Basis of Human Law Part 7

We have finally arrived at the place where we first see humans given authority to practice law over one another. It comes just after Noah’s flood and, simple as it is, it is the important beginning of what has blossomed into an overwhelming legal minefield.

To better navigate that minefield I’m helping you think about a bunch of foundational principles which combine to be the basis of human law. That starts with God’s law. That’s why I have started in the Holy Bible. We have already seen a bunch of stuff (to use an American expression) out of just a handful of chapters from the first book in the Bible, Genesis. So, let’s press on.

Man Judging Man

In Genesis 4 we find that Cain was punished by God for murdering his brother, Abel, but was not to be punished by man. A special mark was placed on Cain to make sure people knew not to kill him. In those days people lived for up to 900 years, so there would have been many people who would come across Cain’s path in the centuries of his life. None of them was to prosecute human punishment upon Cain.

Prior to the flood of Noah’s day there was no authority given to men to make judgement of other men. The result of that situation was that everyone did what they wanted and what they wanted to do was evil.

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

It may well be that a form of human court and legal process might have restrained the behaviour of the people. We will never know. But we do know that God gave permission to mankind to punish evil, after Noah’s flood.

Murder Prohibited

Among the various things said by God after the flood are comments about the sanctity of human life. Human blood was not to be shed. People were not to be killed, by animal or by humans.

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.” Genesis 9:5

Note that God had the right and authority to kill mankind. He had just done so in the global flood which wiped out probably millions of evil people. Death as a result of judgement is legitimate. Death by any other means was forbidden.

Capital Punishment

The very first legal power given to mankind was to exercise capital punishment. Mankind was authorised by God to kill a person who has killed someone else.

Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Genesis 9:6

Now, that might sound like a contradiction, like a policeman breaking the speed limit to chase someone who is breaking the speed limit. But it’s a legitimate process. It is authorised by none other than God, Himself.

Capital punishment is an offence to the minds of some people today. So, it is important to at least pay attention to what God has revealed to us in the Bible. The very first legal power given to man was capital punishment.

Relationship With God Re-established

After the flood all those who had broken fellowship with God were gone. God was now in open relationship with all the people on earth – all eight of them. Once again mankind would be tempted to indulge the sinful inclinations of his heart and come under the power of sin, as Cain and others had done. But now there was a check to man’s behaviour. People had the power to prosecute those who went so far as to kill another person.

God’s Law in Man’s Hands

The only legal authority given to man was to exercise the law set down by God. Man could not make up his own laws. Man could not create whatever law he so chose. Law was only that ‘moral law’ which God established as man’s requirement.

God’s law was placed in the hands of men, in a limited way. And so it is today. Man acts as God’s agent when he prosecutes someone for breaking God’s moral commandments.

The first legal processes passed to man were to uphold Moral Law. Man was not given authority to prosecute another based on commerce, contracts or the like, but only on moral principle.

Law was not originally a social construct. It was a divine reality, based on man’s moral accountability to his holy creator God. When we come to consider the many forms of law which make demands of us today, we need to keep in mind the moral laws of God, as separate and special in our considerations.

Action Not Attitude

Man’s authority to hold other men accountable to God’s law was an ‘after the fact’ authority. Man was given no right to prosecute someone based on the attitudes of their heart. While hatred is a moral evil, which God will judge, man cannot prosecute someone for hatred. If the hatred becomes murder, then man has the right to step into the picture.

We saw previously that the people in Noah’s day were engaged in evil actions and also had evil imaginations in their hearts. That second area was retained by God, as His domain.

Punishment is not Crime

As noted earlier, to punish a person for killing someone, by killing them, seems to be a contradiction. If killing someone is wrong, then how can the killer be killed? The answer to this conundrum is that punishment is not a crime.

When a person is punished, that is a moral process. If the punishment is to kill them, then that action is of a different quality to the act of killing someone other than as punishment.

It is criminal to imprison someone, unless the person is a prisoner under punishment. It is criminal to inflict pain on someone, unless the person is an offender receiving their just punishment. It is criminal to kill someone, unless the person is under death sentence as punishment for their crimes.

Note, however, that we are still talking here about punishment as prescribed by God. Our investigation has not yet moved to that area where men make up their own laws and punishments.

