Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (ESV)
Have you ever felt that as a Christian God's laws are so far superior to human laws that you do not really have to obey human laws? It is true that God's kingdom is far grander than man's kingdom. It is also true that man is by nature ungodly and unjust. It would stand to reason that we could simply ignore man's laws.
Hold that thought! The Word of God speaks something very differently to this line of thinking. Paul is telling us here that if we are rebelling against the laws that have been put into place by human authorities we are actually sinning against God. God himself is the one who has established authority that man has put into place.
This verse tells us that those who resist man's authority will incur judgment. What judgment is he speaking of here. Paul is speaking of the judgment that will come from earthly authority as we have violated earthly laws. However, there is also the aspect that we are being disobedient to God by resisting authority and will bear that consequence as well.
All this begs the question, "What if the authorities established by man tell me to do something that is against God's law?" In that situation when you are choosing between the two you must choose God's law over man's law. You may still incur the judgment of man by breaking man's law in this scenario, but you will receive God's blessing for honoring him over man.
It can be challenging to know when we should go against man's law. Knowledge of the Word of God and a close walk with the Lord will go a long way in helping you in this area of needful discernment.