Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. -I Peter 2:13-14 (NKJV)
They said to Him, “Caesar’s.” And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. -Matthew 22:21 (NKJV)
Ever done something unlawful to another person, or had something unlawful done to you?
There are consequences for our actions. Though we are not of this world, and though we are passing through it, we are in it. We get sick, we age, and we die, as a consequence of original sin.
While we are here, we live in and are subject to the laws governing us where we live. Being believers does not put us in a position above or outside the laws of men. We are to shine God’s light while walking in step with the earthly laws and strictures of our day.
So, our interesting challenge is to square our obedience to God, followed by our obedience to the laws of men. Most of the time, that’s pretty simple. Neither God’s laws, nor the laws of men, want us to kill or willfully harm another person.
If you have sinned in God’s eyes against another, you need to earnestly ask forgiveness from the other person as well as God. If you have also broken an earthly law, there may be earthly consequences to pay, even if you are forgiven. Forgiveness doesn’t absolve us from the consequence of our sin!
As Christ followers traveling through this world, we honor God in facing up to our sins against Him and others, as well as taking on the consequences head on with grace. Jesus is our ultimate model in dealing with consequences: despite being blameless and sinless, He bore all of our sins, and His scourging and death was the price He paid with His life.
With His finished work to set the perspective, we can do no less than to exercise grace and responsibility for wrongdoing we commit or have inflicted upon us. How we handle it in a manner honoring God is where we differ from our unbelieving brethren.