“Election Year” politics is now in full swing in America. Candidates are gearing up, with ad campaigns vigorously promoting their ideologies and attacking their opponents. Each nominee has his own vision of how the government—local, state or federal—should be run, proclaiming his view to be in the best interests of the citizenry. The candidates, through use of conventions, speeches, television ads, direct mail, and other means, appeal to voters. They promise to bring “change” in government. What does the Bible say about all of this?
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God’s Word reveals that Jesus Christ brought a message about government. Everywhere He went, He preached—HE ANNOUNCED—the coming of the kingdom of God. He explained that this would be a WORLD-RULING GOVERNMENT that would smash and replace all the governments of men.
You may have supposed that the governments of modern nations generally reflect God’s way. This is almost everyone’s assumption. Yet, while God does, in fact, establish and remove nations, this is not His world! This is why Christ foretold the arrival of a SUPERGOVERNMENT to replace the confused, inefficient and ineffective governments of men, so powerless to solve any of the world’s biggest problems.
How did the world come to be as it is? Why is it in such a state of confusion and ignorance? Why can the governments of men not get along—avoid war—and find peace and agreement? Why is there constant instability, scandal and division among leaders and seemingly endless revolutions and military coups? Why is there no shortage of demagogues, dictators and revolutionaries, always promising to make things better, yet only able to preside over a continual worsening of problems and conditions?
Look at the governments of this world. Generally speaking, there are three types today—monarchies, dictatorships and democracies.
Monarchies involve nobility—royalty—where bloodline is the key to succession of power. Through the death of a king or queen, a succeeding prince or princess ascends the throne. This can last for generations or many centuries. In the end, monarchies are almost always replaced, either violently or peacefully, with allowance that the king or queen is permitted to retain minimal power.
Dictatorships and totalitarian governments are usually created through violence—by coup or revolution. They are often short-lived because something similar quickly replaces them.
Democracies and republics are best described as collaborative, representative or parliamentarian, in that officials and leaders are elected, representing “the will of the people.” This involves a voting or balloting process in the selection of one candidate in preference to one or several others. This form is generally considered to be the best of mankind’s governments. Yet, the great 20th-century British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, called democracy “the worst form of government—except for all the others.” This offers an amazing insight into how democracy really works, from an insider’s view.
But, as bad as democracy may be, it is true that it is far better than any other form of government—when that government lies in the hands of men. Democracy does at least attempt to insure more individual “freedoms” than other kinds of humanly-devised government.
In the end, however, none of man’s governments work either very well or for very long.
Consider. God is calling people who are citizens of many different nations on earth, and most who learn the truth in this age are privileged to live under the freedoms of a democracy.
Should Christians continue voting or participating in the politics of their country?
A Christian is one who follows—who copies—Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:21; Phil. 2:5). What would Christ do if He were on earth today? Would HE participate in the governments or politics of men? What does the Bible teach about voting to select leaders—either in national governments or in the selection of church leaders in various denominations?
Christ would not participate in electing the world’s leaders, because He understands the origin of the governments of this world and who is behind them.
Where did the governments of men come from? How did they originate? Who is behind them? Why is there so much strife and competition in the world today? Is this God’s world—reflecting His way, and His direction and guidance?
Most theologians, religionists and churchmen blindly assume that it is. Therefore, they conclude that if “all Christians work together, in love and unity, to make this world and its governments a safer and better place for all, we can bring peace, happiness and prosperity to the world.” This is a completely wrong viewpoint. Nowhere did Jesus say “go into all the world and strive to make it a better place by becoming part of it.” Instead, He said, “Go you into all the world and preach the gospel.” Christ did not come to make this world better. He announced the COMING of a better world, under His government!
Blind, deceived men think they can bring about the kingdom of God through human effort. They see certain evil forces at work and feel compelled to “do something about it.” They assume that Christ would be an “activist” striving to “make the world a better place.” Be honest! Haven’t you heard this many times? Haven’t you heard churches urge people to “get involved” or “take a stand” or some similar thing, in order to improve national or world problems of one sort or another?
But is this God’s world now? Does HE want His servants to “make the world into a better place”?
