Mass Murder and the World in Which We Live
I make no excuses for the wicked and horrific acts of men, nor for my own wickedness and transgression. But when we ponder over children being murdered in our world, we ought to strip away the layers of sentimentality about this place, and consider just what kind of world it is in which we live.
It is a place under God’s curse, for God said to the first rebels, “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen.3:17-19) As if to interpret this, God tells us that “against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope,the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. (Rom. 8:20-23).
Jesus told us that “from within, out of the hearts of men, proceed evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and they defile the man.” (Mark 7:21-23). He told us that, “in this world you will have trouble,” (John 16:33)., and called us an “adulterous and sinful generation.” (Mark 8:38). He was continually casting evil spirits out of people, including two men who were “so extremely violent that no one could pass by” where they were. (Matt. 8:28). Jesus told us that “no one is good but God alone.” (Mark 10:18). He said of the devout religious leaders of his day: “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44). He said that spouses divorce each other “because of your hardness of heart.” (Matt. 19:8). He announced: “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes.” (Matt. 18:7). Jesus had no illusions about the world of men.
God brought a destructive flood upon the whole earth because he saw “that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5). Shortly after bringing His children into the promised land, God observed that “the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals, and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the Lord to anger.” (Judges 2:11-12). Indeed, in Israel, as in our world, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). The history of Israel is a litany of wickedness and rebellion against God. The New Testament tells us that “with most of them (i.e., the Israelites), God was not well-pleased.” (1 Cor. 10:5). Far too many of them were idolators, sexual transgressors, and grumblers. And so it is with us in our world today.
We live in a world where “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth in their wickedness.” (Rom. 1:18). In our world, people who are “professing to be wise, became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” (Rom. 1:22-24). Just as we “did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them (and us) over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, the not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
We live in a world where virtues are turned in to vices, and where vices are honored, where greed and covetousness are exalted as drivers of civilization, where narcissism is promoted as “self expression,” where the wisdom of the elderly and the ancients is thought quaint and irrelevant, where fornication and adultery are celebrated and glorified as something beautiful, liberating, and enlightened, where blowing people’s brains out in video games is for too many an obsession, where “putting a cap in someone” in gangsta rap is hip and cool. We live in a world where we have “stubborn and unrepentant hearts.” (Rom. 2:5). Indeed, we are told that in this world, “there is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, none who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of snakes is under their lips; whose mouths are full of cursing and bitterness, and their feet are swift to shed blood. Destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Rom.3:10-18). We live among “a crooked and perverse generation.” (Phil. 2:15). God says that this is a “present evil age,” (Gal. 1:4), and that we “all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Eph. 2:3). “In the last days difficult times will come, for men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2 Tim.3:1-4). God tells us that we “lust and do not have; so we commit murder. [We] are envious and cannot obtain, so [we] fight and quarrel. [We] do not have because [we] do not ask God. [We] ask and do not receive because [we] ask with wrong motives, so that [we] may spend it on [our] pleasures.” (James 4:2-3).
Further, God tells us that there is a personal devil in this world, who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). Further, most of us walk “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (i.e., the devil), the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:2). This is a place full of “the rulers…the powers…the world forces of this darkness…the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12).
Some will protest that this is too one-sidedly negative, that the world also has good in it, that it is also suffused with the grace of God. Indeed this is true, but it simply cannot negate the stark reality of which God reminds us: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9) It was because of our desperate situation as humans, our great wickedness and rebellion against God and our contempt for each other, that God came down here in the person of Jesus on that first Christmas, to save us from our sins. He did not come because our situation was just kind of bad; he came because it was dire and critical. We’re on death row, awaiting execution. For this, the Christ child was born. To tell us the truth, without sentimentality, and to redeem us from our fallen, broken, and rebellious state, Jesus died. Let us not “pretty-up” our reality. Let us not gloss over the unrighteousness within and among us. But let us turn to Jesus, and cast ourselves upon Him, desperately desiring His mercy. Turn our hearts to Thee, O Lord, and deliver us from the evil one. Make us your own, and own our desires and actions, for Your glory’s sake.