christ!
The attempt to discredit Christ
Having agreed upon their common purpose, the Pharisees and Herodians formed a strategy to trap the Lord Jesus. The Pharisees sent out their Theological students (Disciples) along with the Herodians to locate some weakness by which to discredit the Lord.
Since the union of Church and State is a satanic strategy to discredit Jesus Christ; “We know that You are truthful.”
The Herodians know that He has the true claim to the throne of Israel because He is David’s greater Son. The Pharisees know that He is the true Messiah, even though they will not accept Him as such; but because of His claims, they are in danger of losing out in ruling the State. Their plan is to attempt to trap Him with a question. The question they are about to propound was contrived to get Jesus to make a strong and clear statement in opposition to the Roman Empire, thus opening the way for the Empire to execute Him as a revolutionist and an enemy of the State.
The crowd moved in, and this is exactly what they want. They want witnesses; because they are going to ask Jesus Christ a question which they hope will discredit Him. So, the speaker asks:
Tell us then, what do You think? Is it Lawful to give a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? (Matt 22:17)
The question is loaded! If He gives a simple “yes,” He is denying His claims of Messiahship. If He gives a simple “no,” He is saying, in effect, “l do not accept the State as a Divine institution.”
I’m glad that the Herodians combined with the Pharisees to ask this question, because out of it comes a clear Principle for the believer in Jesus Christ, as far as relationship with a nation is concerned: “Is it Lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Now, notice first of all in: (Matt 22:18)
But Jesus perceived their malice, (PONERIA; Satan's thinking) and said, Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?
Remember, Jesus is ETERNAL GOD He is OMNISCIENT! He knows their thoughts. And so His first answer is, “Why ARE YOU TESTING ME, you hypocrites?”
Actually, their question is a good one; but the motive behind it is not to seek knowledge, but to deceive and trap our Lord. So Jesus rebukes them for their duplicity and makes it clear that He understands their motive, but will give an honest answer to the question.
Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax. And they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this? (Matt 22:19-20)
“They say unto him, Caesar’s.” You can almost hear them gloating, for they feel as though the trap is now closing.
They said to Him, “Caesar's.” Then He said to them, Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's. (Matt 22:21)
The procedure for the three kingdoms; Satan's kingdom; we need to stay out of it, (John 15:19; John 17:14; John 18:36; (1Jn 2:15-16; Jas 4:4) by staying in fellowship, (1Jn 1:9) with God and Thinking with His Thoughts; (1Co 2:16) and not thinking with Satan's! (Mark 8:33)
Here is the procedure for you as a believer in Jesus Christ, as a citizen of His Spiritual Kingdom, and at the same time a citizen of the United States of America: (Or any other earthly kingdom) “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's.”
The Earthly Kingdom Jesus recognized the existence of Divine Institution Number Four — the national entity — NOT an international entity! He also recognized the existence of a Spiritual Kingdom on earth at the present time, made up of believers in Him. And though these two Kingdoms coexist, they are NEVER TO BE COMBINED!
The Spiritual Kingdom. THE ULTIMATE SOLUTION TO MAN’S PROBLEMS IS PERSONAL FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST! THE ANSWER BEGINS WITH BEING BORN AGAIN! (John 3:3)
Man looks to his own systems to solve his problems such as poverty, war and environment; when after Salvation; we should stay in fellowship, learn Truth, grow; and reach Spiritual maturity! (1Co 14:20) And constantly turn our problems — PERSONAL AND NATIONAL — over to the Lord! (Matt 6:31-34) This is God’s plan for the human race. You can alleviate poverty, but not abolish it, (Matt 26:11; Mark 14:7) only Christ can do that; and will when He returns to earth. War cannot be completely abolished, (Matt 24:6) because of the old sin nature resident in every person. (Rom 7:17-18) Only Christ can abolish war, and will when He returns. (Isa 2:2-5) WE cannot afford to leave Jesus Christ out of our PERSONAL and or NATIONAL LIFE. To leave Him out of our Consideration or our life is finally to destroy ourselves and our country! (Prov 8:36)
The existence of the Spiritual Kingdom — the Kingdom which is made up of all believers; and powered by those who are growing to Spiritual maturity; and is the only thing in these United States which is keeping and guaranteeing for us any freedom at all! (Eze 14:14) We live in the most wonderful country in the world, even under present conditions, because of the Bible; THE WORD OF GOD, which absolutely declares Volition as the first Divine institution, and makes it possible for you and for me to have some measure of freedom today.
