The Sin of Enabling Criminal Behavior

Reading from Leviticus 10:1-7: “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.  And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord.  Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spoke, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.  And Aaron held his peace.  And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp.  So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.  And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kindled.  And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the Lord is upon you.  And they did according to the word of Moses.”

In this passage God kills two of the sons of Aaron, Israel’s High Priest, for presumptuously not following His instructions.  They innovated and tried to add showmanship and theatrics to the true God’s ordained worship.  God gave testimony concerning their wickedness by killing them.  Aaron wisely didn’t contend with this verdict nor publicly demonstrate any grievance concerning it.  God further instructed Aaron and his other two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, not to mourn with the rest of the people over this drastic action but to continue steadfast in their duties in relation to God’s ordained worship in the tabernacle which had been raised for that purpose.  Other relatives carried Aaron’s two dead sons, Nadab and Abihu, out of the camp.    

God had actually given the service of Priesthood to the tribe of Levi, the tribe which Aaron descended from, because of how they stood on the Lord’s side with Moses against the hardened idolaters who obstinately defended the great sin of the Golden Calf which was introduced to Israel (ironically, introduced through pressure on Aaron to make it and to endorse it).

Exodus 32:15-29: “And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.  And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.  And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.  And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.  And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mount.  And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.  And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?  And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou knowest the people, that they are set on mischief.  For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot (know)  not what is become of him.  And I said unto them, Whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off.  So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.  And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:)  Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side?  let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.  And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.  And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.  For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.”

Look at the commentary about this much later on in Deuteronomy.  Deuteronomy 33:9-11: “Who (the tribe of Levi) said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word (God’s word), and kept thy covenant.  They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.  Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands; smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again.”

The tribe of Levi was chosen to minister in God’s worship and teach Israel on the basis that the Levites were the most forward of Israel’s twelve tribes to execute God-ordained justice and vengeance on the obstinate idolaters in their very own families!  Without this resolve to choose righteousness in God’s eyes, one cannot faithfully teach what God requires because one cannot faithfully do righteousness in God’s eyes without such a resolve.  

Consider then Jesus’ words in the Gospels which stem from this principle (and of course other key foundational Bible principles too).

Luke 14:25-27: “And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”

Consider also how God rebuked Israel’s priests later on in the Book of Malachi when the Priesthood had become increasingly corrupt, and hence very vile in His sight (and look at what it had become by the time Jesus came!).  

Malachi 2:1-9: “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.  If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.  Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.  And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.  My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.  The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity (lawlessness) was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity (lawlessness).  For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.  But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.  Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.”

In relation to our topic here then, Ecclesiastes 8:11 says: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.”

We see in the New Testament, in Romans chapter 13:1-7, that God has still ordained human governments (inevitably composed of mortal men, by the way) to carry out His principles of justice on earth.  And God has ordained the death penalty for certain crimes which He deems the best remedy for to involve the death of the perpetrator.  You cannot even be a faithful Christian if you do not agree with this nor if you obstruct such justice knowingly in any way.  And this is all consistent with, and even obviously a necessary component of, our duty of love towards all men, as is evidenced by reading on through Romans chapter 13.  In the verses leading up to Romans chapter 13, the Christians are instructed to love their enemies on a personal level (obviously not eliminating their right to defend themselves, not eliminating their duty to stand against criminal action, and not saying they shouldn’t report crime to judicial authorities, as Romans 13 goes on to prove).  And where does this instruction about love of enemies originate from?  The Old Testament.  Romans 12:17-21 contains a quote from the Book of Proverbs.  

Romans 12:17-21: “Recompense to no man evil for evil.  Provide things honest in the sight of all men.  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.  Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written (in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs), Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.  Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

And continuing in the passage (remember that there were no chapter breaks in the original books of Scripture), we see that none of this teaches against the vengeance of criminal actions by the State and none of this teaches against the need to support the vengeance of criminal actions by the State.

Romans 13:1-7: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.  Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.  For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is 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.  Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.  For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

It is only logical then to conclude that those who oppose law and order being carried out on earth contend with God’s severity towards sin and have contention with God’s very own Government.  They would dethrone God if they had the power to do so.  There are plenty of ways that a person can have contention with God and practically seek to dethrone Him, even if they do support law and order being carried out on earth.  Mankind in general wants God to lighten up on His demands and wants to believe that the consequences of living in sin will not really be that bad.  This fits right in with the enablement of criminal behavior.  

