In this special election day sermon, Pastor Joseph Babij examines several key passages of Scripture to present three principles with regard to the Christian and government. As an application of these principles, Pastor Babij also gives several observations about how Christians should choose a presidential candidate to vote for in the upcoming election.
Let’s take our Bibles this morning and start today looking at Mark 12. From time to time, we do want to slip off from our regular verse by verse preaching in books like 2 Peter and Ecclesiastes, and deal with topics especially in light of this coming Tuesday, which is an important day in our country. I want to look at three principles with regard to the Christian and government and then some observations of discernment when choosing a candidate. Believe me, it is my most uncomfortable subject to talk about but it is needed. Let me have a word of prayer and then we’re going to read from Mark 12.
Father, we thank You for Your kindness and love to us, and Your mercy You have extended to us. But as a country I pray that You would continue watch over Your Church. We know that the gates of hell want to kick against You and will stand no matter what. But I pray You would also be with our country. Lord give us mercy in this election and have Your way this time around. I pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.
Before I go any further, I do want to mention that we had another baby girl born. Her name is Ella Joy, born to Joe and Noel Riccardi on October 27. She is 8 pounds, 6 inches, 21 inches. Another baby in the world is always a blessing. It seems like every month I’m announcing someone having a baby. Alright let’s look at Mark 12:13-17 which says this:
Then they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Him in order to trap Him in a statement. They came and said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are truthful and defer to no one; for You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay a poll-tax to Caesar, or not? “Shall we pay or shall we not pay?” But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why are you testing Me? Bring Me a denarius to look at.” They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.
Now there are multi-faceted feelings that are expressed when the topic of politics and government come up. Some are ambivalence, disgust, apathy, and downright hostility. People think politicians are unjust, taxes are too high, and money is misused. They see political leaders as dishonest, corrupt, immoral, and power hungry. Some have wiped their hands of the whole political process and Christians have concluded that our allegiance is to God not man.
So they say they are not going to be concerned or get involved. Well let me say that in this passage of Scripture, Jesus upset the apple cart on this matter. Jesus gave a masterly reply which amazed His opponents and stopped the delegation in their tracks. Jesus asked a very innocent question which trapped the delegation and exposed their hypocrisy and their Satan-like craftiness. Look with me again at Mark 12:16 which says:
“Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.”
So we’re talking about Caesar’s image and God’s image in the same passage. In verse 17, Jesus says:
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
This emperor’s coinage is his and has an obligation. You being created in the image of God also have an obligation to Him. So in other words, Jesus places the two obligations side by side and there is no clash between them. They are in harmony. Paying Roman taxes was not in conflict to a person’s obligation to God. In the providences of God, the Jews were the emperor’s subjects under the legitimacy of human government. The delegation responded with this in verse 17:
And they were amazed at Him.
However, they could not use Jesus’ answer against Him for their diabolical purposes so they were rendered silent. That means for us that all true human governments are legitimate. We all have a responsibility to obey as long as they do not violate God’s laws. We must give God what is rightfully is, and Caesar, or government, what is rightfully theirs.
I want you to contemplate with me at least three principles of responding to government. The first one is that human governments are ordained by God in that He has put in place three institutions. He has put in place the home, the institution of human government, and the local church.
To understand this, there are some guidelines that are paramount to go behind it. The first one is that God is sovereign over all things. It says in Daniel 2:21:
He removes kings and establishes kings.
He is sovereign over governments and military powers. Though military powers can be powerful and people trust in them alone, there are warnings in Scriptures about that. In Psalm 20:7-8 it says:
Some boast in chariots and some in horses, But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.
God’s people ultimately must trust in a God who is sovereign over all things. Also there is a guideline that God gives authority on earth. It says in Proverbs 8:15-16:
By me kings reign, And rulers decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, All who judge rightly.
If God did not give authority, governments would possess no authority. We read in Romans 13 that the most unjust and wicked rulers in the world have no power but what has been given them from above. Even when Pilate was talking to Jesus and said he has the power to crucify Him, send Him to punishment, or set Him free. Jesus answered that Pilate would have no authority unless it was given from above.
