Some may wonder if it is relevant and appropriate to talk about taxes in a ‘religious’ column. They may think that taxes are associated with government, and religion and government should not be intermingled.
Let’s see what the Bible has to say about the separation of church and state.
Recall recently we reported the prophecy of Isaiah speaking of the advent of Christ and His role in government.
“…the government will be upon His shoulder…of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…to order it and establish it with judgment and justice…” Isaiah 9:7
As history confirmed, Christ was born, lived, was killed, buried, resurrected, and ascended back to the heavens. And while He was on earth He didn’t rule the government.
The disbelievers may scoff at Isaiah’s prophecy, such as Ishmael did to Isaac; however, subsequent in Isaiah’s prophecy he tells of the future day when Christ will return to fulfill Isaiah’s earlier words.
When Christ returns He will rule the world from the magnificent temple in Jerusalem.
“But there the majestic LORD will be for us…For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king…” Isaiah 33:21-22
The three basic functions of government will be under the rule of the coming King.
However, before Christ returns to rule the world, the Bible reveals that government is established by God in this current age to maintain law and order.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” Romans 13:1.
And then Paul teaches that whoever doesn’t follow the law will pay a price.
“Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.” Romans 13:2
The law of the land should reflect God’s standard of righteousness; however, such is not always true.
The Pharisees in Jesus’ day added more than 600 of their own laws, or traditions, which they taught carried the same weight as God’s laws.
Paul warned of such folly expressed in his letter to the church in Colosse.
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8
That poses a question for the present generation, i.e. does our government make laws that are in conflict with God’s standard of righteousness?
Are there laws and traditions that in fact protect those who break God’s laws? We all should know the answer to those questions.
Now let’s address the issue of paying taxes. Recall that the chief priests and scribes asked Jesus about paying taxes to the government.
Jesus responded that a person has a duel responsibility relative to financial obligations, i.e. pay taxes to the government and pay his tithe to God.
“Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Luke 20:25-26
Shortly thereafter, at Jesus’ trial, He was led to Pilate, and His accusers gave false witness relative to Jesus’ teaching on paying taxes.
“And they began to accuse Him, saying, ‘We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar…” Luke 23:2
Now let’s go back to Paul’s teaching to the Christians in Rome relative to obeying government.
Recall that Paul taught that government is established by God to maintain law and order.
“For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.” Romans 13:6
The Greek word for ‘taxes’ in this verse is phoros meaning an ‘annual tax or tribute imposed upon persons and their property.’
That poses other questions for the current generation.
Does our government use tax revenue for programs other than maintaining law and order?
And even more serious, do some attempt to reduce the tax revenue required to fund the maintenance of law and order, and redirect to other unscriptural activities? If so, what will be the consequence?
The Bible is still by far the most relevant book today and addresses all issues.