Ignorance of the law


 

Ignorance of the law is no excuse!

Unless ….  

The one in the news right now is — unless your last name is Clinton.  
But that’s just today.  
Pick your favorite way to complete the words after “unless …” – then read on.

Knowledge of the fact that someone is breaking the law has not been an excuse for as long as I can remember.  
Unless, of course, you know the right people – have enough money – have enough power – Etc.

That’s not fair.  It’s not right.
Would anyone really disagree with this?  At least – would they do it publicly?

Wouldn’t it be nice if that kind of thing didn’t happen?


And what about the second line up there in the image –
the one that says “excuses no man from practicing it“?

Is it realistic?  Can one really be expected to practice laws that we don’t know anything about?

The items below come from stupidlaws.com – 

It is illegal to have a bathtub in a private home in Ohio.

This law dates from the 1800’s during the time of the cholera and smallpox epidemics, when whole families were being wiped out by the common practice back then of the whole family using the same bath water.

Rumor has it that this is still on the books, and government inspectors can legally issue citations for this offense.

It is illegal to store your own stuff in your own garage

According to Chapter 6 of the San Francisco Housing Code, “Private and public storage garages in apartment houses and hotels shall be used only for storage of automobiles.” Failing to comply with the law can lead to fines of up to $500.

[Added by Ord. 399-89, App. 11/6/89; amended by Ord. 161-92, App. 6/4/92; Ord. 350-95, App. 11/3/95; Ord. 256-07, App. 11/6/07]

(a) No automobile or other motor vehicle shall occupy any portion of an apartment house or hotel except in a garage which meets the requirements of the Building Code and other provisions of the Municipal Code.

(b) Use. Private and public storage garages in apartment houses and hotels shall be used only for storage of automobiles.

(c) Separation. See Section 406.1 of the Building Code. When approved, existing separations in existing buildings may be acceptable.

One must obtain written permission from the City Council before throwing bricks onto a highway.  <from Mount Vernon, Iowa>

41.09 THROWING AND SHOOTING.

It is unlawful for a person to throw stones, bricks or missiles of any kind or to shoot arrows, rubber guns, slingshots, air rifles or other dangerous instruments or toys on or into any street, alley, highway, sidewalk, public way, public ground or public building, without written consent of the Council.

I have to say, had I lived in Ohio or San Francisco, I would have been guilty on both counts.  
For the one in Mount Vernon – I’ve never done those things (at least not since being a little kid) – but it would never have occurred to me that I could have done so if I’d only asked permission!  I wonder – as a kid – would I have been sent to jail since I didn’t know to ask permission?

Anyway – the point is that there are stupid laws on the books.
There are also many that make perfect sense.
And, as can be seen from the Ohio bathtub law, even some of the ones that appear stupid have a reason for being there.
But still.  It’s tough to know them all.  Especially when some are just so stupid.

So why no excuse for not practicing the law?

I think it’s pretty clear – it’s just not possible to know all the laws.  And it’s just not possible to practice all of them – simply because some are so unknowable!

And yet – that’s what we expect.  
Let me rephrase – it’s what we expect of others.  
Well – we expect of some others.
Not of ourselves.
Not of our friends.
Not of our family – at least not of the family members we get along with.
Not of our leaders – at least not the ones we voted for.  Or plan on voting for.

And none of that’s fair.

As usual – my point isn’t to decide what’s right and not right – or to take sides – on any of these issues.
Because the point I want to make has nothing to do with the laws of man.  As I said – there’s nothing right or fair about either the laws that people put in place or about the way we view the enforcement of these laws.  Weird laws are sometimes (often?) put in place by people with friends in high places / money / power – to benefit themselves in some manner.  And that’s unfair as well.

Now – to what’s truly important.

There’s a Proverb that sums this up quite nicely –

Pr 17:24 A discerning man keeps wisdom in view,
but a fool’s eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

First – it’s really hard for “discerning” to have anything to do with some of the stupid laws.  Like who would ever think you might get permission to shoot a gun on a public street or in a public place?  Who would ever think that storage space could only be used for a car?

Second – the eyes wandering to the ends of the earth.  I can’t help but feel like that’s what happens with some of these laws.  It’s like people look anywhere and everywhere – even to the ends of the earth – to find some way to get an advantage for themselves – at the cost of someone else inadvertently doing something illegal.

Are there any complete sets of laws for which there is no excuse for not practicing them?

The answer to that is a resounding yes!

