The Problem with Treating Crime Like a Disease

Many people believe the punishment of a crime should not be viewed as a penalty the criminal deserves; it should be understood as rehabilitation that works to cure the criminal. These people believe this way is more humane and will keep people from being treated unjustly. However, it is important to remember that if you remove the idea of penalty from the corrective action, you also remove the possibility of justice. In treating criminals as patients, any treatment can be justified, as long as necessary, in the name of a cure provided it is done with the “best interest” of the offender in mind.

Another belief is that this theory tends to be more merciful, but in reality, just as it destroys the concept of justice, it also destroys the possibility of mercy. For if a just penalty was deserved, then an actual pardon or mercy could be given, but if we view the criminal as ill, then it would never be merciful to withhold treatment.

The following quote by C.S. Lewis also provides us with a glimpse of how quickly this theory can spiral downward. “If crimes are diseases, why should diseases be treated any differently from crimes? And who but the experts can define disease? One school of psychology regards my religion as a neurosis. If this neurosis ever becomes inconvenient to Government, what is to prevent my being subjected to a compulsory ‘cure’? It may be painful; treatments sometimes are. But it will be no use asking, ‘what have I done to deserve this?’ The Straightener will reply: ‘But, my dear fellow, no one’s blaming you. We no longer believe in retributive justice. We’re healing you.”

Secular ideas like this rarely stay in the political realm. They either originate from bad theology or find there way there. In denying a just penalty for crime, most people will also deny a just penalty for sin, thus denying the gospel. Jesus was our substitute. On the cross, he bore just penalty for our sins, the wrath of God. Yes, it is true that he also heals us, but the healing of our sin-sick soul is not the basis of our salvation. The atoning work of Christ on the cross is the root, and our new life in Christ is the fruit. Since our Father is a just God, our sanctification would not be possible had his wrath not been satisfied.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5

-D. Eaton

Related: Either God must punish sin, or there is no need for forgiveness.

Godliness with Contentment is Great Gain

Godliness with contentment is great gain! – 1 Timothy 6:6

True godliness produces and strengthens contentment; and contentment is the calm sunshine of a man’s life. We do not mean sitting down in idleness, feeling at home in filth, or indulging in negligence; this would be a disgrace to any creature, especially a professing Christian! But contentment is connected with honest industry, general purity, and a concern for the honor of God.

True contentment springs from acknowledging and eyeing God’s providence, whose “tender mercies are over all His works.” It is a bowing to His will as the infinitely wise and invariably good; believing the promises He has given; expecting the provision He has made; and feeling satisfied to share in the common lot with His people.

Contented Christians prize spiritual blessings before temporal, and live sensible of their demerit and desert. They know that everything short of Hell is a favor and that the glories of Heaven will more than make amends for all the toils and privations of this world’s wilderness pilgrimage. They do not expect to find rest below, or a paradise in the desert of this world. They are persuaded, “that all things work together for good, to those who love God, and are the called according to His purpose.”

Pride is slain, and humility flourishes; for pride is the parent of discontent, ingratitude, peevishness, rebellion against God, and many other evils. While humility produces contentment, patience, gratitude, submission to the will of God, and many other virtues.

The godly who are contented are rich for they have a good fortune! They have inward peace and satisfaction of mind which are better than gold! They are filled with gratitude and thankfulness to God which are better than a large estate! They have love to God and delight in Him which are preferable to a splendid mansion! They have a joyful anticipation of eternal glory, of being acknowledged as the sons of God, and fellow-heirs of Jesus which is to be esteemed above all the titles and honors of this perishing world!

They contentedly live in the enjoyment of what they now have realizing that their glorious portion is yet to come! Their aspirations are on the same level as their earthly condition hence, they are strangers to fretfulness, murmuring, and the constant vexations which most men experience. They prove that, “Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.”

Reader, are you a godly person? Are you acquainted with God as your God, your Friend, your Father? Are you contented with your place, portion, and prospect in this perishing world! If so, you have a good fortune!

-James Smith

Everything Short of Hell is Mercy

How is it possible for any of us to live without a heart full of gratitude when everything short of hell is mercy? If we are not facing the the wrath of everlasting punishment at this moment, we are not getting what we deserve. That is true for every Christian and non-Christian alive right now.

We have a tendency to look at the way things are and assume that is the way it should be. We look at the life of an average person and think we deserve that at least. That misleading assumption is spewed forth by the father of lies and exists for the soul purpose of making our hearts cold toward the Lord of Mercy.

Our ingratitude, alone, is sin enough to condemn us for all eternity, yet here we sit, surrounded by so many pleasures of life and taking them for granted. To help us keep things in perspective, here are a few things that are better than what we deserve.

