Sunday, March 09, 2008

Judgement of a Legal Nature - Mar 9

This is part two of my little series on judgement. In my previous post, I discussed judgement between people. Here we will discuss how we are also held accountable by secular authorities as well.

Paying Taxes to Caesar

Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?"

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"

"Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."

When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away. (Matthew 22:15-22)

The Question of Human Sovereignty: Two Schools of Error

Is Man sovereign? Yes, God has ordained human gov't. Man has been given the authority to draft, legislate and enforce laws as he sees fit. However there are two streams of thought which contradict this Biblical view:

Materialism: The First Error

Also known as atheism or secular humanism. If God doesn't exist, then human law is the only body of jurisprudence that matters. This is a deliberate act of disobedience towards the ultimate Law Giver:

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:20-21)

See that? Man is without excuse. Leaving God out of the equation can only lead to disaster. This I believe is what is happening in the Western world. We have become arrogant and prideful. The idea that we could have formulated the law all by ourselves is to hold God in contempt. Which leads us to our next point:

Theocracy: The Second Error

The 23rd chapter of Matthew is often overshadowed by the 24th and 25th chapters, known as the Olivet Discourse (see also Luke 21 and Mark 13). Yet this chapter shows an angry Jesus taking the Pharisees (who are the teachers of Jewish law) to task:

"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. (Matthew 23:27-28)

Do we still suffer the same problem when we give so-called 'Men of God' too much power? Absolutely. Indeed, little has changed. The corrupt and sinful nature of man does not end when we put on religious garments and parade about. Jesus warned the Pharisees that it is far better to have a pure heart than power and prestige. If you want to find the Devil, check the pulpit first.

Do Criminals Truly 'Get Away With It'?

Have you considered the long-term picture here? Kingpins and crooks may seem invincible for a while but in the end their judgement comes. As I've stated previously, timing is crucial when bringing forth judgement. Justice delayed may be justice denied, but consider this: Premature justice renders us half a verdict. It may take years of surveillance and gathering evidence by the cops before the trap is sprung. In the meantime, the criminal enjoys a false sense of security. Is he getting away with it? In the short term yes, but long-term justice is delivered. From our human viewpoint we see delay rather than the grace of God. However, the window of forgiveness that God offers us is there for a limited time. Once it closes, judgement must follow. Don't envy after the riches of the wicked. Judgement will come and their wealth shall be dissipated.

In the third part of my trilogy, I shall discuss judgement of a divine nature. Sure to be a hit with my readers!

Johnny Cash

No comments: