Government cannot change the heart of mankind, eliminate evil

I join everyone in mourning over the Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre. Words cannot make sense of what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14th, 2012. In people’s attempt to rationalize the actions of an obviously deranged 20 year old young man, many are already turning to the government for answers.

I try to put myself in the shoes of one of the parents dealing with the loss of their precious child. I almost immediately come to tears just imagining my 7 month old being ripped from this life into eternity so suddenly and cruelly. While my tears are nothing compared to the extreme sorrow, emptiness, and anger those parents and family members of the fallen must be experiencing, one thing is for certain- I would not be looking to my government or it’s leaders for answers. Nor would I be blaming them.

Many have opined what should be done so that all of those innocent lives who were slain do not die in vain. Life is but a vapor (James 4:14), and no amount of human effort can bring those that were lost back to us. As a result, our human instinct is to want to do everything in our power to prevent more incidents like it from occurring again. Those in positions of leadership honestly believe they have the power to do so. And naturally, with a large portion of the people who elect them calling for some type of action, our leaders are inclined to act.

But while government can and should take reasonable steps to protect it’s citizens, one thing it or it’s leaders can never do is change the heart of mankind. The only power that can make such a change is a moral authority outside of ourselves. As a Christian I believe this moral authority is in God the Father- the Creator of the entire universe. But because He knew we could never work our way up to Him, He came down to us in the person of Jesus Christ. And through simple faith in Jesus, the true heart-change of mankind occurs by the power of God’s Holy Spirit. However, the specific beliefs of the Christian faith are outside the scope of this article. I certainly realize and appreciate that many other traditions of faith accomplish the task of keeping evil at bay in our world by way of similar moral authorities.

The specific point that has been on my heart to discuss is that as God has been removed from schools and public places, it seems evil has invaded these same places. I do not believe this is a coincidence. Many people have been wondering why these massacres and other horrible incidents have been increasing in recent years, and their first instinct is to place blame- guns, mental illness, even God for not stopping it from occurring. It seems the only time some people believe in God is when they want to blame him for the bad things that happen in this world.

What’s often ignored and even scoffed at is the very real presence of evil in our world.

As Erick Erickson wrote recently-

Our society has turned its back on discussing evil. Evil, like God, is mythology to many in our country even when confronted with it at the barrel of a gun… The world is full of sin. It is easy for the non-Christian to look at what happened and rationalize away that the person was mentally ill, we need gun control, etc.

So let’s discuss evil, and it’s root cause- the human heart when left to it’s own devices (i.e, without a moral authority). Since this blog is on “Christian perspectives”, that’s what I will share…

Many people relegate evil, and more specifically Satan, to a myth because they immediately conjure up images of the incorrect human depiction of him- a red devil with horns and a pitchfork. But just as God is unseen, so too is his nemesis in this world. In the Bible, Satan- the representation of evil in this world- is called the “price of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). More specifically, he is given the title “ruler of this world” (John 12:31).

But why does an almighty God, who is ultimately sovereign and definitely good, allow evil to rule this age in which we live? While I don’t claim to be a theological scholar, my understanding is because an unbelieving world has turned their back on him. Or as depicted in Genesis with the fall of man- ignored His guidance. But while unbelievers and scoffers of good vs. evil narratives are “caught in the snare of the devil” (2 Timothy 2:26) and “lie in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), believers in God are no longer under the rule of Satan (Colossians 1:13). And no matter what you choose to call him- the devil, Satan, the evil one- the human vocabulary has it’s limits when attempting to provide a true and accurate representation of something we as mere mortals grasp to understand.

Why these little innocent children? Many have asked this question, myself included. It’s enough to shake one’s faith. God, in his sovereignty, does not spare us the effects of sin in the world- and sadly innocent lives, too, can be caught up in the effects of this sin. But the Christian knows by faith that Jesus weeps over every consequence of unbelief (Luke 19:41-44), and welcomes home the little children (Matthew 19:14)- safely into His arms. Furthermore, the day will come when there will be no more tears, pain, mourning, or death- all these “former things” will pass away (Revelation 21:4).

I welcome a conversation on topics such as responsible gun ownership, the mental health crisis in our country, the glorification of violence in our movies and video games- just to name a few. But let us not close our eyes to the true cause of death in this world, and more importantly, what can be done about it (hint: Romans 6:23 provides our answer).

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My prayer for the families and friends of the children and adults killed-

Lord Jesus, I lift the surviving family members and friends up to you. Comfort them as only you can. Give them peace during this time of pain. Make it known to them that those they have lost are safe with you, that they have new bodies now, without pain, beautifully perfect again as you created them, anxiously awaiting their reunion in heaven. In Your Name I pray…”

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Scripture references from this article (some partial, NKJV translation):

  • James 4:14: “…For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
  • Ephesians 2:2: “…you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air,…”
  • John 12:31: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
  • 2 Timothy 2:26: “…and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.”
  • 1 John 5:19: “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”
  • Colossians 1:13: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love”
  • Luke 19:41-44: “41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”
  • Matthew 19:14: “But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.””
  • Revelation 21:4: “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
  • Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

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