  • Cancer
  • Poverty
  • Betrayal
  • Depression
  • Prison
  • Loss of Loved Ones
  • Blindness
  • Persecution
  • Ridicule
  • Conflict at work
  • Catching a cold
  • Loss of a Presidential election
  • Traffic
  • Fuel Prices
  • A long line at the grocery store
  • Spotty wifi
  • Being on hold with the internet company for 20 minutes
  • An online delivery being delayed
  • Going to work tired
  • Someone saying something upsetting on social media
  • A sermon being a little dry
  • The worship leader singing a song we do not like

It is amazing how much time we can spend complaining about the items at the bottom of the list, especially in light of the items at the top of the list. Yet, the entire list is mercy compared to hell.

For those who reject Christ, everything on this list will soon come to an end. When the mercy ends, the list above will seem like heaven compared to what they will be facing for all eternity. They will go from mercy to justice.

For those who come to Jesus in faith, all of this will soon come to an end for them as well. Christian, your pain and frustrations are only temporary. You will soon enter into the presence of the king where there will be no more tears or sorrow. You will go from mercy to mercy. Hold on for just a little longer.

No matter what we are facing, we have every reason to rejoice in the Lord at this moment. Meditate on this truth, and let it flood your heart with gratitude, especially as we move into the Thanksgiving holiday. He is a good and gracious King.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. – Philippians 4:4

-D. Eaton

Anchored to the Distant Shore

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:18-19

Even as Christians, the greatest storm we face is the sin that rages in us. It crouches at our door, its desire is for us, and its only fruit is destruction. It threatens to sear our consciences, hinder our prayers, and even cause our love for Christ to grow cold. But even when we fail, and some of these things begin to be seen in our lives, let us never forget that our God will have compassion on His children. He delights in mercy, He will turn again to us to subdue our iniquities, and cast’s our sins to the depths of the sea.

Do you see dear believer what hope is found in this Scripture? God is not looking to help you because you have been perfect and you deserve to be helped. He desires to pardon your iniquity. He knows you have sinned and need to be delivered. He has placed the wrath that your sins deserve on Christ your substitution. And though your sinful heart still threatens to toss you where it will, like a lost vessel on an angry sea, our God anchors you with a strong and secure hope.

Grab hold of Christ who is that hope. Like an anchor securing a ship on a stormy sea has plunged beneath the veil of the water and cannot be seen, so Christ has entered within the veil; where he has gone as a forerunner on your behalf (Heb. 6:17). And though we cannot see Him at this moment, the hope he has given us is like a secure chain anchored to the throne of God, which is pulling us home through the tumultuous sea.

As the storms grow stronger, by His grace He strengthens our hold upon this hope, as we learn that nothing else can save us. The tighter we hold to our hope, the more tight the line between us and our true home becomes, until we can feel it pulling us homeward.

Though the storms of sin surround, take heart that your sins have been removed, and you are anchored to the distant shore through Christ. Fear not, for no surer hope has ever been tested, and as your love for this world slowly weakens, you will notice the chain between you and your true home has become that much shorter. When you see this, you will know He has turned to you, and is having compassion upon you, because this is work that only He can do.

Let us end with a short verse by Charles Spurgeon, who inspired most of the content of this devotion.

Let the winds blow, and billows roll,
Hope is the anchor of my soul.
But can I by so slight a tie,
And unseen hope, on God rely?
Steadfast and sure, it cannot fail,
It enters deep within the veil,
It fastens on a land unknown,
And moors me to my Father’s throne.

D. Eaton

The Valley of Achor (Hosea 2:6-15)

This morning I had the privilege of preaching at Bethel Grace Baptist Church. The sermon is one that was heavy, but I pray, in the end, lifts you up. We serve a sovereign God, and any suffering you experience in this life will not be wasted. Often, it is in that valley that you hear the Lord speaking tenderly to you.

The video is of the entire church service, but the sermon begins around the 40 min mark. Click to the link below to watch on YouTube.

The Valley of Achor

Considering Our Calling

APrayerLord, You are marvelously powerful, and Your power moves in ways unseen to most of us. No grandiose displays of might are needed to move the hearts of men, though they are all around us in nature. It took a hidden call to our hearts.

We had built fortresses of wisdom to protect ourselves from You, but you destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning (1 Cor. 1:19), And You did it through the message of the cross. A word that is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

We know, from your word, that the natural man does not accept this message because it is spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). We understand that our sin had us bound so that we were unable to receive your truth without you first breaking the bonds of our corrupt natures, false wisdom, and arguments.

We praise You, Lord, for Your unseen power that set us free and gave us new birth. As we consider our calling, that miraculous work of grace in our hearts, we know it is because You chose us (1 Cor. 1:26-27), and not because of any good in us. It was entirely of Your mercy and grace.

We still live in a world that considers your truth foolish. Make us willing to bear the reproach of the world by taking up our cross daily by conforming us to Your image. For, as we spread the good news of the gospel, we know You will be secretly, and mightily, calling others to Yourself as well.

With grateful hearts, we praise You for Your wonderful work of power that set us free from the slavery of our own sinful natures. You are gloriously merciful.