Law and order being properly carried out in this fallen world, and especially the death penalty being properly carried out, preview the horror of the wicked on Judgment Day when the concept that God’s demands and threats in Scripture weren’t really what they appeared to be, when taken at face value, is proven to be a vain and damnable lie.  People generally tell themselves that, when it is all said and done, God will spare them from hell though they refuse to suffer for righteousness and rather choose to walk contrary to Him and continue in sin.  Yet God has made it known in His Word that He is not going to spare those who continue in sin and obey not Christ’s Gospel from the eternal fire of hell.  He will rather send them away weeping and wailing into the fire of hell for eternity like the righteous condemnation of criminals in this life is intended to preview.  A convicted criminal screaming and/or crying as he is led off to face the sentence which his deeds have made proper for him tells everyone else that we will indeed reap what we sow.  And to those who take heed like they ought to, the message is sent that God does not lighten up on His righteous demands to accommodate man; and that the consequences of living in sin will surely be drastic and unbearable. 

The need to surrender yourself to God through His Son the Lord Jesus, while totally breaking off from the pleasures and perceived securities which sin brings, is the strict condition of obtaining God’s mercy through Jesus Christ.  And one aspect of this is even agreeing to support criminal punishment for those who are indeed proven guilty- even if they are your own relatives or friends.  There is no other way to avoid partiality in God’s Law and being a respecter of persons (see Deuteronomy 13:6-11, Matthew 10:34-39, and Luke 14:25-27). 

Consider: Micah 6:8: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Proverbs 28:4: “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them.”

Psalm 15: “Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle?  who shall dwell in thy holy hill?  He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.  He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbor, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbor.  In whose eyes a vile person is contemned (including those of one’s family or race or whatever camp one identifies with) but he honoreth them that fear the Lord.  He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.  He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent.  He that doeth these things shall never be moved.”

Consider the implications of passages like Psalm 82.  Since God rebukes the mighty ones of the earth for their corruption and perverting of justice, then such rebuke obviously also applies to all who promote corruption and pervert justice by in any way enabling criminal behavior and opposing justice being carried out towards anyone who is guilty.  Never did the holy men who wrote Scripture consider that anarchy and abandoning the justice system is the solution for earth’s problems.  No, they rather longed for actual justice to prevail and appealed to God to intervene where bribery and other forms of corruption in the justice system were causing criminal action to prevail on earth.

Psalm 82: “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.  How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked?  Selah.  Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.  They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.  I have said, Ye are gods (mighty ones); and all of you are children of the most High (God created them and they are accountable to Him).  But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.  Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.”

Every criminal deed which goes unpunished potentially enables others to act criminally.

Psalm 12:8: “The wicked walk on every side, when the vilest men are exalted.”

On the other hand, future criminal action is potentially deterred whenever a criminal is punished consistent with their deeds.

Proverbs 19:25: “Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge.”

These principles don’t just apply to the State punishing criminal action which properly falls under the State’s jurisdiction.  These principles also apply to homes and churches in relation to bad behavior which falls under their jurisdiction (consider that the father of the Prodigal Son didn’t tolerate sin being practiced in his home and the son knew that he had to put his sin away to come back home; see this principle applied to churches in 1 Corinthians chapter 5).

Mankind’s overall miserable condition on earth reflects the truth that our fall in sin is deep and very serious.  We tend to want to believe that our prognosis is not so bad, but choosing to believe in a lying prognosis is in itself fighting God and kicking against the verdict which He has laid down.  This is a key reason why places like Disney World are so evil (not even considering the occultic and perverted stuff which they also promote).  The essence of the Disney spirit is the concept that “we’re in paradise now and all is happy” when that is simply not so.  Opposing God-ordained punishment of criminal behavior on earth is to enable a lying prognosis and further kick against the verdict which God laid down concerning mankind after his fall into sin.  It will not end well for those who do this.  The Ultimate Judge will rise up, and those out of line with His righteous standards, including His principles of justice being applied in society, will surely know His wrath firsthand in the end.

Revelation 11:15-19: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.  And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.  And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy (morally corrupt) the earth.  And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.”

Aaron’s email is: [email protected]