Basket of Figs

Published 2001-10

Bud Powell

Trinity Covenant RCUS, Colorado Springs


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The Right Use of Justice


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Faces of Real Evil


“Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”–Romans 1:32


“Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient” 1 Timothy 1:9 


Only those who have received grace have been set free from the law and its wrath.  Those in bondage to sin are under the law and its wrath, and it is the duty of the state to put down evil-doers and provide safety for those who do well  [I Pet. 2:14].  Where grace is, there is repentance, humility, and love.  Over these the law has no power.


But where grace is absent, and especially where even the common grace of human compassion and decency is abandoned, then the state must bring the full rigors of the law.  This is true of both the criminal within the state and those criminal states without.  The punishment, of course, should fit the crime and we must not strain at gnats and swallow camels.  One of America’s finest hours was the victory over the criminal Axis Powers in World War II.  The powerful states of Germany, Italy, and Japan were under the control of a truly evil spirit, not just your generic over-the-counter evil.


Every bit as heroic, however, was the victory of the United States over the equally evil power of communism that had overtaken the former Soviet Union.  These were also violent men who had suppressed human affection and common decency.  Although under terrible peril within and without, America was victorious.


America now faces another great peril, the peril of fanatic Islamic fundamentalism.  It is right that America rise again to this challenge.  We have much repentance to do in order to fulfill the mission.  Violent men do not hesitate to target innocent blood, which the Lord will not pardon [II Kings 24:4].   Our hands are not free from innocent blood, and we must renew our repentance and faith.


Abraham Lincoln was aware of the abhorrence that God had for the shedding of innocent blood and felt that the horrors of the Civil War might have very well been because of the injustice of slavery, and stated it plainly in the Second Inaugural Address:


Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."


This may very well have been the real strength of Lincoln’s moral force.  He saw that there was more to human life than wealth, contentment, and ease.  Perhaps we will have to go through the fires until we can confess with Lincoln, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”


It may very well be that we face the greatest test in our history.  The Founding Fathers could not have possibly imagined the destructive force of modern weapons, but their children have grown up under their shadow.  The forces of despotism and slavery have always hated America, and do so today.  Even many within our midst hate our heritage and institutions, but that has always been the case, too.


Let those who know their God press on.  The days that come will not be days for summer soldiers and the sunshine patriots.  But the soul of America will be purified and strengthened.  Our public debate may once again include great themes of truth and justice and not the silly things that have recently occupied our minds.


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