Copyright © March 11, 2011
Part One, Section I, Chapter 3 of God Betrayed
Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: “Biblical Teaching on Self-government”
Biblical Teaching on Self-Government
Self-government was the first government ordained by God and is simply control or direction over oneself. The individual who controls and directs his life according to God’s principles will be blessed by God; the individual who does not will suffer dire consequences at some point. The foundation of family government is proper self-government (government according to the Scriptures) practiced by the husband and wife. The foundation of a church who honors God and His principles is self-government practiced by church members who govern their lives and apply their spiritual gifts according to the principles of the Word of God. Those members will direct and control (i.e., govern) their families and their church according to God’s precepts. The foundation of a civil government (nation) is either the recognition or non-recognition of God and His principles concerning civil government as the guiding light of the nation; and the success of a nation who chooses to proceed under God depends primarily upon the extent to which individuals in that nation govern their lives, their families, their churches, and their civil government in accordance with the principles in the Bible. Should citizens of a nation govern according to God’s principles, families will proceed properly under God as will churches and as will the nation.
On the sixth day, God created man in His own image, “male and female created he them” (Ge. 1.27). After creating the man, God created woman out of one of Adam’s ribs to be an “help meet” for him (Ge. 2.18, 21-22). 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” (Ge. 2.23).
After creating them, “[G]od blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat…. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to 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” (Ge. 1.28-29; 2.15-17).
Thus, God, as recorded in the above verses, made a covenant with man and woman. Some call that covenant the Edenic Covenant. “The Edenic Covenant, the first of the eight great covenants of Scripture which condition life and salvation, and about which all scripture crystallizes, 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” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 6 to Genesis 1.28, p. 5).
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 did not direct and control his life according to that one rule. Man was tempted by Satan to disobey the one small rule God had laid down, and mankind failed (Ge. 3.1-13). Satan came to woman and misquoted the Word of God: “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden” (Ge. 3.1). 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” (Ge. 3.2-3). 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” (Ge. 3.4-5). “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” (Ge. 3.6-7).
At that point, God judged the serpent (the devil), the woman, and the man:
“And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: [a]nd I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; [t]horns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; [i]n the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Ge. 3.14-19).
In that condemnation, God gave what is called by many the Adamic Covenant. “The Adamic 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’ (Rom. 8.21). The elements of the Adamic 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. The deepest mystery of the atonement is intimated here. Christ, ‘made sin for us,’ in bearing our judgment, is typified by the brazen serpent (Nu. 21.5-9; John 3.14, 15; 2 Cor. 5.21). Brass speaks of judgment—in the brazen altar, of God’s judgment, and in the laver, of self-judgment. (2) The first promise of a Redeemer (v.15). Here begins the ‘highway of the Seed,’ Abel, Seth, Noah (Gen. 6.8-10), Shem (Gen. 9.26, 27), Abraham (Gen. 12.1-4), Isaac (Gen. 17.19-21), Jacob (Gen. 28.10-14), Judah (Gen. 49.10), David (2 Sam. 7.5-17), Immanuel-Christ (Isa. 7.9-14; Mt. 1.1, 20-23; 1 John 3.8; John 12.31). (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 (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)” (1917 Scofield Edition, n. 1 to Genesis 3.14, p. 9).
Isaac Backus, a great Baptist pastor, author, and leader in New England, appropriately described man’s state before and after the fall in the Garden of Eden. “Before man imagined that submission to [God’s] government and acting strictly by rule was confinement and that breaking over those bounds would enlarge his knowledge and happiness, how clear were his ideas” (Isaac Backus, “An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty,” Boston 1773, an essay found in Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism, Pamphlets, 1754-1789, Edited by William G. McLoughlin (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1968), p. 310). After his fall, because he felt evil, guilt, and misery instead of good and happiness, he tried to hide from the Omniscient One. “[I]t appears that the notion of man’s gaining any dignity or liberty by refusing an entire submission to government was so delusive that instead of its advancing him to be as Gods, it sunk him down into a way of acting like the beasts and like the Devil” (Ibid.). He had no sooner revolted from the authority of Heaven than the beauty and order of his family was broken (Ibid.).
