Should Christians Submit to a “Bad” Leader?

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INCONVENIENT TRUTH: God appointed a “bad president,” Christians must submit

Christians must submit to rulers and authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:2-5). However, if your King or President tells you to dishonor God, the Bible has caveats to dissent (Romans 13:1; Mark 12:17). We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

We must obey God rather than men.

The Jews submitted despite atrocities

The Assyrians, Egyptians, Romans, and even religious leaders of God’s chosen people were abusive. In WW2, the Jews submitted to Hitler’s evil reign to the point of death.

Nehemiah led a rally, but submitted to the crown

Nehemiah led the “great protest” in the Bible. He defended his people from bad leaders who exploited them. Others use this to justify government resistance. Well, it is not.

Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, which means he had to be submissive and respectful to be trusted. He reasoned and fought for the people who were being abused by their own Jewish brothers, not the King. (Nehemiah 5)

Moses challenged Pharaoh until he caved in

Moses’ family hid him when he was a baby. When he grew up, God appointed him to warn the Pharoah. God’s people could have mounted an earlier revolution, but they waited on God’s promised deliverance.

Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego submitted to punishment

They refused to bow before the gods. God alone deserves our worship! They answered King Nebuchadnezzar in a gentle and respectful manner. Not affront and without insulting his gods. (Daniel 3:16; Gill’s Exposition)

The apostles urge us to be at peace with kings & leaders to keep godly testimony

Despite their evil rulers, the Apostles urged Christians to pray, intercede, & be thankful. Why? So that they may have a peaceful quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

1 Timothy 2:1-2
“I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

Titus 3:1-2
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.

God chooses who sits on an earthly throne

Pilate asked Jesus, “Do You not know that I have authority to release You and authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me if it were not given to you from above.” (John 19:11)

God has raised up wicked rulers in the past to judge a nation

God raised the Chaldeans to judge and punish His own people. Habakkuk cries out, “Lord, You appointed them to execute judgment; my Rock, You destined them to punish us…” (Hab 1:6; 12-13).

Many more rulers abused the Jews, but God also raised an unbeliever like King Cyrus to save His people (Isaiah 45:1-25). The point is, we have to trust God for the kind of leaders he gives us.

The apostles didn’t bother to change the government, why should you?

Submission in the Bible is crystal clear, don’t twist it — trust God for the impossible

  • God establishes all government, good or evil, and removes them as He pleases. (Rom 13:1; Daniel 2:20-22)
  • The apostles didn’t bother to change the government, why should you? They were citizens of heaven, and they know their priority, which is the great commission. (Phil 3:20; Matt 28:16-20)
  • They left the political battle to unbelievers because they fought the real enemy.
  • They mobilized prayers and fasting. (Ephesians 6:12)
  • Jesus knew the abuses of the Roman government. His appeal was to the hearts of men, not their political freedom. (Matthew 22:21)

Why would God allow a bad leader to rule?

Clearly, evil rulers have NO authority unless God allowed them to continue in their seats of power (John 19:11). We do not know the mind of God as to why He would allow bad leaders to rule. In the past, God placed “bad leaders” for these reasons:

  • To judge a nation. (2 Kings 20:17-18)
  • Test their faithfulness. (Isaiah 13:19)
  • Expose sin that brought judgment. (Isaiah 10:5-19)
  • Set in motion the birth of the Messiah. (Psalm 18:50)

→ Is it sin to criticize a bad person?

Remember, Jesus avoided politics: In Matthew 21:22, if Jesus said NO to pay taxes, it’s subversion. If He said YES, it’s condoning the Emperor’s ownership of the people. Jesus pointed to the image of Caesar and said, “Give back to Ceasar…” The people were amazed because he was apolitical to something that had obvious political implications.

Our response as Christians

The apostles never taught political activism, but there is social justice. However, social justice in the Bible is about helping the brethren, not arguing with authority or ideologies.

If God calls you in the media, expose evil. If you work in the government, exercise righteousness. Meantime, we move mountains through prayers and change society by sharing Jesus.

social justice in the Bible is about helping the brethren, not arguing with authority.

RELATED READING:
The real political threat of Filipino Christians.
Should Christians rally against the government?
Is it a sin to complain to the government?

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Maraming Christians ang makakarelate dito. Nakakatawa kasi minsan yung mga leader mong magsasabi sayo ng tama, sila pa mismo ang hindi makakagawa noon. Respetuhin mo pa rin kahit ganun ang leader mo, kasi sila pa rin ang binigay ni Lord na manguna sayo

    • Hindi ako agree sa sinasabi mo kasi kung ano ang puno yun din ang bunga. Kaya if your leader is a bad influence to you, you better evaluate on yourself. Baka hindi mo alam na cocorrupt ka na rin

  2. We can’t expect all to agree. Remember, the Holy Bible is the book for God’s Children.

    Everyone is created by God but not all are His children. He only gives and grants the adaption to His family to those who believe and receive Him as Lord and Savoiur.

    John 1:12 , “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:”

    Matthew 7:23, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

  3. It’s true that we must submit to our governing authorities, but not if they violate God’s laws.. and that is in the bible. Please research and then give the correct info here. Thanks!

  4. Christians are commanded to submit to rulers and authorities (1 Peter 2:13-17; Romans 13:2-5). However, if your leader is asking you to dishonor God, the Bible has caveats to dissent (Romans 13:1; Mark 12:17). We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29)

    You can find this in the same document..

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