Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man.
–Genesis 9:6

Scripture says we are supposed to forgive others in the same way that God forgives us. What does God do for us when He forgives us? When we trust in Christ, God removes the eternal consequences for our sins, but He doesn’t necessarily remove the temporary consequences of our sins. Why does God often allow forgiven people to experience the consequences of their sins?

Consequences promote order in society. One day, golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez had a friend in the car with him. They approached an intersection, and Chi Chi ran a red light. His friend cried out, “Why did you run that red light?” Chi Chi said, “My brother taught me to drive. My brother doesn’t stop for red lights, so I don’t stop for red lights.” They came to a second intersection, and Chi Chi sped through another red light. His passenger exclaimed, “Chi Chi, you are going to kill us! Why didn’t you stop?” He said, “Didn’t you hear me? My brother taught me to drive. He doesn’t stop for red lights; I don’t stop for red lights.” They came to a third intersection, and the light was green. Chi Chi slammed on the brakes and looked both directions. His friend said, “Why did you stop at the green light?” Chi Chi said, “My brother might be coming.”

What would it be like to live in a world in which there were no red lights? What if there were no rules, no laws–everybody could do whatever they wanted to do? If your boss ticks you off, kill him. If you are short of money, steal some. If your neighbor’s wife excites you, sleep with her.

The world was like that at one time. We find the description in Genesis 6: “The earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence” (v. 11). After the flood, God established government to maintain order in society by imposing His laws on the world. Some people say, “You can’t legislate morality.” Of course you can. Every law is an attempt to regulate people’s behavior. The question is not, are we going to legislate morality? It’s, whose morality are we going to legislate? God intended government to legislate morality. The first law God established was capital punishment: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). If somebody kills another person, then that person’s life is to be taken. God expects consequences to maintain order in society.

Let me make an important application. The parent who posts bail for his son accused of drunk driving, the church leader who covers up the sin of another church member, the person who petitions for leniency against his child’s killer–they may all have the right motives, but they are short-circuiting God’s plan to keep order in society, in that family, or in that church by having people experience the consequences for their sins. That is God’s way to keep order.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Why Forgiven People Must Still Sit in the Electric Chair” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.