God’s Law Trumps Man’s Law

Text: Romans 13:1

God ordained civil government to fulfill a specific purpose (Romans 13:3-4; 1 Timothy 2:1-4). Governments will go beyond this limited role – this is not always bad, just reality. Even within the limits of the U.S. Constitution, the role is larger than the limited role outlined in the New Testament. However, we should not allow civil law to cause us to change the way we look at God’s law. Human law does not change the instructions, permissions, and restrictions given to us in God’s word.

Welfare / Helping the Poor

  • Many government programs designed to help the poor, disabled, elderly, etc. – most people probably could not imagine government not doing these things
  • Does not change our responsibility to the poor (1 Timothy 6:18; Galatians 6:10) – these opportunities to help will always be there (Matthew 26:11), regardless of government action
  • Does not change our responsibility to provide for self (Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 5:8) – if we are able to work, we are to do so to not be a burden to others (2 Thessalonians 3:7-10), regardless of available aid

Legalizing Alcohol / Drugs

  • These laws are often changing – alcohol is legal; marijuana is becoming legal in more places; some would argue that all drugs should be legalized
  • Does not change the harm that comes from these substances (Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-35)
  • Does not change the warnings in Scripture (1 Peter 4:3-4; Galatians 5:20-21)
  • Does not change the need to be sober (1 Peter 1:13; 5:8) – clear-thinking; alcohol and drugs prohibit this

Civil Marriage / Divorce Law

  • In this country, government keeps a record of the marital status of individuals – this has led many to think of some sort of civil action as an inherent part of marriage and divorce even though the Bible never describes these terms in this way
  • Does not change God’s definition of marriage (Matthew 19:4-5; cf. Genesis 2:24) – different “marriages” may be legal (homosexual, adulterous, polygamous), but not lawful; possible to be married to one person but bound to another (Romans 7:2-3; Mark 6:17-18) or married to one person but bound to no one (i.e. same-sex “marriage”)
  • Does not change who God binds in marriage – one man and one woman (Matthew 19:4-6); those who have never been bound (Matthew 19:9), put away a mate for fornication (Matthew 19:9), or his/her mate has died (Romans 7:2-3)
  • Does not change divine permissions to marry / divorce – God joins and permits lawful putting away regardless of human law (Matthew 19:6, 9)

Standard of Morality

  • This is not so much about civil law, but the influence of those in positions of civil authority – because of their position, they have a great deal of influence over the people (Esther 1:10-12, 16-18)
  • Does not change God’s standard of morality (Psalm 119:9) – the way of righteousness is revealed in His word (Romans 1:16-17); His word will not fade away (1 Peter 1:25)
  • Does not change the instruction to not conform to the world (Romans 12:1-2) – instead, be like Christ (1 Peter 2:21-22)


  • In a world corrupted by sin, civil government is a necessary evil – God ordained / established / appointed it to fulfill a particular purpose
  • Regardless of what civil authorities do beyond that, God’s word does not change
  • We need to be sure we obey the Lord and not let man’s law change the way we think of God’s law

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