The Bible speaks of Satan, “which deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). Notice that it says, “the WHOLE world.” This is a staggering statement—but there it is in your Bible!
If Satan has deceived the entire world, then how can it be God’s world? It must be one or the other! Since the whole world is deceived, it is not of God and is actually cut off from Him (Isa. 59:1-2). This will become clear.
Think for a moment! If the devil practices deception throughout the world, it would certainly include influence upon, and control over, the humanly-devised governments of all nations.
The Bible refers to the “god of this world”—and it is not the God of heaven. II Corinthians 4:4 records, “In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel…should shine unto them.”
There is only one being who wants to “blind” this world to the truth of the real gospel—Satan the devil. Understand.
Three times in the gospel of John, Christ Himself refers to Satan the devil as “the prince of this world.” John 12:31, 16:11 and 14:30 make plain that in the future the “prince of this world” will be judged because, as Christ says in 14:30, the devil “has nothing in Me.” Take time to read these verses. John 12:31 parallels the judgment of this world with Satan’s coming judgment. This is because this is his world!
But let’s make this crystal clear.
Matthew 4 contains the well-known account of Christ’s confrontation with the devil after fasting for forty days. The devil repeatedly tempts Christ through twisting scripture (one of his favorite devices). At one point, in verses 8 and 9, “the devil took Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said unto Him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
This is a stunning account! Why? Notice that Christ rebuked Satan (Matt. 4:10), quoting Deuteronomy 6:13 in response, and answered, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.”
Yet notice! At no point did Christ say, “These kingdoms are NOT yours to give” or “Who do you think you are, trying to offer Me what is already God’s?” He said no such thing. Again, why? Because He knew that the governments of this world ARE the devil’s governments. Christ knew that they belonged to him—WERE Satan’s to give. Therefore, He rejected the TERMS for receiving these kingdoms from the one who did have authority to offer them.
Also understand this! This account describes what is called the temptation of Christ. What the devil offered was designed to tempt Him. If both Christ and Satan knew that the kingdoms of this world were not the devil’s to give, then where was the temptation? Surely, the devil would have known what Christ knew. Of course, Christ, who was God on earth, would have known who had the power and authority to offer those kingdoms. The temptation would carry no weight—would be hollow—if they were not the devil’s to offer.
So that there is absolutely no doubt that this is true, note the same account paralleled in Luke 4:6. The devil is speaking directly to Christ. Luke’s account adds a key phrase that should hit you like a sledgehammer. Satan said, “All this power will I give You, and the glory of them: for that [it] is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it.” Did you notice? It was completely within the scope of the devil’s power and authority to offer or withhold the kingdoms of this world. They were his to give or not to give. God had “delivered” them to him—to his CONTROL!
This world’s nations and governments, with “all the glory of them,” are still under the control of the “god of this world”—the “prince of this world”!
Have you ever heard this before? Yet, this is the plain truth from your Bible, and it has a direct bearing on why the world is filled with overwhelming problems. This world, with its ways and systems, is controlled by the devil!
Satan holds sway over all governments and nations. But is his own government, led by him and his demons, and ruling over human governments, unified? Is the devil himself divided? Allow Christ to answer these questions.
Christ and His disciples often had to cast out demons. I have done this on a number of occasions, and these can be very intense, dramatic encounters. They are not pleasant to witness, and those who do are often shocked by what they see. It becomes obvious that great power is present—both in the demon being cast out and in the greater power necessary to achieve this. Christ’s accusers saw clear evidence that He was backed by real power! However, in Matthew 12:24-26, they accused Him of using the power of the devil to cast out demons.
Here is Christ’s response: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?” (vs. 25). Christ was saying that Satan would never cast out demons—they are his! To do so would divide his own kingdom. The devil does have a kingdom.
Here is the point. Not only does Satan govern the kingdoms of this world, through his power and influence, but he also does it in an undivided, unified fashion with the aid of hundreds of millions (Rev. 5:11; 12:4) of demons.
