Summary: Many in the body of Christ believe that they have a say in what they will and will not believe when it comes to scripture. But from God's point of view, He has already decided with we must believe if we want to see heaven on earth.
My Mom loved Perry Mason. I remember watching her iron and fold clothes as she watched him cause the guilty to crumble on the witness stand. Her love for Perry Mason is the reason I enjoy courtroom dramas to this day.
Among my favorites are Law & Order, Matlock, LA Law, the Perry Mason movies and others. But you get the picture.
There is a principle that often governs the outcome of courtroom cases that I believe also governs the outcomes of “cases” in the kingdom of Heaven. Let me explain.
When attorneys argue their cases, they will often cite cases that have already been adjudicated as setting the precedent for their arguments. The precedent, also known as case law, is a law that is based on an earlier ruling in a similar case. The earlier ruling was the first that required a legal remedy. When a judge’s ruling confirms case law, abides by the decision of an earlier court, he has followed a principle known as stares decisis.
Stare decisis is Latin for stand by that which is decided.
Here in the United Stated, courts must look to past rulings in similar issues, or case law, to guide their decisions. And where the case law is applicable, courts cannot disregard stare decisis and must uphold the prior decision.
You see, case law or precedents are binding on all courts in the same jurisdiction. Again, here in the United States, case law rulings by federal appellate courts are binding on all state courts and case law rulings by the US Supreme Court are stare decisis and, therefore, binding on all courts, state and appellate.
Let’s look at an example: the case of “Alice vs Lee and Tabitha”.
Alice owns an apartment complex and announces a rent increase. She gives her tenants 30 days’ notice. However, the state requires landlords to give tenants a 90 day notice of the upcoming rent increase. Lee and Tabitha, who are tenants, take Alice to court claiming she is not following the law as outlined by the state.
But the law, Alice contends, applies only to landlords who own two or more rental properties. After weighing the evidence and hearing the arguments, the judge disagrees with Alice’s position and rules in favor of Lee and Tabitha’s. Alice must now wait 90 days before she can enforce the rate increase.
This is the first case involving the state’s requirement to give 90 days’ notice before applying a rent increase. This is a “case law” or a ruling that sets a precedent for future cases similar to Alice vs Lee and Tabitha.
Now hang with me. We’re going somewhere. Trusts me.
One year later Cindy, facing a similar situation with Neil, takes him to court also claiming a violation of the state law. Cindy provides the judge with Alice vs Lee and Tabitha, the case law that ruled landlords must give tenants a 90 day notice when planning a rent increase. After reviewing the facts of the case, the judge follows the principle of stares decisis and rules in Cindy’s favor. Neil must now wait 90 days before he can apply the rent increase.
However, there are times when attorneys will present competing case laws to support their positions. This happens, for example, when attorneys cite case laws that have similar components but involve different industries.