So political and religious rulers are responsible to God for how they rule. They may not acknowledge or care about that, but it doesn’t change the fact Scripturally that they are responsible to Him. God also gave society to enforce laws in order to prevent chaos and maintain peace while promoting the flow of protection of the rights of its citizens by the use of security forces, police and military, and the judicial system. Even to make use of capital punishment to punish evildoers as necessary. Romans and 1 Peter tell us for to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do what is right.
The first observation of discernment when choosing a candidate for president should be to vote this election for the candidate that believes government is a servant to the people and not the people’s master. It seems like it is heading to the second place. The second principle would be this, that no person can accept all the benefits which human government gives them and opt out of the responsibilities of citizenship. When Christians have at least four responsibilities to government which we saw in Romans 13.
All citizens are to seek the good of their country and do nothing or join in nothing that tends to disturb that peace. We ought to respectful, law abiding citizens that have the attitude toward those who would be in leadership over us. Some questions to that are why we are to respect government. In Romans 13:1-2 which says:
Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
How are we to respect government? Civil authorities act on God’s behalf to maintain order, uphold justice, punish wrongdoing and resist the practice of evil as it says in Romans 13:4-5 which says:
For it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
So that is the first responsibility that we have to government. The second one is that we should do everything in our power to promote the welfare by being prayerful citizens. Christians are to be a praying people and in fact every Wednesday on Zoom in our church we have a prayer meeting. We pray every single week for our government leaders. We do that because the Bible says to. We are to pray for the world of mankind in general, but specifically commanded to pray for leaders and those in authority. In 1 Timothy 2:1-3 it says:
First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior.
This is what we all want, to live a quiet and peaceable life. We are to do that as Christians to grow in godliness and not just to use that time on ourselves. So when Paul wrote these words, the kings were heathens and enemies of Christianity. They were persecutors, dictators, and wanted to dominate people by heavy taxes. We are told to pray for them! So our leaders are not going to be holy or just men, but we are to pray that they will become that! So that they rule over men righteously.
We also pray that they would fear God and realize the weight of that position. It is not given to them for nothing because they are responsible before God. We should pray that they would ultimately be converted, and that there would be enough people surrounding them to challenge them that there is a greater authority who is the Sovereign God. They should know that God has sent Jesus Christ into the world to save sinners and that they would come and believe in Christ.
We should also pray that our governmental leaders would definitely punish evildoers as it says in Romans 13:4:
For it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.
We should also pray that they would ultimately they praise those who do good as it says in 1 Peter. We need good examples before us of people who are doing right. Now let’s just say that a state governor came up with the law enforcement protection act and in that act it would stop the rioting going on by many U.S. citizens. The act would read like this: arrested during a riot, stay in jail until you stand before a judge. If you participate in a riot, you forfeit state benefits and employment. If you strike a cop, there is mandatory 6 months minimum. If you partake in violent assembly, that’s a felony and if you block a roadway, that’s a felony. If you participate in a riot from out of state would give you an enhanced sentence.
If any local government under that governor refuses to provide adequate protection towards citizens would forfeit sovereign immunity protection allowing citizens to sue that local government for compensation. The last thing is that any municipality that defunds the police would be defunded of future grants and aids. If that is put out by our governor or a different governor, would you be behind that? Well the only governor I know who has put out an act like that is Governor Ron DeSantis from Florida and I do not know of any rioting that is going on in that state. He was willing to take the sword and the power he has as governor to protect the people. That is what it is says in Scripture. There is another responsibility we have as people of the United States and any country that pays taxes.
Now taxes are never enjoyable and if a person enjoys paying taxes, they need to have their head examined. Some have likened paying taxes to going to the dentist for a root canal. You have the heard saying, “Two things are certain in human existence: death and taxes. And people will do anything they can to avoid both.”
Now, it may be added that if tax reforms are necessary for the public welfare, then Christians should exert every influence they have to affect those changes. Again, Romans 13:6-7 says:
For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.
The Roman government of Paul’s day deified Nero as the emperor. They ran a welfare state and sponsored many pagan practices. Rome certainly did not use its tax money as Christians would desire. These days, it’s the same because governments use tax money on things we hope and pray they would not. For example, government give away programs, like welfare, which makes people lazy and bad citizens. Or taxpayer funded abortion programs. We all know that the government is extraordinarily wasteful and inefficient and it often creates far more problems than it solves.
