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Law and Crime
This document reflects commonly held beliefs based on scripture which have been endorsed by the church's Commission on Doctrinal Purity and the Executive Presbytery.
Does the Assemblies of God have a position on the law and crime?
Members of the Assemblies of God recognize and seek to obey both God's law and the human laws of the nation, state, and local community. Obedience to God's law is the higher priority, even though humans living in a fallen world will not in this life attain perfect and complete obedience. However, the sincere Christian will desire to follow Christ in complete obedience to God's Word.
In the realm of man-made laws, Christians sometimes face a dilemma. Christians are instructed in God's Word to obey the civil authorities because they are ordained by God; in resisting the governing authorities, the Christian resists God who delegates the right to govern (Romans 13:1-7). But Christians recognize one exception to this biblical principle, an exception illustrated in the Bible through Peter and John. When these disciples were challenged by religious authorities to stop doing what God had instructed them to do, they replied, "We must obey God rather than men!" (Acts 5:29).
This exception must be used with great caution. God has rightly ordained human government, even when those authorities make laws and commit actions that violate God's law. Christians should never scoff at human law and authorities. God is concerned about our attitudes and thoughts, not just the outward, overt commission of crime and sin (Matthew 5:1-7:28). But obedience to human laws should never force or lead a Christian to sin against God's law.
Christians are held to a higher standard than the laws of any human society. Our moral choices are to be based on loving God with all our being and loving our neighbors as ourselves. The proper balance between self-esteem and humility is the ability to say in the same breath, "There is no one in the world who is more important to God than I am, and there is no one in the world who is less important to God than I am." If we truly understand how much God loves each one of us (including those who have not yet surrendered their lives to His lordship), how can we commit crimes against another human being?
If our society continues its trend toward greater secularization, Christians will face an increasing number of laws requiring actions or acceptance of behaviors the Bible tells us are sins against God. In light of this we as Christians may be called upon to resist such evil, but in doing so we must always act in a Christlike manner, in ways and means that honor God and do not violate Scripture. (This caution is especially applicable in protesting against human laws permitting abortion when God's law commands the protection and preservation of human life. The Bible nowhere gives individuals the right to kill doctors who may have been violating God's law. Society would experience anarchy if every individual took such matters in his or her own hands).
Christians need to be involved as good stewards and citizens in supporting ethical behavior and in defending our society from criminals and random violence. While we need to be involved in the legislative and political process, true freedom from sin and crime comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
The above statement is based upon our common understanding of scriptural teaching.
All Scripture quotations are from the New International Version (NIV) unless otherwise specified.