Bible Study – Our Attitude Toward Secular Authorities

October 16 – 22, 2022

Key Text

“Let every soul be subject to the governing authority. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Romans 13:1

Study Help: Testimonies, Vol. 6, 394–397; The Great Controversy, 603–612


“David’s power had been given him by God, but to be exercised only in harmony with the divine law. When he commanded that which was contrary to God’s law, it became sin to obey. ‘The powers that be are ordained of God’ (Romans 13:1), but we are not to obey them contrary to God’s law.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 719



1.a. What is the purpose of earthy authorities? Romans 13:3, 4. How far should we obey the laws of the land?


Note: “He who obeys the divine law will most truly respect and obey the laws of his country. He who fears God will honor the king in the exercise of all just and legitimate authority.” The Great Controversy, 278

1.b. We should always be the best law-abiding citizens. What are the good laws of the land that we should obey? Matthew 22:17–21; Romans 13:6, 7


Note: “The ten precepts of Jehovah are the foundation of all righteous and good laws. Those who love God’s commandments will conform to every good law of the land. But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is: Shall we obey God, or man?” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 361, 362



2.a. From the experience of the early church, what important lesson can we learn through the words of Peter and John? Acts 4:15–20; Acts 5:29


Note: “It is our duty in every case to obey the laws of our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 361

“We are to recognize human government as an ordinance of divine appointment, and teach obedience to it as a sacred duty, within its legitimate sphere. But when its claims conflict with the claims of God, we must obey God rather than men. God’s word must be recognized as above all human legislation. A ‘Thus saith the Lord’ is not to be set aside for a ‘Thus saith the church’ or a ‘Thus saith the state.’ The crown of Christ is to be lifted above the diadems of earthly potentates.

“We are not required to defy authorities. Our words, whether spoken or written, should be carefully considered, lest we place ourselves on record as uttering that which would make us appear antagonistic to law and order. We are not to say or do anything that would unnecessarily close up our way. We are to go forward in Christ’s name, advocating the truths committed to us.” The Acts of the Apostles, 69

2.b. Which commandments of God’s law will we be required to transgress? Exodus 20:8–11, 13


Note: “God’s people, who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing [American] war [between the states, which brought about the end of slavery], for it is opposed to every principle of their faith. In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be a continual violation of conscience.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 361

“As the Sabbath has become the special point of controversy throughout Christendom, and religious and secular authorities have combined to enforce the observance of the Sunday, the persistent refusal of a small minority to yield to the popular demand will make them objects of universal execration.” The Great Controversy, 615



3.a. What is the purpose of the good laws of the land? 1 Peter 2:13, 14. What are differences between the law of God and laws of the land? Psalm 19:7, 8


Note: “Worldly men are governed by worldly principles. They can appreciate no other. Worldly policy and public opinion comprise the principle of action that governs them and leads them to practice the form of rightdoing. But God’s people cannot be governed by these motives. The words and commands of God, written in the soul, are spirit and life, and there is power in them to bring into subjection and enforce obedience. The ten precepts of Jehovah are the foundation of all righteous and good laws.” Testimonies, Vol. 1, 361

“Where shall we find laws more noble, pure, and just, than are exhibited on the statute books wherein is recorded the instruction given to Moses for the children of Israel? Through all time these laws are to be perpetuated, that the character of God’s people may be formed after the divine similitude. The law is a wall of protection to those who are obedient to God’s precepts. From what other source can we gather such strength, or learn such noble science? What other book will teach men to love, fear, and obey God as does the Bible?” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 393, 394

3.b. What was given to Israel, as a nation, to be their guide and rule? Deuteronomy 4:5–8; Nehemiah 9:13


Note: “The Holy One of Israel has made known to us the statutes and laws which are to govern all human intelligences. These precepts, which have been pronounced ‘holy, and just, and good,’ are to form the standard of action in the home. There can be no departure from them without sin, for they are the foundation of the Christian religion.” Child Guidance, 506, 507

“He [God] designed that the principles revealed through His people should be the means of restoring the moral image of God in man.

“God’s law must be exalted, His authority maintained; and to the house of Israel was given this great and noble work. God separated them from the world, that He might commit to them a sacred trust. He made them the depositaries of His law, and He purposed through them to preserve among men the knowledge of Himself.” Prophets and Kings, 16



4.a. What argument was used by the enemies of God’s people for the purpose of exterminating them? How will this soon be repeated in our day? Esther 3:8, 9; Revelation 12:17


Note: “The trying experiences that came to God’s people in the days of Esther were not peculiar to that age alone. … The same spirit that in ages past led men to persecute the true church, will in the future lead to the pursuance of a similar course toward those who maintain their loyalty to God. Even now preparations are being made for this last great conflict.

“The decree that will finally go forth against the remnant people of God will be very similar to that issued by Ahasuerus against the Jews. Today the enemies of the true church see in the little company keeping the Sabbath commandment, a Mordecai at the gate. The reverence of God’s people for His law is a constant rebuke to those who have cast off the fear of the Lord and are trampling on His Sabbath. …

“To secure popularity and patronage, legislators will yield to the demand for Sunday laws. But those who fear God, cannot accept an institution that violates a precept of the Decalogue. On this battlefield will be fought the last great conflict in the controversy between truth and error. And we are not left in doubt as to the issue. Today, as in the days of Esther and Mordecai, the Lord will vindicate His truth and His people.” Prophets and Kings, 605, 606

“The world is against us, the popular churches are against us, the laws of the land will soon be against us. If there was ever a time when the people of God should press together, it is now.” Testimonies, Vol. 5, 236

 4.b. What will be the culminating act of the powers of the earth against those who keep the commandments of God? Revelation 13:15–17


Note: “A decree will finally be issued against those who hallow the Sabbath of the fourth commandment, denouncing them as deserving of the severest punishment and giving the people liberty, after a certain time, to put them to death. Romanism in the Old World and apostate Protestantism in the New will pursue a similar course toward those who honor all the divine precepts.” The Great Controversy, 615, 616



5.a. What will be the conviction of those who persecute and try to kill God’s people? John 16:2; Matthew 24:9, 10


Note: “[John 16:2 quoted.] These words come sounding down along the line to our time. A deception is upon those who oppress their fellowmen because they do not believe the same form of doctrine that their oppressors believe.” The Review and Herald, April 19, 1898

“With what zeal will the workers of iniquity pursue their satanic purpose! They will put light for darkness, and darkness for light, until they will sincerely believe they are servants of God, and doing Him service by persecuting His children.” Ibid., May 8, 1888

5.b. What will the wicked try to do, and how will God intervene in favor of His people? Psalms 50:15; 91:3–7, 10


Note: “The powers of earth, uniting to war against the commandments of God, will decree that ‘all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond’ (Revelation 13:16), shall conform to the customs of the church by the observance of the false sabbath. All who refuse compliance will be visited with civil penalties, and it will finally be declared that they are deserving of death.” The Great Controversy, 604

“The voice of God is heard from heaven, declaring the day and hour of Jesus’ coming, and delivering the everlasting covenant to His people. Like peals of loudest thunder His words roll through the earth. … And when the blessing is pronounced on those who have honored God by keeping His Sabbath holy, there is a mighty shout of victory.” Ibid., 640



1    What obligation do we have toward secular authorities?

2    Describe the attitude of Peter and John when forbidden to preach the gospel of Christ.

3    Why does the Bible record statutes in addition to the moral law?

4    Why is it important that Christians understand the true Sabbath?

5    Describe the deliverance soon to be wrought for faithful Sabbathkeepers.

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