It’s fairly well known that God gave a set of laws and with it guidelines for the enforcement of those laws. Not only did the Mosaic Law define sin, but it specified penalties for those who broke the Law. Any law is essentially meaningless without enforcement. The people in Bible times may not have had a police force as we think of one today, but they definitely had those who promoted justice by enforcing the law. The Bible’s references to watchmen (Ezekiel 33:6), armed guards (Nehemiah 4:13), and judges (Ezekiel 44:24 and the whole book of Judges) could be seen as examples of law enforcement.
God is a God of justice (Deuteronomy 32:4), and He demands justice of His people: “Follow justice and justice alone” (Deuteronomy 16:20). This command implies the necessity of law enforcement. God has always given the responsibility of enforcing the law (and thereby maintaining justice) to man. “Defend the weak and the fatherless; / uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. / Rescue the weak and the needy; / deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3–4).
Romans 13 deals with submission to government authorities, and the same passage is instructive on the purpose of law enforcement and police work: “Rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. . . . The one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:3–4). Police officers or peace officers represent the “rulers” mentioned in this passage and extend their authority.
Therefore, a Christian involved in law enforcement or police work is doing a good and godly thing. The police officer who enforces the just law of the land should consider himself or herself God’s servant and, toward the lawbreaker, an agent of God’s wrath sent to keep the peace. One of the most important jobs of every police officer is the restraint of evil in society—a dangerous career, a noble calling, and a profession congruent with a biblical desire for justice and righteousness.