The Pharisees assailed Jesus constantly during His public ministry. On one such occasion they had their emissaries ask Him, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Matthew 22:17, NKJV. Jesus’ answer made them marvel: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”
The apostle Paul declared, “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, NKJV. Ellen G. White similarly stated, “Whenever we can comply with the law of the land without putting ourselves in a false position, we should do so.”1 However, as the apostle Peter clearly pointed out, when human authorities give commands that are contrary to God’s clear commands, we must “obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.
The 20th century brought with it more direct and indirect governmental regulations, and today they continue to increase. Many of them are reasonable, ranging from fire drills and safety procedures to insurance, certification, and licensing requirements for many jobs. Ellen G. White addressed one of these regulations, explaining their purpose and exhorting Adventists to respect them: “Wise laws have been framed in order to safeguard the people against the imposition of unqualified physicians. These laws we should respect, for we are ourselves by them protected from presumptuous pretenders. Should we manifest opposition to these requirements, it would tend to restrict the influence of our medical missionaries.”2
At the same time, she admonished not to “submit to regulations if the sacrifice of principle is involved; for this would imperil the soul’s salvation.”3
The three angels’ messages warn us of legislation that will soon be imposed on the whole world in direct opposition to God’s law. The forces in this world are already preparing themselves for this final battle—Armageddon. The focus will be on whom we will worship and obey: God, or the beast and its image. May our religious experience today be so fully grounded in the Word of God that we will not sacrifice our principles nor succumb to spiritualistic deceptions!
1 Ellen G. White, Medical Ministry, p. 84.
2 Ellen G. White, Loma Linda Messages, p. 452.