A second observation of discernment when choosing a presidential candidate is to vote for a candidate that says they are going to cut taxes and regulate government spending. We need drastic cuts in taxes and spending in order to release the power to the private sector that can produce productive jobs in our country. Simply put, people are gainfully employed which brings me to a fourth responsibility under this second principle, which is to vote! Yet realizing that God has already determined the outcome.
People have already started to vote by mailing or dropping off sealed ballots. On or by Tuesday November 3, 2020, millions of Americans will or would have already cast their votes. Make sure you are one of them! This is one of the greatest privileges of being a citizen of the United States of America.
The 30th president of our country, Calvin Coolidge, said that our whole system of American government rests on the ballot box. Unless citizens perform their duties, such a system of government is doomed to fail. Voting not only is a privilege as an American citizen but our responsibility as Christians. A third observation of discernment is to vote this election for the lesser of two evils. In other words, which candidate can you discern to make more righteous decisions based on what is right?
Just like what it says in Proverbs 29:2:
When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.
I’m sure you have already done that in some way because when you see politicians drastically doing something wrong, you groan and it causes your spirit to groan. This election has caused more anxiety in our country than any other thing. When it comes to moral, judicial decisions relating to unborn infants, sexual values, family values, religious freedom, who is the most truthful and honest?
Remember, we are not voting for a pastor or holy man. We are voting for a president who is flawed and some have many flaws. We have to focus on the issues of things about what is going to affect us most as citizens of this country. With grateful and humble hearts, Americans once honored the God that granted her blessings and freedoms, but slowly and almost unnoticeable, she began to be infiltrated by secular humanism. Her institutions and the courts that once legislated against immorality began to grant freedom for every person to do what is right in their own eyes, just like judges.
Lines of right and wrong are completely blurred today. In time all sorts of ungodly behavior became acceptable and even admired. Americans no longer were shocked when outlandish things took place on a public level. When God fades from a nation’s conscience, one can justify just about anything. God said, thou shalt not kill or murder in the commandments. Americans gave murder a new name: abortion. 68 million have been murdered since Roe v. Wade. The IRS has made abortion clinics charitable organizations and therefore are exempt from taxes.
God calls it the sin of Sodomy and the new name is homosexuality, with gay rights and alternate lifestyles. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, queer, and the rest of the alphabet of perversions. God also calls sexual sin perversion and an abomination before Him. Americans call pornography harmless adult entertainment. Some results have been polluted minds, broken marriages, incest, and child abuse. The list of depraved sins goes on.
A study conducted some years ago by the Michigan State police using the computer to classify 36,000 sex crimes in that state over a period of 20 years found that 43% were pornography-related. Since pornography infected America with its fatal disease, it is now a strong multi-million dollar industry that has spilled over and has tarnished the movie industry, and the social media industry. Can anyone deny that the movies are dirtier and more perverted than ever? The internet has been made into a pornographic superhighway. We have come a long way from Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.
Also the sin of drunkenness in its continuous practice bars one from entry into the Kingdom of God. Americans call alcoholism a social disease. We now have a large part of our nation that is addicted to alcohol as well as illegal and prescription drugs. I want to stress this in particular because in this voting cycle, U.S. citizens are asked to vote yes or no on the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey.
I don’t know if you have opened your ballot or voted yet, but it could be a little bit shocking. When I was growing up, we called it dope, and for good reason! Because it made you dopey! That’s what we need, we need more citizens intoxicated and stoned and high. It is well confirmed that marijuana is an entry drug to all other kinds of drugs.
I also want to bring your attention to an experiment that happened in the United States, in the state of Colorado and city of Pueblo. They turned to a cannabis industry. Some called it a boom industry and others have said that it actually was a failed experiment according to Epic Times, which was a conservative newspaper. So far 11 states have legalized retail marijuana and there are four others, including New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota which are considering it on this ballot. Now marijuana is still an illegal class one drug according to federal law.
They also interviewed people who work in the ER in the hospitals in this town who had a different story as to the success of this experiment. The medical staff said that the use of cannabis causes delirious effects on people and it’s like a horror movie. People were coming into the ER screaming and vomiting uncontrollably caused by chronic cannabis use. It is usually a highly potent product that people smoke or consuming in some way. All they had to do was stop it and it goes away. That all lead to cannabis psychosis, which means the people become violent. The high potent THC, the active ingredient, creates an incredibly violent person.
