The Moral Government of God

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 11
In the first few verses of 1 Peter 3, the Apostle enjoins upon us the beautiful Christ-like character that should mark the Christian company, but then encourages us to embrace wholeheartedly the Christian life and to refuse evil, by reminding us of the unchanging principles of the moral government of God. The essence of government, whether human or divine, is to protect and bless those who do good and punish those who do evil. With man, corruption and violence may too often mar his government, so that the good may suffer and the wicked escape. With God all is perfect; His government is exercised without respect of persons, rendering to every man, believer or unbeliever, according to his deeds.
The grace of God does not set aside the government of God; we do not escape the government of God by becoming Christians. Though we are the objects of grace, it is still true that we reap what we sow; we cannot use Christianity to cover evil.
A Life of Blessedness
Christianity sets before us a life of blessedness lived in communion with God. This life was lived in perfection by the Lord Jesus, as set forth in “the path of life” traced in Psalm 16. It is a life which has its deep spiritual joy, for the Lord can say of this life, “The lines have fallen unto Me in pleasant places.” If, then, the believer would live this life and “see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:10-11). In so doing, he will find, in the government of God, that he is blessed, whereas the one that does evil will suffer, for, according to the immutable principles of God’s government, “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (vs. 12). Moreover, “who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (vs. 13). Even the world can appreciate the man that quietly pursues his way doing good.
Moral Government
It may, however, be asked, If doing good leads to prosperity and doing evil to punishment, how is it that in this world so often the godly suffer and those who do evil appear to prosper? How is it that in this very epistle that tells us that God’s favor is upon the righteous we have the sufferings of God’s people brought before us in greater detail than in any other scripture? How is it that, immediately following the passage that promises “good days” as the outcome of doing good, we read of the possibility of suffering for doing good?
Such questions are answered if we remember that during this day of grace the government of God is moral, and not generally direct and immediate. It is truly a moral government in the sense that good is rewarded by spiritual blessing rather than by material prosperity, so that, while the Apostle puts before us the possibility of suffering for righteousness’ sake, he can still add, “Happy are ye.”
God’s government is not now generally direct, for the sorrow and punishment that are the consequences of evil are not always immediate and visible. To see the final outcome of God’s government—whether in the blessing of those who work good or in the punishment of the evildoer—we must look beyond the present time and wait for the world to come.
Hidden Government
While the government of God goes on in all its absolute perfection, it is at the moment largely hidden, and as another has said, “It needs faith to accept the fact that God’s moral government prevails above all the confusion.” Let the believer remember that, in spite of all appearances to the contrary, it always remains true that doing good will lead to blessing and sorrow. Both the blessing and the sorrow may be experienced in measure now, but the blessing will be fully known in the world to come.
H. Smith (adapted)