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ARE BIBLICAL PRINCIPLES IRRELEVANT FOR TODAY?

I recently had a conversation with a loved one who believed that the principles taught over 2,000 years ago do not apply to today's modern way of life. This same individual claims to be a Christian and quotes from that same Book when they want to make a point. Such as, "Judge not lest you be judged." (Actually this was the only scripture this individual quoted.)

The two most misquoted and misused lines in the Bible are; "Judge not lest you be judged," and "You shall not kill". Even unbelievers quote these scriptures to push their own agenda.

Lets look at the context in which these two commands were given, then apply them to todays modern way of life.

Judge not lest ye be judged and forgive me for quoting scripture but the Book does speak for itself.

None other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself spoke this famous line. In Matt. 7:1, we see the Lord speaking to His disciples. How do we know its His disciples He was speaking to? The preceding texts would indicate that He was in the company of His disciples only, when He gave this command.

In other words Jesus was speaking to individuals. Jesus was not speaking to the Judges of Israel in that day, Pontius Pilate, King Herod or the High Priest. There is a difference between individuals judging one another and the judicial system of government. Individuals are not to take the law into their own hands and execute judgment on law-breakers. We have a judicial system to do that.

Back in the days of the Wild West, disputes were settled with a bullet through the perpetrator or hanging on the end of a noose. After law and order came to the West, criminals were rounded up and brought to justice. In the Clint Eastwood movie, "Hang em High," we see the judge contending with Jed, Eastwood's character, to bring in the men who wrongfully hung him, to justice. Why? Because the judgment and punishment of law-breakers is for the governance not for individuals.

This system of governance exists today by the will and grace of God. It is there to protect the weak.  Well that was God's original intention for it anyway even though today you couldn't guess that. If you want to know more about God's system of law and governance read the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy. We see that God instituted the death penalty to be executed by the government of that day and not by individuals.

Individuals are not to take the law into their own hands. Which brings us to that other famous scene where we see a group of individuals bringing a woman caught in adultery to Jesus for Him to judge her. There are many, many reasons why Jesus did not judge this woman there on that day.

First of all, the motives of those individuals who brought the woman to Jesus, was to force Jesus to judge the woman. It wasn't out of indignation that God's holy law was broken. They had heard Jesus said before that He had not come to judge the world, see John 3:17-18, so they wanted to force Jesus hand. They tried to tempt Him.

Which brings us to the second reason Jesus did not judge the woman. It was not His time to judge. God has set aside another time when Jesus will judge all individuals and that time was not that day. No one or nothing will thwart Gods plan and purpose. Satan will always look for ways to thwart Gods plan and purpose and he will fail miserably in the end as we saw in this incident.

Thirdly, according to the law these individuals were quoting to Jesus (Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such a woman, what then do you say?), both the man and woman caught in adultery were to be stoned to death. Funny how the man in this case was mysteriously absent. The actual scripture reads: The man who commits adultery with another man's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall be put to death. The man who lies with... they shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10-13. According to this scripture a man who lies with another man (even if they've had a sex change) is to be put to death.

Fourthly, without condemning the law, Jesus pointed out that the sin was in the individuals. Why did Jesus not tell this group of men that they are to, "Judge not lest you be judged?" To do that would have meant that the Law of Moses was no longer valid. But the Law of Moses is still valid to this day and Jesus Himself validates it. Think not that I came to abolish the law, nay, I have come to fulfil it. Besides it was not a case of whether the woman committed a crime or not. She was caught in the act. She was as guilty as sin and everybody knew that including her.

I agree our judicial system is flawed but that should not surprise any of us. This system does not honor God or His laws and commands. Heck, even individuals do not honor God and His laws and commands. How can we expect the individuals who sit as judges to honor God's laws and commands when we as individuals do not?

Some other scriptures to consider regarding judging. Jesus speaking: "As I hear I judge and My judgments are righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me," (John 5:30) and "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgments," (John 7:24). We are encouraged to judge with righteous judgments. "You judge according to the flesh (human judgment); I judge no one. And yet if I do judge, My judgment is true; for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me," (John 8:15). As you can see from these words of Jesus, there is a distinct difference between human judgment and God's judgment.

