Therefore he who resists the authority, withstands the ordinance of God; and those who withstand will receive to themselves judgment. For rulers are not a terror to the good work, but to the evil. Do you desire to have no fear of the authority? Do that which is good, and you will have praise from the same, for he is a servant of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he doesn’t bear the sword in vain; for he is a servant of God,
an avenger for wrath to him who does evil. Therefore you need to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.
Here we read that a government official is a servant of God. God actually uses people in government to do His good deeds. It is kind of comical that so many get into government thinking that they will gain control. In reality, God is the only one who is really in control. Knowing this, it is only right to obey the authorities. We can also expect to be rewarded by them for doing what is good.
We should be afraid to do what is wrong, however, because God has given them the right to do harm against the evil doer. Notice that the true role of government is to work for God, helping those who do good and harming those who do evil. There is no such thing the separation of God and state! Whether the state cares to recognize Him or not, God is in complete control over those who have authority. He does allow evil men to do evil things for a time, but He has a purpose in it that we may not be able to see and will eventually punish all evil doers Himself if necessary.
Notice that Paul brings up conscience here as one of the reasons to obey. If we weren’t believers, we may only disobey because we are afraid of being punished, but Paul makes it clear that we should obey because of conscience. We see the difference between conscience obedience and fear obedience when we are driving on the road. When a police officer suddenly appears, those who have been driving according to their conscience will not have to slow down! A conscientious person is aware that God is always watching and doesn’t need a police officer to scare them into doing what is right.