In both the Old and New Testaments, there are many examples of God-honoring people who refused to submit to men. Consider the account of the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abegnego in Daniel 3. They refused to bow down and worship the golden image authorized by Nebuchadnezzar. These men recognized man’s law to be against the commandment, “Thou shalt not bow down to any graven image.” (Deuteronomy 5:8,9)
Daniel too refused to obey a king’s decree: “anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den,” Daniel 6:7 (NIV). Daniel continued to pray to God in public view. Moses’ parents are also an example of civil disobedience. Hebrews 11:23 (NIV) reads, “By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Moses’ parents recognized that the law they were asked to obey was evil and against God.
The New Testament further instructs Christians how to regard mans’ ways and laws. Romans 12:18 (ESV) states, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” In the spirit of this, we should desire to obey all human laws that do not conflict with our Christian consciences. Our consciences (as educated by God’s word and by our prayerful application of God's principles) will determine to what degree we need obey the laws of men. The conscience is like a watch marked with the hours but whose correctness as a time-keeper depends upon a fresh battery. Our conscience is taught to know right from wrong as we learn to live by God’s law of love. We follow Jesus’ life examples. Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Therefore, we should allow our new mind and heart to be God-directed.
In Acts 24:16, Paul admonishes us to “live in all good conscience before God” and “have always a conscience void to offense toward God, and toward men.” It is here that Paul establishes the order of our conscience, first our responsibility is toward God and secondly toward men.
We have a good example of this in Acts 5 when Peter and the Apostles were found preaching in the temple. The High Priest said to them, “ ‘We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name…Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.’ Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’” (Acts 5:28,29 NIV) As the Apostle Paul told Timothy, we too should “hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” (1Timothy 3:9)