Those of us who know God's judgment can discern and judge righteously because the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit dwells in us and the Holy Spirit is a discerner of other spirits. Those of us who seek to do the will of the Father will judge righteously as the Lord said in John 5:30, above. We are to seek out the will of God in every matter that is brought to our attention.

Thou Shalt Not Kill.  Actually the exact translation is thou shalt not murder.

My friend and I got excited trying to point out to the other why capital punishment is/is not Biblical. Again the only scripture they quoted to me was, you guessed it, "Judge not lest you be judged." What has that got to do with capital punishment? Nothing really. We need to listen to the whole counsel of God. When we take even one line of scripture out of context, to the exclusion to all other scripture, we deceive ourselves.

According to the scripture, capital punishment is for those who have broken God's laws and commands. Usually capital punishment is executed when the guilt of the law-breaker is very evident. In other words, there is no need to judge the individual the deed is done and the guilty party is standing there to receive the consequences of their action. As in the case of the woman caught in adultery mentioned above.

Again the principle of individual versus government is the dividing line. An individual is not to take the life of another individual. When an individual takes the life of another individual, they must be brought to justice and the judicial system decides the fate of the murderer. God allows that. The Ten commandments are exactly that. Commandments! They are not laws. Laws are for governance. Commands are for individuals. I hope I am being clear on this. If an individual breaks a command, which is for individuals, they may also be brought to justice. As in the case of adultery and stealing, but not in the case of idolatry, etc.

Here is an excerpt of what Dr. J. Vernon McGee, a worldwide Bible teacher, had to say on the subject: The commandment, Thou shalt not kill has no reference to government at all. I have checked the work of several Hebrew scholars, and they agree that a more accurate translation is, Thou shall not murder. It has nothing in the world to do with government but is a commandment given to individuals. And for breaking that commandment, God said to the government of that day that they were to execute the one guilty of murder. In fact, God made stoning the method of capital punishment in that day.

Now, the liberal church entered the fray by declaring that capital punishment is unchristian. Liberalism is always out in left field. It was a hang-up on everything that is off and odd. It began quite a campaign to get rid of capital punishment, saying that it was pagan and heathen, a relic of the Dark Ages, that it was not Christian, and that the Bible did not teach it. As a result, most church members were brainwashed, and I suppose that at that time the majority believed it. If a poll were taken today, I am confident that most church members in this country (America) would oppose capital punishment.

God is interested in the victim.
Back when Caryl chessman was on death row, it was sickening to see a certain crowd made up of beatniks and others who went around weeping crocodile tears for this criminal. In fact, some even thought it was brutal to keep him on death row the suspense was bad on his nerves, you know, and he couldn't sleep well at night. There were many people who thought he should have been made more comfortable.

During this time we did not read one article or hear one voice lifted concerning the victims of this criminal. One of the victims, once a beautiful girl, was so abused that after her attack she became a raving maniac in an institution. Her lovely Christian parents, who chanced to hear a broadcast in which I mentioned the Chessman case, wrote to me about her. Should not her life and the sanctity of that home have been protected? How do you protect it against a criminal like Caryl Chessman? I saw no tears shed for this girl. Why do not some of these softhearted and softheaded folk get interested in the victims? God is interested in them. That is the reason He instituted capital punishment!

Change in the New Testament.
For the nation Israel God gave the Mosaic Law (as founded in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy) which interpreted many of the details of the Ten Commandments. He gave to them that which we know today as an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. And we find in the Mosaic Law that the death penalty was invoked. As I've already mentioned, in that day capital punishment was by stoning to death. Even in the case of adultery, the adulterer and the adulteress were stoned to death. That is the Mosaic Law.

There are those who say today that, although the Old Testament teaches these things, when you get to the New Testament all of this is changed and you have a different spirit altogether. They are right it was changed. But it was made higher, not lower. Trying to abolish capital punishment by carrying a banner, which reads, "Jesus said, Thou shalt not kill," reveals a sad lack of information and a woeful ignorance of the Word of God. Jesus was talking about individual human life, not capital punishment. Do you want to know what He really said? This is more extreme that anything under the Mosaic system: Ye have heard that it was said by them of old, Thou shalt not kill and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of judgment; but I say unto you that whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matthew 5:21,22). That my friend, is higher that anything given under the Mosaic system. Jesus never lowered the Law, nor did He adopt some sentimental notion about this matter.

