Gary continues his series on biblical government about how to change society.

Self-government is synonymous with self-control. A self-governed individual is someone who can regulate his attitudes and actions without the need for external coercion. Reuben, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, is described as a man who “boils over”: “Reuben, you are my first-born; my might and the beginning of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. Uncontrolled [lit., boiling over] as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch” (Genesis 49:4). Reuben was pre-eminent in nearly everything, but his lack of self-control took from him the status and privileges of the first-born (a double portion of his father’s inheritance). This single text shows us that there is a relationship between self-government and godly leadership. Those who cannot govern themselves cannot govern others (1 Timothy 3:1-8).

On the other hand, Joseph exhibited self-control (self-government) even under great temptation and the possibility of personal gain (Genesis 39: 7-23; 49:23-24). He is then blessed beyond any of his brothers, by Pharaoh and Jacob alike. In Egypt he is made a ruler (41:38-49), and through his children, Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph receives a double portion of the promised land as if he were the firstborn.

A self-governed individual obeys the law of God from the heart, while someone who lacks self-control must be forced to obey. Those who are not self-governed need to be controlled by an external governor. This is why Scripture tells us “that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching” (1 Timothy 1:9-10). For children, a spanking may be needed for rebellion against parents in family government (Proverbs 13:24).

Of course, parents work for the day when their children will learn to govern their behavior without the need for external correction. A student who refuses to do his homework may be forced to stay after school until he completes it. A self-governed student does his homework, considering the consequences if he fails to do it, having learned that self-government brings the reward of freedom after school, the absence of anxiety, good grades, a good relationship with his parents and teachers, and the prospect of future employment. The ungoverned reverts to crime to satisfy his uncontrolled desires. He might steal, vandalize, murder, or rape. His failure to govern himself means that others must govern him, protecting the larger society from his destructive and rebellious behavior.

God and Government

God and Government

With a fresh new look, more images, an extensive subject and scripture index, and an updated bibliography, God and Government is ready to prepare a whole new generation to take on the political and religious battles confronting Christians today. May it be used in a new awakening of Christians in America—not just to inform minds, but to stimulate action and secure a better tomorrow for our posterity.

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Gary continues his series on biblical government about how to change society. It’s not a quick-fix top-down endeavor; it’s a long-term bottom-up lifetime job. Freedom is always a single generation from being lost and it takes vigilance and hard work. We live in a convenient, push-button, instant culture and generational work and commitment are a very difficult sell.

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