“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.”
As I write this devotional, the world has been dealing with the COVID 19 virus. During this time, nearly every state in the United States put in some sort of stay-at-home order for its citizens. Many of the government leaders chose to shut down businesses, except for what they deemed “essential business.” Sadly, in almost every situation, the church was not deemed an essential business. This caused a quandary for many pastors and believers. The government ordered the churches to close down, but God’s Word commands the church to assemble. How does one determine which authority they are to obey? The verse above gives the answer to this difficult dilemma. Let me point out five things this verse teaches concerning powers and authorities.
First, there are different degrees of authority. You will notice that this verse talks about “higher powers.” The word “higher” shows that there are different degrees of authority. In other words, there are steps of powers that exist. In a state government, you have the mayor and the governor. In the workplace, you have the supervisor, the manager, and the owner. There are different degrees of authority, and you must learn where each power is in the line of authority.
Second, every soul is to be subject. God says, “Let every soul be subject…” When God says “every soul,” this would include the authorities being subject to the higher power. Just because you have a position of authority does not give you the right not to obey the “higher authority.”
Third, you choose to be subject. You have a choice to obey or not to obey those in authority; however, you must realize that when you choose not to obey that they don’t bear the “sword in vain.” Your choice should always be to obey the authorities and powers that are in place because God commands you to obey them.
Fourth, when powers disagree, you are always to obey the higher power. Everybody has a higher power. The phrase “higher powers” is a military term. In other words, when the sergeant and the first sergeant disagree, you are to obey the first sergeant because they are the higher power. When the powers that are in control disagree with God, you are to obey God. You must understand that when you obey God and the powers in control disagree with God, you will seem to be disobedient to the lower powers. The powers in control may punish you because you obeyed God over them, but the Scriptures are clear that we are to obey the higher power. When the powers in control ordered Daniel not to pray, he obeyed the higher power and prayed, but his obedience to God caused him to be punished by the lower authorities. Always remember that God is not impressed with a lower power who tries to intimidate Him with their power. God is the highest of all authorities, and He is always to be obeyed.
Fifth, your obedience to powers reveals your obedience to God. Ultimately, you are obeying God when you obey the powers that are set in place. One of the reasons it won’t be difficult to obey the higher power when the lower power disobeys God is because you are obeying the powers because you want to obey God. My friend, never let the lower powers cause you to cower in fear when they tell you not to obey God. God is capable of punishing the disobedient lower powers, especially when you choose to obey Him.