Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Don't Do The Crime, If You Can't Do The Time

Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.
(Sammy Davis Jr. Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow. Capitol Records. 1976)

On the night of July 18th, a fire broke out in an extremely populous city. It began on a side of town where there were shops that sold flammable goods. The fire quickly spread and by most accounts, burned for five days. By the time the fire was contained, it had completely destroyed three and severely damaged seven of the fourteen city districts.

The year was 64 AD. Nero was the emperor of Rome. Some people of the day suspected that Nero started the fire. After all, he was known to do some strange things. There were many rumors about his activity during the fire. Some said he played the flute and others said he sang, while dressed in stage costume, while the city burned. Whatever the truth may be, he was certainly a suspect in the minds of the people of Rome, and began to receive some public blame for the fire.

When he realized that many were accusing him of starting the blaze, he did what most of us would do. Nero found a scapegoat. Nero decided to blame the Christians for almost destroying the city. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote of the events, Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace…Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.

Nero found his scapegoat in the Christians. An 18-year old in Winona, Minnesota, found a scapegoat in his dog. No, the dog didn’t eat his homework, he vomited on the young man. The man crashed his car into a utility pole and left it. Witnesses led police to the man who they saw “walking a beagle” near the accident. When police caught up with the man, they found out that he had no driver’s license or insurance. The only excuse he could come up with was a quick redirection. He told them that he crashed because the dog threw up on him. He got a ticket anyway.

We seldom take the blame for our bad choices. It’s much more convenient to place the blame on someone or something else. The problem is, many times we are guilty of the crimes we have been charged with. If we made a bad choice, why is it so hard to admit to it and take the punishment?

I read a story recently about a pastor who had to go to traffic court for an expired license plate. He listened to all of the people, who were before him, tell the barrage of stories illustrating why they were not guilty. He was very embarrassed to be there, but when it was his turn he spoke up to the judge and declared his guilt. The judge was so shocked by his admission, that he let him go with no charges and no fine.

We must all come to the place with Christ where we admit that we are guilty of sin. We have all come up short when it comes to His standards. When we try to sidestep or blame someone else, we insult our Creator. He knows our hearts. He knows our motivations. He is like the judge that knew the people were guilty of the crimes they were accused of. However, when we, like that pastor, will admit our wrongs, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Even though we are guilty, Jesus paid the price for that guilt. We are able to be free from blame, guilt, and eternal punishment, because Jesus died and rose again. Stop playing the “blame game” and admit your sins to Him. He will forgive and forget.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)


Rick Lannoye said...

There's a problem with your post--Jesus completely rejected the notion that God would ever hurt anyone to punish them! Sure, he said we should repent of evil, but he also said that God doesn't return evil for evil. In other words, there is no Hell, not according to Jesus.

I've actually written an entire book on this topic--Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at, but if I may, let me share just one of the many points I make in it to explain why.

If one is willing to look, there's substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: "You don't know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!" Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.

So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!

Stacy said...

Rick, I appreciate your comment. I don;t want to start a heated debate over the subject with you, but I would like to know what you do with the passages in the Gospels where Jesus refers to hell. Particularly Matthew 5:22-30, 10:28, 18:9, 23:15, 23:33; Mark 9:43-47; Luke 12:5.
I am not a pastor who is unwilling to see other points of view, and while I doubt that you can convince me to adopt your stance, I truly want to hear it.
Again, thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

On the contrary Rick; Jesus was so convinced of the existense of hell that He was willing to provide a way for us to avoid it. He currently holds the keys to hell, death, and the grave.

We know God beleives in hell. Aside from that point, to argue that Jesus does not believe in hell, you would have to somehow reconcile the issues this would cause between Jesus and God as well as thier plan to forgive mankind.