God continued to hold man individually responsible for his spiritual decisions. In Genesis 4, the Bible tells the story of Cain and Abel. Cain, the son of Adam and Eve, brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to God which God did not respect because the offering represented Cain’s own works. God did respect the offering brought by Cain’s brother Abel, “the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof,” because it spoke of the coming Savior who would give His life, shed His blood, for all who would trust Him as Savior. “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts” (He. 11.4). Cain, as do all individuals, had the choice of coming to God by faith or doing things his way. God said to Cain, “Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door” (Ge. 4.6-7).
Old Testament saints placed their faith in the coming Messiah. New Testament saints place their faith in the risen Messiah. Since the fall all individuals choose either to come to Christ, and only Christ, in faith or to depend upon their own philosophies or the philosophies and/or religions of others. Hebrews 11 gives the names and faithful acts of many Old Testament saints who came to God in faith: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sarah (Abraham being the father of Israel), Isaac and Jacob, Joseph, Moses and his parents, Joshua and Israel, Rahab, etc. Speaking of the faith covenant, Paul wrote that all “which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Ga. 3.7). “And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Ga. 3.29). These verses all apply to individuals who are self-governing, not to nations—that is, not to civil governments. God has always dealt with individuals on the same basis. Alongside His dealings with individuals, as the Old Testament records, God also deals with nations or civil governments. Isaac Backus wrote: “By divine institution a whole family and a whole nation were taken into covenant; now none are added to the church by the Lord but believers who are saved” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 153).
Satan is still successfully deceiving man as to God’s authority (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. The author shows in his articles, books, and audio teachings how Satan has deceived untold millions of Christians with regard to the issue of separation of church and state by misquoting and misinterpreting the Bible. To understand the God-ordained relationship of church and state, one must understand God’s teaching on government, church, and separation of church and state and also how to apply that teaching to reality.
No individual has an excuse for rejecting God and his authority. God first speaks to every individual through His creation: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Ro. 1.18-20; see all of Ro. 1).
If an individual believes the creation, God next speaks to him through his conscience: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Ro. 2.14-15; see all of Ro. 2).
If an individual believes the creation and his conscience, God then speaks to him through Scripture:
“[L]et God be true, but every man a liar: as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou are judged…. As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one…. For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God: Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Ro. 3.4, 10-12, 23-26; see all of Ro. 3).
A good study Bible will reveal that Romans 3 quotes extensively from Old Testament Scripture. For example, the immediately preceding verses quote Ps. 14.1, 2, 3; 53.1-4 and Ec. 7.20.
If an individual believes the creation, his conscience, and Scripture, God reveals the way to Himself through Christ Jesus: “And therefore [Abraham’s faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Ro. 4.22-25). “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6.44. Note: These insights concerning God’s dealing with man through His creation, conscience, Scripture, and Jesus Christ were copied in my Bible from a sermon the author heard several years ago. The author did not make a note of the name of the preacher, but is sure he will forgive him for using the material).
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. In addition to examples already mentioned of men exercising their faith, a couple of powerful verses showing free will follow: “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” (Jn.. 3.16, 18). “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” (Re. 22.17).
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” (Ro. 4.5). In endnote 2 of his last article on this blog, “The Biblical Teaching on and Doctrine of Government,’” the author commented on free will (also called soul liberty, freedom of conscience, and religious freedom).
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. However, that civil government will succeed only to the degree that individuals within that civil government direct and control their lives according to God’s precepts.
The author is now following the outline of God Betrayed in his present series of articles on this “Separation of Church and State” blog. He has already finished his series on the biblical principles of “church” (see column at left). The introductory article to this series on government was “The Biblical Teaching on and Doctrine of Government,’” which laid the foundation for and summarizes what will be published in this and future articles on the topic of the biblical doctrine of “government.” The author plans to publish the complete study he did in God Betrayed on this website.
The purpose is to glorify God by publishing God’s truth concerning the issue of separation of church and state and applying that truth to reality.