Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)
- TITLE: The Divine And Secular Purposes For The Administration Of Justice
By Doug Laird
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In order for government to maintain an orderly society, there is a need for crime to be defined and an appro-priate punishment established for those who violate the law.
Many of the law(s) of God and the laws of Man agree in principle, but serve two distinct functions. Establishing secular law and the punishing of violators is the delegat-ed (Romans 13) function of secular government, and sin is spiritual in nature and requires a spiritual response.
The failure of the secular government to successfully prosecute offenders of secular law does not inhibit God from exercising His sovereignty over His creation; nor does the conviction and punishment imposed by secular government mean that the spiritual issue(s) has been resolved between the individual(s) and God.
In the worse case scenario here on Earth, born again believers can find themselves paying with the loss of their natural lives for having broken the laws of Man. This, however, does not mean that their salvation is lost. Unbelievers in the same scenario, like the repentant thief on the cross, can still be saved.
Human viewpoint has issues with what it perceives to be the injustice in such cases due to the heinous nature of the some the crimes for which the death penalty is imposed. Believers with mature spiritual discernment attribute the salvation of such souls to the unfathomable depth of the grace of God. If it were not for the grace of God, all of us would be facing the same eternal destiny as the ones who commit the most heinous of criminal acts and sins of immorality (James 2:10).
Spiritually mature believers know that the justice of God was satisfied for every sin that ever was and ever will be committed by a member of the human race (1John 2:2), except for the sin of disbelief (John 3:18) in the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Accordingly, Heaven is not for those who are “good” enough, and the lake of fire is not for those who are “bad”. Heaven is for those who are spiritually alive (John 3:3/Titus 3:5), and Hades and the lake of fire is for those who are spiritually dead (Revelation 20: 13, 15).
Old and New Testament Scripture (Romans 13:4) endorse capital punishment. God could not command someone to do something that could later be considered a sin. Exodus 20 speaks against murder; not “killing“. Ecclesiastes 3: 3 (a), confirm that there are times when the taking of human life is sanctioned. Self-defense, military service, and capital punishment are included in such times.
Divine discipline (Hebrews 12:6) for sin, apart from secular punishment for crime can range in anything from living with a guilty conscience up to and including the loss of physical life (Acts 5). The final judgment of believers in Heaven is for the receiving or forfeiture of rewards and not to see who is going to stay and who is going to Hell (1Cor. 3: 12-15).
The ONE and ONLY eternal sentence to be given at the final judgment of unbelievers will be to spend all of eternity in what the Bible calls the lake of fire for the sin of disbelief (Rev. 20: 13, 15).
History has revealed that the various systems for the administration of justice are only as good as the people who administer them.
Be it voluntary or enforced, compliance of the law and an effective system for addressing violators of the law are necessary. The alternatives are the citizenry taking matters into their own hands, or anarchy.
Secular law if for the maintenance of society. The laws and doctrines of God provide guidance for the believer and his/her compliance is what glorifies God. Salvation, however, is neither obtained nor is it retained by obedience of the law.
Pre-salvation sin does not make one any more spiritually dead than he/she was when he/she came into this world as an unbeliever, but such choices can contribute to the hardening of the soul and interfere with a presentation of the Gospel.
Post salvation sin results in divine discipline (Hebrews 12:6) on earth, and loss of heavenly reward(s), but never the loss of salvation (1Cor. 3: 12-15).
“For by the grace of God you have been saved through faith; and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8 NASB).”
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
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