In this country there is often a conflict between standards of authority. On one hand we have God and His standard. On the other hand, we have the laws of the land (federal laws, state laws, local laws, etc.). At times these two standards are at odds.
Non-believers are quick to attempt to use the laws of the land to squash any public awareness of God or His word. They persist in waving the flag of ‘separation of church and state’ even though that phrase has nothing to do with our laws.
God, and His Word, is eternal. He has existed before time began. God, as our Creator and Sustainer, is the authority to whom we must ultimately answer. When His laws and the laws of the land clash, we should serve God, not man. This lesson is made clear for us in the teachings of the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 5. The apostles of Jesus had been instructed to stop preaching. The Jewish leaders demanded that they no longer spoke in public about Jesus or His salvation:
When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” (Acts 5:27-28 NASB)
Although the Jewish leaders had given them specific orders not to preach about Jesus, the apostles knew that it was right to do what God had told them to do:
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29 NASB)
The apostles were keenly aware of their responsibility and they knew that the real authority came from God, not the laws of man. When the two standards clashed, they rightly chose to obey God. The apostles even used the occasion to indict the Jewish leaders for their part in Jesus crucifixion:
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts 5:30-32 NASB)
In today’s political climate it is sometimes difficult to remember where true authority comes from. We must always keep in mind that all authority comes from God and is only on lease to mankind. Christians should not be troublemakers, however; when man’s law contradicts God’s will, we should say with the apostles: