As Christians, we are called to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1). However, when the laws of man conflict with the laws of God, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). In recent years, many governments have issued mandates that restrict religious freedoms and require behaviors that violate Biblical principles. As believers, how should we respond? Here are some key takeaways on what the Bible says about mandates:
- Our ultimate authority is Scripture, not human laws or mandates.
- We should thoughtfully assess mandates against God’s standards, not blindly accept them.
- While respecting governing authorities, we must obey God rather than men when mandates violate Scriptural commands.
- Scripture calls us to love our neighbor, whether or not they share our views on mandates.
- God may use mandates to test and refine our faith; we can trust Him in the midst of trials.
- The Bible instructs us to pray for all leaders, seeking God’s will to be done through them.
- Jesus is our model in standing firm for truth yet responding without anger or hate.
- We must be ready to face the consequences of civil disobedience, as godly people have done throughout history.
- God is faithful and will sustain those who suffer injustice for obeying His Word.
As mandates are issued in response to various crises, how should you respond as a believer? You likely feel pulled in multiple directions – wanting to be a good citizen yet not compromise your Christian convictions. The key is looking to God’s Word as the final authority, through much prayer and seeking biblical wisdom. The Bible provides principles to guide us, though applying them to specific situations requires discernment. Ultimately, we answer to God above any human laws.
Our Ultimate Authority is Scripture, Not Human Laws
As a Christian, your highest allegiance is to God’s Word, not the changing laws of man. The Bible says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When mandates go against clear biblical teaching, you must obey God rather than men.
The apostles made this very clear when commanded to stop preaching about Jesus. Though willing to suffer for disobeying an unjust law, they asserted “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). God’s Word contains everything needed for life and godliness; it thoroughly equips you to follow Christ even amid confusing times. When human decrees contradict the Bible, Scripture must guide your response.
Assess Mandates Against God’s Standards
While God’s Word equips you to evaluate mandates biblically, this requires prayer and discernment. It is easy to either blindly accept every mandate without question, or reflexively dismiss anything the government requires. However, the Bible calls you to a more thoughtful approach: “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Rather than quick reactions, seek God’s face and examine each mandate against Scripture. Some may align with biblical principles, while others violate God’s commands. Consider mandates prayerfully and carefully in light of God’s truth.
The book of Daniel provides an excellent example of faithfully yet respectfully disobeying government decrees that contradicted God’s law. Daniel continued praying to God despite royal decrees forbidding it, willing to face the lions’ den as a result (Daniel 6). His courage came from seeking the Lord, not blind rebellion. Evaluate mandates thoughtfully against God’s Word, relying on His grace to stand firm.
Obey God Rather Than Men When Mandates Violate Scripture
The Bible is clear that governing authorities are established by God to keep civil order, and Christians should live as good citizens who honor authorities (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-17). However, when their demands directly violate God’s commands, you must obey the Lord rather than men. For example, if authorities forbid meeting together for worship, as Hebrews 10:25 commands, you must keep assembling no matter what the earthly penalty may be. When witnessing is outlawed, you must continue sharing the gospel. If officials require you to murder or lie, you must not comply even if threatened with imprisonment or death.
God’s moral law supersedes human decrees. The Bible records many who courageously chose to obey God over man-made mandates contrary to Scripture – Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the apostles, and more. When facing penalties for righteousness, they rejoiced to suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41, 1 Peter 4:12-16). Stand on God’s eternal truth no matter the cost, while lovingly appealing to authorities and seeking religious freedom for all.
Love Your Neighbor, Whether They Agree With You or Not
While mandates may stir up division and strife, Jesus calls you to love others sacrificially – even those with whom you disagree. He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). Expressing care and honor for leaders who mandate objectionable policies can be incredibly challenging. Yet God’s Word compels you to pray for them, serve them, and overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21).
Loving your neighbor as yourself surely includes those who support mandates you find untenable. Listen to understand their concerns and fears. Find common ground; most people desire health, security, justice and flourishing, even if the means differ. Communicate respectfully, focusing on principles rather than attacking persons. Your aim is not to win arguments, but to live out Jesus’ love to all. Lead by serving rather than demanding to be served your way.