Human Society

We have already seen what happens in a human society where everyone does as they please. Our next exploration is of human society under some regulation. That’s coming up in the next post in this series.

Basis of Human Law Part 6

In previous posts we have seen God’s supremacy, man’s accountability, God’s rights and judgements and the consequences of wrong-doing.

We saw first the actions of an individual and married couple. Then we saw evil invade a family. With the growth of human society we now come to see what happens when individuals live as they please.

Noah and the Ark

The days of Noah reveal some key observations about humanity and God’s dealings with us. Our reference is found in Genesis 6.

The chapter starts with description of two groups of people on the earth. There were the godly, known as the ‘sons of God’. Then there were the rest of humanity, living in their self-will, as Cain had done. The godly men, with God’s grace and destiny on their lives, became distracted with the natural issues of life. They raised children who were powerful and who became people of renown.

However, this whole course of events left very few righteous people on the face of the earth. People were preoccupied with their natural existence, not their place before God. Noah’s family line, however, remained faithful to God.

God decided to destroy the people of the earth and repopulate the earth through the godly man, Noah.

Evil People

God’s description of the evil which prevailed at that time is worth noting. God could see the evil actions of the people, but God could also see what was going on in people’s hearts. The Bible informs us that God looks on the hearts of men.

“And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

Notice that there was great wickedness in the earth. While we do not know what that wickedness was, we have already seen from Cain, and then again from his descendent, Lamech, that murder was committed. In Genesis 6:13 God uses the term “violence” to describe the actions of the people.

Notice also that the hearts of the people were preoccupied with nothing but evil, continually. Whether those evil imaginations became actions or not is not important. In a moral universe even the imaginations of the heart are moral issues. We saw previously that people are commanded to give honour to their parents and not to covet another man’s goods. These are attitudes of heart, which God will judge people for holding. So it is not only actions which are of consideration to God, but intentions, attitudes and thoughts of the heart.

Corrupted Ground

In Genesis 4 we saw that the ground is impacted by man’s sinful actions. Psalm 106:38 tells us that the ground is polluted by murder. We can reflect back to Genesis 3 as well, where Adam’s sin brought a curse upon the ground (Genesis 3:17,18). So it should not surprise us that the evil of the people in Noah’s day caused the ground to again be affected.

“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” Genesis 6:11,12

Man’s actions have direct impact upon the land in which he lives. The physical, geographical space which man occupies is impacted by the morality of the people living there. That is why God could make the promise that if the people repented of their evil God would “heal their land”.

“If my people, which are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2Chronicles 7:14

Judgment

God sentenced the people of Noah’s day to capital punishment. They would all drown in a universal flood. Only Noah’s family would be spared.

The whole earth would be judged and punished. Everyone, except Noah’s family, was worthy of death and destruction. Noah’s ancestors all died before the day of the flood, since they were righteous and would not be judged with the wicked.

We see a similar concept of broad-based judgement when Sodom was destroyed many years later. We also see in the Bible the destruction of whole nations, such as Edom, when those nations broke God’s holy standards.

Because of God’s sovereignty and excellent supremacy over mankind, He is able to bring judgement on any scale. He can deal with the individual – as with Cain, the person and their generations – as with Adam and Eve, or the entire planet at one time.

Set Apart

In this chapter we also see that not all people are equal. Due to the invasion of sin into people’s lives and the subversion of people by the power of sin, there are different possibilities open to individuals, families and nations.

Noah found grace in God’s sight (Genesis 6:8). Therefore God blessed him and his family. Noah had three sons and three daughters-in-law. Noah, his wife, his sons and his daughters-in-law were the only 8 people spared from the global flood. Noah’s family was set apart from the rest.

This principle of privilege and blessing resting on people and their descendents based on the actions of the ancestor is one that people have resisted through human history. The French Enlightenment declared its devotion to ‘egality’, trying to throw off the positions of privilege which were enjoyed by some in their society. They despised the reality of inherited privilege. The same occurred in the Marxist revolutions. Yet we see from the early pages of human history that some people are set apart for blessing and others for curse.

Cain became a vagabond because of his murder. Noah became the source of hope for his children, because he found grace in the eyes of God. Today there are families and individuals which experience better or worse possibilities than others, based on their personal or inherited conditions.

This is a matter of divine prescription, outside the jurisdiction of man’s law. When God is on our side, no human law can be successful against us.

