Summary: Christians have recognized what observant men of all ages have noticed, and that is, that law that is a respecter of persons is an instrument of evil, whereas, law that treats all men equally is an instrument for justice.
An angry group of citizens shouted at their small town
mayor-"Every city car that passes through here breaks the
law by breaking the speed limit. You've got to do something
about it, and do it fast." "Don't you worry," said the mayor
with confidence. "I'll raise the speed limit to 150. Let's see
them beat that!"
This mayor had an easy solution, which would effectively
eliminate lawlessness. All you have to do is change the law, or
redefine lawlessness. You can just change the definition of
lawlessness and get rid of it. This is a process that goes on all
the time in our culture. What was once a bad thing is no
longer a bad thing because it has been defined as no longer
bad, but acceptable. Relativity is real, but when it enters into
the realm of morality it becomes very dangerous. Men use it
to change what is evil in God's eyes into what is acceptable
to men. Or, on the other hand, they change what was once a
virtue into a vice. For example, the young girl who brought
her Bible to school was sent home, as if it were a crime.
It is no wonder that there is confusion about the law, for
it is no longer stable as it once was. It is full of loopholes, so
that not all are treated equal, and it can be changed any day,
so that what was wrong yesterday can be right tomorrow.
The average American is skeptical about the law, for he
knows it is often just an arbitrary will of the majority
imposed on the minority. Much of the lawlessness of our day
is due to the laws protection of injustice. The law can protect
and defend evil as well as good. It can be an instrument of
oppression and slavery, as well as a force for freedom. Every
dictator and tyrant controls his people through law. Abuse
of the law is as common as its legitimate use.
Even in the church the law of God was abused. The
Puritans in Salem, for example, were determined to legislate
the Kingdom of God into reality, and they were going to
make the New Jerusalem on earth. These were some of the
Sabbath laws they made-
No one shall run on the Sabbath or walk in his garden.
No one shall make beds, cut hair, or shave.
No woman shall kiss her child on the Sabbath.
No food or lodging shall be given to any Quaker or other
And they were not just kidding either. Disobedience was not
tolerated, but met with heavy penalties.
Roger Williams, one of the heroes of freedom, was a
minister in Salem. He objected to the use of law in regulating
matters of conscience. He said this is contrary to the doctrine
of Jesus Christ. This was an attack on their system of law,
and they pronounced the sentence of banishment on him, for
the audacity to question their law. He was able to escape and
by the help of friendly Indians get to what became known as
Rhode Island. It was there that Roger Williams established
the first place on earth with total religious liberty. He also
established the first Baptist church in America there.
He became a hero of freedom, and he is studied in all the
secular history books. Yet, he became this hero by being
lawless. He rebelled against the laws he felt were unjust both
in the church and the state. He started the long hard battle
to get the laws of the state and the church to leave men free
in the realm of their religious beliefs. You cannot make
believers by means of the law. This is a personal act of choice
and faith, and not a matter you can legislate. Many
Christians through the centuries have ended up in prison,
just like Peter in the New Testament, because they refused to
obey laws that interfered with their obedience to God. They
were seen as lawless, but in reality they were being loyal to
the highest law, the law of God.
Christians have recognized what observant men of all
ages have noticed, and that is, that law that is a respecter of
persons is an instrument of evil, whereas, law that treats all
men equally is an instrument for justice. Benjamin Franklin
said, "Laws like to cobwebs, catch small flies, Great ones
break them before your eyes." An 18th century saying of
similar thought goes like this-
"The law doth punish man or woman
That steals the goose from off the common,
But let's the greater felon loose
That steals the common from the goose."
In other words, there is a duel standard in which the weak
and poor must suffer the full penalty of the law, but the rich