When I Cheated on a Bible Test
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. Romans 13:1
While attending a Christian college, one of my first classes required the students to read through the Bible in its entirety. On the final exam was a weighted question, regarding how much we’d read during the semester. I did well, getting most of the other test questions right, but to get an A, I had to answer that I’d done all the required reading. The problem was, I hadn’t. I felt it was a stupid rule though. What did it matter if I read all of Leviticus or not? I needed an A, and so I lied.
I’d love to tell you that I eventually confessed to my professor. I’d love to tell you how he dealt with me fairly but sternly and that I learned a valuable lesson. I didn’t confess though. I thought it was a stupid rule, so I didn’t follow it. I never would have cheated off of someone else’s test answers, but because I disagreed with this particular rule, it simply didn’t apply to me.
This is often our approach to government and its laws. In general, we feel that everyone should follow the rules. When it comes to our specific preferences however, we often feel that one rule just doesn’t apply to us. Taxes seem unfair and if we could get away with it, many of us would lie to keep more of our money.
In today’s passage, Paul addressed our duty as Christians to obey the government. He even addressed the tax issue. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing (Romans 13:6). There are of course, times in the Bible when God’s people had to choose civil disobedience in order to obey God, but this isn’t what Paul is talking about. In today’s passage, Paul said that to follow the rules was to obey God.
Most of us follow the law most of the time, just like I answered most of those Bible test questions correctly. The problem is when we want something that is contrary to that one law. Then, it’s a stupid law that simply doesn’t apply to us. I shouldn’t have to pay capital gains tax. If I lie, I’m just correcting that which is unfair. I’m actually doing the right thing.
Cheating is sin though, and even if I get away with it legally, sin always has a price. When I cheated in college, I got my A, but I also learned that the rules don’t apply to me. This was in part, the basis of my later drug use. God says however, that the rules do apply to me. If I desire to avoid his wrath and if I want a clean conscience before him, I must follow the law. The rules apply to me.