42 years ago, I , along with my husband (now ex) committed insurance fraud. I was 22 years old and found out that I was pregnant. We had no health insurance and no money for the costs of having a baby. I panicked and came up with the idea of getting rid of our car in a deep lake in order to get money. The car was worth $1700. We did this and reported the car as stolen. The insurance company sent a check for $1700.
I became a Christian a year after this episode. It has bothered me off and on over the years and I confided in some people about restitution, but they said because my sins were forgiven I did not need to pay back the money. Lately, I have really been seeking the Lord, and this matter has again come up in my mind and heart. How does one make restitution when something has happened so many years ago, and will I have to go to jail. I don’t have the money and am on a fixed income. I want to do the right thing. Can you advise me what course to take?
So you committed insurance fraud by sinking your car in a deep lake and collecting insurance proceeds after reporting it as stolen? Now you’re seeking the Lord in your old age and the Holy Spirit is telling you that you have unfinished business. But to call out your age or your fixed income, the fear of going to prison, or the amount of time since the sin — all sounds like excuses to keep from doing what you know the Lord wants you to do.
James 5:16 says to confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. You need to confess this in person to a mature believer who will pray with you about it. Then you must agree to do whatever is in your power to make it right. Let the Holy Spirit lead you and that other person to what He wants you to do to make it right.
Even at your age, you can submit to the authority of the law – which the Bible tells us to do. (Romans 13:1-7) It’s possible that wherever you live there is something about the age of a crime that makes it not punishable. (Some U.S. states have that law.) But even if they do, you must be willing to go to jail in order to obey the law. If you aren’t then one must really ask how badly you want the Lord.
Please write back and tell me what you’ve done to make this wrong a right in the Lord’s eyes. I’ll be praying for you in the meantime.
I have several comments to make in regards to the advice given to Linda. Quote: ”Now you’re seeking the Lord in your old age and the Holy Spirit is telling you that you have unfinished business” unquote. Comment: No one has the ability to seek out the Lord and that statement is not scripturally sound. It is written in (Joh 15:16) YE HAVE NOT CHOSEN ME, BUT I HAVE CHOSEN YOU, AND ORDAINED YOU, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. Second witness: (Joh 6:65) And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that NO MAN CAN COME UNTO ME, EXCEPT it were GIVEN unto him of my Father. Third witness: (2Ti 1:9) Who HATH SAVED US, AND CALLED US with an holy calling, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS, but ACCORDING TO HIS (that would be God’s) OWN PURPOSE AND GRACE, WHICH WAS GIVEN TO US in Christ Jesus BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN…… * If people find themselves seeking out God, then whom do they think inspired them to do so in the first place? The Father “DRAWS” [Gk: ‘dragging ’]” us to Christ (John 6:44). You don’t come into the kingdom without an invite. What may seem like a “uncaused decision” on our part to come to Christ but, in reality it is the Father dragging us by many unseen circumstances beyond our view or control. God is very subtle in His works and God is very good at executing His will and desires (Ecc. 3:11). The very thought that mere men suddenly become inspired ON THEIR OWN to seek out God is totally unscriptural, and if one persist in this notion then why pray tell did Christ die on the cross? Has man now achieved his own ability in self-salvation? I think not! * Quote: “But to call out your age or your fixed income, the fear of going to prison, or the amount of time since the sin — all sounds like excuses to keep from doing what you know the Lord wants you to do. Comment: Seriously!?! This sin had taken place 42 years ago, I don’t condone sin, and neither does Christ but, let’s review what action’s Christ engaged in when confronting a known sinner. We can find this scene in (John 8:3): * And the Scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman TAKEN IN ADULTRY (A very serious sin according to the Law of Moses); and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, IN THE VERY ACT. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned (Killed): but what sayest thou? During this conversation with Scribes and Pharisees, Christ IGNORED the accusers and began writing in the sand whereas the Scribes and Pharisees must have read, and after doing so, one by one they departed from the temple until it was Christ and the prostitute alone in the temple. Well, imagine that! * What did Christ tell the prostitute to do about this sin (John 8:10-11)? When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, AND SIN NO MORE. Did the prostitute repent bitterly before Christ right then and there? Apologize to her partner in this sinful act? Did the prostitute make things right? Did Christ tell the prostitute to turn herself in again, to be at the mercy of the Scribes and Pharisees, only to be subjected to the punishment of attending a rock concert where no music is being played and she