Romans 13 gives an interesting insight into God's thoughts as it relates to certain aspects of the Justice system as instituted among men. This should not surprise those familiar with the scripture for, as early as Genesis 9, following the flood, God, in instructions to Noah instituted the death penalty and by implication government (organised rule) and, his purpose in so doing was to exact justice when a man's blood was shed.
In Isaiah 1:23, God, through the prophet, laments the state of corrupt rulers who, among their several faults failed to deliver justice to the weaker persons in society. As a result, he promised in the following two verses (24, 25) to execute his judgment and restore judges who would do right. (vs 26). The idea being, that God expects a functional and just legal and criminal justice system in a nation. The idea is that men should judge among themselves and do so justly. When that is absent, God intervenes and bring his own judgement which is usually extremely painful.
Then in Matthew 18, the Lord Jesus related a parable which had to do with men forgiving their fellowmen. The punishment for the one who refused to forgive was a prison term which clearly shows that the Lord understands and even accepts the prison system.
In Romans 13, earlier referred to, Paul writing by the Spirit of God said, "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers". (vs 1) The next few verses that follow identify that "higher power" to be the rulers of government. Almost no one disputes this interpretation of these verses. Concerning the "higher powers" Paul wrote, "For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God". This does not mean that specific governments are ordained of God (as humans make choices as to who would rule over them and, other scriptures would show Satan setting up or influencing the empowering of his choice) but it does mean that the system of human rule over their fellowmen is expected by God and appointed by Him.
Because the institution of government is ordained by God, "every soul" is commanded to be subject to that power. But in verse 3 of Romans 13, God sets out His purpose for the ordination of government. They are to promote that which is good and discourage evil. They are to praise that which is good and "to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" (vs 4). To "execute wrath" means to punish. This therefore refers to the rule of law and the justice system.
In almost every nation, men have found it necessary to have as an essential part of the justice system, the institution of policing. The police is at the forefront of the implementation of laws. The police confronts the evil - in fact both the evil and the good. Interestingly, while Police is a noun, the verb policing is defined in one online search as "have the duty of maintaining law and order". The courts with its judges and magistrates are called to act after the police has done his/her duty. It is the police that carries persons to the court and makes a presentation of their findings. The effectiveness of that presentation is critical to the decision of the court and some part of the future of the accused. The prisons come at the very end - that is after the police and the courts have acted.
The police is therefore the first link in the chain that makes up the justice system. The police is employed by the government to enable it to fulfill its mandate before God to praise the good and execute wrath upon the evildoer. Let us keep this in mind, it is the system that execute wrath, not the police. However, the police enables the system to function.
It is therefore important that a police officer sees himself/herself as participating in a system that God has ordained and fulfilling a service for God. In fact, concerning the government, Romans 13:4 says "for he is a minister of God". Because the police officer is acting on the government's behalf he/she is a minister of God. To be called a minister of God is a privileged and noble call. Yet it is a sobering and fearful responsibility because the ministers of God are ultimately answerable to Him.
In other words, there will be a day when every government through the ages will be answerable to God for their stewardship as His ministers. The agents of the government of which the Police Officer is an important one, would be likewise accountable. God holds nations, institutions and individuals responsible. Certain choices come down to the individual.
If we are mindful that we are accountable to God for the service we are being paid to render as police officers, it should deeply influence our behaviour as police officers. The Bible speaks about the terror of the Lord. It speaks about God rewarding men according to their works. That is, if the work is good the reward would be good. If the work is evil the reward would be one suited for evil. God hates evil.
A view of other articles on our website would show that we have been reflecting on the Lord's prayer but in particular on the part in which he taught his disciples and us to pray "lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil". (Matthew 6:13)
We have been teaching that God recognises that men are subject to being tempted with evil and that all men would be tempted with evil. The fact that Jesus taught us to pray that we be delivered from evil would suggest that praying that way is a defence against falling into the temptation. The fact that He has asked us to pray would also suggest that we must hate evil and wish to be delivered from it. The police officer, being a human, would face temptations to do evil. But because he/she is an officer, temptations can be faced that is unique to the police - temptation that is occasioned by the nature of the job. Police officers are well aware of the temptations they face.
Beyond any punishment and shame that can be faced in this life, every officer would stand before God and be accountable for his stewardship as a minister of God. Hebrew 10:31 says it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God". You will not want to stand before God as an officer who served corruptly.