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.

No Right To Speak

How do people speak when they have no right to speak into your life? Would you like to know?

The Bible reveals how people speak when they have no right to speak. Take a look at what I have to show you here, and get insight into the voices that demand your attention but which you should ignore.

I have raked over the topic of The Right To Speak in previous posts, and now I want you to see a well-known Biblical example of what it looks like when someone is speaking who has no right to do so.

A Quick Review

Not all words are equal. Some people have the right to speak while others do not. You are to obey the commands of those who have authority over you but you don’t have to obey the demands of people under your authority, or outside your whole authority structure. Advertisers don’t have authority to demand that you buy their product.

Marketers and manipulators speak to you, even though they don’t have the right to tell you what to do, in the hope they can get you to do their will. Wise people are aware of the rights held by the speaker, so they can know whether to listen or ignore the one speaking.

God has the ultimate right to speak. Those God endorses have the right to speak. Yet many people who speak into our lives do not speak with God’s authority. Some people assert their right to speak when they don’t have that right at all.

How They Speak

When a person does not have the right to speak into your life, but they wish to get you to follow their instructions, they can use several devices. They can lie, cajole, deceive, threaten and so on.

Jesus Christ faced a confrontation with someone who did not have the right to speak into his life. That person was the devil, who tempted Him when He was fasting in the wilderness. What the devil said and how he said it gives us a cameo of how people speak when they do not have the right to speak into your life.

You may recognise some of this in the way others have tried to speak into your life at times.

Jesus and the Devil

In the New Testament book of Matthew we are given an account of the devil tempting Jesus in the wilderness. This encounter involves temptation. And the first point to note is that when a person does not have the right to speak they are only able to tempt the person they are trying to influence. That’s what advertisers do. They tempt you to buy their product. They can’t make you do something, but they can tempt you to make your own choice to do it.

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If you be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:1-4

Temptation Number One

The devil’s first temptation was directed at Jesus’ physical needs. Jesus was hungry after fasting for forty days and nights. Jesus had the power to create bread. The devil simply suggested that Jesus do that.

What was wrong with this challenge was that Jesus was not to be about the devil’s business, but His Father’s business (see Luke 2:49). Just because you have ability does not mean you should use it to indulge your personal interests and needs. Jesus took His orders from God, not the devil. That is why Jesus’ reply was that He was to live by the words that God spoke.

We will each be tempted to cater for our desires, such as our comfort, hunger and so on.

Temptation Number Two

“Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, And said to him, If you be the Son of God, cast yourself down: for it is written, He will give his angels charge concerning you: and they will bear you up in their hands, lest at any time you dash your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Matthew 4:5-7

For the second temptation the devil did not play on Jesus’ bodily needs. This time he played to his mental and emotional qualities. The temptation was to make a public display of His special position of protection by God.

Note again that the devil did not have the right to tell Jesus what to do, so he tempted him, with taunts, to prompt Jesus to obey the devil by fulfilling his physical or emotional needs.

Those who do not have the right to speak into our lives will try to press our buttons to get us to react to them and thus come under the power of their words.

Jesus rightly responded that we are not to put God to the test like that.

Temptation Number Three

“Again, the devil took him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, Get out of here, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.” Matthew 4:8-10

The third temptation was the offer of a deal. Having taunted and suggested things, appealing to Jesus’ physical and personal interests, the devil finally came out with a proposition.

The devil also tries to make deals with us. He offers us fame, success, happiness, and personal gain if we do what he wants us to do. However, the devil’s deals are cheap, deceptive and destructive, as Eve found out when she gave in to temptation in the Garden of Eden.

Look Out

You will face temptations, suggestions, taunts, instructions and deals, from voices that do not have the right to tell you what to do. What ever the issue is, it will be about you giving up your freedom to the demands of those you should remain free from.

Look out for those who come along, throwing their arm over your shoulder, trying to steer you in the path that they want you to take.

God has given you autonomy and a place of freedom under His authority. Those who do not have the right to speak are intent on making you a slave. Their words may sound like honey, but the sting of what they suggest will be bitter and deadly.

If they do not have the right to speak, then do what Jesus did. Reject what they say and stick with what God wants you to do.

What is True Freedom

Today’s Christians have lost sight of true freedom. They think that the level of survival which they have attained is the scope of their freedom. This is spiritual blindness and holds whole churches back from the freedom that is theirs in Christ.

