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How a Christian Should Deal With Evil Government Laws and Persecution - Part 4
By : FIKAYO ADEYEMO
Posted : 23 August, 2016
This is a five-part series on the subject of Christian Persecution. Although each post is designed to be self-explicit and independent, it is advisable that the entire series is read as a unit. The following links will guide to all the posts:

Part 1: Remember that the Kingdom of God is not of the World
Part 2: Be Responsible Members of Your Immediate Secular Community
Part 3: Don;t Lose Sight of the Christian Calling
Part 4: Hearken Unto God Rather Than Man
Part 5: Be Prepared For Any Consequence

HEARKEN UNTO GOD RATHER THAN MAN

This fourth piece of our series begins to delve into the issue of practical opposition to Christian persecution. Let us first summarise what we have learnt so far and then chart a way of victory.

One glaring lesson we have learnt is that not all societal evil qualifies as "Christian persecution" even when they negatively affect us as Christians. Our working definition of Christian persecution is:
The phenomenon whereby Christians are hindered and/or targeted for hardship because of their faith-based doctrines or practices"

Another thing learnt and emphasised is that our calling is not a fight against every social evil we encounter but to deliver people from the forces of darkness holding them captive under such evil existence. It is not about creating a good worldly society (though that would be nice to have). but about transferring people from the spiritual darkness to kingdom of light. We should not waste our energies on wrong battles.

Finally, we have highlighted the spiritual nature of our calling which is therefore fundamentally contrary to the world which is carnal. It is thus certain that we will be opposed by the world while trying to fulfil our calling. Our duty is to resist such any opposition.

Now, we ask, "What manner of resistance?" What do we do when confrontation with the government or civil society becomes inevitable? The Bible teaches three things:

1. Disobey and resist
2. Flee, if called for and possible.
3. Stay and strive, even unto blood.


There is no hard-and-fast order by which these steps should be taken - or, indeed, whether all of them need to be experienced by every persecuted Christian in every situation. It all depends on specific circumstances and the leading of the Holy Spirit. For example, under the same wave of persecution, the mass of the first century believers fled Jerusalem while the apostles stayed put (Acts 8: 1)

The rest of this article will look more closely at how to Disobey and resist while the next post will teach us how to prepare for any eventuality either in fleeing or in staying and striving.

Disobey and Resist

Exodus 1:15-17; Daniel 3: 8-18; 6: 5-10; 1 Kings 18: 3-4; Acts 4: 16-20

Consider the following event from the Scripture, illustrating disobedience to rulers:

"And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John answered and said unto them", 'Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
For we cannot but speak of the things which we have seen and heard'"
(Acts 4:18-20)

The first thought that would come to the mind here is whether the instruction to "Disobey and Resist" does not conflict with the scriptural principle of obeying the rulers of the land (Romans 13: 1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2: 13). This question has already been anticipated and addressed in the second part of this series, and as such, we would now only reiterate that governments acquire and wield power only as delegates of God. Therefore, their spiritual legitimacy hands on being true to their divine "brief". The moment a government turns against God's counsel, it loses it moral and spiritual right to power, especially to command the obedience of children of God.

HOW TO DISOBEY

Our disobedience to evil laws must be proper, specific, peaceful, resolute and uncompromising.

Proper
The only ground for a Christian to disobey civil Government/authorities is when such rulers try to compel Christians to obey anti-scriptural laws or engage in sinful activities. Any other ground is improper, however how socially attractive or emotional compelling.

Specific
For the purposes of clarification, the specific divine precept(s) being violated by the rulers must be clearly identified.This of course requires that we Christians possess genuine understanding of the doctrines and practice of biblical Christianity.

Peaceful
The need to shun physical violence in the course of our righteous disobedience cannot be overemphasised. Violence in this context, refers to offensive force and excludes the use of power to prevent (or escape) injury to our person or property.

Resolute
It is sad to observe that much of our disobedience to evil laws is half-hearted and the efforts often fizzle out after an initial success. Part of the problem is that most believers are no longer being trained as soldiers that will resolutely fix their gaze, like a flint, on the truth they have believed and are called to defend - regardless of the pain. We should stop raising believers with the false notion that Christianity is a tea party.

