Is Breaking the Law a Sin

Is Breaking the Law a Sin?

There are many laws created by the government that you won’t find in the Bible. And there are many laws in the Bible that aren’t laws in the state or country you live in.

You won’t find any Bible verses about driving laws, but there are 100s of driving laws created and enforced by governments. Where I live, it’s illegal to drive without a license, drive under the influence, and drive without car insurance. 

If I choose to drive illegally, am I committing a sin?

I’m breaking the laws, but the Bible doesn’t specifically tell us that my illegal driving is a sin against God.

In most cases, breaking the laws of the land is a sin. There are some specific cases where breaking the laws is not a sin.

James 4:17 gives us a simple definition of sin:

“Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”
James 4:17 NLT

If we know what’s right, and choose to not do that, we’re sinning. When we know what’s right and wrong, and choose to do the wrong thing, we’re committing a sin. It doesn’t matter if the Bible doesn’t specifically mention it as a sin.

1 John 3:4 tells us this:

“Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God.”
1 John 3:4 NLT

This verse is talking about the law of God, not the laws that human governments create, which are almost always different. Plenty of people follow the laws of their government, but they don’t follow the laws of God. They’re sinning by breaking God’s laws and instructions.

You’ve probably heard about the verses in Romans 13, which talk about submitting to the governmental authorities. It says that all authority is given by God, and people who rebel against the government rebels are rebelling against what God has instituted.

This is true, but we need to use discernment to see when people in positions of authority are using their power for good or evil.

If the government creates a law that causes us to sin, we shouldn’t obey the law.

One example of this is when Pharaoh orders all of the baby boys to be murdered. 

“The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, ‘When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.’”
Exodus 1:15-16 NIV

It’s difficult to imagine a king ordering you to kill a newborn baby, but that’s what happened here.

If you didn’t commit murder, you’d be breaking the laws of the government, but it would not be a sin to break that law. In fact, the opposite would be true. You would be sinning against God if you killed your baby.

We read about a similar situation in Daniel 3. King Nebuchadnezzar set up a golden statue of himself, and ordered everyone to bow down to the statue. Three young men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—refused the king’s order.

They weren’t sinning by breaking the ungodly law and refusing to worship the statue of Nebuchadnezzar. One of the ten commandments is to not worship false idols.

A third example is in Acts 4. Peter and John were charged and jailed for teaching about Jesus. They were commanded to not speak about Jesus, but they refused to listen. They weren’t sinning, even though they were breaking rules created by people.

We should do our best to follow the laws of our government. Most of their laws are designed to keep us safe and create a decent, orderly environment for us to live in. We have a responsibility to obey the laws, even when they’re not fully aligned with the laws of God.

This is different when the governmental laws are forcing us to sin against God or go directly against His commandments.

You’re not sinning when you disobey an ungodly law.

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