Why Biblically the State Cannot Control the Church

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he said unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way. Matthew 22:15-22

Human law was begun of necessity. Men had to protect three things.

1) their person

2) their property

3) their freedom

Government was started for those three things. Government was founded to be a servant of the people. The state has the authority to control only whatever threatens one of these three things. The state, however, has often become the agency that takes away our person, property, and freedom. Now, we must be protected from that which was made to protect us.

There are different powers. When the Bible says that we are to be subject to the higher powers, it is not suggesting that we be subject to just one of them. It is saying that we are to be subject to all of the higher powers. We are to obey the higher powers in the proper proportion of their power. Our first allegiance is to God. Our second allegiance is to our country, then to our state, our county, and our city. They are all higher powers, but they are not equal powers.

God was here first, so He established the first laws. Any law that a nation makes that contradicts God's law is wrong and does not have to be obeyed. Any law that a state makes that contradicts God's law or a nation's law does not have to be obeyed. Our first allegiance is to be to the highest power. God has the first right to our person, our property, and our freedom.

I want to make three observations.

1. Caesar has no right to put his image or superscription of ownership on anything that belongs to God.

God created the heavens and the earth. So God has the right to choose what He wants. Consequently, that which belongs to God is totally outside of the rights of Caesar or the state. The state has no power whatsoever to put its stamp of ownership on what belongs to God.

(1) The church belongs to God. Caesar has no right to put any stamp of approval upon a church, because the church belongs to God. The church is a part of another kingdom. In Acts 20:28, Paul told the Ephesian elders to take heed that they feed the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Jesus purchased the church, so it belongs to Him and not the state. He has first rights. That means that the nation, the state, the county and the city have no right to give anything the right to exist that belongs to God. God already has established its right to exist.

Since the church belongs to God, the government has no right to require the church or any part of the church to have a permit or a license. A Christian school does not have to have permission from the government to exist. God's power supersedes the state's power. A preacher does not need to have a license from the state to preach. The church does not belong to the United States government. As long as a church is not endangering anybody's person, property or freedom, the state has no power over it.

(2) The body belongs to God. Paul said that the body and the spirit belongs to God. My body belongs to God. I Corinthians 6:18 says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are bought with a price and we are to glorify God in our bodies. My body does not belong to the state. It belongs to God. The state has no right to tell my body what to do, unless it injures somebody else's body. As long as I am not endangering another's property, person or freedom, then the state has no authority, because that is the government's only intended purpose.

(3) The spirit belongs to God. The spirit is that which fellowships with God. My body is that which you see. My soul is that which fellowships with you. My spirit is that which fellowships with God. My spirit is God's. The state has no control over my spirit. I can worship God as I choose. That is not the state's business. I can worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience and as I see the word of God.

(4) The soul belongs to God. The soul is that with which we fellowship and learn. That means our minds belong to God, so the state is not supposed to educate us. God never intended for the state or the government to educate our young people. Before there ever was a nation, God owned our minds.

(5) The tithe belongs to God. Leviticus 27:30 says the tithe is the Lord's. God is supposed to get the first of your increase and of your income. Caesar cannot place his stamp of ownership on what belongs to God.

2. Caesar cannot tax what is God's. The church is financed by the tithes of God's people. The church should not be taxed, because it would be the tithe being taxed, and Leviticus 27:30 says, the tithe is the Lord's. The government would be taxing God. The state has no right to tax the church, because the church is operated by the tithe, which is the Lord's. If the state taxes the church, the state is taxing God. That would be like the state of Indiana trying to tax the United States Government. The United States cannot tax God, because the inferior power cannot tax the superior power. Jehovah God is a higher power than the United States Government, so it has no right to tax the church.

3. Caesar cannot pass a law in conflict with God's. If a city passes a law that the Supreme Court does not like, it will not be a law. The Supreme Court of the United States can nullify a law passed by a city council because it is a higher power. The Supreme Court can also nullify a law passed by the state of Indiana or even one by the Congress of the United States. But the Supreme Court cannot nullify a law passed by Jehovah God. Consequently, a nation cannot pass a law in conflict with God's law. God's law came first.

A nation can pass no law conflicting with God's law. A state can pass no law conflicting with a nation's law. A city can pass no law conflicting with a state's law. If the city conflicts with the state, you should obey the state because the state is a higher power than the city. If a nation's law conflicts with God's law, we are to obey God because He is the higher power. We do not have a license to live above the law of the land, but whenever a law of God conflicts with the law of the land, God's law supersedes the law of the land.

4. We do not always have to obey man's laws.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Romans 13:1, 2

That word subject is a military word. In the military an individual is to obey according to the rank of the officer. The higher the rank, the more the priority there is to obey the order. Daniel prayed with his window open every day. They passed a law he could not do that. Daniel kept on doing it because he was obeying the law of God instead of the law of man. We are to obey God, who has revealed His will in His Word. The state has no right to pass a law that is in conflict with God's law. It is important to remember that it must be something that He has divinely commanded in His Word.

And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:27-29

God's kingdom is superior to the United States of America. We have a right to go soul winning without the permission of the city council. We have permission from a bigger source than City Hall. As long as what we do does not threaten another person's person, property, or freedom, we have the right and the obligation to obey the law of God over the law of man.

We are not of this world. Our kingdom is above this world. As we interact with this world, we must see to it that we submit ourselves to the laws, even if we do not agree with them, as long as they are not against the laws of God. Whenever one power conflicts with another power, our allegiance is to the highest of the two, which means whenever any power conflicts with God's laws, our allegiance is always supposed to be to God!

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