The believer’s responsibility within the national entity
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's!” This means that you have responsibility to your national entity. A believer in Jesus Christ has DOUBLE RESPONSIBILITY! It is the believer’s responsibility to witness for Christ; to show individuals within the national entity that the solution to ALL their problems; is personal faith in Jesus Christ and growth to Spiritual maturity! The second responsibility of the believer-priest is that he MUST, in time of war or in time of emergency, fulfill his obligation in military service. There is no such thing, Biblically, as a “conscientious objector.”
Authority in the national entity: (Rom 13:1-7)
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. (Rom 13:1)
Every person, believer and unbeliever, is Commanded to be subject to or obedient to the authority of the national entity. “There is no authority except from God: those which exist are established by God.” declares that the national entity is a Divine institution.
Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. (Rom 13:2)
God is not the author of confusion. (1Co 14:33) There must be order in the human race; if it is to survive. Obviously, the structure of a tyranny like: Russia, China, etc.; does not comply with the Divine institutions!
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same (Rom 13:3)
“Rulers” refer to authority under nationalism, or the government which administers justice. Paul is not approving Nero, but the PRINCIPLE of authority in government.
“Good behavior” of, (Rom 13:3) describes the existence of a common Law which parallels Truth in the Word of God. “The evil” is crime, which is the violation of such common Law. The believer in the national entity has responsibility to obey the Laws of the land that are compatible with and parallel to the Word of God. This does not include international organizations that are anti-Biblical! It does include participation in civic affairs, (Voting, jury duty, etc.) as well as participation in the defense of our country.
If you are a Christian and are called into military service, serve as unto the Lord; if called upon to kill, BE THE BEST “KILLER” IN YOUR OUTFIT! If called to jury duty, be the most conscientious juror. You have a responsibility to the State, and the best citizens within the State ought to be those who are born again, those of the Spiritual Kingdom.
for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. (Rom 13:4)
Capital punishment is the greatest restrainer of crime. “The sword” refers to capital punishment. Decapitation was a means of capital punishment in the Roman Empire. Under Divine Institution # 4, the authorities of the State are “ministers of God” to execute a criminal when warranted.
Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, [Obey the rules] not only because of wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Rom 13:5)
The unbeliever is restrained from evil by fear of punishment; but the believer should be restrained “for conscience sake.” (1Ti 1:5-6) When a believer’s conscience is Truth-fed, he has the correct norm and Standard of Thinking; by which to make Decisions compatible with the Word of God!
For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. (Rom 13:6)
Because of the Biblical Principle of subjection to the authority of government; under Divine Institution # 4, believers have the responsibility to pay their taxes. There is a bona fide basis for taxation under nationalism. Abuse by unfair taxes does not negate the Principle. Leaders of government (God’s ministers) must be paid by a taxation system, even as priests and Levites were maintained by the Jewish system of tithes.
Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. (Rom 13:7)
The illustration of taxation is used to establish the Principle of Christian responsibility to one’s nation. (Military service, voting, jury duty, civil service, etc.) “Fear to whom fear” — reference to respect for Law and Law-enforcement agencies; “Honor to whom honor” — denotes respect for government authority. (Civil and military)
When fulfilling this obligation under the Principle “render unto Caesar” a believer ought to be the best!
Believers have a tremendous responsibility under God to witness, to pray, to study, to learn, to absorb Truth, techniques and Promises of the Word; to fulfill the Command to build the “edification structure” of the soul and then live by GOD'S REALITY! (Eph 4:12-15) Truth builds up, (Edifies) by producing grace-orientation, mastery of the details of life, a relaxed mental attitude, (Minus mental attitude sins) capacity to love God as well as people, and inner happiness. YOU CANNOT FULFILL THE FIRST PHRASE (“Render unto Caesar”) WITHOUT THE LAST! (“And unto God”)
What was the reaction of the Herodians to the Truth Jesus stated in one brilliant sentence? SPEECHLESS! (Matt 22:22) The political approach was refuted; but it resulted in some significant points of Truth: (1) The clear distinction between Church and State; (2) Emphasis on Christian responsibility to State; (3) Existence of two Realities — STATE and CHURCH; When the State doesn’t follow the Biblical Concepts of nationalism, the believer must declare his allegiance to God! (Acts 4:19-20; Acts 5:29) He therefore makes the Salvation issue clear and helps the State define and maintain its freedoms. (4) Christian responsibility to God as well as to the State defined. (5) The Church should support good government, but never become that government.
In declaring His answer, Jesus did not condone all of the PRACTICES of the Roman Empire, but rather the PRINCIPLE of the Empire, which was Divine institution # 4. Remember that true evangelism can only be pursued where Law, order and freedom exist.
The personal solution
Behind these Principles is the personal solution which cannot be ignored, and which MUST NOT be ignored! THE ONLY HOPE of any person within any national entity; are found in the words of Paul uttered to a man in a hopeless situation:
“BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BE SAVED...” — (Acts 16:31)