I think I know why vigilante justice is wrong. It occurred to me that vigilante justice is man’s attempt to get revenge when God said specifically that vengeance was His responsibility. It says in the Book of Romans,
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19, ESV.
And Paul is quoting Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy when he says that (Deuteronomy 32:35).
That says to me that revenge is God’s job, not ours. I often wonder if the reason people practice vigilante justice is because they either don’t believe God exists, so they feel they have to get justice themselves, or they don’t trust that He’ll get the justice they want, or need, or think they deserve for that crime. Either way they’re wresting control of when justice is served out of God’s hands, and into their own hands.
When someone has a vested interest in seeing a particular person convicted for a crime, regardless of that person’s actual guilt or innocence, if the person is acquitted then the one with the personal stake in his conviction can be a prime candidate for vigilante justice because he didn’t get his desired outcome.
God knows the whole story. He can see the whole picture, whereas we only know what we can see and hear and feel. We will never know another person’s motivation for what they did, and we won’t usually know if that person is lying, unless they break down and confess that they lied.
What if the person we’re pursuing is actually innocent of the crime we’re accusing him/her of? Even though we think we know who committed the crime, we don’t know everything, and we might be wrong. There’s no such thing as a perfect murder where God is concerned because God knows everything, EVERYTHING, and even if the real killer is never apprehended here on earth, God still knows who did it. That person will still have to face God’s justice and judgment in the end, regardless of what happens here on earth.
I know it’s hard to trust God about something so personal and painful as when someone dear to you has been attacked and/or murdered. I’ve been a victim of serious crime myself, and I know how difficult it is to trust God when you’ve been deeply wounded.
You might be saying, “How can I trust God when He allowed me to be so savagely hurt?” But I’ve come to know that it was God who protected me from the worst of the abuse. If God hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have survived. I would be dead, because those who were abusing me would have killed me, or I would have succeeded in one of my suicide attempts. And you might respond, “But if God is as powerful and as good as everyone says He is, then why was I abused at all? Why didn’t He stop the abuse from happening altogether?”
Unfortunately, there are some questions for which there just isn’t a satisfactory answer this side of Heaven, and this is one of them. The problem of evil is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faith, and it’s also one of the main reasons people give for doubting God’s existence. The argument usually goes, if God is omnipotent then He could have stopped the evil from happening, and since He didn’t then He must not be omnipotent. And by the same token, if He’s completely good, then He wouldn’t have allowed the evil to happen in the first place, and since the evil did happen, then He must not be completely good.
My response to those arguments is that the people proposing them aren’t considering all the factors. There is the all-important detail of man’s free will. God created every single human being with a free will, and He cannot violate that will in any way at any time, otherwise it wouldn’t be free. God desires humans who will freely choose to fellowship with Him, and He can only get people who will make that choice by creating them with a completely free will. And that means a free will to reject Him just as much as to choose Him.
I can say that God is absolutely faithful, and He solved the problem of evil once for all at the cross. Colossians 2 says,
He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross. ~ Colossians 2:14-15, NLT.
In addition, it says in the Book of Revelation,
I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. ~ Revelation 1:18, KJV.
Jesus triumphed over Satan at the cross, and took the keys of hell and death away from him at that time, and as a consequence, death has lost its sting, as it says so well in 1 Corinthians,
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57, ESV.
Even though Christ dealt with Satan at the cross, making a show of him openly as it says in Colossians, we won’t see the complete outworking of that victory until Christ returns at His Second Coming.
I think I’ll stop now. I’ve covered a lot of ground here, and meandered around a bit. I probably could’ve made this into two posts, especially because it got kind of long, plus I ended up on a different topic than I started out on, but I’m not sure I want to. Maybe I can tie it all together.
When someone is seeking their own justice, which is basically what vigilante justice is, they’re committing murder because they don’t trust the criminal justice system. Trying to exact your own justice is the wrong way to go about it. Killing another human being is always wrong no matter what, except if it’s in self defense.
God must be the judge, not man, and He works through the criminal justice system, as flawed as it is because it’s run by human beings. We need to trust that the truth will come out in God’s timing. You can’t hide anything from God. It says in the Book of Numbers,
But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. ~ Numbers 32:23, NLT.
So that’s all, folks!