â€œSubmit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lordâ€™s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.â€ (1 Peter 2:13-14)
The phrase â€œordinances of manâ€ literally means â€œhuman creations.â€ Since only God can really create, that means we must regard laws of legislatures or presidential orders or even kingly decrees as having divine authority. Therefore, in order to maintain a good witness before men, God expects us to submit to all these man-made laws and directives.
That even includes such unpopular laws as speed limits. Christians should not be tax cheats or anything that tends to undermine legitimate authority, and certainly should never break any of the multitude of laws that are based upon or consistent with the laws or commandments of God. We rightly must honor our leaders, not only great presidents such as Washington and Lincoln, but all who have positions of authority. Remember that â€œthere is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of Godâ€ (Romans 13:1), even though there are occasions when (for good and justifiable reasons) God gives power to unworthy men.
Such ungodly leaders will be themselves judged by God in His own way and time. Our job is simply to â€œrender therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honorâ€ (Romans 13:7).
The one great exception to this principle, of course, is when their laws go against the laws of God. Then, â€œwe ought to obey God rather than menâ€ (Acts 5:29) and be willing to take the consequences. â€œIf any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalfâ€ (1 Peter 4:16). HMM