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Introduction to the Bible Doctrine of Government

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Family Government and Conscience

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Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 26, 2017

Self-government or individual government was the first government ordained by God and is simply control or direction over oneself.

On the sixth day, God created man in His own image, “male and female created he them.”[1]  After creating the man, God created woman out of one of Adam’s ribs to be an “help meet” for him.[2]  God brought the woman to Adam and marriage was instituted: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”[3]

After creating them, God blessed them and told them to “be fruitful and multiply, and replenish” and subdue the earth. He gave them dominion over all living things. He put them in the garden of Eden to “dress it and keep it.” And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[4]

Thus, God, , made a covenant with man and woman, the first of eight great covenants of Scripture which condition life and salvation, and about which all scripture crystallizes.[5] The covenant God made with them has seven elements. The man and woman in Eden were responsible:

  1. To replenish the earth with a new order—man;
  2. to subdue the earth to human uses;
  3. to have dominion over the animal creation;
  4. to eat herbs and fruits;
  5. to till and keep the garden;
  6. to abstain from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil;
  7. the penalty—death.”

God, in the Garden of Eden, gave man an opportunity to operate under self-government, under the constraint of only one simple rule. Man failed. Man was tempted by Satan to disobey the one small rule God had laid down, and mankind failed.[6]  Satan came to woman and misquoted the Word of God: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”[7]  Eve quoted the Word of God back to Satan, but added to it: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not  eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”[8] Satan then directly challenged the Word of God: “Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”[9]

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.”[10]

At that point, God judged the serpent (the devil), the woman, and the man. [11]

God gave another covenant, a covenant conditions the life of fallen man—conditions which must remain till … “the creation also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God” (Ro. 8.21). The elements of that covenant are:

  1. The serpent, Satan’s tool, is cursed (v.14), and becomes God’s illustration in nature of the effects of sin—from the most beautiful and subtle of creatures to a loathsome reptile.
  2. The first promise of a Redeemer (v.15). Here begins the “highway” that leads to Christ.
  3. The changed state of the woman (v16). In three particulars: (a) Multiplied conception; (b) motherhood linked with sorrow; (c) the headship of the man[12] (cf. Gen. 1.26, 27). The entrance of sin, which is disorder, makes necessary a headship, and it is vested in man (1 Tim. 2.11-14; Eph. 5.22-25; 1 Cor. 11.7-9).
  4. The earth cursed (v17) for man’s sake. It is better for fallen man to battle with a reluctant earth than to live without toil.
  5. The inevitable sorrow of life (v17).
  6. The light occupation of Eden (Gen. 2.15) changed to burdensome labor (vs. 18, 19).
  7. Physical death (v19; Rom. 5.12-21). See ‘Death (spiritual)’ (Gen. 2.17; Eph. 2.5, note).”

God continued to hold man individually responsible for his spiritual decisions. We see this first in the story of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.

Satan is still successfully deceiving man as to God’s authority and God’s government by manifold attacks on the inerrancy of the Word of God, by the same “Yea, hath God said” strategy he used in the Garden of Eden. This course will show how he has deceived untold millions of Christians with regard to the issue of separation of church and state by misquoting and misinterpreting the Bible.

Thus man makes a choice of his own free will as to how he will respond to God. The principle of freedom of conscience or free will is found throughout the Bible.[13]

Love requires a choice. Without free will, man has no choice and God would be, by force, taking some people to heaven and some to the lake of fire at His discretion. Admittedly, one can do no work to earn his way to heaven, but faith is not a work. “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”[14]

All other governments, except God’s supreme government, are made up of individuals. God desires the individual(s) who lead(s) a church government, a family government, or a civil government to confine that government to the principles laid down by God for the administration of itself. If a civil government will point individuals, families, businesses, and other institutions to God’s principles without infringing the God-ordained limitations to its authority and the freedom of conscience of individuals to choose God, god, gods, or no god at all, that civil government will guarantee liberty and will be operating in God’s will, as will be shown.

Go to a more in-depth version of “Self-Government” by clicking here.



[1] Ge. 1.27.

[2] Ge. 2.18, 21-22.

[3] Ge. 2.23.

[4] Ge. 1.28-29; 2.15-17.

[5] Id.

[6] Ge. 3.1-13.

[7] Ge. 3.1.

[8] Ge. 3.2-3.

[9] Ge. 3.4-5.

[10] Ge. 3.6-7.

[11] Ge. 3.14-19.

[12] Ge. 1.26, 27.

[13] See, e.g., Jn. 3.16, 18 (“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life…. He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.); Re. 22.17 (“And the spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”).

[14] Romans 4.5.

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