The problem of ignoring laws


 

More and more, it seems that we live in a world where we pick and choose the laws we want to follow.  Even the President does it. Not surprisingly, his Department of Justice does the same.  Even the Supreme Court makes up laws when they don’t like the ones currently on the books.  Then the states decide that’s unconstitutional – and choose to ignore those laws.  Is it any wonder that individual people choose to do the same?  But is there a down side to this “make your own rules” way of choosing which laws to follow or ignore?

 

Obviously, there are “legal” issues, but I’m thinking about the moral issues.  What will this attitude do to our souls?

Way back in the book of Judges, we read –

Jdg 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Is that bad?  Well, here’s what prompted that statement.

If you’d like to read the full background – start reading at Judges 19.  The way they got to the point where we’re going to pick it up is awful.
Judges 19 starts off with Jdg 19:1 In those days Israel had no king.  And it goes downhill from there.

The sequence ends with –

Jdg 21:15 The people grieved for Benjamin, because the LORD had made a gap in the tribes of Israel. 16 And the elders of the assembly said, “With the women of Benjamin destroyed, how shall we provide wives for the men who are left? 17 The Benjamite survivors must have heirs,” they said, “so that a tribe of Israel will not be wiped out. 18 We can’t give them our daughters as wives, since we Israelites have taken this oath: ‘Cursed be anyone who gives a wife to a Benjamite.’ 19 But look, there is the annual festival of the LORD in Shiloh, to the north of Bethel , and east of the road that goes from Bethel to Shechem, and to the south of Lebonah.”
Jdg 21:20 So they instructed the Benjamites, saying, “Go and hide in the vineyards 21 and watch. When the girls of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, then rush from the vineyards and each of you seize a wife from the girls of Shiloh and go to the land of Benjamin. 22 When their fathers or brothers complain to us, we will say to them, ‘Do us a kindness by helping them, because we did not get wives for them during the war, and you are innocent, since you did not give your daughters to them.’ ”
Jdg 21:23 So that is what the Benjamites did. While the girls were dancing, each man caught one and carried her off to be his wife. Then they returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the towns and settled in them.
Jdg 21:24 At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance.
Jdg 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

This is the kind of thing that happens when people decide that some laws don’t need to be followed.  Yes – it’s a bad situation they were in – one of the tribes of Israel was about to be wiped out.  But – was this the way to go about solving the problem?  Can a series of bad choices be made right by making another bad choice?  Just because we can get away with something in this life – and just because we can rationalize it and convince ourselves it was the “right” thing to do – doesn’t make it truly right.

The New Testament

But that was in the Old Testament.  What about today?

Some Christians now will claim that they are “saved” – and can do whatever they want.  Essentially – they can pick and choose the laws they want to follow.

This one’s maybe even more outrageous than what the people of Israel did in Judges.  Because now we are clearly making the statement that we can ignore both the laws of Caesar (the government) and the laws of God.  In case you don’t remember the source for my statement – 

Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

As I said at the beginning – we are increasingly blatant about ignoring Caesar’s laws.  To use God’s forgiveness and saving grace as an excuse to ignore either the laws of government or of God is just flat out wrong.

For instance –

1Co 10:23 “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive.

And from there – it gets even more clear that ignoring – or rationalizing about – laws is a big problem –

1Co 10:24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
1Co 10:25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience,
1Co 10:26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
1Co 10:27 If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
1Co 10:28 But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake—
1Co 10:29 the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?
1Co 10:30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
1Co 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1Co 10:32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God—
1Co 10:33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1Co 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

The example that Paul uses is related to eating meat that was sacrificed to idols.  However – the closing statements apply to any situation that we may encounter where there is even the temptation to ignore or rationalize breaking a law.  And – it clearly brings God into the picture as the reason.  To top it off – by bringing in the example of following Christ – the question is raised to one of utmost importance.

More sin leads to more Grace?

