by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 15 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Justice)

"And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end. Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, Jam able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living god, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the son of God." Matthew 26:57-63

The most important attribute of God is His justice. God will not be unjust. We are to be like Jesus, so if justice is God's most important attribute, then it is also to be our most important attribute. Justice should be the most important thing to God's People. Justice is rightness. It is doing the right thing. This is why this chapter is so important. I am going to list the twelve most common ways Christians are not just. It is just as wrong for us to be wrong in our areas of judgment as it is for a judge who sits on the bench in a courtroom.

1. Not liking someone. That is judging! God shows no favorites. We are to become conformed to the image of His Son. If you do not like someone, it is usually because you are prejudging them. This is what prejudice is. When you decide that you do not like something about someone, you have stepped outside of God's plan for justice because you are judging outside your area of responsibility.

John 15:25, "But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause." They hated Jesus without a cause. We have no right to dislike anyone. That is not just!

2. Listening to one witness. If a person tells you he saw someone drinking liquor, you are not to accept it as truth. In fact, you ought to try to avoid listening to it. Never accept an accusation without two witnesses. I am not saying that you should call the person a liar, but the Bible says not to receive the accusation. The philosophy I live by is never to receive any accusation against someone if it is not in my area of responsibility.

If one person comes accusing a person, do not listen unless he is an eyewitness and has a second eyewitness with him. If someone comes to you and tells you something bad he heard about someone, you are disobedient if you listen to it! If two witnesses come to you, and if it is inside your jurisdiction, you must then investigate it. These two witnesses should come to you together and present their account together.

We are not to read accusations against individuals in magazines or newspapers. We are not to listen to them on the radio or television.

I was with Dr. John Rice in a restaurant in Claremont, California. Dr. Rice was reading in the sports page about Richie Allen, a controversial baseball player who played for the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago White Sox. Dr. Rice said,

 "Dr. Hyles, isn't Richie Allen awful?"

I said, "How do you know, Dr. Rice?"

He said, "Well, haven't you read what the papers say about him?"

I said, "Dr. Rice, have you read what the papers say about you?"

Dr. Rice looked up at me over his glasses and said, "You are preaching to me, son!"

That is the way we all are. We read an article by a liberal writer who is paid to dig up smut and garbage against people, and then we believe what he says simply because he said it. That is not right!

3. Listening to two people who are not witnesses. You are not to receive two accusers who heard something. The Bible says not to receive it unless there are two or more witnesses, but still, you should not receive it as truth. Receive it like the Supreme Court would receive a case. Receive it to be reviewed in order to hand down a decision based on all of the evidence presented, but do not receive the case if two people come to you who are not eyewitnesses!

4. Telling others what one witness told you. God in Heaven is holding us accountable for what we say about people. This destroys more churches than all the dope and liquor combined. You are not to "pass on" stuff that is bad.

5. Having an opinion because of what one witness says.

6. Believing two witnesses. Just because two witnesses say they saw something does not give us the right to believe it is true. It allows me only to receive it and investigate it. Most of the time we want to believe it. In fact, if two witnesses make something true, Jesus was guilty because He had two witnesses accusing Him. The fact that two people say something does not make it true. I have seen situations where people lied about what they saw. I've seen other situations where the individual was really not sure about what he saw!

7. Investigating without two witnesses. Often a person will come to me to tell me something he saw, and I will tell him that I refuse to receive it unless he has another witness. It is wrong to investigate something you heard if it did not come from two or more Witnesses. In our investigating, we end up spreading the garbage. Wouldn't you rather spread the message that Jesus died for sinners? If we preachers across America spent as much time spreading the message of Christ as we do trying to destroy each other, we could win this world to Christ. Often the same preacher who will spread slander will also criticize the church that is trying to aggressively spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to sinners.

8. Seeking witnesses or seeking a second witness. If you hear gossip or slander, it is wrong for you to begin an investigation to see if you can find a witness or witnesses. It is wicked and unscriptural, for in doing so, you begin to spread the accusations. The Bible says they are to come to you, not that you are to seek them.

