Vol. 12 No. 4 April 2010
I guess this idea, that one has the right to do wrong, has been around a long time. It is possible that 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—that 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 disobey 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.
By Steve Higginbotham
One of the most well known, often quoted, but misunderstood passages in all the Bible is recorded in Matthew 7:1–“Judge not that you be not judged.” For some people, this is their only defense for their ungodly, disobedient lifestyle. However, I don’t believe that God intended for this statement to be a defense for the ungodly, and any interpretation that would lead to such a conclusion is surely flawed.
Consider the following argument I recently heard. What would you think if someone said, “We need to accept people regardless of their past. It’s not for us to pass judgment on anyone. God is the judge of that person. Let’s do the loving and accepting and let God do the judging.”
The problem with such a statement is that it ignores and contradicts biblical truth. While it is true that God is our Judge (Acts 17:30-31; Hebrews 12:23, 13:4), it is not true that the church, therefore, cannot make any judgments of its own based upon the Word of God.
Is the church not only allowed, but charged with obligation to “judge those who are inside” (1 Corinthians 15:12)? Remember the situation in Corinth? A man was having sexual relations with his father’s wife. What was the church instructed to do with him and his situation? Was the church instructed to love and accept him and let “God be the judge? Absolutely not! Rather, the church was instructed to withdraw their fellowship from this man because of sin in which he was engaged. In other words, they were to pass judgment on his lifestyle, determine that it was not in harmony with the teachings of Christ, and reject him so long as he persisted in that sinful relationship.
This “accept them and let God be their judge” philosophy is not a new one. It was tried in times past by other congregations. Remember the church at Pergamos (Revelation 2:14-15) and the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:20)? These two churches allowed or tolerated some among them to hold to false doctrine and some among them to commit sexual immorality. It’s not that the entire church was engaged in these activities, they just tolerated this behavior among some of their fellow church members. Now, did Jesus commend them for their tolerance and acceptance, telling them that “God would be the Judge of these individuals?” I think not! Rather, Scripture states that if these churches did not repent of their tolerance and acceptance of that which was sinful, that the Lord would fight against them.
Brethren, it is true that God will eventually judge all of us, but it is not true that we, therefore, are forbidden to do any judging ourselves. A church cannot be faithful to God while allowing any member to persist in sin while at the same time enjoying the fellowship of the church. Dealing with sin is unpleasant and difficult. Certainly, none should find enjoyment in confronting those who are doing wrong. Yet, the direction of our lives should not be determined upon the basis of what is pleasant and easy. God sometimes calls us do the difficult.
Certainly, God will be the Judge, but a church, if it is to be faithful to God, had better be involved in some righteous judgment, too (John 7:24).