I read a good Biblical counselor and pastor named Paul David Tripp one time mention an “inner lawyer.” It was the voice in one’s soul that tried to make sin not a big deal. Ever since, then, I’ve periodically thought about mind. He’s obnoxious, relentless, constantly wrong, and well-paid. He’s the smarmy, inner guy with slick-backed hair who tries to get his wicked client, namely me, off with a slap on the wrist.
He doesn’t understand that the only verdict that can save me has already been laid out. I was set free by Jesus Christ’s payment for my sins. So his days are numbered.
But, until that day when I fully know and am known by Christ, here are some tricks my inner lawyer pulls:
1) Puts whatever I said in the best possible light and whatever the other person said in the worst.
The biggest liar I know of is my own memory. You know how in a movie it’s not so much the lines or even the events that make the story compelling or suspenseful or hilarious or vengeful so much as the music, the close ups, what the director chooses to leave in or out? That is how my memory is, when under the control of my inner defense attorney. I will recall facts correctly, often. The actual words I remember the other person speaking may be darn close to what he or she actually said. But the tone of voice, the eye movements, the facial expressions, even the surrounding circumstances all get re-done so as to make him or her far more villainous. Far more the aggressor. Far more the problem.. Meanwhile what I said gets re-shot, in the movie of my mind, in the best possible way for me. I am the one with the heroic, patient cadence. I am the calmer head using gentle and righteous presentation as he comes from a noble place. In my memory, whatever I said came out with the tone and motives of Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips or Saving Private Ryan, while whatever the other person said was as obviously mean and two-faced as Scar in The Lion King.
2) Says that my sins were justified because of X, and X sure isn’t the Cross of Christ.
An attorney’s first effort, as I understand it from Law and Order and Perry Mason reruns, is to make the case there is reasonable doubt his client did the unlawful thing. If that fails, his efforts move to proving his client was justified in doing it, by reason of insanity or self-defense or some such thing.
My attorney, against the jury of my own logic, is virtually shameless in this type of defense. My inner lawyer will try to justify just about any sin I commit.
“You were tired…”
“You’ve been through a lot lately…”
“Everyone does that…”
“You do far less bad things than ___________.”
Each of these defenses robs God of glory by trying to make the Cross of Christ less necessary. My sins are every bit as bad as they look at first blush, and the only thing that can justify a sinner like me before God is the perfect work and person of Jesus Christ.
3) Says sin isn’t sin.
Now like I said, real lawyers try to say their clients didn’t break the law; but our inner lawyers know what we did and didn’t do, so to get us off the hook they sometimes say that what we did wasn’t really unlawful. What I did wasn’t really lying. There isn’t really anywhere in the Bible that says I’m supposed to obey my boss. The scene in that movie wasn’t pornography, and so I didn’t lust, not in the Biblical sense.
This is garbage, and he knows it. I sinned, and usually a lot more than I can even remember. The Word guides my heart and conscience, the Spirit convicts me, and the Father forgives me in Jesus.
I don’t need any of this guy’s underhanded tactics.
I should repent of my sins, because they are sins. And I should receive the Father’s forgiveness for them, because Jesus did much to earn it.
My inner lawyer doesn’t have a useful function. The trial has already been decided. God has made His pronouncement over me in Christ Jesus.
In other words, case closed.