Governments: Braking Sin
When I drive, I carefully observe the speed limit. I seldom drive below it, and never above it. I frequently have behind me other drivers who wish to travel at excessive speed. They're usually, but not exclusively men, driving BMWs of a black or white hue. Unless the location allows for overtaking, my own speed forces them to observe the law. They don't wish to, but my actions make them better drivers.
In Romans 13, Paul writes 'Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil.'
The passage teaches that rulers, even pagan, Christian-hating Roman emperors, prefects and governors, fulfil a divine function. God uses them to limit and frustrate human corruption. As a natural sinner, my vicious, selfish nature is inhibited by fear of earthly punishment. This is why we don't usually punch annoying people or steal things that we desire and cannot afford. My fear of prison and gaining a criminal record ensures my 'flesh' is seldom at its outward worst.
This limitation of sin cannot save me; only God's free grace in Christ can do so. Yet God's common grace affords all societies a sin-limiter in the form of civil government. Like my driving, which forces petrol-heads to drive correctly, so civil governments makes us outwardly better people.