Sin and Crime
A sin is any thought or action that is prohibited by God. A crime is
defined as a breach of a rule or law for which a punishment may be
prescribed by a governing authority . The English word crime come the
Latin word "crimen" and Greek word "krino" meaning judge. In this article,
I use the word crime for any breach of a
law that is punishable by judges.
Biblical law distinguishes between
crime and sin. Judges do not deal with all sin. They are limited to
dealing with crimes.
According to the Old Testament, only a few sins are also crimes. For
example, coveting is listed as a sin in the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:17),
but there is no punishment specified for coveting. Although coveting is
a sin, it is not a crime. The obvious reason for this is that it would
be impossible to prove to a judge that a person is coveting. No one can
testify that another person is coveting, because we cannot see into
another person’s mind.
This places a clear limit on the power of
judges. They can only punish actions. They must not attempt to control
our thoughts. Judges are not required to eliminate all sin, as this
would be impossible. Their role is limited to punishing the few sins
that really disrupt the functioning of society.
Theft is specified as a sin in the Ten Commandments, but in this case
the bible also specifies a punishment. This means that theft is both a
sin and a crime (Ex 22:1-4). Once a man acts on his coveting and steals
from his neighbour, judges have authority to act against him. His
actions are visible, so witnesses can observe and testify against him. This
provides judges with a basis for dealing with theft.
Crimes are a small subset of all of sins. They can be identified by determining whether biblical law specifies
a remedy or penalty. If a sanction is specified, the sin is the crime.
If there is no sanction, the sin is not a crime.
Human judges have no authority to deal with sins that are not
specified to be a crime, because God has reserved them for himself. He
can see into people’s hearts, so he is best placed to deal with them.
The surprising truth is
that God has specified only two types of sin for which remedy or
punishment can be imposed by a human court.
In a biblical system of justice, judges are limited to dealing with
the two types of activity.
- Theft or damage to property
- Physical injury to a human person.
Penalties for Crime
The Bible specifies the penalties that judges must apply for each
crime. These penalties are still relevant in the modern world. The most
surprising thing is that there are not prisons are not mentioned.
Prisons have no place in God’s justice system. There are no prisons
in biblical law, so it is not surprising that prisons do not work. They
put criminals together in one place and cut them off from the rest of
society for long periods of time. Prisoners will learn to hate society,
so they are unlikely to be reformed.
The Old Testament allows a person to be held in custody while waiting
for their trial, but this should be only for a brief time.
They put him in custody until the will of the LORD should be made
clear to them (Lev 24:12, see also Num 15:34).
In most cases keeping a person in his home should be sufficient.
Justice should be administered quickly, so long periods in custody
should be unnecessary. There is no biblical basis for locking people up
as a punishment for crime.
Sometimes a person accused of murder may need to be kept safe from
people seeking revenge. The leaders of a community are required to
protect the accused person until a fair trial can be held.
They will be places of refuge from the avenger, so that a person
accused of murder may not die before he stands trial before the
assembly (Num 35:12).
Innocent blood puts a curse on the land. A person accused of murder
should be kept safe until they have received a fair trial.
The basic principle in biblical law is that a person who is convicted
of a crime must make restitution to the victim of their crime. For
example, the penalty for theft is four or fivefold restitution to the
If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he
must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the
sheep (Ex 22:1).
The thief must pay his victim four times the value of what he has
sold. The compensation beyond the value of what was stolen makes up for
the cost of tracking down the thief. It also acts as a deterrent against
theft. A thief will not get caught every time, so if he only had to pay
back what was stolen, he might decide to risk the crime, knowing that
when if he gets caught, he can just give back the stolen goods. The
fourfold repayment reduces the economic benefits of theft.
An ox gets additional restitution because it can be used to pull a
heavy load. It is a capital good that can be used to produce a stream of
income into the future, so is more valuable to its owner than a sheep.
Stealing an ox makes the owner less productive for the lifetime of the
oxen. Using a modern example, the theft of a carpenters tools (his
capital goods) costs him more than the theft of something he has made.
This is why additional restitution is required. Biblical law requires
fivefold restitution for the any capital goods that are stolen.