No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that will rise against you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, says the LORD.” Isaiah 54:17

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

Let them curse, but you bless: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let your servant rejoice.” Psalm 109:28

Chinese Link to Noah

There is an ancient Chinese account of Noah’s flood. Amazingly the Chinese glyph or character which is written for the word ‘boat’ includes the symbols for eight mouths or people. There were eight people on Noah’s ark, and in the Chinese character for boat (or ark) the idea of eight people is embodied. Interesting. To see one of the many links to this information go to: http://creationwiki.org/Chinese_characters_for_Noah%27s_ark

Human Law

Following the flood of Noah’s day we have the first indication that God is placing the privilege and responsibility of judgement into human hands. Human law has its earliest manifestation at that time. So we will investigate that in the next post.

Basis of Human Law Part 5

Here are some new observations about the human condition and things which create the bassi for human law. The point of the posts so far has been to observe some initial principles and realities which develop into the complex world of law that we have to navigate today.

Law embodies a wide range of issues just in terms of legality, without reflecting on the broader impact of ‘laws’, such as the laws of nature. We have Contract Law, Family Law, Common Law, Natural Law, International Law, Civil Law, Federal Law, Maritime Law, and more. So this investigation of the ‘basis’ of all that human law should help us all to understand how the various laws impact us.

These posts are drawn from the text of the Holy Bible, particularly the early chapters of the first book, Genesis. This post picks up the review at Genesis 4, where we find the first family coming into problems.

Subverted Lives

The historical events recorded in Genesis 4 point out that human lives do not remain free, but become subverted and engage in illegal and immoral actions. We have already seen, in Genesis 3, that humans are perfectly able to rebel against the rightful supreme authority of God. That ability attests to the free will which all people have been given by their creator. God has free will, and so man, made in the image of God, has also been given the privilege of using free will.

In Genesis 4 we have the account of one brother who takes a dislike toward his sibling. Both men made offerings to God and one offering was accepted, the other not. Abel offered animal sacrifice, while Cain offered garden produce. God was pleased with the animal sacrifice, since it reflected the future sacrifice of Christ. Cain did not learn from the experience, but allowed his personal feelings to rule his actions. By doing so his life was subverted. It came under the power of a force called ‘sin’.

Warning Ignored

Cain was warned by God that his heart attitude was dangerous. There was an evil force seeking opportunity to subvert Cain’s life. That force was meant to be resisted, but if given in to would rule Cain’s life.

Cain ignored the warning, seethed in anger and eventually murdered his brother. This event reveals that humans cannot be trusted to do the right thing, or even to heed appropriate warnings. People do wrong things. People act out of self interest, to the point of criminal action against others.

Cain gave in to the temptation of ‘sin’ which promised him some form of pacification of his inner feelings. Sin did not make things better in Cain’s case, just as it had not made things better for Adam and Eve. Sin is a lying force which promises gratification, but brings destruction.

The Apostle Paul, writing some 4,000 years later, prompted his audience to realise that sin did not provide any benefit. It did not deserve to be listened to. People owe sin nothing, because sin always breaks its promise of gain.

What fruit did you have at that time in the things whereof you are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.” Romans 6:21

“So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh” Romans 8:12

Slavery

Sin seeks to rule us. Jesus Christ stated it plainly and so too did the Apostle Paul. If we give in to sin that sin will own us and make us its slave.

“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin.” John 8:34

“Don’t you know, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey; whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?” Romans 6:16

This reality explains why there are people who seem committed to evil, such as serial offenders. It also explains how people who have the trust of others can choose to hurt people for selfish gain.

Humans have the capacity to give in to sin and become enslaved to it.

Note that this principle is true of those who do not commit heinous crimes. Anyone who has given in to lying, lust, pride, theft, greed, gluttony, resentment or the like, is equally a slave to those things. They may not murder someone, or commit a sensational crime, but they are slaves nonetheless.

Blood Crimes

After Cain killed his brother God interrogated him, as sovereigns have the right to do to their subjects. Cain chose to lie to God. This reveals how his life was increasingly subverted by sin, using one form of sin to cover another.

God knew exactly what had happened, but when challenging Cain, God used an interesting reference point – the blood of the dead brother.

