Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Patternists: Obeying Civil Authority


We are blessed in the United States with many civil liberties. Despite an increasingly intrusive government, we are the most free of any nation in the history of man.

For the Christian, however, our final authority is God’s word, not the U.S. constitution. This means two things:

  1. A Christian may not be able to enjoy the liberties that are made available under the laws of our land. There are vices (drug and alcohol use, gambling, extramarital sexual activity, profane speech, etc.), condemned by God, that may be allowed under civil law. Further, though we enjoy freedom of speech – hate speech, disrespect of civil authority, etc., violates scriptural principles and are off limits to Christians.
  2. A Christian is bound to keep the laws of the land. This principle is stated by Paul in Romans 13:1-7. Verse 1 states, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” For example, a Christian can not refuse to pay income tax.

An exception occurs when civil law conflicts with God’s law. When commanded by the civil authorities to stop preaching the gospel, Peter and the other apostles responded, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

While the application of this principle can sometimes be difficult and confusing, the principle itself,(as revealed in scripture), is clear and compelling.

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