This is very different from the modern system of fines and
imprisonment. All fines get paid to the state, so the victim gets
nothing. If the criminal is sent to prison, innocent citizens pay the
cost and the victim still misses out, which is very unfair. In the
biblical system the victim gets compensated for their loss.
The compensation a victim of crimes receives will be sufficient to
pay for the cost of tracking down the criminal. This gives power to the
victim. In the modern system, the victim of theft has to rely on the
police to track down the criminal. If theft is not a priority for the
police, nothing will happen. Under the Old Testament system, the victim
can pay someone to track down the criminal knowing that his compensation
will pay the cost. The victim can decide what action should be taken.
People with detective skills could track down criminals on the
condition that they only get paid if they get a conviction. Provided
they get a conviction for about half of the crimes they investigate,
they will be able to recover their costs from their clients.
God’s law gives judges responsibility for punishing crime. The modern
state has rebelled against God’s law. It demands a
monopoly over justice, but refuses to provide justice for its citizens.
Taxpayer money is spent on a variety of causes that buy popularity, but
justice is neglected. The police refuse to investigate many thefts,
because the amount stolen is too small. The state knows what is should
do, but refuses to do it. It knows what is should not do, and does that
(shades of Romans 7:21-24). Biblical law gives citizens control over
Petty crime is a serious problem in many societies, because most
police forces do not have the resources to investigate minor crimes. The
problem with this is that most criminals start off small when they are
young, and then move on to more serious crimes as they get away with it.
Petty crime needs to be “nipped in the bud” to prevent an escalating
cycle of crime.
The biblical restitution model provides a good solution to this
problem. Young people convicted of petty theft could have a compulsory
automatic payment attached to their bank account for the fourfold
restitution. They would quickly learn that crime does not pay.
For the biblical system of restitution to function effectively, a
process will be needed for people who cannot afford to pay the required
restitution. If poor people are not required to make restitution, they
could commit crime with impunity. The biblical solution to the problem
of the poor thief is the “restitution loan”. If the convicted thief
owns property, they would probably need to sell something to make
restitution. If the person does not own property, they would have to
find someone, hopefully a family member or neighbour from their Ten
or Hundred, who will lend them the money
to make restitution.
In exchange for this loan, the criminal would become a “bonded
employee” of the lender. While under the bond, the criminal would be
provided money to cover food and shelter, but the rest of their earnings
would go towards repaying the loan (Ex 22:3). The bonded employee would
be under travel restrictions and would not be able to travel far from
their place of work. An electronic tracking device may be needed to
ensure that they do not escape to avoid payment. The criminal would
probably have to promise good behaviour to the person making the loan.
This should assist with the rehabilitation of the criminal.
Strict rules would apply to the treatment of “bonded employees”.
If they are mistreated, they could go before a judge and claim their
freedom as compensation (Ex 21:26,27; Deut 15:12-18).
The length of the bond would depend on the amount stolen and the size
of the restitution. If the items stolen were valuable, the restitution
might be quite a large amount, so the criminal might lose their freedom
for several years. The thief would be giving the lender a mortgage over
their life. The bible teaches that “a borrower is a slave of the
lender” (Prov 22:7), so the penalty for theft will be a slave-like
The length of the bond would also depend on productive capacity of
the criminal. Unlike a charity loan to someone who falls into poverty,
the debt would not be cancelled after seven years (Ex 21:2), so a thief
with a bad attitude might be under bond for a long time.
The thief would have an incentive to work hard and increase his
skills. By becoming more productive to his employer, he might be able
negotiate an earlier release from the bond. Developing good work
habits and increasing his earning power would make the thief less likely
to offend in the future.
Bonded employment is a new concept for many Christians, but it is
very similar to modern social welfare systems. The state gives poor
people sufficient money for food and shelter, but in return it takes
control over its beneficiaries and puts limits on their lives. It can
make them go to work, and if they earn more than a certain amount, it
can take it off them. This is a form of “state slavery”. Under the
biblical system of justice, convicted thieves will face a similar lack
of freedom, but they will be bonded to relatives or people from their
local community who know them, rather than an impersonal government
The restitution principle also applies to assault. The person who
assaults another must pay compensation to his victim for any injuries or
damage to property caused by the assault. A practical example is given
in the following verses.
