Vol. 11 No. 3 March 2009
Donald R. Fox
I guess this idea, that one has the right to do wrong, has been around a long time. The great magician and escape artist, Harry Houdini (1874-1926), may have popularized this idea. He wrote a book entitled, The Right Way to Do Wrong: An Exposé of Successful Criminals. However, there is an even better known quotation from Abraham Lincoln that presents the truth concerning this idea whether one has the right to do wrong. Lincoln said in his debate with Douglas, “When Judge Douglas says that whoever, or whatever community, wants slaves, they have a right to have them, he is perfectly logical if there is nothing wrong in the institution; but if you admit that it is wrong, he cannot logically say that anybody has the right to do wrong” (October 13, 1858 debate at Quincy, Illinois). Yes, Abraham Lincoln was logically and biblically correct; it is never right to do wrong.
I believe the misunderstanding concerning this idea is that one has the power to do wrong. As free moral agents, we can choose to do whatever we want to do. With that choice, however, comes the consequence of our actions. One can plot a premeditated murder, but he never has the right to murder. One can steal, but he never has the right to steal.
“It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void they law” (Psalm 119:126). Question: Does one have the right to make the law of God void? You see, man can choose and through his own will, he has the power to do wrong, even to the disobedience to the Word of God. Sadly, many have chosen this route.
“Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways…But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death” (Proverbs 8:32, 36). “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Colossians 3:25).
My friends, you and I do not have the right to do wrong. We cannot say this in simpler terms. Disobedient men will suffer the consequence of their sins.
[Editor’s Note: If not in this life, and often in this life, certainly the consequences of sins for which we have not repented (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9) will afflict mortals in the next life (Romans 6:23).]