Search Results For "guilt by association"

The notion that everything made by humans “has guilty associations” that are relevant because of Romans 3:23 is a faulty notion.1 Consider what Scripture teaches in the following passages about something that certain humans made or used.

The Holy Anointing Oil

God commanded certain humans to make this holy anointing oil:

Exodus 30:25 And thou shalt make it an oil of holy ointment, an ointment compound after the art of the apothecary: it shall be an holy anointing oil.

All the humans that ever obeyed this command had “sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Nonetheless, God commanded them to make an oil that God declared was holy. In obedience to God, many people in Israel’s history made this holy oil.

Asserting that this holy anointing oil had “guilty associations” because of Romans 3:23 because those who made it were sinners does not establish anything of relevance or significance concerning divine acceptance of the legitimate human making of that oil and of the legitimate human use of that oil for the purposes for which God commanded that it would be used in His service.

The Sacrifices of Cain and Abel

From the standpoint of Romans 3:23, both Cain and Abel were humans who had “sinned and come short of the glory of God.” God, however, accepted Abel and his sacrifice, but did not accept Cain and his sacrifice:

Gen. 4:3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.

4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering:

5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

Clearly, the notion that everything “has guilty associations” because of Romans 3:23 is a faulty and irrelevant notion for explaining God’s differing responses to the worship offerings and activities of these two sinful humans.

A Woman’s Anointing Jesus with Spikenard

Mark 14 provides another passage that refutes the faulty notion that everything “has guilty associations” based on the teaching of Romans 3:23:

Mark 14:3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. . . .

6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. . . .

8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

A woman anointed Jesus with some very precious ointment of spikenard. Scripture does not reveal anywhere that there were any divine commands for her to do so. We know, therefore, that the divine acceptance of her use of that ointment was not because she was doing something that God had commanded to be done.

Furthermore, because Scripture does not provide any evidence that Jesus Himself made the ointment, we know that whoever formulated or compounded the ointment was a sinner. The woman who applied the ointment to Jesus was also a sinner.

Nonetheless, Jesus declared that she “wrought a good work on” Him. Undeniably, therefore, what she did was acceptable to God, and the manmade product that she used to do what she did was acceptable to God for use in the way that she used it.

Any possible considerations about the ointment or the woman or her actions having “guilty associations” because of Romans 3:23 were totally irrelevant and are of no significance for our understanding that what she did with something made by sinful humans was acceptable to God and did not have any “guilty associations” worth considering or mentioning.


The treatment above of three passages shows clearly how Scripture itself refutes the notion that everything “has guilty associations” that are relevant and must be taking into account because of Romans 3:23. Arguing on such a basis and in such a manner is unbiblical and invalid.

1 This post combines and expands on material from three posts that I made in a discussion on Sharper Iron.

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Second Samuel 21:1-14 relates an account that seems to clearly show king David’s righteous “use” of guilt by association (GBA) in a forensic context.

Atonement through Divinely Approved Judicial Selection of Those Who Were Put to Death

When God judged His people with a famine, David inquired of Him and learned that it was because Saul killed some of the Gibeonites:

2 Samuel 21:1 Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David enquired of the LORD. And the LORD answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.

David then consulted with the Gibeonites about the matter and asked what he could do to atone for Saul’s wrongdoing:

2 And the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them; (now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel, but of the remnant of the Amorites; and the children of Israel had sworn unto them: and Saul sought to slay them in his zeal to the children of Israel and Judah.) 3 Wherefore David said unto the Gibeonites, What shall I do for you? and wherewith shall I make the atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the LORD?

The Gibeonites told him that they wanted to execute 7 descendants of Saul. David agreed to do so:

4 And the Gibeonites said unto him, We will have no silver nor gold of Saul, nor of his house; neither for us shalt thou kill any man in Israel. And he said, What ye shall say, that will I do for you. 5 And they answered the king, The man that consumed us, and that devised against us that we should be destroyed from remaining in any of the coasts of Israel, 6 Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the LORD in Gibeah of Saul, whom the LORD did choose. And the king said, I will give them.

