Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny. [Matthew 5:25-26 ESV]
In these verses the word “accuser” means someone who has a justified claim or accusation against another. A “judge” is given the responsibility to uphold every law strictly. Finally, the “guard” is another delegated to carry out sentence. Each has their place in the justice of God. All consequences are determined by the violation of a law and rebellion against the One who gave the law.
In these verses the accuser is Jesus, the Creator of all and the Author of the Law. He is not the judge. That position is held by God, the Father, who will judge each man’s works according to the righteous life of His Son. Finally, the officer is the Holy Spirit who will carry out sentence, either guaranteeing our place before God or removing those who are not His from His presence.
God’s image in man comprises many elements. Some specific elements are the mind, or the intelligence, the moral-emotional being, or that which interprets the righteous and just standard of God, and the will. Our minds tell us to do something based on the evidence. Our moral-emotional self warns us of the danger of violating God’s known law. Yet, our corrupted nature suggests we use our intelligence and the moral-emotional to rationalize and excuse sin. Our will acts upon the thinking of our hearts. Rebellion involves the whole person.
Adam and Eve committed one act of willful rebellion and separated themselves and all people from God. Jesus Christ did one disciplined act of obedience and made a way for any to not be separated from God.
Volumes have been written discussing the willful act of rebellion committed by Adam and Eve. Even more volumes have been written and preached presenting the passionate obedience of Christ and the grace offered.
God has a reasonable expectation His commands be obeyed. Adam was given one prohibition. Adam could have confronted the lies of the Serpent with the truth of God. Eve’s response to the lie of the Serpent was to add to the prohibition of God. Adam complacently acquiesced to Eve’s rationalized addition to the command of God.
Eve’s whole person, the image of God in her, was misused to excuse her rebellious action. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” [Genesis 3:6 ESV].
She saw the evidence of the goodness of the tree and its fruit. She delighted in what she saw. She desired the fruit because she knew it would make her as wise as God. Or so she thought. She thought God was keeping from her something which would benefit her.
Living within God’s boundaries, placed not to constrain but to allow the whole person to have a relationship with Him, is true freedom. How can there be true freedom when there are boundaries?
When we try to be something we are not we rebel against God’s design and purpose. We have intelligence and a moral foundation, our emotions telling us when God’s moral standard is being violated or upheld. He created Adam as His servant and gave him dominion over the earth. With one deliberate constraint, to not eat the forbidden fruit, Adam reigned everywhere and over all things. When he ate that which was forbidden he introduced to the world grief beyond comprehension.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” [Genesis 3:7-8 ESV].
They hid from Him who would judge them. It is obvious to us they should not have eaten the forbidden fruit. Nor should they have covered themselves or hidden from God. They did all of these things and then offered excuses for their rebellion. They were caught. God had already told them the consequences of a single act of rebellion. Hiding from Him would not lessen the judgment.
We all sin. Our freedom in Christ is to come before the Judge, admit and confess the sin and know He has forgiven us because of the Cross. This is “come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” [Matthew 5:25-26 ESV]