“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him [i.e., guilty]; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge [Court of the Sanhedrin], and the judge [High Priest] deliver thee to the officer [Temple Guard], and thou be cast into prison. 26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence [prison], till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing [kodrantes; fourth part of a coin; i.e., a trifling amount].
By way of introduction, a word must be said about True Guilt and False Guilt. It is possible for a person, in the Church or out, to attack without cause. There are people who eventually prove themselves to be mean and irrational. Jesus speaks of these people as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15). There are people, in the church, and out, who have an innate diabolical need to destroy others, friend, or foe. It is a great mystery to watch such a person in action, in the church, or out. It is breath-taking in astonishment.
Those who would destroy another person will reach into their demonic arsenal and pull out a powerful weapon, False Accusation. This mighty weapon of destruction in spiritual warfare was first used in the Garden of Eden when the Serpent tempted Eve by leveling a charge against her Creator-God.
“Hath Elohim said?”
Sarcasm dripped from his slimy tongue.
The implication was clear.
“Adam, God is holding back.”
“Eve, God is not good.”
The attack against the Lord would become bolder and more sinister, for the Enemy said to the woman,
“God is a liar. You will not die if you eat of the Forbidden Fruit. The only reason why God told you that was because He knows that in the day you eat of this fruit, you will be like Him in your knowledge” (Gen. 3:1-5).
I can assure you; the Creator-God did not appreciate the charges made against Him. God did not embrace the idea that He was guilty of the imaginative, but baseless charges against Him.
Like God our Father, like Christ our Savior, the Enemy will one day send someone to Accuse You.
That individual, in the Church or out, in that moment will be no better than a Son of Satan, a Child of the Devil, who bears the nature and names of the Enemy,
“Father of Lies” (John 8:44),
“Tempter” (Matt. 4:3),
“Accuser of the Brethren” (Rev. 12:10).
Apart from gospel repentance, the contemporary Accuser, like his Father the Devil, will be judged harshly.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the ruling authority of his Christ, have now come, because the Accuser of our brothers and sisters, the one who accuses them day and night before our God, has been thrown down” (Rev. 12:10).
The Accuser of God’s children will be thrown down to the earth in death. Such a person will be thrown down to the pit in the Second Death. The False Accuser, in the church or out, will be thrown down in righteous judgment to meditate in darkness about their hidden works of personal destruction conjured up in a reprobate mind.
Like our Creator-God and Father, no innocent person must embrace a False Accusation without being righteously outraged. A feeling of False Guilt is to be rejected.
With the concept of False Guilt being noted, we acknowledge there is True Guilt to be dealt with because, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). The Bible says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 6:23).
The Moral Law accuses us and we plead, “guilty.”
Our conscience accuses us, we bow our heads and say, “guilty.”
Jesus looks at us, as He looked at Peter who betrayed Him; we weep and cry, “guilty.”
So, what is to be done. What are the guilty to do?
If a person is guilty of a transgression, the council of Jesus is to seek immediate reconciliation by agreeing with one’s adversary quickly, for a very good reason; it is the practical step to take, especially if an offended person is ready to retaliate. When guilty as charged, wisdom reminds a person that, “A gentle answer can turn away anger” (Prov. 15:1).
That is a Proverb, a wise saying, not a gospel promise. There is no certainty of calming a person, whose mind is made up to take drastic action against someone who has offended them.
What is certain, is that, when guilty, a gentle response to one’s enemy is a practical step to take.
To be practical is to be wise.
To be wise is to apply the right principle of Scripture, to the right situation, at the right time.
To convince His disciples to be practical, Jesus used an illustration which involves the Judiciary.
If a wrong has been committed against someone, by taking their property, or by attacking their reputation to the point of libel, or slander, there should be cause for alarm. It is possible a legal case will be made against such behavior, leading to a large financial penalty, or imprisonment.
Because being guilty of a transgression can carry a severe legal penalty, there is wisdom in trying to be reconciled before court action is taken, and the possibility of incarceration becomes a reality.
When the Law is against a person who is guilty, it does no good to challenge the Court, for there is danger of being crushed by the judicial process.
A person who is guilty of an offense can ruin themselves by being obstinate, and persistent, in their behavior instead of honestly agreeing they are in the wrong. A difficult situation can sometimes be resolved, with less drama, and trauma, if authentic contrition is present. Jesus said, “It is good to agree with one’s enemy, when guilty, because Court Justice is costly.”
