1. The more accountable a government is to the people, the more hindered it is from achieving tyranny.
Dr. Thomas Schreiner, New Testament scholar, professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and pastor at Clifton Baptist Church has said it well. “It is the nature of government to move toward tyranny.” Government has an insatiable appetite for power, like a hungry hippo, always hungry for more. Those who give government limited power, limited in numbers of powers or time limited power, should expect that government to creatively seek to expand what has been given, and not give it back. Oftentimes the currency with which it trades to accumulate more power is comfort and convenience, though sometimes it resorts to naked coercion.
Notice this interaction between the people of Israel and Samuel in 1 Samuel 8.
“Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.”…So Samuel spoke all the words of the LORD to the people who had asked of him a king. He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. “He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. “He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. “He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. “He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. “He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. “He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. “Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
The king of whom Samuel is warning the people is a ruler like those of the nations. He takes. He accumulates. He uses. And the people become his servants. And it will be burdensome to them.
I’m not saying that there should be no government whatsoever. Government has been instituted by God, given by God to man for his good, and has utility. God has granted the government the power of the sword, to protect the citizens of the land from physical threat from within and without (Genesis 9:6, Romans 13:1-7).
But in a world of sinful men, the gift of government is like using a rhinoceros to get to work. He’s useful, but if you don’t hold the reigns well enough, he’ll trample you.
The holding of the reigns is the keeping accountable. This idea was a major part of the establishing of these United States of America. The federal government was intentionally set up to be directly answerable to the States. And the States are answerable to their people.
2. The society of that people will then be good or bad in proportion to its conformity to a biblical worldview.
A limited government does not make a good society. For a society to be good, its people must be conformed in their thinking, loving, and acting to God’s Word. To the degree that they are the society will be good, one in which you’d want to raise a family. This is because all knowledge and wisdom and sound instruction begins with God (Proverbs 1:7, Colossians 2:3). If you reject God, you embrace absurdity and deceit, an awful societal pool in which to swim.
It’s because I believe these two principles that I consider it worthwhile to promote small government and healthy local churches…
…small government to slow the movement toward tyranny and the abuse of power…
…and healthy local churches, pillars and buttresses of the truth, to proclaim the unadulterated gospel, see the lost saved, and teach disciples of the Lord Jesus to obey everything he has commanded.