Uncompromising
This addresses the common practice of watering down our position and mixing it with worldly agenda. We don't want to be labelled "uncompromising". We are afraid people will call us bigots. We want to be politically correct and socially-approved by the world. What we must realise is that there is no bigotry at all if what you are defending is the truth. This, again, underscores the need to be sure that our point of disagreement is specifically identified as the truth. If a government law is not contrary to the truth, then it is not our calling to oppose it to start with. But if it is established as contrary to the truth, our disobedience must be absolute and uncompromising. No half-measures and no meeting mid-way.

NATURE OF THE RESISTANCE

Our antagonism to the unrighteous commands of government or evil demands of society cannot be limited to mere disobedience or non-compliance. It should also include active resistance and opposition. Resistance in this context means any activity whatsoever to (1) sabotage the evil rule from being effective against believers and/or (2) promote the continuing success of the truth that was attacked by the worldly system. The battle cry should be "Sabotage the evil, promote the good".

There must be no limit to what methods or resources that can be used in such resistance activities provided that they are not offensively violent or biblically sinful. Where still possible, this should include a resort to legal actions - both against the evil law and for redress concerning any losses already experienced. But where this has been rendered impossible or inconsequential, then all feasible options should be explored and freely pursued even if some are labelled "illegal" by the evil society. Such a course of action should not appear as "strange" to us as people who profess peace and piety. We have to remember that our notion of peace is not the same as of the world, and at any rate, a government or society that compels Christians to sin against God has by so doing already declared war on the Kingdom and is therefore an enemy no longer to be obeyed concerning its civil laws. We must differentiate between civil illegality and spiritual sin! The two don't often agree, and we are to be concerned only with spiritual sin.

Almost invariably, much of the work of resistance will be carried out "underground", especially the core activities of planning and control since we are operating in enemy territory. In such a situation, it will be beneficial to operate in small viable cells in loosely organised networks. Such a distributed approach is non-negotiable. Also, secrecy and stealth are paramount (1 Kings 18: 3-4; Acts 9:23-25). As much as possible, there must be trusted believers operating from within the government and community. (Obadiah, Mordecai, Esther, several relatives of various apostles right inside the Roman government are good examples)

Needless to say, all individual differences among believers must be genuinely sacrificed for unity. Personal quibbles and interdenominational frictions can only survive times of societal quiet. Such abuses of grace are suicidal during persecution of the Body. Also, spiritual exercises, individually and corporate (teaching, preaching, praying, fasting, offerings, hymns, etc) should be heightened.

Eventually, the implementation of our plans will have to be in the open. For strategic reasons, some persons may have to remain perpetually underground, but for most believers, the point of our resistance must be openly made known. The channels include peaceful demonstrations, boycotts, sit-outs and the use of all manner of communication and transport media, internet, vehicles, drones and all things feasible. The goal must always be to sabotage the evil of the society while concurrently promoting God's truth as the proper alternative.

NO CHRISTIAN IS EXEMPT

Finally, no Christian is exempted from striving against evil generally,or persecution particularly. We are all one body. So, even if for those not directly at the receiving end of the hardship, it still behooves him/her to be involved in the resistance. This may take many forms such as speaking up for those persecuted, providing physical succour via shelter, food, clothing, cash, etc., rendering counselling and spiritual support, and where possible, legal services - all as God will enable us and the Holy Spirit would lead.

Believers must take heed not to become unwitting instruments of the enemy in wielding their weapon of divide-and-rule by playing on our denominationalism, self-righteousness and other such manifestation of our own carnality. Let the Catholic not gloat when the Pentecostal is being persecuted, neither should the Calvinist be the one to pontificate on some perceived errors of the Methodist being persecuted. All must join hands together to fight the common enemy of the Kingdom.

(The final post in this series, Be Prepared For Any Consequence will consider how to handle the inevitable reaction of the enemy to our righteous resistance.).

God bless you.

(Don't forget to share your views in the Comments section below. We'd love to hear from you!)
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Ini-Oluwa Adeyemo
This is very helpful.
24th September 2016 9:04am
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