The truth is, although there is a place for right legal counsel and representation, it doesn’t always work – and a “legal” opinion can sometimes hurt you. This applies on the personal psychological level, also. Everyone grows up with what we might call an “inner lawyer” – and it’s a defense attorney. We all have such a lawyer – an unscrupulous one – deep within ourselves, no matter how good our overall intentions may be. You may not remember hiring the lawyer within you, or paying him or her, but that “lawyer” is certainly there and is always on call at a moment’s notice.
Remember the last time you made a dumb mistake and when you were challenged by someone about it, you had an almost instant answer or excuse? That was your inner lawyer talking. Remember the last time you debated whether you should do something that wasn’t really right, but you came up with some pretty good reasons why you should do it anyway? That may well have been counsel from your inner lawyer.
Our human nature just naturally learns to defend itself in some of the ways a lawyer might defend us. Human nature will tell itself it’s not to blame for something, or even blame a situation on others. It will tell us that a thought, word or deed is not that bad – especially if it is OK in the letter of the law – because no one can keep the law perfectly, right? (You may have noticed that inner lawyers can quote scripture.) But just as the Gospel of Luke tells us: “… the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves …” (Luke 7:30 ESV), although our inner lawyer’s arguments may sound good, they really are at odds with what God is trying to accomplish in and for us.
Unfortunately, as a result, we will never grow spiritually or find real transformation as a Christian as long as we retain that inner lawyer. Psychologists may call what we are talking about “self-justification,” but it helps to think of the process as an inner lawyer because this makes it easier to spot the manner in which it works. Whenever possible we need to take time to think before we let that inner lawyer speak – and what's more, when the inner lawyer does start to wrongfully justify us, we need to be willing to fire him or her on the spot. It’s a kind of representation we really don’t need and are better off without. This is easier said than done, because we can fire the inner lawyer today and still have him or her show up again tomorrow – or even later today. It may take time to make this a habit, but if we want to really make progress in our Christian lives, to misquote Shakespeare, perhaps the first thing we need to do is fire all our inner lawyers.