Now notice an amazing account in Daniel 10:13-21. An actual spirit war, lasting three full weeks (vs. 13), is described! Michael, an archangel, fought with one called the “prince of the kingdom of Persia,” and later referred to another up-coming battle with an arch-demon called the “prince of Grecia.” Archangels do not need twenty-one days to defeat puny, little, physical men. Michael was battling these “princes,” who were powerful (fallen) spirit beings within Satan’s unified government, ruling over individual kingdoms (nations) within it.
Further, Ephesians 6:12 explains how Christians wrestle “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits [the proper translation] in high places.” The context reveals that these “high places” are within the governments or principalities of this world!
This is not God’s world! It is evident that the devil governs a vast realm of fallen spirits. Together they deceive, confuse and exert far-reaching influence over all the governments and activities on earth.
The next section covers several biblical reasons why Christians do not vote. Each summarizes a biblical principle explaining why Christians do not participate in the governments of this world—or in selection of leaders and doctrine within God’s true Church. Not only does a Christian not participate in the democratic politics of this world, but he would also never bring the world’s politics into God’s Church and attempt to stamp it with God’s authority. As you examine these points, consider why each has a clear application, both in the civil governments of men and in the churches of man’s world. It will also become obvious why voting is never practiced within God’s Church.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of man; and if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” This is truer than Franklin understood. Here’s why.
This insight represents a central biblical understanding that few recognize. Consider these questions: “Who is behind the selection of leaders over the many countries on earth? Who actually chooses them?” Ultimately, do men select the kings, presidents and prime ministers, who stand as the human leaders of the nations today? We have seen that this is Satan’s world. But is this all there is to it? Does God play absolutely NO role in men’s affairs? Is there anything else to understand?
First read Daniel 4:17. This is part of a remarkable story and partly explains why more talented people are leaving politics than ever before. It contains an amazing statement. Notice: “This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever He will, and sets up over it the BASEST OF MEN.” The word base means “the bottom, under.” If a house has a basement, it is located at the bottom or under the house.
This part of Daniel’s prophecy describes a king, Nebuchadnezzar, who may have been the greatest Gentile leader the world has seen—the “head of gold” of the giant image described in chapter 2. As a result of his important role in prophecy, leading the greatest empire on earth nearly 2,600 years ago, Nebuchadnezzar became lifted up with pride. Notice his words in Daniel 4:30: “The king spoke, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of MY power, and for the honor of MY majesty?”
This worldly king was far too impressed with his own accomplishments and the grandeur of the spectacular ancient city (and kingdom) of Babylon over which he ruled. The account records that God humbled and punished him by giving him the mind of a wild animal for a period of seven years (Dan. 4:32-33).
Nebuchadnezzar was an exception to the rule of verse 17 — and there are a few such exceptions that God guides, for His own reasons. But He plainly states that He places “the basest of men” over the governments and nations on earth. Also, Daniel 2:21 states, “[God] removes kings, and sets up kings.”
Now, typically, whom do people seek to put into office when they cast their ballot in an election? They try to insure that the “best candidate” wins! No one votes for someone because they think that he is the “worst candidate.” However, if we are to believe Daniel 4:17, this puts them in direct opposition to God’s purpose—which is that the worst, or basest, man wins. The weakest, basest, lowliest people are often those whom God, for His own purpose, installs into office. This effect is why more qualified leaders often choose not to be part of a system primarily composed of this kind of people. Nebuchadnezzar shows that God makes a few exceptions—but this is His prerogative, not ours.
It is not God’s purpose that the “better” people win. God determines the winners in advance. In the end, the “will of the people” has no power or effect, because God is in charge of the outcome of elections. He has complete control.
Do not misunderstand, however. The governments of this world are not of God simply because He selects their leaders. Some have tried to cite Daniel 4:17, completely missing the point when they say, “God is working in this election and good Christians everywhere, if we can get out the vote, can put godly men into office.” This literally puts them in a position of fighting God’s stated purpose. They do not understand WHY God says the basest people are elected. Many religious leaders ignore this verse, believing it to be their job to work out God’s purpose.
God is working out a plan that encompasses 7,000 years. He is allowing mankind to find out that its own ways, governments, values, religions and purposes do not work. God has already picked the leaders that best work toward the fulfillment of His great plan of salvation for all mankind.