“And God said, What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.” Genesis 4:10

Abel’s blood cried out for justice and maybe vengeance for the crime committed against him. So we see that killing another person has a unique quality about it. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit there was no blood. When Abel killed animals there was no cry from the blood, but God accepted the offering. But when Cain killed Abel, Abel’s blood cried out for God’s attention.

Blood crimes are serious. When murder takes place there is not only a moral crime, but there is a polluting of the very ground, since the blood cries from the ground.

“And they shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.” Psalm 106:38

Unique Punishment

Because of Cain’s sin of murder God put a unique punishment on him. When Adam sinned the ground was cursed – which accounts for the degenerative decay which attends all living things. But when Cain sinned God decreed that he would be cursed from the earth (Genesis 4:11). He was also assigned a new status, that of fugitive and vagabond. This included the fact that he would lose his connection with God.

It is interesting to note that God did not prescribe capital punishment, in the death sentence, upon Cain, even though he had murdered someone.

Cain was very distressed about the punishment placed on him.

“And Cain said to the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from your face will I be hid; and I will be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it will come to pass, that every one that finds me will slay me.” Genesis 4:13,14

Human Vengeance

Cain was concerned that he would be victimised by other people because of his crime and God’s curse. Here we see the reality of human retaliation. Much has been done through the centuries by people stirred by their own passion of vengeance or their own sense for what should be meted out to criminals.

The wild, blood-thirsty posse of the wild west and the cold-hearted avenger who bides their time for retaliation are known to us. Cain wanted protection from any person who may think it their right to kill him.

God did not allow for the notion of people taking justice into their own hands. God did not say to Cain, “Well it serves you right!” God gave Cain a special identification mark, to warn people not to kill him. Anyone who took justice into their own hands and killed Cain would receive a punishment seven times greater.

“And the LORD said to him, Therefore whosoever slays Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark on Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.” Genesis 4:15

Coming Up

Genesis 4 gives us insights into God’s dealings with individuals who commit crimes. The next key chapter to investigate is Genesis 6, in which we see God responding to a world full of people who have lost the plot. Immorality, rebellion and self-interest became so rampant that just about everyone had rejected their created purpose and any relationship with God.

We shall investigate the legal lessons to gain from that situation in the next post.

Basis of Human Law Part 4

In the past three posts on this topic I pointed out various observations from the early chapters of the Holy Bible which have import to the subject of human law. The principles found there provide an important basis for human law.

I have grazed through a number of observations, en route to a picture of our modern legal system and the process of human law. I can’t guarantee we’ll get there, but the journey has been valuable so far.

Review

Before pressing on with more things to observe, it is fitting to take some time to review what we have observed so far. To help harvest some of the insights and their significance for future application I am not only revisiting the content, but grouping it into several sub-headings.

All of these points come from a source that is identified as divine revelation. That is, they were not worked out by human thinking or made up by human inventiveness, but were revealed to mankind by God, Himself. God inspired holy men to write what was impressed to them. At the same time historical records were kept of the events of people’s lives. As centuries passed the collection of holy writings became increasingly potent, because things that seemed of little note when recorded in antiquity became powerfully relevant and significant in later times. Thus a book which was actually written by God was passed to us, and, despite the many contributors over many centuries, we have a book that conveys a unified message from one creative author, God.

So here are the points we have covered so far, from the Biblical text.

Existence

The essence of life is our very existence. But we humans are not the only identities which have significant existence.

God is our pre-existent, sovereign creator. All existence springs from God’s existence from eternity.

Natural law is a product of what has been created by God. It is thus a by-product of God’s existence. To appeal to natural law as the foundational legal reality, without regard for God, is a nonsensical idea. Nature is not the place from which we spring, but a product of God’s creativity, just as we are. It was not made in God’s image, but we are.

Man is a created being, morally accountable to the holy Almighty God.

Man’s existence is a consequence of God’s existence. God exists because He is God. Man exists by the will of God.

Life is impacted by three types of being: God; Man; and the Devil. The devil actively influences people to rebel against God, especially by getting them to reject God’s Words.

Note that the devil is a created being. He was at first an angel created to serve God, but he rebelled against God’s authority and thus awaits his eternal doom. Meanwhile, God allows him to tempt mankind as a means of testing he hearts of men, to find those who will truly submit to God.

Supremacy and Jurisdiction

Law requires courts, judges, rulers and the like. These people have some level of authority over others and some realm of jurisdiction in which their word holds sway.

