When can a Christian break the rules? What are the exceptions?
To Preserve Life
If someone told you to do something that broke man’s law, you would naturally say no, but what if you were forced to do so? When some were hiding Jews during World War Two, was it okay to tell a lie to save a life? Dr. R.C. Sproul tells us about the ethics of truth: “We are always and everywhere obligated to tell the truth to whom the truth is due. We are to speak the truth where justice and righteousness requires the truth.” The higher moral law of preserving life supersedes that of telling the truth when a human life is at stake. Corrie Ten Boom, who hid Jews during the war, never felt any conviction of sin for hiding these Jews. She knew it was what God would want.
To Obey God’s Law
I remember an account of a co-worker years ago who came to me and was conflicted about something. His supervisor wanted him to approve some parts but these had not all that had passed inspection. He asked me if it was okay to do this since his supervisor told him to do it. I said, maybe you can come in to work on your own time and inspect these parts so that they would actually be certified as passing inspection. He was troubled by trying to approve aircraft parts without inspecting them. He did just what I suggested because he knew that he was paid to inspect all of the parts and not just some of them because ultimately, we work for God and not man (Col 2:23-24).
Preaching the Gospel
When the Jewish authorities told the apostles to stop preaching about Jesus, the Apostle Peter said “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). After this warning, “they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:40-41). Imagine that! They rejoiced over being beaten! Why? The rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name,” Jesus Christ.
God’s Law verses Sharia Law
When a group of Christians were being rounded up in Nigeria so that they might murder them, some refused to obey the local Sharia Law because they believed God’s Law stood above those of man, especially those laws where Christian’s lives were at stake. One Muslim felt so troubled about this that he refused to execute one of the Christians that he was told to do so. He broke the Sharia Law by refusing to listen to his superiors and kill these Christians and so he himself was beaten, tortured, and put into prison, but this man heard about Jesus and place his trust in Him and was later martyred for his faith.
The Bible tells us that we are to obey those who are in authority over us (Rom 13:1-5) but when man’s laws tell us to break God’s Laws, we have no choice but to obey God over man. Especially where human life is involved, where our conscience is troubled, where we preach the gospel and have freedom to do so, and when one religion teaches and commands the death of others who don’t follow their religion.