And then there’s this example from Paul – this time in Romans –

Ro 5:20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

One may be tempted to think – more sin – more grace!  In other words – the more I sin, the more grace will be heaped on me!

Wrong.

Paul already thought of that one, and immediately followed the preceding statement with –

Ro 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

That section of Romans concludes with –

Ro 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Again – we see that using our salvation through Jesus as an excuse to ignore / rationalizing now following laws – whether they be the laws of government or of God – is wrong; again keeping in mind that God is higher than any government.  Even our own constitution says –

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

The government – is it to blame?

While it’s true that the same government responsible for enforcing this portion of the constitution is also watering it down and ignoring it – there was a time when religion and God were of utmost importance to our government.  

The fact that the importance and place of God is increasingly slipping away in the government should be of great concern.  Given that the majority of the people in this country claim to be Christian, it would seem to be that our government is out in front of the people in undermining the place of God.  The fact that the government is so blatantly picking and choosing which of its own laws to follow undoubtedly has something to do with the people choosing to make the same distinction between which laws we want to follow or not follow.

Think what I said overstated the case?  Think it puts too much importance on the government?
Go back to Judges –

Jdg 21:25 In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

Yes – it’s true that the people had a king because they rejected God as their ruler.  But still – we read of things like –

Isa 45:13 I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness:
I will make all his ways straight.
He will rebuild my city
and set my exiles free,
but not for a price or reward,
says the LORD Almighty.”

We read that God raises up kings for His people.  Some are to punish the people, when they turn away from God.  Some are to bring relief to the people, after they return to God.

Conclusion

This should raise some question as to why our government is doing what it’s doing.  Is it that the government is for no reason taking away our religious freedom?  Or is it because we are already ignoring our religious commitments, and so God is taking away the freedoms that come with those commitments?  In either case – we’re letting it happen.

We start with something small.  It’s no big deal.  We get away with it.  
We try to ignore / rationalize something a little bigger.  Still – not that big a deal.  We get away with it.
We keep going to bigger ad bigger things.  Still – not all that bad – not like we’ve killed anyone.  We get away with it.
Or so we think.

Someone calls us on it.
We say – it’s OK.  We’re saved.

But are we?

Remember what Paul said in Romans –

Ro 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

If we really believe this, I think it’s time to seriously ask ourselves a different question.  
It’s time to look in a mirror and ask the person staring back at us –
Are you really saved?
I submit that the answer to that question may very likely be NO!
Because there’s a contradiction.  
No – we’ll never be perfect.
But still – at what point do we need to stop growing in our sin?  
At what point to we start to become less like our old selves – and more Like Jesus?
At what point do we stop saying we can do whatever we want, because Jesus paid for our sins?
Because He didn’t die so we could go on sinning more and more – but so that we could be forgiven, become more like Him, and eventually live with Him.

Are you asking where you stand on ignoring / rationalizing laws?

If not – why not?

If so – He’s ready to forgive you and to help you.

Why is this important?

I’ll give you a one word answer.

Justice.

Ex 23:2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, 3 and do not show favoritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.

 

Lev 19:15 “ ‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

 

Dt 16:18 Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every town the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall judge the people fairly. 19 Do not pervert justice or show partiality. Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the LORD your God is giving you.

 

God’s Chosen Servant

Mt 12:15 Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. Many followed him, and he healed all their sick, 16 warning them not to tell who he was. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
Mt 12:18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
Mt 12:19 He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
Mt 12:20 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he leads justice to victory.
Mt 12:21 In his name the nations will put their hope.”

God demands justice.

If we accept the gift of Jesus’ sacrifice – then the price He paid will cover our sins – our transgressions against the law.  If not – then it’s a price tag that we are unable to pay.

To continue to pervert justice – to continue to believe that we can ignore / rationalize breaking His laws – I believe – is a perversion of justice.

How about now?

Are you asking where you stand on ignoring / rationalizing laws?

If not – why not?

If so – He’s ready to forgive you and to help you.

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