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My morning Psalms reading encompassed Psalm 53. I'm accustomed to the King James Version translation of this, which in verse one reads, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good." But I read the New American Standard Bible translation, which reads, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God,' They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice; There is no one who does good."

That word "injustice" surprised me this morning. I knew that Psalm talked about people committing iniquity: lawlessness, breaking the laws of God. But today I'm reading a translation that says this Psalm talks about people committing a particular type of iniquity: injustice.

Injustice is denying people the justice that is due to them.

And let me tell you that there is no bigger source of injustice in this world today than governments.

Governments take what does not belong to them. This is the sin of stealing, but they call it taxation. The Bible commands us to pay taxes when required of us. Romans 13:6 says that our taxes are rightfully collected from us when government defends us from those who do evil, whom verse 10 refers to as those who "do harm to a neighbor." But this verse does not authorize us to force others to pay for our defense! It does not authorize us personally to take the action of taxing others! In the complete absence of government force, human institutions would still exist that punish evildoers. They would just be funded without the sin of stealing. These funds could probably also be called "taxes," but they would not involve the injustice that exists today, where people authorize agents to commit the sin of stealing in their behalf. God has placed a sword into the hands of government, not into the hands of His Son's Church, which is explicitly commanded not to judge anyone outside of its number (I Corinthians 5).

Governments punish people for doing things that are not wrong. Isaiah pronounced "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20) Governments authorize themselves to perform evil actions, such as counterfeiting, restricting the liberty of free speech (this may not seem like a big deal, but did you know that our government revokes a church's tax exempt status if they start preaching specific actions which people must take about politics?), manstealing, and raising other people's children. In so doing, they are calling evil things good. (Only when they do it, though.)

Meanwhile, governments punish people for doing things that are not wrong. You need look only to the early modern homeschoolers who went to jail for trying to take control of the education of their children. Or the civil rights activists of the 1960's. Or anyone who ever practiced civil disobedience. Or anyone who gets fined in my town for holding a sale on his own property without paying the government for authorization, or for holding a fifth sale (I think we're allowed only four). Or the myriads of sinful and unjust licensing and regulatory requirements, such as the electrical code which I was told currently requires an electrical outlet in a strange, unsafe, and nearly unreachable place behind sinks when they are installed a certain way, and authorizes the local government to fine violaters (at its option, which means this can be enforced completely capriciously and arbitrarily, or even used as a tool against people who aren't favored by the local authorities for some reason). Thus, government calls good evil.

Nowhere in Scripture is government authorized to make law. And certainly nowhere are Christians authorized to participate, even though we are commanded to submit. As A.B. Dada says, "Personally, I think the 'live by their rules' [teaching of Romans 13] is far different from 'make the rules, and cheer when they're enforced.'"

God appointed kings and judges in His Old Testament nation, but it was clear that they were not permitted to take any action they wanted with impunity. They were required to render just verdicts in disputes. They were told they would be punished by God Himself if they accepted bribes, let the guilty go free, or sided against the innocent. God knew full well that a multitude might get together and choose to do evil and pervert justice (Exodus 23:2), might give unfair favoritism to poor people over rich people (Exodus 23:3), might sin against property owners because of covetousness, or might favor those who could afford to buy exemptions from the law (Exodus 23:8). Then as now, rulers could bow to the will of the people, or choose to abuse power for their own desires.

People think the "rule of law" was a great modern invention, where nobody is above the law and even governing officials are accountable to it, rather than simply changing the law as they please. But God invented this. It was revealed in Scripture, in both the Old Testament and the New. In fact, God's Law predated everything; I believe it is written into the very fabric of the universe in such a way that if we do not obey it, we will face inescapable natural consequences. We have no need of human institutions that can define law. We have no need of legislatures. What is wrong is wrong, and always has been; what is right is right, and always has been; and these are immutable truths which can be revealed by God and discovered by man, but never altered by human agency! And where is our rule of law now? Are our rulers also accountable to the law? Or are they permitted to make it up and modify it as they choose?

I'm not being outlandish in saying that government is the biggest perpetrator of injustice in this world. That does not mean it is the only source of injustice. But it does mean that it should be treated like any other.

What is my responsibility when I see other people sinning in this manner? Firstly, to warn them (Ezekiel 33). I am to be preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including the moral standards He laid down for all people to follow. But second, my responsibility includes recognizing that any mandate to judge them ends outside of the church: I Corinthians 5 specifically says that God will judge those outside. So I warn those involved in the evil that God is going to judge them, and if they do not listen and seek forgiveness in Jesus Christ, I eventually have a responsibility not to waste any more time with them and to protect myself from retaliation (Matthew 7:6, Matthew 10:14-15). Finally, I have the responsibility to make sure that I myself do not participate in their evil deeds! (Galatians 6:1) It should be obvious from the get-go that even if God allows people to persist in these sins of injustice, even if He works it to His own positive ends, I am not permitted to be a part of it. There is only one person I can control, and that is me. When I stand before the Lord at the end of my life, I will give an account for the actions I took. If I cooperated in perpetrating injustice, I will discover that I was a fool, a man who may not have been an atheist, but who effectively said in my heart "there is no God" by breaking God's law and believing that God would not hold me accountable.

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