Defying God

Posted on 04/10/2016 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

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The title of our discussion today WAS going to be "Law Breakers." Instead, I changed it to "Defying God." And by "Law Breakers," I'm not talking about the criminals who often end up in prison. Instead, I'm talking about US.

Not a law breaker? Let's start out with an example that seems very minor and insignificant.

Do you ever drive over the speed limit Now, before you get defensive and say this discussion is just too legalistic, let's follow this to its end so we can get hold of something deeper.

Speeding is generally due to getting lost in the mind and fighting Life as it is unfolding. Life is only here, and Life is only now. Life is not at the end of your car journey, unless of course you are at the end right now.

And when we fight being here in this automobile, we cause ourselves impatience and a subtle level of stress. And the result? We are likely to drive too fast and treat other drivers with disrespect.

Until just a few months ago, I always set our cruise control to 8 miles per hour over the speed limit. At that time, it took 20 minutes to drive to work. Since I've stopped speeding, it takes........ 20 minutes to drive to work.

So you're not saving much time, if any, by breaking that law, and the discomfort you feel when you drive more slowly is just caused by fighting Life; or, ingratitude. A type of complaining.

Here's another example. In the area where we live, many people, if not most, burn their trash in burn barrels. That's just the way they've always done it, and the way everyone else does it. Plus, it's a free way to get rid of your garbage.

The problem is, where we live, it's against the law. But the first person I told, who says they are a Christian, had a very aggressive reaction. How dare I stir up trouble! The second person I told, who also claims the label of Christian, did not have a negative response, but still burns trash.

How about taxes? It's tempting and easy to leave out little things here and there in an attempt to pay less. I've done it. But that, too, is breaking the law.

Most of us don't steal or murder or run con jobs; we just break the small laws, the ones that we don't like, while keeping the ones that don't cause us any discomfort or inconvenience.

Is that okay? Does that even matter? Well, let's see what the early Church Fathers thought about it, and consider whether their words and the principles behind those words are indeed inspired by God.

Romans 13:1-5 (NASB)

1 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.
2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
3 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;
4 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.
5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake.

So here, Paul makes the assertion that, if we defy the authorities by breaking the law, we are defying God. Is it okay to defy God if we are rebelling against Him only in small things? Or if we are obeying Him in most things, the things that are easy for us to obey, and are disobeying Him only in the areas in which we do not want to obey?

In Luke 16:10 (NASB), Jesus says this:

10 "He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much."

So ultimately, there are no "small fudges," no "small laws that don't matter." Not necessarily because of the laws themselves, but because of the inner condition which causes us to pick and choose in which areas we obey the authorities, and thus in which areas we obey God.

Matthew 25:23 (NASB)

23 "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.'"

Obedience leads to promotion. Disobedience leads to destruction. The small stuff is important. The small stuff

When giving instructions concerning what to teach to the people, we read these words in Titus 3:1 (NASB)

1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed.

And then in 1st Peter 2:13-17 (NASB), we read this:

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority,
14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.
15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.
16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.

So it does seem to be a concensus. To obey God, you must obey the law, and to break the law, no matter how small, is to rebel against God. Or, you could say, knowingly breaking even small laws is Defying God.

Nothing's worth that. Not speeding. Not burning trash. Not paying less in taxes by leaving stuff out. And you can probably come up with more examples that apply to you.

And if you disobey earthly authority when it suits you to do so, you will, and do, disobey God when it is more convenient
or feeds your carnal desires to do so.

So the point of this discussion? Obey the law, even if it is inconvenient to do so, and even if you really, really want to break it, or you think the law is silly.

The only exception, of course, is when the law commands you to disobey God.

For example, in Communist China, women are ordered to murder their unborn children after the first two are born.

Another example is the historical record of the men who refused to bow to an idol, or who refused to stop praying. They were praised by God for breaking those laws.

But be careful to not come up with a story about some law you don't want to keep, by building on a Bible verse or two and adding your own interpretation to them.

Instead, treat the authorities like you would treat God (because that is
exactly what you are doing), and treat the law as the law of God, both the big ones and the little ones; both the ones you like, and the ones you don't like; both the ones that are easy, and the ones that are inconvenient.

And don't fight against it as you obey, or your obedience is only a self-deception; instead, fully embrace your right action in this moment, and thus, be fully at peace.