God is the supreme being and has jurisdiction over the entire universe and all that is known and unknown.

Jurisdiction allows a being to speak over a certain realm with authority. God’s jurisdiction is eternal and unbounded. Everywhere that light can go is within the bounds of God’s jurisdiction.

Because man is under God’s jurisdiction, man is a moral being. Therefore there are moral consequences to man’s moral choices and actions. Man is accountable, not a law unto himself.

Natural Law is not the highest and final realm of law. Divine Law, based on the pre-existence of God, as revealed to us in the Holy Bible, has much greater authority and conveys much more powerful truth than natural law could ever imagine.

God gives assigned roles to people, just as He did in the creation, giving man dominion over the rest of creation.

Man is under direct command from God and must obey God’s instructions.

Man is under moral law, so man is accountable for moral actions, not just natural consequences of his actions.

Superiors have authority over their subordinates, and can command them.

Authority and Accountability

Rules are unavoidable. All of life is governed by limitations. There is no such thing as being a law to ourselves or being outside law.

Those with authority have the right to summons and interrogate those accountable to them.

Those with authority have the right to pass sentence on those accountable to them.

Divine law speaks morality into the world, causing everyone to be accountable, not based on natural endowment, but on moral principle.

Mankind has been created with equality before God and has been given equality of purpose on the earth.

Words

Because ‘jurisdiction’ is the right to speak over a realm, words are very important legal elements. Words control the realm over which they have right to apply. Word usage, definitions and the terms of agreements are very important.

Words are elements for which we are accountable.

Consequences

Actions lead to consequences, both natural and moral. We cannot control the consequences or stop them from happening.

Sin has moral power, causing moral consequences which can be profound and far reaching.

Moral consequences can be experienced at a completely internal level, yet be more real and devastating than actions upon our external body.

Human delusion does not create reality. Man cannot become free from divine morality, no matter what man chooses to believe.

It All Starts with Law

From what we have seen so far, the universe is a law based environment. It is logical that people operate under law, since the very shape of life as it was created is a legal context. A superior Being created people who are accountable to Him.

That Being, God Almighty, determines the roles of man, the standards by which man must live and the consequences for his actions. Thus we have the formula for all legal contexts, where people with authority and position enforce standards that others are to live by, even determining the punishment to be meted out when requirements are not met.

Legal Study

I’d like to suggest that you study law, since we live under law in every aspect of our lives. But that might send you off studying some law course or other that is designed to bring you to a wrong place under man’s impositions. Just because something is called law doesn’t make it true law, as we may see in future posts.

Rather, we need to study the Biblical basis for human law, as I am splashing through it with you, so we see the right responsibilities and accountabilities that God has place upon us.

Basis of Human Law Part 3

This is part three in a series about the basis for human law. The points are being drawn from the earliest chapters of the Bible, which relate events that are 6,000 years old. The Holy Bible is the most authoritative ancient document on earth and deserves careful investigation, as it yields insights which are powerfully applicable today.

In the first two posts I have drawn attention to a range of observations which undergird principles impacting human law. There are yet more to observe, and so this third post builds on the points made previously, adding new insights into new principles.

Enter an Antagonist

In the third chapter of the Bible, Genesis 3, we meet a new character in the human drama. In Genesis 1 we meet Almighty God, who exists in different personalities, such as the “Spirit of God” (Genesis 1:2). We also meet man, made by God, in God’s image, and given dominion over all the other creatures which God made.

Then, in Genesis 3, we are introduced to an identity which is first seen as a snake. We discover that this personality is, in fact, a fallen angel. He is active and intent on tempting humans to rebel against their creator God and master.

We learn much about the character and activity of this identity in the simple record of the encounter between this devil and the woman.

The role of the devil as a negative influence, promoting self-indulgence and creating a breach between people and God. One of his main strategies is to promote doubt about the veracity of God’s Words. See how the devil questions God’s words, then accuses God of lying. This emphasis on words underscores their legal significance, as mentioned in previous posts on this topic.

“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said to the woman, Yea, has God said, You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1

“And the serpent said to the woman, You will not surely die: for God knows that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes will be opened, and you will be as God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4,5

Paying careful attention to words is a vital principle of legality. Eve mishandled God’s instructions and then chose to believe a lie. The consequences were devastating and irreversible.

