Guilty Until Declared Innocent

The presumption of innocence is “A principle that requires the government to prove the guilt of a criminal defendant and relieves the defendant of any burden to prove his or her innocence” (Legal Dictionary). I have watched enough episodes of Perry Mason and Matlock to know that someone is innocent until proven guilty and that the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. 

The tenet that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty has some biblical root. Deuteronomy 17:6-7 and 19:15-21 establishes laws requiring the testimony of witnesses to convict a person of a crime. In order to be convicted of a crime, one must be proven guilty of the crime and not just suspected of a crime or probably guilty of a crime. 

Human nature tends to convict people in the court of public opinion upon arrest and arraignment rather than by court and conviction. Therefore, it is probably wise to withhold opinion until trial by jury (or perhaps a plea bargain).

There is a major exception to the tenet of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. This exception could be termed ‘guilty until declared innocent’.

According the Bible, we are all guilty of sin in the sight of God. Romans 3:23 says, “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. No one is exempt. Everyone is guilty in the sight of God because the standard of being without sin or guiltlessness is the holiness of God.

The only relief from our state of guilt is a full pardon from God. Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, came to earth for the expressed purpose of dying so that we could be set free from our sins. The Bible states, “and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John1:7b.

Upon confessing our faith in Jesus and what He accomplished through His death and subsequent resurrection, we are declared innocent by the blood of the Lamb.

We are indeed all ‘guilty until declared innocent’ by knowing and loving Jesus. Have you been declared innocent yet? If not, it would be a good time to ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and ask Him to become your Lord and Savior.

Something to think about …