We live in a world of investigation. One of the greatest tragedies of our day is investigative journalism. The average reporter is nothing more than a second-class detective. The press is not interested in the facts unless they contain something bad. Say, don't criticize the press if you are doing the very same thing!

9. Making the decision and then seeking for proof. Matthew 26:4, 'And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him." This is what happened to Jesus. They had already decided to kill Him, so they had to find some way to do it legally. They had already made their decision as to what they were going to do. They were interested only in finding a reason to do what they were going to do anyway. That is wrong!

I always pull for innocence. I always hope that the accused individuals are not guilty. They are fellow human beings, and I do not want to have them guilty of the things they were accused of doing.

Do you pull for innocence or guilt? In every case of accusation, you ought to pull for innocence not the guilty to be acquitted, but for the accused to be innocent! Always pull for innocence, not guilt. If a judge in a courtroom pulled for guilt, we would say that was unjust; yet, that is no different than when we pull for guilt. We prejudge and then we investigate to prove what we have already decided!

Luke 19:47, 'And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him." They "sought to destroy" Jesus. The word, "sought," means, "a plot by inquiry from His worst enemies."

There are people all over America who have sought to destroy preachers. They are not trying to find the truth. They have already decided that they would consign them to guilt. Whom do they question? Loyal friends? Staff? No! They question enemies and those who hate them the most!

Many of us are guilty of doing the same thing; however, the sentence is to be handed down after the trial, not before!

10. Seeking only the negative. John 11:47, "Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles." The enemies of Jesus got together to form a plot seeking only the negative against Him. They hoped it would divert the attention of the people away from all the good things He had done. It is wicked if we do the same thing!

11. Wanting to find guilt.

12. Seeking only one side. Those who accused Jesus could have called for the blind man Jesus healed in John 9. They could have called for Bartimaeus, whose sight Jesus restored in Mark 10, or the man whose son was healed in Matthew 17, and gotten their opinion of Jesus. They were not seeking the truth. They wanted only to find something for which they could accuse Him!

What do you do when you are standing in line at the grocery store and you see a smut magazine with some awful accusation against a famous person? Do you sneak it into your groceries so you can read it later? We need to reach a point where it is not fun to hear bad!

The mob that tried Jesus reasoned the same way most of us do, but we are not to judge the way that mob judged Jesus. This applies to your friends and neighbors also. It is time for God's people to stop being crooked judges; yet, we often do these twelve unjust things! Sadly, there is more unjust judging going on in churches than in the courthouses of most of our cities.

Do you understand why they judged Jesus unjustly and why they sought to kill Him? The Bible says that they did it because of envy. That is also why we judge people unjustly. It is because we envy someone who is doing more than we are doing or someone who has more than we have.

I was preaching in a church in Virginia where I had preached before, but which then had a new pastor. When I arrived, the new preacher said, "Brother Hyles, I know you have probably heard all kinds of bad things about the former pastor. I want to tell you the truth of what really happened."

I said, "No, you're not!"

He said, "I need to tell you the truth."

I said, "No, you don't!"

He said, "Dr. Hyles, I am going to tell you."

I started to get out of his car and go back to the airport. He said, "What are you doing?"

I said, "I did not come to hear bad news. I came to spread good news." For the three days I was there, no one told me a negative word because I decided I would not listen to it!

Later I was in North Carolina, and that former preacher drove up to see me. In tears he told me that he heard I had refused to listen to any "talk" about him. He said, "Brother Hyles, you are the best friend I have." I spent several hours counseling him, trying to help him get back on his feet and serving God again. He had not done anything to forfeit his right to be in the ministry, and a couple of years later he was back in the ministry. Now God is using him more than ever!

Let's be just! Let's pull for the innocence of people, not for their guilt. Try it! You'll like it!


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I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years. Billy Sunday