If men quarrel and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist
and he does not die but is confined to bed, the one who struck the
blow will not be held responsible, if the other gets up and walks
around outside with his staff; however, he must pay the injured man
for the loss of his time and see that he is completely healed (Ex
The person who assaults another must compensate his victim for any
income lost as a result of the crime. If the violent man refuses to pay,
the victim could also claim the cost of obtaining compensation. The
fairness of this solution contrasts dramatically with our modern system,
where victims of assault get very little help and if they try to get
financial compensation most of the benefit goes to their lawyers.
An Eye for an Eye
The expression “an eye for an eye” is well known, but it is
totally misunderstood. Almost everyone assumes that the law requires
physical vengeance for personal injuries. Even Christians assume that
the Old Testament literally requires “an eye for an eye and a tooth
for a tooth”, because they have never bothered to check what the law
actually requires. An examination of Exodus 21:23-25 shows that it
purpose is almost totally opposite to this popular view.
If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth
prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined
whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if
there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye,
tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound
for wound, bruise for bruise (Ex 21:22-25).
The passage specifies financial compensation for the loss of the baby
and not physical vengeance. The context is a situation where two men
fighting have hit a pregnant woman and she gives premature birth. The
mother is entitled to the financial compensation demanded by her husband
and approved by the court. “An eye for an eye” is nothing more than
a principle for deciding the value of the economic restitution a
criminal should make to their victim of an assault.
Courts will decide compensation to be paid, by determining the
economic value of an eye. It would try to assess the value of the income
and enjoyment lost through the lack of an eye. This is a bit like the
lump-sum compensation provided by some accident insurance schemes, where
the loss of an arm was worth more than the loss of an eye. An “eye for
an eye” means that a person who loses an eye will receive compensation
for the loss of any eye. If the victim loses the use of their leg, the
criminal will have to pay compensation for the loss of that limb.
Most English translations put the word “but” at the beginning of
Exodus 21:23 to make it sound like a different principle from what
precedes it, but there is no “but” in the original Hebrew. The verse
refers to financial compensation. Using it to justify physical revenge
is only possible if Moses’ words are taken out of context.
Jesus also dealt with this issue in the Sermon on the Mount. In his
time, the “eye for and eye” principle was being used as an excuse
for physical revenge. Jesus made a twofold response. First he reminded
the people that the common understanding was different from what God had
said. The popular meaning was a distortion of God’s words to Moses
(Mark 5:38). Secondly, Jesus raised the standard required for his
disciples. He reminded them that the common saying that you should “love
your neighbour and hate your enemy” was also twisting God’s
standards (Mark 5:43, Lev 19:18). We must bless those who harm us.
“An eye for an eye” is not a rule for personal behaviour, but a
principle to be applied in a court of law. If someone gives me a black
eye, I should not immediately hit him back, but should “turn the other
cheek”. However, if a person is assaulted and loses their eye, they
are entitled to compensation for that loss. The court should use the
principle of an “eye for an eye” to determine the amount of economic
compensation that the violent person should pay to the person that
injured them. A Christian might choose not to take the compensation, but
sometimes they might need it to live on.
The biblical penalty for murder is death. Some crimes to be so
serious, that death is the only just penalty.
Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to
death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it
happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. But if a man
schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my
altar and put him to death (Ex 21:12-14).
Intentionally and deliberately killing another person is such a
serious crime that the death penalty is required by the law. We were
created in the image of God, so killing a person is like striking at the
image of God. The family of the murdered man who is robbed of all the
income he would have earned during the rest of his life, so murder is a
very costly crime.
The death penalty provides a strong deterrent for murder, but this is
not its primary purpose. The basic reason for the death penalty is that
justice requires it. A human life is so valuable that deliberately
destroying a life deserves the ultimate sanction. Justice requires that
a penalty for a crime is equal to the crime.
The law distinguishes between murder and manslaughter. The death
penalty only applies where the murder is planned in advance. If the
death is accidental, God has allowed it to happen (Ex 21:13). Murder has
not occurred, so the death penalty is not required. Num 35 16-24; Deut
19:4-7 give some examples.