Here is the point. You and I do not know whom God has selected, in advance, as the “winner” that He wants in office. To cast a vote for someone other than the pre-selected winner is to potentially fight God’s purpose! That is serious—and the Bible says that it is possible to “fight against God” (Acts 5:39)!
Further, if you are seeking to elect the best man, in an election where God has told you in advance that He is going to pick the “basest” person, you are directly ignoring His purpose and overriding it with your own. God has already picked the winner. Christians know they better “get out of the way,” not “get out the vote”! God does not need our “help” installing whom He has chosen.
Next consider this famous “conversation.” In John 18, Christ was on trial before Pontius Pilate. In verse 33, Pilate asked Jesus, “Are You the King of the Jews?” The exchange continues until it climaxes in verse 36. Christ had determined not to resist whatever Pilate or the Jews had chosen as His fate. He answered Pilate’s question. Notice verse 36: “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is My kingdom not from hence [here].”
Do you understand Christ’s words here? He said that His kingdom (the New Testament term for government) is not of this world. Christians are part of THAT government—GOD’s government. They await the coming of this government to earth. Also, just based on this verse (there are many others), Christ explains that God’s servants do not fight to defend His kingdom. Grasp this. Since Christ’s servants do not even fight to defend Christ’s (God’s) kingdom, they certainly, then, would never fight in the wars of men and nations to defend any kingdom led by men!
Remember that Christ’s kingdom is not on earth—it is from another place. It is not the job of His servants, through participation in men’s governments or through fighting in their wars, to spread the kingdom of God. It has not yet arrived. Since God’s kingdom comes from, and is headquartered in, heaven, His servants neither vote in, nor fight for, men’s nations or governments.
So, Christians do not vote because they are part of another kingdom not of this world. In Matthew 6:9-10, Christ told them to regularly pray, “Thy kingdom come,” because His followers serve and look toward a different kingdom, the one to “come.”
Philippians 3:20, states, “For our conversation [the Greek word here should be properly translated citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is a fascinating passage. It plainly states that a Christian’s “citizenship” is IN HEAVEN—not on earth. Of course, all true Christians are also citizens of at least one country on earth (some few have dual citizenship).
This verse explains WHY Christ said, “My kingdom is not OF this world.” That’s right! It is from (of) another place—HEAVEN! This verse complements John 18:36! Human leaders come from a certain city, state or province of the country that they represent. So does Christ. He comes from heaven.
The Greek word for citizenship is politeuma. POLITICS comes from this word! Christians do have a “political agenda,” but it is not of this world. Politeuma technically can also be translated another way. It can mean a townsman. It is correct to say that citizens of men’s governments are townsmen—of particular towns on earth.
Do God’s people practice politics? The answer is YES—in a sense! I have an absolutely deep political conviction. Let me say this more clearly, so you can understand. In one sense, Christians are very political in their thinking. Is God a political being? The answer is absolutely YES! But His politics are not of this society. He has His own view of government, His own view of correct and right politeuma, or politics. His kingdom—His government—is not of this world, but He does have a government.
The word police comes from politeuma. So do policy and poll. It is not hard to understand how police, policies and polls are connected, in one way or another, to politics. The large American cities of Indianapolis and Minneapolis derive their names from politeuma. These are large towns with lots of citizens. Minnea(polis) means the major city of Minnesota and Indiana(polis) means the major city of Indiana. Mystery is often stripped away when words are broken down into their most basic meaning. The root meaning of politeuma holds an important lesson for Christians regarding from where and by whom their politics are governed.
We must ask this question: What are the fruits—the by-product—of any system or leader. In Matthew 7:16, Christ stated, “You shall know them by their fruits.” He repeated, “Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them” (Matt. 7:20). Matthew 12:33 says, “…for the TREE is known by his [its] fruit.” These verses are primarily speaking about leaders, but the principle has broad application.
Let’s examine the “tree” called politics, voting and democracy. In a sense, it could be said that to demonstrate means to demon-strate. Observe the fruits of any demonstration that has gone wild and it is obvious that demons are behind it.