David spared Mephibosheth, who was lame in both feet, which makes it very unlikely that he had participated directly in the slaying of the Gibeonites:

7 But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the LORD’S oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

David handed over two sons of Saul and 5 grandsons of Saul to be put to death by the Gibeonites:

8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite: 9 And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.

God approved of what David as the king1 did by “being intreated for the land,” which clearly implies that He ended the famine as a result of what David had done:

2 Samuel 21:14 And the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son buried they in the country of Benjamin in Zelah, in the sepulchre of Kish his father: and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was intreated for the land.


The passage does not say anything about God’s revealing supernaturally to David which living descendants of Saul had personally participated in the unrighteous killing of the Gibeonites. The passage also gives no indication of David’s making a very thorough inquiry and investigation to make sure that he only delivered up descendants of Saul who were actually guilty by having directly participated in the wrongdoing.

Rather, David seems to have used guilt by association in selecting the seven descendants of Saul who were executed to atone for Saul’s wrongdoing.


As the Spirit has framed this account, it seems clear that David righteously “used” GBA in this forensic context to deliver over 7 descendants of Saul to be put to death by the Gibeonites.

1As the king, David was the supreme human judicial authority over the people in his kingdom (2 Sam. 8:15; cf. 1 Kings 10:9; 1 Pet. 2:13-14)

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

Writing about ungodly people who had infiltrated the people of God, Jude declared the following:

Jude 1:11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

In this statement, Jude pronounced a divine woe on these evil men for their sinfulness, including their having gone in the way of Cain. Clearly, this part of his statement thus makes known an aspect of their wickedness for which they had incurred this declaration of God’s judgment on them.

We must also not fail to notice that the Spirit inspired Jude to issue this condemnation of these people without defining in any way what comprises “the way of Cain.” In fact, we are not given any information in Scripture by which we can know what this sinfulness of these wicked people actually was that resulted in this inspired statement that explicitly associated them with the wickedness of Cain.

God clearly condemned these people for being wicked, and He did so by associating them with one or more unspecified aspects of the wickedness of Cain. This passage therefore certainly shows that Scripture does “use” guilt by association to speak about the wickedness of people without explaining or showing how their wickedness was the same or similar to the wickedness of another sinful person with which they were associated!


Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.

In a recent thread on Sharper Iron, I posted the following remarks concerning why many believers reject secular testimonies that speak about demons and music:

Another frequently used basis for rejecting these testimonies is the claim that believers who use these testimonies to argue for the rejection of music of the occult commit multiple logical fallacies in how they use those testimonies. Such claims include the purported use of guilt-by-association (GBA), the genetic fallacy, hasty generalization, and ad hominem.

To address the claim that GBA is routinely used to support the fallacious rejection of music of the occult, it is necessary to examine various passages of Scripture. Consider the following comparison of passages about Balaam:

Numbers 31:14 And Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle. 15 And Moses said unto them, Have ye saved all the women alive? 16 Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD. 17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.

Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

In spite of 1400-1500 years (we do not know this time span exactly but can approximate it closely enough for our purposes) having elapsed after Balaam’s death, the glorified Christ indicted believers in a Christian church for having people in their midst who were holding the doctrine of Balaam. We know with certainty that Christ was not guilty of using the GBA fallacy when he rebuked the believers in this church for doing so.

Scripture does not provide any basis for our understanding that the doctrine of Balaam had been faithfully transmitted by his followers for all those hundreds of years since his death and had spread from where the Midianites had been all the way to Pergamos. How, then, was the glorified Christ able to validly declare that in essence the same perverse doctrine that greatly corrupted ancient Israel was corrupting a first-century church?

Because I have not received any interaction on that thread for several weeks now, I have decide to discontinue posting on that thread and continue posting further information on the topic here. To profit fully from what I plan to treat in future posts, I encourage you to go and read all my preceding remarks in the thread, “What Does 1 Corinthians 2:14 Teach about What Unbelievers Cannot Know?

Copyright © 2011-2024 by Rajesh Gandhi. All rights reserved.