Many Christians feel uneasy about the death penalty, believing it is
cruel and harsh. However, we should be careful about standing in
judgement on God’s word. If he says that some murders are serious
enough to require the death penalty, we should be careful about saying
he is wrong. When men and women decide what is good and evil, they have
taken the place of God. Before rejecting the death penalty, we should
understand the way it should be applied. This is quite different from
Hardness of Heart Principle
In addition to murder, the law also specifies the death penalty for
adultery. However, the hardness of heart principle means that the
death penalty should not be enforced for these crimes. Here is how this
principle works. Although adultery was listed as a crime in the Ten
Commandments, this law was never enforced by Moses.
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because
your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning
Moses did not enforce the law against adultery, because the people’s
hearts were hard. There were so many people committing adultery that
applying biblical sanctions would have been unacceptable. God does not
want his law to be enforced on a society that is opposed to it. If a law
is constantly disobeyed, the authority of the entire law will be
undermined. If adultery were widespread, a law against it would be a
joke. Better to put the law on hold until society has changed.
If a law is being ignored, judges should stop enforcing that law.
This is what Moses did. Instead of undermining respect for God’s law
by failing to enforce a law against the adultery that the people did not
want, he chose not to enforce it. In a society, where relationship
breakdowns are widespread and accepted as normal by most of society,
enforcing a law against them would be impossible. The laws against
adultery should be taken “off line” due to “hardness of heart”
(cf Matt 19:8).
In a Christian society adultery should be very rare, so this penalty
would seldom be enforced. Public disapproval would mean that adultery
would never occur in public, so the required three independent witnesses
would not be available. The death penalty is specified for adultery to
remind us of the strength of God’s disapproval for it, but it should
never need to be enforced.
God hates adultery. We were created in the image of God, so a man and
a woman “becoming one flesh” is the best representation of the image
of God. From this it follows that adultery is an insult to the image of
God. Just as he hates divorce because it mars his image, he hates the
effect that they have on families and the structure of society. Adultery
is treason against the Kingdom of God. The death penalty reminds us of
the seriousness of adultery, but God’s mercy prevents it from being
An important aspect of biblical mercy is the ransom principle. A
person sentenced to death can pay a ransom to have their sentence
commuted. The law allows a convicted criminal to pay a ransom to the
victim’s family as an alternative to the death penalty (Num 35:31). In
many cases the victims of the crime will prefer a ransom, as they would
benefit economically, whereas the criminal’s death would bring them no
The court would decide the value of the ransom in agreement with the
victims of the crime (or their family). The value of the ransom should
approximate the discounted value of the victim’s future earnings. The
wife of murdered man should be given the discounted value of the income
that her husband would have provided her during the rest of his working
life. Some criminals would want to die, but most would prefer to make
restitution to the family of their victim.
Evil men who are a risk to society would not be allowed to pay a
ransom for their freedom.
Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to
die. He must surely be put to death (Num 35:31).
A ransom must not be accepted for a really serious murder that “deserves
death”. This confirms the view that some murders are so awful that the
murderer “deserves to die”, but a ransom is sufficient for less
horrendous murder and manslaughter.
If the criminal cannot afford the required ransom, they could borrow
the ransom from their family or someone in their community. They would
need to sell themselves as a “bonded employee” to a person who can
pay the ransom. To get the loan, a criminal would have to demonstrate
repentance, which would be good for society.
The ransom is an instrument of mercy, but it is not an easy option.
The seven-year limit for charity loans does not apply to someone
borrowing to pay a ransom in lieu of a death penalty, so the murderer
still be getting a life sentence. The difference is that but they could
pay for their crime while living at home and working for the person who
paid their ransom. They would not be able to travel away from their
place of work, but at least they would not be locked up. This is more
merciful than the modern practice of imprisoning people for life.
In very brutal cases of murder, the Old Testament does not allow the restitution alternative. A serial killer or serial rapist who is unrepentant would continue to be a danger to his community if the was allowed to pay restitution
Do not accept a ransom for the life of a murderer, who deserves to
die. He must surely be put to death (Num 35:31).
He could not be locked up in prison, so the death penalty was the way to protect the community from a dangerous community. Just as a sheepdog that develops a habit of worrying sheep has to be put down, a person who becomes so evil that they murder several people, may need to be killed to protect the community from harm. This is probably more merciful than locking them up and throwing away the key for thirty years.