I have discussed freedom in various ways over recent months, but a recent discussion prompted me to realise that many people are absolutely blind to the issue. And the implications are serious.

The Politician

Many years ago I met an Australian state politician who was a relatively new Christian. He was serving in the parliament and attending a big church with a well-known minister in one of the capital cities.

A friend introduced me to this older man and we enjoyed a catch up one afternoon. As we chatted privately he confided in me that he had a very real struggle in his role. He attributed the problem to the fact that he was a Christian working in a key area and thus coming under stronger spiritual attack.

His personal struggle was with immoral temptation. He found himself strongly distracted by immoral thoughts and interest in women.

Having once been addicted to immoral thoughts I knew from personal experience that it is possible to become completely free from such things. I knew the joy of freedom and the sweet simplicity of life that comes from the liberation which Christ brings.

I therefore ventured to suggest to this man that he did not have to struggle as he was. I proffered to him the suggestion that he could be completely liberated and released from the temptation.

His response was a firm and emphatic rebuttal. He assured me that there was no freedom from this pressure and he knew that for a fact. He knew it because he had gone to his own pastor, the high-profile pastor of one of the leading churches, and told him about the problem. The pastor responded by explaining that there was no release from this problem. The pastor confided that he too lived with a constant daily battle against unclean thoughts and immoral temptations.

Thus advised by his pastor, the man would not hear that there was any other freedom to be enjoyed. He deemed that his high-profile pastor had more status on this point than I did, despite my personal testimony of deliverance and freedom.

Some months later the politician vacated his position prematurely. I suspect that he could not stand the on-going personal struggle he was in.

Besetting Sins

Christians use the expression ‘besetting sin’ to describe a sin that defies their efforts to overcome it. The concept is extended to suggest that every Christian has some weakness that they will never conquer and so they must continue to rely on God’s grace to carry them through an on-going, life-long battle with their besetting sin.

That idea, however, is a contradiction of what the Bible teaches about besetting sin.

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1,2

In the only reference to sins which ‘beset us’ the verse tells us to lay aside those sins. They are not sins which we cannot conquer, but rather are to be disposed of. There is no Biblical doctrine teaching that sin is unable to be removed. Instead the Bible teaches that sin is able to be completely extracted from our lives.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” Romans 6:12

“For sin will not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.” Romans 6:14

Anger Management

My son, Jonathan, tells of a meeting he attended where the topic was Anger Management. The presumption was that everyone had a problem with anger and that anger had to be managed by each individual. When Jonathan advised the coordinator that he had completely resolved his anger problem by realising the forgiveness of Christ for his own sins and then by applying the same grace of forgiveness to those who wronged him, he was ignored. The leader of the discussion did not take up Jonathan’s claim, probably because they did not believe it could be true.

No Concept of Freedom

It is as if today’s generation has lost all sight and understanding of true freedom. They have no concept of freedom. Just like that high profile pastor who lived in a daily struggle and the Anger Management leader who could not relate to a testimony of freedom, those who are leading today’s world cannot bring their followers into freedom. If the leaders do not have true freedom themselves, then they cannot lead their followers into freedom.

Porn Addiction

Surveys of Christian leaders indicate that a high percentage of them have an addiction to pornography. When pastors and leaders are addicts and slaves to sin and degradation there is no way they can lead their congregations into freedom. In fact, they have no real testimony or concept of true freedom.

Jack Sonnemann, the highly effective anti-pornography campaigner in Australia, told me recently that he finds few young pastors who will welcome his anti-porn message into their churches. His American associates tell him that this must implicate those pastors as porn addicts themselves.

Whatever the case, it is yet another evidence for the absence of true freedom in the church. When leaders struggle with lust, are addicted to porn and can only restrain their anger, then they know nothing of the true freedom Christ has for them.

Freedom in Christ

Consider a few verses which announce what true freedom is like and what all Christian leaders should be living in and bringing to their congregations.

“If the Son therefore makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Galatians 5:1

Freedom is what we are called for and it is given to us by Christ who sets us free and gives us true freedom. Truth is one of the power tools which Christ uses to set us free. We are to stand in that freedom and avoid being enslaved again.

It is time the people of God took hold of the true freedom which is their’s in Christ. Please do so.

