Tim Johnson, editor
January 9, 2011
What Criminals Deserve
The guilty go free far too often in our society. It is one of the reasons that there is as much crime as there is. Solomon observed that "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
We cringe when we hear of people who have committed serious crimes getting off on some technicality. It makes us especially angry when the rich and the famous who commit crimes receive no more than a slap on the wrist for their misdeeds. We roll our eyes in disgust when we read the news articles that report these cases, and mutter to ourselves "What's the world coming to?" "They should get what's coming to them!" And maybe even, "Hanging is too good for them!" Like David, we sometimes want to plead with God to "Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavors. Give them according to the work of their hands; render to them what they deserve." (Psalm 28:4).
Have you ever been the victim of a crime? If so, it is likely that you wanted to see justice done. As a rule, we all want to see the guilty party arrested, tried, found guilty and sentenced appropriately whether the crime is against us personally, a loved one or a perfect stranger. God feels the same way; it's the very reason that He has ordained and empowered civil government. The governing authority "does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil" (Romans 13:4).
Crime is a violation of human law, but sin is a violation of God's law (1 John 3:4). Has it ever occurred to us that God sees sinners in much the same way that we see criminals? They deserve punishment! This is especially so because sin is crime against God Himself. There are many passages in the Bible that declare that, when men commit sin, they commit it against God. The phrase "sinned against the Lord" is found fifteen times in the Old Testament.
David recognized that because his sin was committed against God, God was completely justified in condemning him. He says, "Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight - That You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge." (Psalms 51:4).
Like criminals guilty of heinous crimes, sinners are deserving of death. In Romans 1:26-32, Paul cites about twenty four different sins committed by men - everything from homosexuality to pride - and then declares that according to "the righteous judgment of God . . .those who practice such things are deserving of death." That's right, deserving of death! Later in Romans he says that "all have sinned" and that "the wages of sin is death."(Romans 3:23, 6:23).
When we see sin in this light, it becomes all too evident that all of us are but criminals deserving of death. Consistency would seem to demand that we accept the same justice that we have demanded be given to others. It's easy for us to call for justice when the crime has been committed against us, but now we're the criminals. We've condemned ourselves.
But God has something for us besides what we deserve. He offers us a pardon. He says of His people, "I will cleanse them from all their iniquity by which they have sinned against Me, and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned and by which they have transgressed against Me." (Jeremiah 33:8).
As God's children, let us thank Him every day He has not given us what we deserve. "He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." (Psalm103:10-12).
-- Steve Klein
"Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall" (Matt 7:24-27).
At the conclusion of our Lord's sermon on the mount, He summarized His teaching by using the example of two builders. We can learn from Jesus' teaching that these two builders had some resemblances about them and certainly some differences.
Both of these builders heard the sayings of Christ Jesus. Both of these builders saw the necessity of building a house and as a result did build a house. And perhaps, both of these builders felt secure in the house that they had just built. But this is where the resemblances ended.
Jesus taught that these two builders differed in their personal character. One was wise and one was foolish. They also differed in their practice in that one heard the sayings of Jesus and did them, while the other heard them and did not do them. We can also see that they differed especially in the foundations on which they built; One on the rock and the other on the sand. Nothing can make up for a defective foundation. Their houses may have looked alike, but looks can be deceiving. In the end, the final results differed in that one stood (the rock), while the other fell (the sand).
May we all strive to make sure our lives are built on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, so that we will never fall (2 Pet 1:5-11).
-- Richard Thetford