In 1990, the potency of THC in marijuana was 4%. Today in 2020, it is 80%. So the marijuana people smoked back then was completely different to than what we have today. It is leading to a society that is being deadened and weakened. It is leading to a society that is infiltrated by pornography, lawlessness, drunkenness which is an easy and susceptible society to be controlled by those in power. America once legislated against the things that God said to be wrong, but gradually we began to accept it, then tolerate it, then condone openly. We have even started to promote what is unthinkable. When a nation no longer acknowledges the Creator and the laws He has given to regulate society, there is only one thing left: Romans 1 and God’s judgment.
It says that God gave them over to impurity, degrading passions, and homosexuality, why? Because it says in Romans 1:28-32:
And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
I bring up Roe v. Wade for a reason. In his book, Mike Huckabee said there are three Cs that made America great: Christianity, capitalism, and the Constitution. Roe v. Wade is the crown jewel of leftist liberals that make up the modern democratic party, which got Roe v. Wade passed via the Supreme Court. They legalized abortion in every state of the United States. The only problem is that Congress, which is the law making body of America, never got to debate the issue. Also the Supreme Court became the lawmaker on this issue. That is not their job, instead their job is to determine if the laws sent up to them by the Legislative Branch are constitution or not.
I believe that if the Supreme Court had just done its job with Roe v. Wade by simply and honestly interpreting the Constitution as written, they would have concluded that legalizing abortion which is the killing of babies, would be unconstitutional. The 14th amendment says that, “All peoples born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or force any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Nor shall any state deprive any person of life or liberty, of property, without due process of law, nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
If you have not heard recently, as of 2019, that the issue came up as to what to do with a baby that comes to full term that should have been aborted. The legislation was that the baby was not to receive medical attention but was to be left to die. The atrocity was matched by governor Ralph Northam of Virginia during an appearance on a talk show when he spoke about a similar proposed bill in Virginia in response to a question about a possible scenario where a baby would be born alive as a result of a botched abortion. The governor calmly said this and I quote: “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you what would happen. The infant would be delivered, would be kept comfortable, and resuscitated if that’s what the mother and family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physician and the mother. So I think this was really born out of a proportion.”
Here is a governor, a medical doctor, going against the Hippocratic oath he took when he became a doctor. The oath continues the following words: “I will apply all measure for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment. I will keep them from harm and injustice.” It does not appear that a baby accidentally born will be safe from harm or injustice if Governor Northam gets his way.
Now, the controversy got worse when the U.S. Senate proposed a bill to protect those babies and it was placed on the floor for a vote, and there were 44 democratic senators who voted against the bill. That’s unbelievable! 44 senators believe it is proper that a live, born baby to die for the sole reason that it was supposed to be aborted. It says in this amendment 14 that all persons born, without stating any circumstances of the birthing process that creates an exemption. These babies whom 44 senators and other liberals wanted to terminate are legal citizens of the United States and created in the image of God.
To take the life of an American citizen without due process is unconstitutional and unjustified. I say all that for this reason, the fourth observation of discernment when choosing a president is that you have to vote this election for the candidate who will appoint Supreme Court justices who are just, honest, and will uphold the Constitution properly interpreting it.
Now if you have already heard, just recently Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as a new Supreme Court justice. She put her hand on the Bible and she promised that she would uphold the Constitution of the United States. She emphasized, “as it is written,” because that is the job of the Supreme Court. She is also a constitutionalist which make many liberal-minded people unsettled.
It was Noah Webster who clearly wrote this: “The goal principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws. All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.”
When we move away from the fabric of what the One Commandments did in our country, we move away from even the thought of God without even acknowledging Him. I realize that anything could happen in this election. So a third principle is this: government has its proper limits, boundaries, and demands, and must remain there. All belong to God. God is sovereign over human affairs, including political ones. There are duties of government that do not infringe upon ultimate duties to God.
As long as our response to government with our ability to honor, worship, and serve God almighty then that would work fine. That is the principle from the text that I started with: render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Christians ought to some extent be involved in politics so you can influence partly by righteousness.
The legitimate purpose of government since the founding of America has been to protect the lives, liberty, and property of its citizens. The history of liberty according to Woodrow Wilson is a history of the limitation of government power, not the increase of it. Concentration of power is what always precedes the destruction of human liberties. Our country today is on a slippery slope of those who want to entangle us more and more in the failed experiment of socialism. Socialism is that the government either owns the means of production or controls the means of distribution.
Simply put, the government takes from you and maybe gives it to someone else who needs it more. The government in that scenario must have the power because they are god. The government will be the provider for the needs of people so their allegiance will be to the government and not to God. The end of socialism takes away a person’s initiative, creative ability, and independence and for a lack of a better word, makes them a slave.
If this happens, and it is already, it will move our country more and more into despotism, socialistic anarchy, and economic ruin. This fifth and last observation of discernment when choosing a president is this: vote this election for the candidate who will make policies that will shrink government and restrain its power over its citizens. Vote for the candidates who will be able to negotiate deals from benevolent strength and keep our military strong and our borders secure.
Now what if the government tells us to do something immoral, anti-Biblical, or not to do what God tells us we should do. So there are limits to our obedience. A good example is in Acts 4 and 5. The Roman authorities were trying to get the Apostle Peter to stop speaking about the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter and John told the authorities that if it came down to whether they would obey God or man, they would obey God. It says in Acts 4:19-20:
But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Peter and John answered in Acts 5:29:
We must obey God rather than men.
If the civil powers command something that God forbids, or forbids something that God commands, then we must disobey. The time comes that we must disobey and we must do it as respectfully as possible. We must use every legal channel to express our protest because if we resort to anarchy to promote our cause, no matter how noble, we are violating the principle to submission of authority. Really violence and vandalism and other destructive acts are to be avoided by Christians. The big curve ball in our political system, the Constitution, is the second amendment, which is the right to bear arms. There is a lot of discussion on why that is there but I’m not going to go into that right now.
But there are a lot of examples in Scripture where people resisted government policies. Just think about the midwives of Egypt who refused to murder the newborn Hebrew boys and said no to Pharaoh. Shadrach Meshach and Abednego refused to participate when the king ordered all citizens to become idolators. They said that if God wants to save them, He will but they won’t listen to the king. That is disobedience that is right.
Even John the baptizer spoke out against the immoral lives of King Herod and his wife even though he faced imprisonment and was put into prison for that reason and finally having his cut off. He was willing to stand up against unrighteousness and injustice and immorality, even if it was his life.
It was Daniel Webster who wrote the dictionary, who said, “Whatever makes men good Christians makes them good citizens.” As individuals we can be part of the process. In politics, we must fight for the candidates that come the closest to the ideals we hold while recognizing that no one may agree on every single issue. Our priority as Christians is still the gospel. That is always our priority and we can never move away from that no matter what is going on in the world or the government.
Our message must be clear: repent and believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior or judgment is inevitable. Our identity and priorities and mission are not defined by our citizenship on earth but by in Heaven where our Savior awaits. We live for Him while here. So while we remain here on earth, we are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
So I say this morning, that you would be a good citizen and go out and vote. With these principles and observations, I think you will do the right thing because our country is really in a difficult place right now. the votes could go either way but it will not ultimately change God’s plan. God’s still on the throne and sovereign and His work in the Church is going to go on, but our lives will drastically change in the coming years if certain mindsets come into our government. We may move to a one-party system where they get all the power and that’s it. I pray that wouldn’t happen.
So let’s continue to pray and exercise the rights you have. Remember the principle: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Let’s pray. Lord, Heavenly Father, You are in Heaven and Your Name is to be hallowed. You intrigue us by Your work of creation and the history of providence. You are the Sovereign Lord that comes in power and authority and there is no one who can go up against You.
We are in awe of Your goodness, love, and majesty. You have measured out the waters in the hollows of Your hands. With your hand, You have marked out the expanse of the Heavens. Your thoughts and ways are beyond our ability to completely understand. To You, the nations and those who rule them are like a drop in the bucket and dust on a scale. You are Lord of every ruler, king, prime minister, and president. The United States of America and her president belong to You. For all that You are, and all that You have done, we give You praise and adoration.
I pray Lord, that You would give our country mercy. Let Your will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven. I pray this in the precious Name of Jesus, Amen.