Throwing Your Life Away

How much are you worth? What price do you put on yourself? How cheaply would you sell yourself to someone?

The questions have a certain silliness about them, because we don’t imagine that we will ever sell ourselves. But in fact we have all done so already. We sell ourselves short all the time.

Compromise

Maybe the word ‘compromise’ will give you another notion of how you sell yourself or throw your life away. When you make a compromise, accepting less than you wanted or demanding less of yourself that you could, you have sold yourself short. You have accepted a lesser bid for your time, your personal authority and your life than you could have asked for. Some people sell themselves short, while others sell themselves out altogether.

What Am I Throwing Away?

Have you ever disposed of something only to realise later that is was valuable to you and you should have kept it. This happens often and can be by accident or by ignorance. Maybe you have thrown something away last week and then discovered that you need it this week. Maybe you thought it was broken but it turned out to be in perfect working order.

When you throw yourself away what is it that is at stake? What are you throwing away?

You can throw away your time, investing yourself in something or someone that is just eating you up for no real purpose. A mother might say to her daughter, “If you marry that man you are throwing your life away.” What the mother means is that the man is of no value and so spending a lifetime as his wife is a waste of the bride’s life.

You can throw away your talents and potential. A father might say, “Don’t study that easy course, because you have enough brains to be doing the hard course and getting a better outcome. If you do the easy course you are throwing your life away.”

You can throw away your personal, moral authority. God has given you the ability to stand on His side and do business with all of His authority behind you. But if you compromise with sin and evil you are throwing away that personal moral authority.

The Bidding Begins

Early in life we find ourselves being asked to sell ourselves cheaply. Bids are made for our attention, time, commitment and so on. Take for example a young man who is asked to compromise his morality by listening to a dirty story or looking at sordid pictures. This will cost him his innocence and make him a slave to immoral thoughts and motivations. Surely he would not want such a penalty.

However, most young men do not understand the cost of their compromise, so they are unlikely to hold back because of proper understanding of the consequences.

What will aid the young man is his conscience and the inner sense that this thing he is being asked to do is tainted. The attitudes and actions of those tempting him will signal that there is something a little shameful or illicit in what is being offered.

Another thing that can save this young man is the instruction of his parents never to allow such offensive things into his life. Wise parents will instruct their children to avoid things that enslave lives.

The Highest Bid

If the young man is reluctant to participate at first he will find that the bidding is raised quite quickly. At first it will simply be temptation to do something illicit. When he declines he will find that the stakes are being raised to include his reputation or acceptance in the group.

Those tempting him might suggest that he is weak by being afraid to participate or they may advise him that he is not fit to be included in their company if he is not a willing participant.

If he further declines, then someone might try to sell him on the excitement that is on offer, or assert their own superiority to the man because they have already participated without injury, and so on.

What is happening in such exchanges is that the bidding for the young man’s soul is rising, until the tempters cause him to yield.

Sold

When the young man gives in he is “sold” out. He has settled on a price at which he will trade off who and what he is for something. In the end he may do what he is being tempted to do, not for the thing itself, such as to view pornography, but to keep the friendships which are now at stake.

By this process people are selling themselves all the time.

Not For Sale

The only ones who are not sold out are those who do what God wants them to do in every situation all the time. Those ones will resist every temptation and threat. They will stand alone and stand for God no matter what the cost.

The book of Daniel records that Daniel and his three friends each did this in various ways. The challenge to ‘dare to be a Daniel’ represents the idea of resisting temptation and threats so that the right thing can be done all the time, without fear or favour.

Sold Cheaply

I can think of several school friends who sold themselves cheaply. They readily bought into sensuality, drugs, lying, cheating, irresponsibility and so on. They did it so cheaply that they received nothing in return. They did not hold out for respect, privilege or gain, but hastily jumped into the slime to slide into shame, addiction and worthlessness.

Many people do this, especially if they are without the protection of loving and wise parents who guide them to wise choices and a wise lifestyle.

The Israelites sold themselves cheaply in the days of Jeremiah. They abandoned God and built broken resources for themselves that did not work (Jeremiah 2:12). They were keen to throw away their true value for that which is worthless.

If people think they are worth nothing they see no problem in selling themselves cheaply. Yet every person is of inestimable worth and should never be sold out at all!

