Government and ReligionBro. David Chancellor
2/23/2003 6:00 PM
Our world today is in a mess. What does religion mean to our world today? This message is prompted by the "testimony" of a Taliban member. He was promoting a government that enforced religion. A government enforced religion is not really a good thing. There is a government that is of God, but it's not of God to have a government enforce religion. What is religion's place? What is government's place? Why are things the way they are? What changed to make them like they are? What needs to happen for things to get better?
Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hearth my voice.
Pilate wanted to know why Jesus, who as called the king of the Jews, was standing before him. The Jews delivered Jesus to Pilate. He made it clear that his kingdom wasn't set up like the Jews. His is not a worldly kingdom. Many wars have been fought in the name of religion, but Jesus' kingdom wasn't that type. In the middle ages, they tried to rule as a Christian government, and it didn't work. Mixing religion and government is not godly. This isn't to say godly men can't be in government. It might start out good, but that's not to say that it will always continue that way. Jesus' kingdom is a spiritual kingdom that lasts through the ages and goes wherever invitation is made.
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
This kingdom is involved in spiritual, not natural things. The natural things in life and how we deal with them is determined by the spiritual side of things. This kingdom is based on righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. If everyone had this, this world would be a better place. Natural, outward government based on religion is not the same as the spiritual kingdom.
For every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood; but this shall be with burning and fuel of fire. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
This speaks of the coming of Christ and of battle. Jesus told Pilate that it wouldn't come through a natural warfare. The problem of natural government trying to establish a religious government is that it doesn't burn within. Iran has had a religious government since 1979, and the people are tired of it. The clerics aren't holy men, and decide what can and can't be done, etc. Christ has a different kind of kingdom. It's set up by something that happens within the heart. Christ has the government on his shoulder, and he is the one that will rule. Men trying to put an external government in the name of religion will always fail. Christ is able to order and establish his kingdom. This doesn't mean that we do our own thing, but that we do what God accepts. If we had a religious government, we'd probably not be enjoying the freedom that we do today. our literal nation has laws, and even these sometimes conflict with God's laws. We do what is right. Still, being part of the kingdom of God will keep us compliant with the laws of the land so long as they don't disagree with the laws of God. We want an increase of the government of God in our lives. It brings into control that which needs to be brought into control. It's a spiritual government.
When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the other nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
God never really intended that Israel would have a literal king, but realized that they would probably want a king like everyone else. Moses begins to point out the problems. He told them they would want a military. The king was not to build up a big military, have multiple wives, or take money from the people. The king was supposed to have, and read, the law of God. People in authority need God's help so that things won't be a mess. Without God, government won't turn out right. The wonder of our government is that it assumes that men in power would be selfish and creates a system of checks and balances to deal with it. This is depraved humanity. Man tries to fix the problem of depraved humanity by government. A religious government won't fix the problem. Men won't be able to fix it. It takes the grace of God in the heart. Government can't solve the problem in men's hearts. It doesn't truly make the world that much of a better place. Many of the functions of government wouldn't be needed if humanity was serving God.
O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help. I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes? I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.
This is God's side of it. 'Israel, you've destroyed yourself.' Today we could say, 'America, you've destroyed yourself.' The immorality, sin and unrighteousness have made things like they are. Things are the way they are because people are the way they are. God will be the king; who else can do the job? The judges would come and things would get better, but when the judge was gone, Israel got back in the same old mess. Their kings, especially in Israel, were worse than the judges. They destroyed themselves. They failed because they did not have God in the heart. Religious government will fail because it can't get God in the hearts. God is the only one that can make things better. The answer is to get God on the inside. When the wicked desire is gone, the wickedness won't be there anymore. Too many churches are looking to government to do their job. The government won't change the hearts of men, but Christ will. Seek after God with all your heart, and lift him up. Get the gospel out. The need is for a stirring of the hearts of men to turn towards God. If the heart of man is cleaned up, he can live victoriously.
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word, and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
This is the answer. Christ didn't pray that we would be taken out of the world. There is wickedness around us, and probably always will be. God's answer is the power of God within to keep you from the wicked world. In Iran, if you were living a Christian life, it would be at the peril of your life. This is an example of a religious government. The best way to fix the world is to get the Spirit of God in the hearts of men to keep them from the evil. The real working that is needed is the Spirit of God in the heart. Trying to make our own government more religious isn't the answer. Ending the destruction in lives by the grace of God is the answer. We can be kept from the evil of this world by the Holy Spirit. If people would be saved, the world would be made better. The cause of Christ, to get the soul of man made right, needs to be made known. If the majority of a community would live what God has put in the heart, wickedness would go away for lack of use. Draw close to God. He will help you to stand and resist the enemy. The government of Christ is still on the increase in his kingdom.