God May Use Mandates to Refine Our Faith
Painful trials test and purify authentic faith, as fire refines gold (1 Peter 1:6-9). Challenging times reveal where your trust and allegiance truly lie. Therefore, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1:2-3). God uses difficulties to conform you to Christ’s image and prepare you for glory. The anguish of persecution, injustice and resistance to unbiblical policies provides opportunity to trust God more deeply and gain eternal reward.
So do not be surprised or discouraged when mandates oppose your convictions as a Christian. God can use them to strengthen your reliance on Him, develop perseverance and compassion, and make your faith proven genuine. Determine to meet injustice and oppression with courage, joy and love. Thank God for using trials to sanctify you and demonstrate the sufficiency of His grace, even in the fiery furnace.
Pray for All Leaders, Seeking God’s Will
Though certain mandates deeply grieve you, avoid contempt toward officials. We should respect and pray for those in authority, whether we agree with all their decisions or not. As Paul instructs, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Going further, Jesus commands, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).
Bring leaders who issue troubling mandates before God’s throne. Their hearts are in the Lord’s hands; He can change their policies and beliefs. Prayer for authorities does not negate boldly upholding biblical truth; rather, it leaves room for God’s Spirit to work even in those who oppose you. So commit to regular, earnest prayer for officials to come to know Jesus, walk in God’s will and enact laws in line with Scripture.
Jesus Models Firmness and Gentleness
Jesus perfectly models speaking truth with courage and conviction, yet gently and full of grace. Throughout His trial, Jesus maintainedcomplete composure, never sinning in thought, word or deed. When slapped by the high priest, He responded respectfully, appealing to truth with no hint of violence or vengeance (John 18:22-23). While confronting hypocrites with boldness, He instructed His followers to treat enemies with benevolence and refrain from retaliation (Matthew 5:39-48). Jesus always checked improper motives, like when James and John wanted to call down fire on those rejecting Jesus (Luke 9:54-55).
Follow Christ’s pattern of conviction blended with compassion. Refuse to compromise God’s commands no matter the pressure, loss or harm threatened. But maintain honor and patience when challenging unjust mandates, entrusting your cause to the righteous Judge. Let your speech be gracious and thoughtful, not angry or abusive, that you may point others to Christ. Appeal to moral law and conscience, not coercion. And pray God changes hearts, remembering vengeance belongs to Him alone.
Be Ready to Accept Consequences of Civil Disobedience
Throughout history, godly people have accepted penalties for obeying the Bible over government mandates. Daniel faced lions yet refused to stop petitioning God. Jesus submitted even to death on a cross, while the apostles rejoiced to suffer for the Name. You likewise should be prepared to endure fines, imprisonment or other hardships rather than compromise your biblical convictions.
Of course, you should exercise this civil disobedience only when mandates clearly violate Scripture. Use all legal avenues first to contend for justice and religious freedom for all. But once you determine a mandate transgresses God’s Word, accept the resulting punishment without bitterness or retaliation. React as the apostles who after being flogged, “departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Take unjust suffering as a privilege of following Jesus.
God Will Sustain You Through Any Injustice for Obeying Him
If you face loss, hostility or legal consequences for refusing mandates contrary to God’s Word, know that He sees and will give you strength to endure. As Isaiah declared, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). No injustice goes unseen by the Lord. He promises, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matthew 5:11-12).
You can trust God completely to sustain you through any hardship that comes from obeying Him over man. His grace is sufficient for every trial. “The LORD is my strength and my shield…and I trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth…The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed” (Psalm 28:7-8 KJV). Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. His power enables you to stand strong when mandates oppose God’s Word. Let His joy, not fear or anger, be your strength.
How should Christians respond when government mandates conflict with biblical commands? In summary, while honoring those in authority, our supreme allegiance belongs to God alone. His Word equips us to assess decrees thoughtfully and stand firmly on Scriptural truth, even under threat of punishment. Yet we also extend Christlike compassion to all, even those with whom we strongly disagree. Mandates contrary to God’s law provide opportunity for our faith to be tested and refined as we trust Him to sustain us. And we must pray diligently for leaders while doing good to all people.
The Bible guides us through confusing times, its principles relevant for any era. Test mandates against Scripture, obey God over man when necessary, and leave outcomes in His sovereign hands. God’s purposes ultimately prevail, as His people follow Jesus with conviction, courage and love. Stand on His unchanging Word by His grace and for His glory.