In biblical times, the stoning was the most common method for
enforcing the death penalty (Lev 24:23), but it is a technology, not a
principle. Stoning is not mandatory, but can be replaced by any
technology that achieves the same result. The stoning technology had
several benefits for the administration of justice. Death would
generally be quick, so suffering was minimised. A hit on the head would
quickly render the criminal unconscious. The other benefit is that
nobody would know which stone actually killed the criminal, so no
individual is responsible for the criminal’s death. At least twenty
representatives of the community would be involved, so the death penalty
would be the action of the entire community.
Several principles about the application of the death penalty can be
In the modern world, stoning should be replaced by a technology
that makes death as pain free as possible.
The technology should ensure that no one person is individually
responsible for the criminal’s death. Beheading or hanging by an
executioner is not acceptable. A professional executioner is
dangerous, as he might be corrupted and start enjoying death. The
death penalty should always be implemented by normal people. Many
who would go an watch an execution would be not want to be
responsible for the execution.
The judges and witnesses must jointly implement the death penalty.
This would really sharpen their minds and make them cautious about
giving evidence and deciding on guilt. They would not be tempted to
convict an innocent man, as this would make them guilty of murder.
They might not be convicted of this crime during this life, but they
would still be accountable to God in the next.
The death penalty could only be implemented if the prosecution
witnesses and judges were unanimous about the sentence. The
technology should require each one to press the button to implement
the penalty. This would prevent them from pretending to go along
with the others.
Judges could convict a criminal, but still refuse to implement the
death penalty. They would be free to choose mercy.
Other leaders of the community where the crime occurred should
also be involved, so that the penalty is the action of the entire
The family and friends of a victim cannot enforce the death
penalty without the agreement of their community.
The people of a local community might decide not to enforce the
Many people feel
that the death penalty is not appropriate in the modern world.Three different
factors that limit the use of the death penalty
mitigate against these concerns about the death penalty.
1. Mercy over Judgment
Mercy should always triumph over judgement (Jam 5:13). For the death
penalty to be implemented, a group of witnesses, judges and community
leaders would each have to be willing to enforce it. If just one judge
or witness were squeamish, the death penalty would be commuted. This
would make the death penalty quite rare. The crime would have to be
sufficiently horrendous to overcome their revulsion towards the death
penalty. They could not pretend that it was not happening, but would
have to look the murderer in the eye.
Most judges and witnesses would choose mercy, especially if the
criminal was willing to pay a ransom. If there were any doubt about
guilt or any extenuating circumstances, they would refuse to implement
the death penalty to avoid being guilty of killing an innocent person.
If a criminal has repented and made peace with God, they would prefer a
ransom to a death penalty. God’s justice leaves room for mercy.
On the other hand, some murders are so horrendous, that a death
penalty seems to be the only just penalty. A person who sadistically
kills several people or tortures and kills children seems to deserve a
harsh penalty. Some repeat offenders are so incorrigible, that society
may need to be protected from them. Locking them up for a lifetime is
cruel and costly, so the death penalty might be a kinder solution. I
suspect that in these situations, a community would be willing to
implement a life sentence. They would also be unwilling to accept a
2. Youth Rate
Another aspect of biblical mercy is that a youth must not be executed for a
capital crime without the consent of both his parents. Parents have the power to
override the judges and veto a death penalty. If they are willing to take
responsibility for his discipline, he shall not be put to death.
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and
mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and
mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his
town. They shall say to the elders, "This son of ours is stubborn and
rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a profligate and a drunkard." Then
all the men of his town shall stone him to death. (Deut 21:18-21).
The context for this passage is the death penalty for murder. If a young man
is so stubborn and rebellious that his mother and father give up all hope for
him, he should be put to death, before he does more harm to society. If his
parents believe that there is hope for the youth, he must be given another
chance (see also Ex 20:12,12; 21:15,17).
3. Opportunity to Flee
The entire community was required to stone the offender, so this
penalty was easy to escape.