Look at the FRUITS of democracy. This is based on the spirit of competition between political parties. Each party seeks to gain an advantage over the other and will even undercut good programs if it will cast a bad light on their opponents. During the political process preceding an election, the challenger will oppose the incumbent at every turn on virtually every issue, to present himself in the best light and to get himself elected. Over time, this has a devastating effect on the unity of a country that is supposed to stand behind its government. Almost invariably, this openly—and often bitterly—divides the citizenry of the nation. At some point, the division is so entrenched that it becomes permanent.
Such are America and Britain today! The prophet Amos asked, “Can two walk together except they be agreed?” (3:3). The unstated answer is a clear NO!
The practices of favoritism, endless debates and arguments, bribes, lust for power, corruption, lying and deceit, scandals and cover-ups, greed, exploitation, aggression, protests, intense and relentless accusation, inefficiency, vanity, decisions based on polls, voter apathy, strife and back-stabbing are just some of the fruits of democracy—and remember that Winston Churchill said that democracy is better than all the other forms of human government!
Democratic politics are shot full of division and disagreement, over nearly every issue that any society might face.
The fruit of the democratic way, now driven by unbridled human nature, is virtual CHAOS—rapidly on its way to ANARCHY! Remember, it is run by the god of this world and his “wicked spirits [marginal rendering] in high places” (Eph. 6:12). These wicked spirits sit at the real throttle of power behind the visible governments of nations. The Greeks were much more right than they knew.
No Christian can participate in such a system!
Finally, consider this. Some candidates for office want to be a mayor—others a congressman—others a governor, judge or senator—or even a president or prime minister. Ask: What is every political candidate actually saying, between the lines, when he offers himself for the particular office that he is seeking? What is such a person saying about his qualifications?
Focus on a governor or a president—or perhaps the mayor of a city with millions of people. When a person seeks such a powerful office, that person is saying that he is qualified, in effect, to be considered a great leader. Such a person is actively seeking to exalt himself to a position of great authority. He is saying that he is sufficiently intelligent, talented, qualified or special and/or experienced enough to be entrusted with a great office of responsibility. This is exactly what a candidate is declaring, whether or not he is honest enough to admit it. He is saying, much like Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:30, that he is a great person, a great leader and the voting masses should hand him GREAT POWER! Understand. Voters directly assist such people in their climb to power.
Here is God’s perspective. Jesus said, “For whosoever exalts himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted” (Luke 14:11). Several chapters later, in 18:14, He repeated almost the exact same thing. One look at the greedy, grasping demagogues of modern western politics—and this is just as true of religious leaders—with their pandering theatrics designed to play to the people’s concerns, leaves little doubt that Christ understood the corrupting nature of self-exaltation! He sees through the guise of phony “concern” for the people whose votes these “leaders” must get and/or retain to reach office.
Christians are to humble themselves now, in this life (Matt. 18:1-4; James 4:10; I Pet. 5:5-6). This will allow God to exalt them later, in His coming kingdom, giving them positions of great power and authority, ruling alongside Jesus Christ. Politicians exalt themselves and thereby insure that God will humble them at some later time, when they least expect it.
Christians understand the way God works. To participate in a system in which men exalt themselves, in the seeking of high office, is to endorse—to validate—to agree with—a corrupt system, with terrible fruit, emphasizing vanity and pride. Democracy is completely opposite to what God expects of all people when He commands them to humble themselves!
No part of this Personal is intended to suggest that Christians should ever disobey civil authority—unless that authority directly instructs them to disobey the HIGHER authority of God (Acts 5:29). Participating in the governments of men and obeying or submitting to these governments are entirely different matters. Christians do not confuse the two! (If you want to learn more about what God instructs on this subject, read our booklet Should Christians Vote? It covers ten separate biblical reasons [we have covered some of these here] why Christians do not vote. Each reason summarizes a principle from the Bible explaining why Christians never participate in the governments of this world.)
Christians participating in the governments of Satan’s world, through voting, military service or activism in social causes, is far more serious than most realize. It is disloyalty to the government of God and His complete authority over a Christian’s life.
At the center of the gospel of the kingdom of God is a message about God’s soon-coming, hierarchical GOVERNMENT. Followers of Jesus Christ look to this government!