What if I broke a civil law by not acting?


Am I in continual sin if I broke a law that required me to report a crime or do something? What if I didn’t act or say or do anything as required by the law? It was years ago and I try to be a better person today. I admit sometimes I have black or white thinking and can be extremely rigid or extreme in my thinking. It’s basically all or nothing. Since the US laws say there’s no statue of limitations in reporting this crime, am I in continuous sin for breaking that law and risking hell until I do? What if that law says that a failure to act can result in a fine and loss of things like federal funding? Since I broke the rule or law, am I still sinning by my child receiving federal funded insurance due to my sin? How can one repent if they haven’t publicly told or been punished for not adhering perfectly to the law of the land?


"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing" (Romans 13:1-6).

Human law is not equivalent to God's Law. As Christians, we try to be in subjection to our governments, but since their authority comes from God, if their laws violate a law of God, then God's law comes first.

You are not in continual sin. You chose not to report a crime in the past. That was an instance of neglect. I don't know if there is a reason you are choosing to keep the crime hidden, but it seems to me that if God's Law is not being violated by reporting the crime, then there should be no reason you can't just file a report about the incident with the police. If it is a crime that you committed, the U.S. laws forbid self-incrimination. You are not required to turn yourself in. But if the police ask you about the crime, then you have to be honest in your answers to their questions (or decline to answer the questions). The Old Testament Law also had a provision against self-incrimination in a court.

When you break a law of God, such as by being disobedient to the governing authorities, you change your behavior and ask God for forgiveness. As a part of your repentance, you try to fix what you may have done wrong, though many things in the past cannot be undone.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email