Jesus gave a parable about Himself and made it very pertinent to the nation Israel. Then began he to speak to the people this parable: A certain man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the tenants, that they should give him the fruit of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty. And again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, and treated him shamefully and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the tenants saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours. So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. What, therefore, shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these tenants, and shall give the vineyard to others. [But the crowd listening didn't want the story to end that way.] And when they heard it, they said, God forbid. (Luke 20:9-16)

Even in that day there were those who opposed capital punishment. They said, No, not that.

Every Man Does What He Thinks is Right.
We certainly have not improved since the new view of capital punishment came along. Capital punishment is the bedrock of every civilized government; we are a lawless nation without it. We might just as well disband Congress, recall the President, and let every man do that which is right in his own eyes.

Do you know that there was a time when that was done? It is described in the Book of Judges. It was a period characterized by compromise, corruption, and confusion. The record closes with these words: In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

The lawlessness of the day is the reason Deborah became a judge. As a mother in Israel, she took the lead for the sake of her children. She says:  "In the days of Shamgar, the son of Anath, in the days of Jael, the highways were unoccupied, and the travelers walked through byways." (Judges 5:6)

Why did they walk through the byways? Because it was not safe to go down the highways in that day. There was no law enforcement, and every man was doing that which was right in his own eyes. We feel that we have come a long way since those uncivilized days, but apparently we are trying to move to that position today.

A Deterrent to Crime.
Now, the question is: Does capital punishment deter crime? Taking it down to where most of us live: Is the traffic officer a deterrent to speeding? No question about that! The law enforcement officials have been asked, "On the freeway system, why do you hide the traffic officers?" The answer we have been given is: "There are 25,000 off ramps and only a few hundred officers. If you knew where he was, you would speed down through the next few." And most of us generally do that on the freeways, don't we? The very presence of that traffic officer and the fact that you don't know where he is makes you a little more careful. It deters me from speeding, and if you're honest, you know that is true in your experience.

When a murderer is sentenced to life imprisonment, there is not a guard in that prison who is safe. He already has the maximum sentence and he doesn't mind mowing down the guard who gets in his way because the law cannot do any more to him. The habitual criminal, if released, knows that if he breaks the law and is picked up again, all he could get is a life sentence. Do you think he would hesitate to shoot down any officer or any person who stood between him and his freedom? May I say to you, this is the reason that today we have so many innocent people shot down in cold blood.

The possibility of having to face capital punishment is meant to be a deterrent to a crime.

The Most Famous Trial In History.
To conclude, I want to take you to the most famous trial in history it is not one that is going on now. It is the trial of the Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in the New Testament.

You will recall that the religious rulers, those bloodhounds of hate, got on His trial very early, and they didn't let up until they folded their hands beneath His cross. They hated Him, and they tried to get a charge against Him. After waiting a long time, the best they could get was that He had blasphemed. They said, "He has made Himself equal with God." And may I say, if He is not who He claimed to be, He was guilty of blasphemy, because they understood Him correctly.  He was making Himself equal with God. They would have executed Him (which means they would have stoned Him to death), but they didn't want Jesus innocent blood on their heads.

Pilate, after hearing the charges against Jesus, obviously wanted to let Him go. But, as you read the record in the Gospels, you have the feeling that Pilate, not Jesus, is on trial. And history has proven this to be accurate. Pilate was on trial. The fact of the matter is that at one point in the trial he called Jesus aside and said in effect, "If you'll cooperate with me, just deny these silly charges, and 'Ill let You go."

Our Lord wouldn't do it. And Pilate, in one last fruitless effort, said, "Whom shall I release unto you? Barabbas or Jesus?" giving an alternate the worst criminal they had. At that season, a holiday season, a holy season, it was the custom of the Roman governor to release a Jewish prisoner. Pilate saw this as a way out for himself. To escape condemning an innocent man, as he was being pressured into doing, he would let the mob get him off the hook. He chose Barabbas because he was absolutely sure they would ask for Jesus to be released since Barabbas was a condemned murderer and criminal. And do you know, that mob began to howl for Barabbas to be released! Pilate was shocked.

