In early February, a sheriff’s officer clocked a 2020 grey Kia sedan cruising at a brisk pace of 95 miles per hour on Interstate 10 through Florida’s panhandle. The two men, in their mid 30’s, were driving back to Orlando. The vehicle was headed east towards the metropolitan areas of Orlando and Miami. This corridor is a major feeder for drug trafficking into the Sunshine State, so officers are constantly on the lookout for signs of smugglers.
Federal law permits officers to stop those who are breaking the law, issuing arrests and tickets accordingly. But the Fourth Amendment prohibits the search of vehicles without probable cause, or reasonable suspicion. One lawyer explains it this way:
“Basically, a law enforcement agent’s hunch without proof of illegality isn’t enough for him or her to look through a car legally. Before rummaging through a vehicle, the officer would have to observe something illegal. Examples of this are seeing or smelling an illegal substance. An admission of guilt by the person driving the car is another situation in which an officer can legally examine a car.”
When the officers pulled the vehicle over last weekend, right in plain sight, they noticed two bags. Each zip-lock container was labeled “Bag full of drugs.” This sight, of course, would have doubtless provoked a number of questions, but more importantly, it prompted enough reasonable suspicion to warrant a search of the car, and the bags. Inside, Santa Rosa County Sheriff officers found methamphetamine, GHB, cocaine, fentanyl, MDMA tablets, and various drug paraphernalia. Both the driver and passenger were booked into the Santa Rosa County Jail without bond, and remained in custody Tuesday afternoon. Later, the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office posted the following message to Facebook:
“Santa Rosa K-9 Deputies recently assisted [Florida Highway Patrol] on a traffic stop on I-10 where a large amount of narcotics were discovered. Note to self — do not traffic your illegal narcotics in bags labeled ‘Bag Full Of Drugs.’ Our K-9’s can read.”The Fourth Amendment is a valuable protection against unlawful search and seizure. But to a God who knows all, words like probable cause and reasonable suspicion are meaningless. He knows with complete clarity. We may attempt to hide our sins, or at least not place them in bags labeled “Bags full of wicked things.” but still he sees. He sees when the door is closed. He hears when the windows are shut. He knows even when the browser history has been completely wiped.
After declaring that the word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword,” the author of Hebrews warns: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Fortunately, the author does not stop writing with these sober words. He continues “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession” (Hebrews 4:14). We cannot cover our sin. But Jesus will. We only need to confess (or tell the truth which he already knows) and repent (change our mind about the wrong we’ve done).
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