The soul who sins will die. But if a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness…he is righteous and will surely live.
An ancient aphorism, also known as Ezekiel 18:4-5, 9
For any society to run by justice, there must be agreed upon mores and laws, based upon what is good for society at large. These laws are created and enforced by authorities. Sin is a rejection of the law of the authorities by disobedience. Rebellion is an all-out rejection of the authority of society by a blatant disregard for that authority to uphold the standards of society. Thus, for there to be justice in society, there must be acceptance of authority. To reject authority is to reject what is good for society.
Those who reject society are those who are dangerous to justice. The rebellious must then be separated from society. This separation could be prison, it could be exile from the society or it could be death. Separation is not rehabilitation, although it could be if done with gentleness, nor is it strictly punishment. It is protecting society from those who would harm it. The one who harms society cannot be a part of society.
However, we all have more than one authority. God is the ultimate authority, while governments are a lesser authority and a soldier or police officer a lesser one yet. If a lesser authority commands the rebellion against the higher authority, then it is the lesser authority in rebellion. To participate in the rebellion of a lesser authority is to rebel against the higher authority.13
13. Some might feel uncomfortable with this description of the law, which is, fundamentally, “Do the crime, pay the time.” It seems so… conservative Republican, so fundamentalist Christian. So far from the message of Jesus. What we need to remember is that this principle, also known as the principle of karma, is the foundation of all spirituality. There is almost no spirituality that stays with this principle, which says that grace is simply unnecessary. But it is the principle of government justice. This is why spirituality is always popular, because this principle is how the world actually works. Religion and spirituality is really the idea that the world can work in some other way than karma. Since I’ve got your attention here, I want to point out a social and ethical experiment that was made about this very subject. It was done to indicate whether cheaters or the altruistic succeed in the long run. It was a game that was developed in which some people would always cheat, some people would always be generous and some people would only do bad if bad was done to them, and some would do good if good was done to them. It is that third group that had the most success in game. It was concluded that, ethically, then that approach—the karmic approach—is the successful one for life.