For Christians, the counsel of Christ constitutes a Royal Command. While we can be merciful to those who have harmed us, we must also confess and make restitution when we have done something wrong and hurt someone. Therefore, when guilty, as charged,
“Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are in a state of conflict with him because, at any time, your adversary might bring you before a sympathetic judge, who will deliver you to the officer [guards], and you will be cast into prison.”
A prison is an uncomfortable place for those who are brought to jail by their own pride, and irresponsible behavior, their own willfulness, and foolishness.I do not speak from any personal experience of being in jail, but I have visited several prisons, and that was alarming enough. The point is restated. When guilty, a Christian is to agree with their adversary out of practical necessity, and be reconciled, if possible.
There is a spiritual application of our text, which is this. Every person should seek to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, for His glory, and for their own good. Christians can help in this process by sharing the gospel.
“Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
The person who would initially be reconciled to God must agree quickly, they are guilty of breaking His Moral Law. The Bible calls this, sin (hamartia), which means, “a falling away from or missing the right path.” Because sin separates a person from the Lord, they should remember, God is an Adversary, an Enemy, to all who do wrong and do not repent.
God has a Court of Divine Justice to adjudicate the matter between the guilty, and Himself. In the Court of Divine Justice, God sits as Judge, and then He rises to act as the Prosecutor of the guilty.
As Prosecutor, God is Anti-di-kos, a law-adversary. The Lord of Glory insists the Moral Law be honored, and when dishonored, a just penalty paid. God has a controversy with anyone who does not submit to the Court’s sovereignty, and He will act against individuals, in time, and in eternity.
Therefore, it is wise to agree with God, seek His mercy, and know Him as Redeemer, Savior, and Abba Father.
Then the controversy will end.
Then the soul can be at peace.
“Acquaint now yourself with Him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto you” (Job 22:21).
There is spiritual wisdom in being reconciled to God quickly. While we are alive, there is hope for forgiveness of sin and salvation. After death, it will be too late to be reconciled to God. Therefore, let us not sleep, let us not slumber, until we have peace with God. All who continue in a guilty state of hostility to God, are continually exposed to being arrested by His justice to receive the most dreadful instances of His wrath.
The irresponsible behavior of King David was arrested when the Word of the Lord came to him through the prophet Nathan saying,
“Thou are the man who has done evil.”
The wrath of God fell on David’s household.
A child died.
A son rebelled.
A kingdom was divided (2 Samuel 12:7-13).
After Jesus was taken into custody by the Temple Guard in the Garden of Gethsemane, the conscience of Judas Iscariot was arrested. He had betrayed the Lord of Glory.
The wrath of God fell on the man who would have been better off if he had never been born.
Judas found a rope, and hung himself.
His body dropped down over a cliff, and split open.
His intestines spilled out (Acts 1:18).
In the resurrection, Judas will meet Jesus again, face to face. But this time, there will be no kiss of betrayal. Judas will be face to face with Jesus as the the Judge, for all judgment is committed to the Son (John 5:22). Though Jesus is rejected by guilty men, women, and young people, as Saviour, He cannot be escaped as their Judge. We read in the Revelation how people will one day say
“to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16, 17)
It is a fearful thing to be turned over to the Lord Jesus, when the Lamb shall become the Lion.
Holy Angels are the officers who will bring the guilty, the unrepentant, the unbelieving, to their destination.
“The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 13:41, 42).
In the process of administering divine justice, demons are also used by the Lord, who gives to the devils the power of death to execute unbelievers.
If you have ever wondered why so many celebrities who have beauty, wealth, and fame are suicidal, part of the answer is found in Hebrews 2:14. Satan has the power of death, under the sovereignty of God. We look past the grave into eternity. There is an eternal prison into which those who are guilty are cast.
“[If] God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment…” (2 Peter 2:4),
surely, He will deal with guilty individuals just a severely. Tragically, the lost must remain in the pit throughout eternity. Such souls shall not depart till they have paid the uttermost farthing, and that will not be until the utmost ages of eternity. Divine justice will be forever in the satisfying, but never satisfied.
Herein is the Word of the Lord Jesus.
The serious sin of slander is united with the equally serious command of the guilty to be reconciled with man, and with God. The way to be reconciled to God, is to accept the gift of divine grace whereby Jesus will pay your debt, and mine, to the utmost farthing. When we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be saved. When we are saved, we can sing…
“He paid the debt He did not owe
I owe the debt I could not pay
I needed Someone
to wash my sins away.
And now I sing a brand-new song
All day long
Christ Jesus paid the debt
that I could never pay.
He paid the debt on Calvary
He saved my soul
He set me free.
I am glad that Jesus
washed all my sins away.
And now I sing a brand-new song
All day long
Christ Jesus paid the debt
that I could never pay.”