Honestly, I have always wondered why they wanted Barabbas to be turned out. He was a hardened criminal, a murderer so why did they ask for him to be delivered and Jesus to be crucified? I did not understand it until the Chessman case when I saw the howling mob asking for him to be released. And I have seen this same crowd from that day to this asking that criminals be turned loose. Now I know that through propaganda and mob psychology you can get people aroused so they will ask for anything, even that criminals be released. So Barabbas was turned loose.

Why Did God Permit It?
During the terrible time of the crucifixion, I'm confident that the disciples said, He won't die. He'll come down from the cross. And then they heard His frightful, awful cry, "My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46). These men knew He was innocent, and they could not understand why God had forsaken Him. As I look at that innocent One dying, being executed, I ask myself, "Why in the world did God permit it?" Do you know why God permitted it? Because I happen to be guilty before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ loved me enough to take my place. I haven't seen any softhearted judge or government official offering to take the place of one of these criminals in the gas chamber. So far, none has volunteered. But Jesus Christ volunteered. He came down from heaven for the joy that was set before Him, and He took my place yonder upon the cross. He died in my stead.

In God's sight I'm as guilty a sinner as Caryl Chessman was. I have the same human nature he had. Nothing but the death of Christ paying for my sin could spare me from eternal punishment.

The whole plan of redemption is based upon capital punishment.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4)

You can write protests on placards, you can march around heaven's gates all you want to, and you can appeal to the Supreme Court, but you won't change that in heaven. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. But He died for you. He paid the penalty, and you can go free because He loved you. In the Word of God we read:
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 130:4)

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. (Ephesians 1:7)

Be it known unto you, therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 13:38)

Don't count on God being softhearted. He does not compromise with evil. God is righteous. He maintains His holy government.

God Loves You.
But God loves you, and that is the reason God gave His Son to die for you. If there had been any other way, He would have taken it because this way cost Him so much. But He was willing to do it because He loves you. Have you accepted the forgiveness and mercy that He offers you as a guilty sinner before Almighty God?

This is the end of the excerpt from Dr. McGees booklet, "Is Capital Punishment Christian?" I know its a long one and I paraphrased in some places.

My friend who used the Bible verse, "Judge not lest you be judged," said that he would never change his mind about capital punishment no matter what. It is a sad day when a person is given correct instruction yet would choose to hold on to his own misconceptions. Life imprisonment is not even mentioned in the Bible. I believe, because God does not consider it an option. God did not create His creatures to be locked up, but to be free. Death is more merciful in the case of the death penalty and it is just the thing a merciful, loving Father would allow. We don't see it that way but He does. It is in line with His nature and character to allow the death penalty. His ways and His thoughts are much higher than ours. He sees the other side of death, we don't.

Likewise, the Bible does not mention sex change operations. Even though these procedures have been done, God does not consider it an option or an answer to ones gender identity problems. The same can be said for numerous other practices, such as cloning. It is not mentioned in the Bible because it is not an option. Just because the possibility or ability for human cloning exists doesn't make it acceptable to a Holy God.

You may say, "Well, now Margaret, I think you've gone too far. Cloning human tissues can help save lives." That may be so but the human race survived before medical miracles existed and it will continue long after medical miracles cease.

We need to understand that even if something is not mentioned in the Bible it does not mean that God does not have a principle and precept laid out in scripture which would give us an indication as to whether a certain practice is acceptable or not. This is Gods universe and if we think He has nothing to say or that He does not have an opinion on the immoral practices taking place today then we are very na´ve.

We will answer on the day of Judgement, for everything we've done. No one gets away with anything. We can run but we can't hide. Life has a way of catching up with us.

Now is the day of Salvation, now is the day to repent. Tomorrow may never by yours to repent. Do it now while there is still breadh in your body.

The word, repent means to have a change of heart. To change ones thinking to align with God's. We are told to be clothed with the mind of Christ. In other words we are to think as He would. This will help us to form good moral judgments, which the Lord Jesus encourages us to do.

In His love and grace,

Margaret
May 16, 2001



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