For instance – in the Old Testament we read –

Jer 31:33 “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.

And in the New Testament we read –

Ro 2:12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

God’s laws can be seen and understood by a discerning person.

The Old Testament says they are written on our hearts.

The New Testament – after the time of Jesus – goes even further.  God’s laws are not only written on our hearts, but we find they are also obvious to our conscience, which will let us know when we break one of His laws – and because of that, our own thoughts will accuse ourselves when we break one of His laws.  No one else is involved.  It’s us and God.  That’s it.  It’s that simple.

God’s laws aren’t trivial things – like thou shalt not store old photographs in a garage space.  Or thou shalt not throw old toys into the road without first getting a permit from the city council.

With God’s laws – if we take the time to actually be discerning –
everything is knowable –
everything is fair –
no one with power, money, and / or friends in high places can get away with breaking His laws.

Further – when we do break one of His laws –
we will be forgiven if we accept His offer of grace –
His offer of atonement through the death of Jesus to pay the price for us breaking His laws.

The quote at the top –

Ignorance of the law excuses no man from practicing it

is attributed to Addison Mizner.

Addison Mizner was an architect.
I couldn’t find any references to his religion / faith, so I don’t know if he was associated with any religion or even believed in God.
He did have a famous quote –

God gives us relatives; thank God, we can choose our friends.

But there’s no way to derive any statement of faith from that.

Having said that – it seems like the original author of the thought behind 
Ignorance of the law excuses no man from practicing it
would be God.

Let’s look at what Paul wrote one more time –

Ro 2:12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15 since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Just look at that.

God wrote His laws on our hearts.
God gave us a conscience, so that we would know when we broke one of His laws.
God gave us a brain, so that we can go from our conscience to our active thoughts, again to let us know when we break one of His laws.
God also gave us Jesus – His Son, who died on the cross – to pay for our sins / to ensure justice is done when we break one of His laws.
God gave us the choice to decide whether or not we want to accept the payment made by Jesus.

And yet – how many people would prefer to have the laws of man – ignore the laws of God – pretend that God has no power over them –
as opposed to preferring to live under the laws of God.

The problem here is shortsightedness.  
The laws of man take effect for some number of years.  And then we die.
The laws of God are forever.  Even (especially?) after we die.

The reason I say forever is that our choice on whether or not to accept the gift of forgiveness that God offers to us is totally responsible for what happens to us after we die.  It’s all well and good to think that we can somehow avoid the laws of man – if we have the power / money / friends.  I’m listening to the Congressional hearings on Hillary Clinton while I’m writing this.  You’d have to think that they were investigating two entirely different sets of events.  Worse yet – if the person being investigated was a Republican – there is no doubt in my mind that the same things would be taking place – except that the words of the Democrats would be spoken by Republicans – and vice versa.  It’s all about the money, power, and friends.  In the end, nothing will be done.  No justice.  True – one side will say justice was done and the other will say it was not.  But the reality is – nothing happens.  No justice.

Those same people with the money, power, and friends – they will not escape justice when it comes to God’s laws.
It’s just unavoidable.  

  • Because God isn’t Democrat or Republican.  
  • Because God has all the power.  No one can offer Him anything that would give Him more power.
  • Because God has all the riches.  He created literally everything.  No one can offer Him anything that isn’t already His.
  • Because God doesn’t need friends.  He wants us to love Him.  He really does.  But He gives us the choice to not do so.  And our free will is so important that He’s willing to let us hate Him, if that’s our will.

With God – justice will be done.

With God – there truly is no excuse for not practicing His laws.

Conclusion

So – the big question –

Do you want an environment where
Ignorance of the law excuses no man from practicing it
Or do you want an environment where
money, power, and friends determine the outcome with no possible way to know what the rules are?

The way to get the first one – where the rules are known, where forgiveness is available to all, where all are treated equally – is from God.

The way to get the second one – where a few people determine the rules and change them at will – is from man’s laws.  
The catch here is that ultimately – man’s laws go away.  God’s laws – God’s justice – will take over.
So when you make your choice – choose wisely.

Note – when you choose the laws of man – you have actually chosen both the laws of man and the laws of God.

In the end – you will be treated fairly. Based on your choice with Jesus – and if you reject Him, what you’ve done.
And Justice will prevail.  Even if you don’t like it – because you can’t “buy” your way out of justice being done.
And the only “influence” any of us have over the outcome of that “trial” will be our choice of whether or not to accept Jesus.

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

Do you love the light?  Or the dark?

 

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