Obey God, Not Man

6 mins read

Editor’s Note: Longtime reader, Darrel Sipes, shares this with us. Originally written for a friend, he thought we could all benefit, and we agree.

This is to address the ridiculous notion that We as Christians are called to “Obey the laws of the Land” whether those laws are evil or good.  

(all caps are for emphasis, not shouting)

First, there are many many times where the Sadducees and Pharisees approached Jesus about breaking the Traditions and disobeying their rules…

Remember that the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Sanhedrin (members of Pharisees and Sadducees were both members of the Sanhedrin-Our Congress) many times ridiculed Jesus and reprimanded Him for disobeying the laws of the elders and the “Traditions”.

And Jesus responded how he obeys his Father, and the Scriptures, not their traditions.

Well don’t let a pastor try to convince you that those “Traditions” were not laws.

They Were Laws.  Remember the Jews could dish out any punishment legally except death (that’s why they brought Jesus to Pilate) for breaking these laws, the only reason they didn’t was because “they feared the people”.  I.e. it is a GOOD thing when government fears the people.

So they had the legal political authority to make laws and traditions, and Jesus continually disobeyed those laws (healing on the sabbath was a HUGE one that they continually reprimanded him for), he was breaking ACTUAL Jewish, but not Levitical and Biblical, laws.

There are some of these in every Gospel, but people don’t get their minds in the right place as they read these occurrences.  They gloss over them and don’t see that Jesus is disobeying public officials reprimanding Him for disobeying public laws.  I will share some of those actual verses for example.  But it happens almost every chapter of the gospels.

Here is a list and I will not include chapter and verse on some of the ones that will instantly make sense as we know the stories very well.

Starting in the New Testament from beginning to end (roughly):

The Wise men were specifically called to disobey King Herod (the government if there ever was one) in a dream instead of obeying King Herod and telling him where Jesus was.

Joseph was told to flee by an angel (this is an example where an angel would theoretically be telling people to sin according to todays pastors- RIDICULOUS) so that Jesus would not be killed (this is NO difference than a governor making a law and then ordering police to come enforce it).  It has ALWAYS been “illegal” in every country in world history to flee from the police when there is a warrant for your arrest, and that is EXACTLY what this is (only it’s even more than this because it’s a warrant for His death)!!!

Then Joseph illegally lived in another country until the government official was dead.  This was illegal to do also.  I guarantee you it is illegal to flee the country and then to stay in another country while a warrant is issued for you (again, people just don’t use these terms when describing these stories, but these ARE the terms for what happened)!

Matthew 3:7- But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

I include this one because it John the Baptist vehemently speaks out publicly against evil rulers (something those “can’t disobey” crowd also say we shouldn’t do).

Then we are told in Mark in Chapter 1:14 “Now after John was imprisoned.”

John was jailed for disrespecting and disobeying the government.  In fact, in the history of the New Testament EVERY SINGLE TIME that an apostle is imprisoned they are imprisoned for disobeying the laws, edicts, and governmental rulers of the nations (or counties, or states, etc…) of the Roman Empire (obeying God’s laws not man’s).

 Mark 3:19-20– But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil deeds that he had done, 3:20 Herod added this to them all: He locked up John in prison.

Again we have John publicly speaking out against a ruler and protesting big time.

Matthew 4:8-9–   Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur. 4:9 And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you throw yourself to the ground and worship me.

Jesus was in the desert and the Devil offered him the kingdoms of this world, and Jesus does not in any way say that he does not have those kingdoms to offer.  Satan DOES control the leaders of these countries.  

John 2:14-18–  Jesus clears the temple.  Remember that he is disobeying the current laws and driving out the money changers in obedience to biblical law.

The story with the Samaritan makes it clear that “Jews did not mix with Samaritans.”  This was not a biblical law but it was a law enacted by the Jewish leaders.  He broke it and did the right thing.

Now there are stories of Paul disobeying different leaders that give him commands about not sharing the story of Jesus with others.  He and Peter continuously disobey these laws so that they can continue to obey Christ.  And there are some stories in Revelations that I’m thinking include this.  But for now I’d like to turn to the Old Testament for some more insight into people honorably disobeying laws and edicts so that they can obey God.

The first thing that jumps into my mind in the OT is the Hebrew midwives.  Their story and their disobedience to government, Pharaoh, is without ANY doubt a good thing, as they are rewarded for what they did by God by opening up their wombs, and he gave them families of their own.  

Exodus 1: 15-21–And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

The very next line of Exodus we have how Pharaoh made a law that all the baby boys must be drowned Exodus 1:22-2:10, Hebrews 11:23– These passages show how Moses’ parents were not afraid of the “king’s commandments.”  Of course disobeying a king’s commandments is disobeying the law.

It is getting late so I will leave you with the book of Daniel and two of the most famous disobeying of government’s laws, edicts, commands, etc…  Daniel’s three friends disobey Nebuchadnezzar when they are told to bow down to the statue (I’m not going to put it here because you know it, but please read it again with fresh eyes) and they refused and are thrown into the fiery furnace.  And then Daniel will not stop publicly praying where others can see him, and is thrown into the lion’s den.  Do NOT forget that these actions are very ILLEGAL!

There are more than these simple examples (please forgive the formatting as my Word just would not work right today) but remember that every time a Christian is in trouble with the rulers, or the government it is because they disobeyed that government when obeying that government would be disobeying God.

This is why the Church needs to change the conversation so that as Christians we can discuss and dialogue about what (there are countless) rules and laws of government violate God’s Laws and commands, that way we can be better informed as believers when we need to disobey.  No one gets in trouble for obeying the government, but Christians have ALWAYS been in trouble, both during the Old Testament, the New Testament, and during the Apostolic Age (when the Apostles were still alive).

I pray that this will help spark your interest in investigating more and more how our faith has always been opposed to the Pagan rulers, the Pagan rules and laws, and we serve a King who’s Kingdom is not of this world.

Darrel Sipes is a Husband to a biblical wife, Father of five strong sons and two beautiful daughters, a Carpenter and a Christian, as well as a Bread-winner.


  1. Matt Trewhellas excellent ” Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates ” comes to mind after reading your fine scriptural essay .

  2. When Joseph fled to Egypt with Mary and the young Christ, he was travelling from one Roman occupied country to another such country legally under Roman law as Roman citizens.

    • I would most heartedly disagree that it was “legal” to flee from police officers who were enforcing the edicts of a king.
      Are you being serious or are you being sarcastic (i’ll give you the benefit of the doubt you’re being sarcastic)?

  3. However, Christ taught us to “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”

    Let us not forget to obey civil authority! Get your driver’s license and license plates renewed when they are due. Put money in the parking meter when you are parking in a metered space. Catholics are obligated to observe these requirements and others like them.

    • Of course, in all things that do not contradict God’s direct teachings then emphatically “Yes!”

      But the discussions amongst Trinitarian Christians should be “what” rules, laws, decrees, etc… DO contradict God’s teachings.

      Far more are in direct contradiction than many in the pulpit say.

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