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“Acceptable Christian Civil Disobedience”

Acts 5:29-32

Peter and the other apostles replied: "We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead -- whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him."

Thoughts for Today:

The Sanhedrin believed they were divinely appointed by God to administrate God's will on earth, so everything they did was God's will. You can imagine how angry they must have been when Peter and the apostles continued to disobey their orders and answered, "We must obey God rather than men!"

I think we must be careful that we are not self-serving when we apply this principle of civil disobedience. John Stott, a well known Christian commentator, once said, "If the authority concerned misuses its God-given power to command what he forbids or forbid what he commands, then the Christian's duty is to disobey the human authority in order to obey God's." We can get into trouble if we follow this advice too literally or liberally. There are those who might think a seventy mile-an-hour speed limit is too slow, and therefore argue that the state is misusing its God-given power to command. 1 Peter 2:13-14 tells us that we are to submit ourselves to every earthly authority placed over us, so how do we balance all that?

There are two primary biblical requirements to keep in mind as we consider an act of "Christian Civil Disobedience." I pose these as questions, the first is: Does it have scriptural support and authority? The apostles weren't following a feeling, they were following a direct order of Jesus from Matthew 28:19 "Go make disciples of all nations."

The second: Will you carry it out with humility? Peter and the apostles were willing to take punishment for disobedience. Throughout the Scriptures we see other examples of those who say, "we can't do this because we have a higher authority;" however, they do so without anger, resentment, or violence.

Questions to Ponder:

Can you remember a situation recently when you had a choice to obey God or man? What was your decision? What was the outcome? Did you accept punishment with humility?

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About the author

Pocket Devotions are written by Mike Brooks. A retired businessman, he is Moderator of South Shores church, leads the Deacon Board, serves on the finance committee, and he teaches a Men's Bible study and the Men's Ministry. Mike has a passion for evangelical missions. He is the husband of Sherry; the father of Ryan, Natalie, Krissy, Rebecca, and Amanda; the father-in-law of Ariel; and the grandfather of Conner and Christian.

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