Bought Back

The wonderful news is that the sacrifice of Jesus allows us all to be bought back from the hand of those who have enslaved us or bought us cheaply. The Bible uses the word ‘redeem’ to describe this process of paying the price needed so the item is returned.

Jesus Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us.

If you have abandoned your personal sovereignty in a vain attempt to get some gain for yourself, like Eve selling herself for nothing in the Garden of Eden, then you need to be redeemed by the blood of the lamb. That was the price paid for your freedom. Make sure you are bought back from the grimy slavery to sin and are given a fresh start to live as a sovereign child of God who can change the world with His grace and power.

Sovereignty Attacked

Each of us has a remarkable privilege of presenting ourselves before God, independent of the demands and tyranny of our peers or oppressors. Yet this wonderful privilege is attacked and attempts are made to deny us our sovereignty, at many stages in our life. This first commentary on how our sovereignty is under attack may well be expanded on in future posts, but at this point I want to simply draw your attention to the fact that there are various forces which oppose your divinely bequeathed right to personal sovereignty.

Since we are created by God and the rights we have come from God it is logical that the first enemy to any such privilege given us by God would be from the principal evil spirit, who we know as the devil. The devil is a created angel who rebelled against God and came under God’s judgement. His activities since then have been to attack those things which God has created, especially humankind.

The devil attacks our sovereignty in a number of ways. We know from the records of his influence over mankind that he seeks to prompt people to use their sovereignty in acts of rebellion against God. This results in them coming under God’s judgement instead of God’s blessing. Temptation and deception are two key strategies used by the devil.

Another strategy is to get people to hand over their personal sovereignty to the devil. Strictly speaking it is not possible to do so, but the devil has a couple of devices which work in this direction. When a person submits to some kind of inappropriate attitude or behaviour that person becomes a slave to that thing. For example, when a person gives in to anger, they become an angry person, enslaved to angry responses. When a person gives in to lust they become a lustful person, enslaved by lustful thoughts. This does not strictly take their sovereignty from them, but it imprisons their soul and seems to them as if they have lost sovereignty. If the person was to repent and cry out to God for deliverance they still have the right to do so. They may still call upon God, as a sovereign creation, and find God’s help.

The other way of getting people to hand over their personal sovereignty comes in the form of a contract with the devil. The ancient German folktale character, Faust, is a classic case of someone who made a deal with the devil. In recent times youth attending rock concerts have been encouraged to sign themselves to the devil, in their own blood. The act of making such a commitment is a major compromise of a person’s will and results in a tremendous inner sense of slavery. While the person’s personal sovereignty is, in reality, intact, the insistent claim upon them by the devil can seem irrevocable. I have heard testimony of people who have sought Christian help to break such contracts and who have become free from the tyranny of the devil’s claim.

So, temptation, deception and intimidation are typical methods of compromising personal sovereignty. While these methods are used by the devil, they are also employed by other people who wish to assert their will over others and to deny people their rightful freedom. The carrot and the stick, used by governments and other social structures to direct people’s wills, are expressions of temptation and intimidation. Propaganda, indoctrination and deception are also widely used by regimes intent on controlling the masses. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Dr Goebbels implemented the Big Lie theory, that the bigger the lie the more likely people are to believe it.

Fear is another tool for making people give up personal sovereignty. Fear could relate to simple avoidance of rejection by others, such as social pressure to conform in order to be accepted. Or it could relate to the immediate threat of reprisal, death or torture if compliance is not given. Totalitarian regimes often resort to abductions, murders, genocide and other atrocities to instil fear and compliance in the community.

At a more personal level, there are those who seek to enslave others, including their family, employees or people in their care. Manipulation and control may involve just one subject, such as a parent manipulating their child, or a wife manipulating her husband. In such cases the manipulator seeks to turn another person into their slave, at least within certain behaviour patterns, and so resorts to various means of control to get the other to give up their sovereignty. A similar condition is that of domination, where an assertive person will project their personality over others, simply to indulge their own pride and self-centredness. The right to personal sovereignty of those around them is impacted by their domination.

In each of the cases I have outlined, our personal right to come into God’s presence and make appeal directly to Him, remains intact. We may be in physical danger if we do so, but we have not lost the divine right to do so. This is the Divine Right of Everyone! No religious or political domination, nor sin or deal with the devil, can take from us our right to cry out to God and present ourselves before Him.