would be the main attraction? Seriously? No! Christ said “ GO AND SIN NO MORE”! Christ confronted another sinner that one will find in (John 4:16-18) Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. Did Christ demand that this sinner make it right by the guidance of the Holy Spirit? No, no He didn’t! You causally quote James 5:16 but did you really read it? I’ll quote you on this scriptural reference you presented: * Quote: “(James 5:16) says to CONFESS YOUR SINS TO ONE ANOTHER and pray for one another SO THAT YOU MAY BE HEALED”. You go on to state, and I quote: “Then you must agree to do whatever is in your power to make it right”. * Comment: Where in this verse that you presented states such actions? Where? Jesus Christ is the one that will make things right, not man, and is done through prayer! Quote: “Let the Holy Spirit lead you and that other person to what He wants you to do to make it right”. Comment: Linda did exactly that by confronting you with this sin. Please present scripture indicating that the Holy Spirit will lead a person to “Make it right”? Quote: “Even at your age, you can submit to the authority of the law – which the Bible tells us to do. (Romans 13:1-7) “ * Comment: (Romans 13:1-7) Does indeed indicate what God’s expectations from believers are while under worldly authority however, these verses speak nothing of sins from the past, or making things right. Does this verse actually say that? No it does not. Take a closer look at Saul of Taurus, before his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. * Saul’s sins were: * His consent in the stoning of Stephen to death (Acts 8:1, 22:20) He persecuted the ecclesia relentlessly (Acts 8:3) He “Breathed out threating’s and slaughter (murder) Acts 9:1 * Just to name a few sins of Saul, and that being said, when and where did Saul/Paul go back to each and every individual, including Stephen’s family as well as other believers that were slain by Saul’s hand, persecuted, and displaced, “MAKE IT RIGHT”? Where is this evidence in which greatest sinner that ever lived performed any actions of “making it right”? Here’s how God made it right: * (Act 9:15-16) But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for HE IS A CHOSEN VESSEL UNTO ME, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: FOR I WILL SHEW HIM HOW GREAT THINGS HE MUST SUFFER FOR MY NAME’S SAKE. Why will Paul suffer such great things? (Heb 2:2) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence (just retribution) of reward; * Linda’s sin is nothing in comparison to that of Saul/Paul who was the Chief of all sinners (1Ti 1:15), and to even suggest that she relive this issue with the insurance company is highly questionable and not scriptural. Once she became a believer she now must follow the commandments that you offered in (Romans 7:1-13) and God willing, Linda will repent bitterly for that sin, and “GO AND SIN NO MORE”. Linda’s “Just recompense” appears to involve the destruction of her marriage and no telling what else she has endured throughout the years. Rest assured in the scriptures. * Quote “It’s possible that wherever you live there is something about the age of a crime that makes it not punishable. (Some U.S. states have that law.) But even if they do, you must be willing to go to jail in order to obey the law. If you aren’t then one must really ask how badly you want the Lord”. Unquote. * Comment: I find this statement to be nothing more than dangerous and reckless and would highly suggest that another course of action be taken that is biblically sound, and divinely inspired. Or does one suggest that Linda be thrown back into the lion’s den? * God knows the sins we have committed, and our sins yet to be committed. * (Job 14:16) For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? Well doesn’t God know and watch over our sin? Didn’t God determine that man would sin from the very beginning and make accommodations for man’s shortcomings? * (1Pe 1:19-20) But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD, but was manifest in these last times for you (that would be us). Or does the expectation remain in which man needs to “make things right” ? Ponder this thought of why evil and sin are a great part of our lives. (CLV-Ecc. 1:13) “It is an experience of evil GOD HAVE GIVEN TO THE SONS OF HUMANITY TO HUMBLE THEM BY IT .” * This response is not a per se a “get out of jail free card” by any means. God did say that: * (Rom 14:12) So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. (2Ti 4:1) I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; * (2Pe 2:9) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: * Linda appears to be remorseful about this sin or she wouldn’t have brought it up 42 years later, and God has something to say about these actions: * (Heb 8:12) For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. * Jer 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. Scott
Michael B says
All sins are “sins from the past”, none of them are from the future. Think about that. Once you sin your sin is in the past. If a sin being in the past automatically gave us a “get out of jail free card” as you put it, we would never need to pay heed to how we live our lives. – Michael
Read it again Michael, and stop reading what I said like you would review a headline in a newspaper. (Heb 2:2) For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence (just retribution)
My goodness, how snarky.
I think she has been forgiven.
