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Let God be true and every man a liar

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Tue Dec 18, 2012

Editor: Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount referred to His disciples as the salt of the earth, and so too are His followers today for the purpose of preserving righteousness in the land. I have written on the topic of the death penalty before. Yet still, it is necessary for me to do so again, as I am commanded to contend for the faith of Christ.{{more}}

It is always good when reading the scriptures to read the chapter to the end. In an account of Genesis 4, where Cain slew his brother Abel, we understand that his punishment was one where he became a fugitive and a vagabond and he exclaims that his punishment was too great for him to bear. The Bible shows in the same account that he bore children and one called Le’mech committed the same crime that his father did and said “I have slain a man to my wounding and a young man to my hurt if Cain shall be avenged seventyfold, truly La’mech seventy and sevenfold.”
 
Hence we see from this account the presumptuousness of La’mech after murdering two men and this is the influence of the first murderer on the earth. Chapter 6 of Genesis speaks of the destruction of the earth by flood due to the wickedness of man where evil was spread rapidly. Is it God’s intention for all murderers to not face the death penalty? No! After the flood he set forth this great principle “whoso sheddeth man’s blood by man shall his blood be shed.” Genesis 9:6

What does the Sermon on the Mount teach us? Does it abolish the principles set down by Yahweh to civilize humanity in the first witness (Old Testament)? No it doesn’t! For God wants men to experience brotherly love since in the first witness. After the giving of the ten commandments, Moses said unto the people, “fear not, for God has come to prove you, that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not” (uncivilized or lawless behaviour) Exodus 20:2. Here we see that God gave his commandments to civilize men, to prevent all the sinful (anti-right) behaviours that are shown forth in the characters of men. What does the word civilize means? “Civilize . . . To bring out of a savage state; to introduce order and civic organization among; to refine and enlighten; to elevate in social life,” the lexicon Webster Dictionary Vol.1, pg. 184. The principle set forth in the Sermon on the Mount is one that calls for genuine conversion so that one may be able “to enter into the kingdom of heaven”. Christ said “…that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven”, for they went about to establish their own righteousness have not submitted to the righteousness of God, Matthew 5:20, Romans 10:3.
 
Christ sought to show that our standard for righteousness in not of man, however, it is of God. Hence his words “be ye therefore perfect even as you Father in heaven is perfect” Mathew 5 :48. That is genuine righteousness – holiness in mind, motive and action. He is not saying to the Christian to act like the state (legal fraternity) to administer punishment for evil doers. He is saying to love your neighbour as yourself.

On the issue of the death of Christ, do his words “Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do” mean to let the criminal get off? No! Justice and judgment are the habitation of the throne of God. He is the source of equity and justice (Psalms 89:14, Proverbs 16:11). For this reason, Christ hath shown that we must answer to Caesar and we must answer to God, since “there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. For by him were all thing created…whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities or powers…” Mark 12:17, Romans 13:1, Colossians 1: 16. We ought to surrender to this authority as long as it is in harmony with the protection of the rights and freedoms of all as outlined in Romans chapter 13:1-7. This system is called a social contract. In the book of 1st Samuel the principle of a social contract is shown: “Then all the elders of the Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, and said to him, behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge over us like all the other nations.” The principle is for leaders to bring about social order or civility through the imposition of sanctions for deviant behaviours. When this is done, deviant behaviours are counteracted and social order is maintained. So Paul is right, “the powers that be are the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil, Romans 13:3, 4.
 
The state is not given the mandate to be the saviour, Christ is already the saviour; it is given the mandate to bring about social order or the protection of the rights of man, through just punishment.

Karima Parris

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