It is an innate human instinct to believe in the principle of justice. Every culture/civilization in human history recognizes the need for a rule of law and the administration of justice. Every human is programmed to cry out for justice when wrong is committed. Who would not agree that every murderer, rapist, thief, etc. should be punished? We may disagree on the type of punishment necessary, but we all agree that without punishment or payment of some description, there is no justice. Every human being has a conscience which is a God-given attribute to guide us on morality. It is possible to suppress or ignore our conscience but this provides strong evidence that our maker has given us an instinct of morality. We need to understand what God’s standards are.
There is also an innate human instinct to desire an incorruptible, just judge – someone to appeal to when laws of morality are broken. There is only one person qualified to fulfil this role and that is God himself. As creator and sustainer of the universe, He is the only person who can act as a righteous judge.
The Bible tells us in many places that we will all meet The Lord Jesus Christ one day for judgment:
But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10)
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
When you appear before the judgment seat of Christ, how do you think you will fare? I imagine most people feel that the worst type of lawbreakers will be punished and sent to Hell , but that most people will be welcomed into Heaven. God has given us His law as a means of showing us right from wrong.
The law can essentially be summed up with the 10 commandments that God wrote with his own finger! Jesus states that this law is still relevant to humanity today and often used the law to convict people of their own sin. His says in Matthew 5:17-19:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
In Galatians 3:24, Paul says:
Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Galatians 3:24)
Therefore, we must use the law and examine ourselves against God’s law to see how we measure up in Gods eyes. It makes no sense to make up our own rules of morality if it is God’s standards we will be judged by. Gods law never changes, unlike cultural moral standards, but the way these laws are applied may be different given the way Western culture has changed. Lets take a look at the 10 commandments and see how they would apply to us today?
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3)
Have you always put God’s will at the forefront of every decision you’ve made? Has every decision (including career, family, relationships etc) been made with the primary intention and aim of giving glory and honour to God?
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing…thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them… (Exodus 20:4,5)
Have you ever put your service to anyone (boss, family member etc) in front of your service to God? Have you ever idolized a sports player or chanted their name? Have you idolized a sports team, actor/ess or music band etc? Have you ever bowed to any image (even a cross) or any other religious symbol? Have you ever engaged in any occult activity including spiritualism, horoscopes, etc.?
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain… (Exodus 20:7)
Have you ever used God’s name as a curse word. I constantly hear the OMG phrase around me – this is taking God’s name in vain – are you guilty of this? There are many other examples, but lets just say that any irreverent use of Gods name or Jesus name is contrary to this commandment and makes the person guilty of bringing the name of God Almighty down to the level of other profanities.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8)
Have you always abstained from work for one day out of seven to set it aside to meditate on the things of God? Have you left one day aside each week and dedicated in to the work of God?
5. Honor thy father and thy mother… (Exodus 20:12)
Have you always treated your parents with dignity and respect? Have you been completely obedient ever since you were a young child and never questioned their authority?
6. Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13)
Jesus helps us with this commandment in Matthew 6:21-22 where he says, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment…”. This is very sobering – God, who knows the thoughts of everyone, defines “killing” as being angry without a cause. Have you ever been angry with someone and then realized there was no reason to be? Can you be certain that every time you have been angry with someone, it was entirely justified? This commandment would obviously also cover more modern examples of killing including abortion, euthanasia, etc.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14)
Again, Jesus helps with this definition in Matthew 5:28: “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”. If you have ever looked with lust, we are guilty of adultery. If you have engaged in sexual activity in anything other than married relationship (including sex before marriage) then you are guilty of adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:15)
Have you ever stolen any item regardless of the value? Have you ever stolen from your boss or the government by making up or exaggerating a claim form? Have you stolen time by leaving work early or arriving late and still getting paid for that time?
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (Exodus 20:16)
Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever exaggerated the truth? Could you have ever been guilty of gossip or slander?
10. Thou shalt not covet… (Exodus 20:17)
Have you ever looked at someone else’s house, wife (or husband), car, income or any other possession and wished you owned for yourself? This is a very tough commandment to obey, particularly in Western culture with our materialistic and comfortable lifestyles! Even thinking or dreaming about what it would like to have someone that belongs to someone else is coveting!
I suspect that every human being in history (except Jesus Christ!) is guilty of breaking every one of these commandments at least once, especially if we use Jesus definition of the commandments. Even if you maintain that you haven’t broken all of them and want to disagree with Jesus definition of some them, I am certain that every human has broken at least one of the ten commandments! Jesus summed the law up for us in Matthew 22:37-40 where He says:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)
This should leave us no doubt that we are guilty – no one can claim to have ALWAYS obeyed these two commandments without slipping up once.
The following two passages make our standing before God very clear:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)
So, given that we are guilty of breaking God’s law, what punishment can we expect?
God is completely pure and holy. It is impossible to fully comprehend what this means, but we can be sure that it is impossible to have the presence of any sin before God. Jesus regularly warned of the reality of either heaven or hell as a destiny for all humanity. If God were to allow a person with even one small imperfection to enter heaven, heaven would no longer be perfect!
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27)
Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)
This leaves mankind in a dire situation before God. If God were to simply forgive and forget sin, this would compromise His attribute of justice. Sin has to be paid for otherwise we can never be in the presence of God and by extension, never enter into heaven. It is important to point out that in our current fallen state, it is impossible for us to keep all of the God’s laws. The purpose of the law is NOT just to convict us of our sin, but always to cause us to turn TOWARDS God, NOT away from Him! We have to recognise and admit our sin before God – it is this attitude of humble repentance that leads us to Christ! Despite our serious predicament, we DO have a way out – see our How to be saved page!
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2)