Linda has been forgiven. Of that there is no doubt. But the need to make restitution is most definitely Biblical. Let’s look at the facts. Restitution is the act of returning something that has been lost or stolen or compensating for the theft of or damage to property. In the Bible, it most often refers to an owner being reimbursed by someone who has stolen or harmed the owner’s property. It is completely biblical for someone to pay for damages or loss. But it is not necessarily biblical for a Christian owner to demand restitution. Restitution was a significant part of the law God gave Moses. The Bible expected that if property, livestock, or even oneself were harmed or taken, the owner would be compensated. Several laws regarding biblical restitution can be found in Exodus 21—22. – Exodus 21:7-11: If a woman’s husband rejects her, he is required to provide her marital rights, anyway. – Exodus 21:18-19, 22: When the Good Samaritan provided for the wounded man, he wasn’t just being kind. He was fulfilling the principle of restitution for an injured man. It was standard to compensate a victim for the work they were unable to do and provide for their care during convalescence. – Exodus 21:20-21, 26-27: Most likely, the “slave” was a Hebrew who had sold himself to indentured servitude for seven years to clear a debt. If the owner killed the slave, the owner would be punished because he killed a person. If the slave lived a day or two, there was no definitive way anyone could say the death was directly caused by the injuries, so the owner was not judiciously punished, but because the slave was part of his household, he had already lost the labor and provided for the slave’s convalescence (equivalent to Exodus 21:18-19, 22, as the owner owned the labor). But if the owner harmed the sight or teeth of a slave, the slave was free to go, and the rest of their debt was cleared. – Exodus 21:28-30, 32: If an ox killed someone, it would be stoned as the murderer of a person. If the ox was known to be violent, the owner would also have to pay, either by being stoned, or by redeeming his life with money. – Exodus 21:33-34: If a man’s carelessness caused the death of another’s animal, the careless man had to pay the value of a live animal and deal with the carcass stuck in a pit. – Exodus 22:1-3: The payment for injury or death was one-for-one; the repayment for theft was much higher. For oxen, five oxen were required; for sheep, four sheep were required. One reason for the discrepancy may be that oxen are gelded. Four sheep could make many baby sheep, but gelded oxen can’t make baby oxen. – Exodus 22:5-6: Carelessness, either by unsupervised animals or by burning chaff from fields, that caused damage to a neighbor’s property, was to be repaid from the careless farmer’s own produce. – Exodus 22:14-15: If a man borrowed an animal or a piece of equipment from a neighbor and damaged it, he was required to make restitution. But if the owner came along to help or supervise, the owner should have prevented the damage, and no restitution was necessary. – Exodus 22:16-17: If a man seduces a virgin, but her father does not consider him an appropriate match for his daughter, the man needed to provide a bride-price. The woman was no longer eligible to be married to another man (except to a particularly gracious man, like the husband of Rahab), and she would need support the rest of her life since she would never have a son to care for her. In the Bible, restitution was expected and those who do not repay show a lack of good character. Psalm 37:21 says, “The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives.” Zacchaeus, a tax collector who Jesus met, exemplified the beauty of restitution. When confronted with his lifestyle of stealing under the guise of government work, he admitted his sin and restored to the people four times what he had stolen from them (Luke 19:7-10). The Old Testament law was based on restitution. It was more practical than modern imprisonment because it actually fixed the wrong that the owner suffered and directly matched the punishment to the crime. In addition, it served as an illustration of our position before God. Exodus 22:10-13 talks about an owner entrusting a friend with something precious that gets stolen, broken, or killed. In a way, God did that with us when He breathed into us and gave us life. We destroyed that life through our sin. Through the practice of restitution, we realize how much we owe God, and how we can never, ever pay back what we have taken from Him. The New Testament addresses restitution from both the debtor and the owner’s point of view. Romans 13:7-8 says, “Pay to all what is owed to them … Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” But the theme of the New Testament is the forgiveness of obligation. The parable of the unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:21-35) is an illustration of how God forgives our debt and how He expects us to forgive those who owe us. Matthew 5:42 is the perfect example. It says, “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” The “give” in the first part of the verse doesn’t mean to lend with the expectation of a return; it means to give freely to meet another’s need. Matthew 6:12 shows that our relationship with God depends to a large degree on how much we forgive others. Even the Old Testament created a culture of debt forgiveness. Hebrew slaves were only to be held for seven years, and every fifty years, at the Year of Jubilee, every debt was to be forgiven, and the land restored to the family which originally owned it. As believers, we should deal honestly with the world. We should repay our debts and give restitution for the harm we have caused. But we should also show love to others by forgiving what is owed us. It is not wrong to receive restitution, or even to request it. Civil justice exists for a reason (Romans 13:1–7) and forgiveness does not necessarily imply lack of consequences. However, our heart should be one of forgiveness and gentleness. We never seek restitution as a means of vengeance (Romans 12:19–21). Instead, we are to love our enemies and refrain from retaliation (Matthew 5:38–42). We do not demand our rights, but treat others with love, trusting in God’s provision. And we should always remember the debt that we owe Jesus for dying on the cross for our sins. For this debt, we will never be able to make restitution.