The Fall

When Eve and Adam ate of the forbidden fruit there were powerful consequences. Their internal perception changed immediately. Their personal state changed from that of innocence and blessing, to shame and curse. Their relationship with God was destroyed. Instead of blessing and joy they were filled with guilt and fear.

These outcomes reveal the moral power of sin. In a materialistic world people may think that all actions are equal. If what is deemed ‘evil’ can be committed without any visible consequence, then no harm has been done. But the record shows that evil actions have moral consequences, even if no physical harm has been done.

Millions of people live with that reality, even if they don’t admit it to themselves.

Eve was deceived and deluded, but her perception had no power. She could not create reality. She is not a ‘creator’ but a created being. She did not have the power to make reality by her thoughts, interpretations and perceptions. She came up against the ugly reality of her moral accountability and spiritual impotence.

Human delusion does not create reality, even if it seduces people to take a course of action in good faith.

Note also the internal moral consequences, impacting the inner condition of the person. Adam and Eve were profoundly impacted by their choices and actions. The internal impact was far beyond the natural events. This is tragically true for people today who engage in any immoral action. That also explains the state which people end up in when they have done something against God’s moral order, which should not have had any material effect.

The internal impact of our moral choices is as real, even if not more real than any external consequences which impact the natural surroundings.

Interrogation

Once Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit and suffered tragic internal consequences, God came to speak with them. They could not face him, but hid themselves in the bushes.

When God came to meet with them He asked them questions. Firstly he asked Adam to come before him. This is the legal “summons”.

“And Jehovah God called to the man, and said to him, Where are you?” Genesis 3:9

Secondly, God interrogated Adam and Eve. This interrogation process

“And he said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you that you should not eat?” Genesis 3:11

God had the unlimited right to interrogate people and hold people accountable. There was no way that Adam or Eve could have escaped this interrogation, since they were created as subjects of God, their sovereign.

Legal processes employ interrogation. Those with authority have the right to demand an answer. Any encounter with the legal system involves the summons to appear and the requirement that answers be given. This expectation is a standard element of having authority, as God has over us all.

Right to Remain Silent

Note that western citizens have ‘the right to remain silent’. Why would that be so? That right is embodied in their personal sovereignty. If they did not have personal sovereignty, an element of equality among other men, then answers could be demanded of them, no matter how much the answer might incriminate them.

Jesus Christ remained silent when interrogated by a Roman governor, Pontius Pilate.

“and he (Pilate) entered into the Praetorium again, and said to Jesus, Where do you come from? But Jesus gave him no answer.” John 19:9

Jesus, as God, was not required to ever answer a question put to him by man. When Pilate tried to impress Jesus with the power Pilate had over him, Jesus notified Pilate that the Roman official had no power over him except that which God gave him.

“Pilate therefore said to him, Don’t you speak to me? Don’t you know that I have power to release you, and have power to crucify you? Jesus answered him, You would have no power against me, except it were given you from above….” John 19:10,11

Note in this reply by Jesus, that human authority over another person is to be a divinely granted privilege. It is not something that people can take to themselves.

Passing Sentence

Once God had interrogated Adam and Eve, He then passed sentence. He spoke consequences over each of them, as punishment for their actions. God is the one who creates the sentence for wrong behaviour.

God prescribes not only the natural consequences of man’s actions, but the personal moral consequences as well. Moral failure is not measured by the material impact of the actions. While some people will say, “I didn’t hurt anyone”, and expect that therefore no crime was committed, God sees that the very intent of the heart has moral consequences and deserves judgement.

In God’s Ten Commandments we see the major actions which God sees as morally important. Among them is “giving honour” (honour your father and mother) and “covetousness” (not covet another person’s goods). These matters could be secret matters of the heart, having no impact on anyone or any material thing, and never being translated into actions. Yet they are forbidden.

Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which Jehovah your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12

“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house, you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.” Exodus 20:17

God brings judgement upon people not just for their actions, but for the attitudes of their heart. Thus Jesus equated lust with the act of adultery. Its moral impact and the judgement it generates are the same either way.

“but I say to you, that every one that looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Matthew 5:28

Yet More

A foundation of principles has now been identified. These are not the whole story, but they provide a basis for the development of human law. In future posts we will explore the development of human responsibility to judge other humans.