The whole assembly must stone him with stones outside the camp (Num
If every person in the community was carrying a stone, the offender
could flee. The offender would be able to run faster and get away,
because the other people were carrying stones. The offender would not be
able to return to their community, so they would be in exile forever. In
practice, stoning will usually translate into exclusion from the
community. The person would only
Image of God
This combination of death penalty and ransoms will only work
effectively in a Christian society. The reason that we can exercise the
death penalty is that we are made in the image of God.
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God has God made man (Gen 9:6).
The ability to make wise judgements is something that we inherit from
God. When a society turns away from God, the image of God is lost, and
with that goes the wisdom to make wise judgement. Without the presence
of God in their lives the jury may lack the mercy that many situations
require. Without the love of God in our hearts, the desire for revenge
might overcome us. Justice functions best when the image of God is
restored in man through the work of the cross.
A common concern about the death penalty is that innocent people
might be put to death. This concern is based on the frequent mistakes of
modern courts. They often rely on dodgy witnesses and circumstantial
evidence when making decisions. Often new evidence comes to light that
proves an earlier decision wrong. Human systems of justice will always
Christians know that perfect justice is impossible here on earth, but
we also know that everyone will receive perfect justice on the last day
when we appear before God’s court. In this context, the death penalty
is not a cruel punishment, but a referral to a higher court that
provides perfect justice.
Human justice is never final, so judges in a biblical system of
justice can apply a much higher standard of proof than modern courts. A
person will only be convicted of a capital crime if there are three
independent, innocent witnesses. Convictions for murder will be rare, as
most murders will not be witnessed by three innocent people and
circumstantial evidence will not be allowable. Criminals will we
frequently escape justice while on earth, but they will still receive
their just deserts in eternity.
In a few rare cases, innocent people will receive the death penalty
due to miscarriage of justice. However, a person arriving at the last
judgement having paid the penalty for a murder committed by another
person will get a very sympathetic hearing. Jesus might say, “The same
thing happened to me”. Being referred to a higher court that provides
perfect justice will be better than being imprisoned for twenty years
for a crime you did not commit.
The adoption of all these principles will make the death penalty very
rare in a Christian society.
The Bible imposes a number of requirements that will make the death penalty vey rare. All of the following conditions must be met before the death penalty can be imposed.
The crime must have observed directly by two or three independent witnesses (Deut 19:15).
The witnesses must not have committed the crime they are testifying about. Adulterers cannot testify against adulterers.
People with a record for violence cannot be witnesses to crimes of violence (John 8:7).
A young man cannot be given the death penalty, if his parents object. If they think that he is redeemable,
he must be given another chance. They would need to take responsibility for helping him change (Deut 21:18-21).
The victim’s family must agree to the death penalty. They will often refuse consent, because they will benefit more
if the murderer pays restitution. The rest of the community could only overall, if the murderer continued to be a threat.
The death penalty was only permissible in situation where protection of the community took priority over the compensation of
victim’s family (Num 35:31).
The death penalty can only be implemented, if the murderer criminal stays in his community.
Most murderers would flee their tribe or community to avoid punishment. There were no police force,
no prisons to retain criminals. There were no extraditions laws to get convicted criminals returned for sentence.
Fleeing criminals could escape justice, but they would cease to be a risk to their community, because they would be afraid to return.
The fleeing criminal would lose the protection and privileges that come through being part of a tribe or community. He might find it difficult to find another tribe or community to participate in and might end up living among other outlaws. This would be dangerous as someone might seek revenge by paying someone to kill him.
- When a society has become “hard of heart”, the community should stop imposing the death penalty in most situations, as excessive use the death penalty brutalises a society (Matt
19:8). It is better for crimes to go unpunished than for society to be become vicious and violent.
Most situations where the death penalty is imposed in America will fail to meet one of these conditions. If these conditions were imposed in America, the death penalty would almost disappear. The
Bible is much more merciful than American justice. People who assume that the Old Testament is harsh do not understand it.
The death penalty would generally only be applied for
particularly brutal murders. This demonstrates the holiness and mercy of
God. While his holiness demands serious penalties for serious sins, his
mercy has put in place a process that ensures many people do not receive
the full penalty that their crimes deserves. This does not matter, as
everyone will get full justice in the age to come. A society that become
harsh and applies the death penalty ruthlessly has forgotten the mercy