Then he said to them, “Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” – Matthew 22:21b CSB
In the chain of command, or of authority, managers are arranged in a hierarchical fashion, with non-managers at the lowest level, and the big boss at the top. Ultimate authority resides at the top level with varying levels of delegated authority residing at lower levels. Each level in the hierarchy is responsible to enforce the policies of the higher levels, but can add to those polices as appropriate, so long as the additions are not in conflict with what comes down from higher up.
Many people today, as throughout history, think of our human government, represented by Caesar, as being at the top of the chain of command. But Scripture teaches us that there is a level above Caesar. It is God who is the ultimate authority, and Caesar’s authority is delegated from God (Rom. 13:1-7). Jesus tells me to give to Caesar what is his and to God what is his. But what belongs to Caesar, and what belongs to God?
God has delegated the conduct of human activity to human government, but has not given them any authority over spiritual matters. So, in matters concerning the physical realm, I live in obedience to my government. But in matters concerning my relationship and walk with God, I obey God. And if the two come in conflict with each other, I obey the higher authority, God.