The Christian Vision of Government (XI)

It should be the ideal for every system of civil law to remove all positive sanctions by the State and impose only those negative sanctions authorized by biblical law. The State is to impose negative sanctions only: punishing public evil. It is not a wealth-creator; it is a wealth-redistributer. It is not safe to entrust to the State the power of making one man rich at the expense of another. It is also not moral.[1]

What is it that makes God’s government different to governments of today? God’s government only provided negative sanctions against law-breakers. It provided no positive sanctions.

When Israel was in rebellion against God in Samuel’s day, God warned them through Samuel what would be the consequences of their rebellion, and their foolish choice of a king. He would be a taker (see I Samuel 8). Today, in order to supposedly give so much to the community in Education, Health and Welfare (and many other programs), civil governments have to confiscate through taxation.

In doing so they violate God’s law, and they show they are presiding over a nation which is cursed of God. Why? The tax rate is 10% or more. Civil governments believe they are more important and deserve more, than God. God only requires a tithe-10%.

The responsibility of government according to the Bible, is judgment. It is to protect the innocent, and punish law-breakers. This meant either fines imposed on criminals for restitution for the victims of crime, or their capital punishment.

When Jethro saw how hard-pressed Moses was he told him to delegate, so that the nation of Israel would have justice. Moses did this, and those he chose “judged the people at all times…” (Ex.18:26).

But these men didn’t distribute money or gold. They simply dealt with breaches of law, rendering judgment. No doubt they were to do this using the Ten Commandments, which were given to Moses soon after.

Romans 13 explains this in the New Testament. People are commanded to “do good” (v. 3). Civil government (according to the Bible) only has a protective role, as “a minister of God to do you good” (v.4). Taxes are to be paid (v.7), but there is no mention of government writing out cheques, or paying people; no positive sanctions from government.

All of the other responsibilities in the community are to be taken up by individuals, families, churches and the free market. They are not to be assumed by government.

Saul’s promises in 1,050 BC to his followers that he would give them so much, were predicated on one thing: he had (or would) confiscate so much from the community (I Sam.22:6-7), and this is where we are today. Governments all over the world have spent beyond their means as they have tried to be “providers.” (We are preparing for an economic catastrophe similar to the Great Depression, because of this very fact.)

Only the church can point out this error, and lead the way out of this awful mess.


When the community has expectations of what government can do beyond what the Bible directs, it ultimately leads to disaster. Education, health and welfare are not responsibilities of civil government. The sooner we get this message and act on it, the sooner the nations of the world will be godly, free and prosperous.

And the church must lead the way.

[1] Gary North, “Inheritance and Dominion,” 1999, ch.54.