Facing the Consequences: We Are Without Excuse
For a while I was part of a sportsman’s ministry that hosted a class for the required Hunter’s Safety course in Missouri. There was always one issue that stumped even some of the students’ parents who were well versed in hunting. It was the idea that if you violated a game law—knowingly or unknowingly—you were still acting illegally and could be subject to the consequences.
It is the sportsman’s responsibility to know, understand, and honor the game laws that each government entity has set forth. The issue in the field becomes, “If you truly did not know you were breaking this law, what was the reason?” Is it not spelled out clearly in the wildlife code? Did you not research the issue? Or did you simply reject the law’s authority? If a law is written unclearly and we didn’t seek help in understanding, or if we didn’t research the issue and it is spelled out in the wildlife code, we are guilty of negligence. Why? The law existed and we broke it. If we simply chose to disobey the law, then we are guilty of intentionally breaking it. Whether we agree with the law or not, we are still guilty. No matter the situation, obeying that specific law is our responsibility.
There is no excuse for breaking God’s law.
We are without excuse for breaking the law as long as it is spelled out in some way. We are then at the mercy of the wildlife agent to either show mercy or impose the full consequence of our guilt. The same is true when it comes to keeping God’s law. In his commentary on the book of Romans, the nineteenth-century pastor and theologian Charles Spurgeon writes the following:
Men who never heard the gospel can see God in his works if they open their eyes. There is written upon the face of nature enough to condemn men if they do not turn to God. There is a gospel of the sea, and of the heavens, of the stars, and of the sun; and if men will not read it, they are guilty, for they are willfully ignorant of what they might know, and ought to know.
God has revealed to us a great deal about himself not only in his word but also in creation. Romans 1:18-32 reveals to us that our failure to acknowledge God’s existence and authority does not excuse us from his righteous judgment of our souls:
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Rom. 1:20)
The trouble is, this is the condition of all of humanity (Ps. 51:4-5). Beginning with Adam and Eve, we have rejected God’s authority over what he has created, assumed our own authority, and have therefore sought to dismiss ourselves from God’s judgment. But a natural person who rejects God’s existence and authority can no more dismiss himself from God’s eternal judgment than a dead man can dismiss himself from his grave. We need an advocate—an intercessor.
The consequence of Jesus’ death and resurrection is eternal life.
Just as the consequence of sin is eternal death (Rom. 6:23), the consequence of Jesus’ death and resurrection is eternal life for all who believe in him (John 3:16). It is only in Jesus that the punishment we deserve for our sin against God is satisfied. We are without excuse for breaking the sovereign law of God, but God’s love is more powerful, breaking believers free from the chains of guilt they wore outside of Christ.
It is only by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone that we are justified before God’s holiness.
Jim Richman is a pastor, blogger, and outdoorsman. He is the owner of Journal of a Christian Sportsman, a blog for Christian outdoorsmen from around the world. To find out more about Jim, you can see his full bio here.
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