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WHAT MIGHT WE LEARN FROM THE UNSPEAKABLE VIOLENCE IN OUR MIDST?
by Philip Owen

            We are beginning to understand what it would feel like to enter a boxing ring and stand up against a boxer who was much bigger, stronger, and quicker than we are.  The blows are powerful, harsh, and unrelenting.  We cannot stop the rain of punches from our opponent or even effectively counterpunch.  We stand, almost completely helpless, slowly wilting under the inexorable force of successive blows.  The recent spate of deadly violence that our nation has endured should not come as a surprise to believers.  It is not an aberration; rather, it was to be expected.  Our nation has consciously and deliberately taken God out of its knowledge.  We, who have had the most freedom to worship; we, who have been able to assemble freely to hear the Word of God preached; we, who have been able to turn on a radio, then a television, then other electronic media and listen to the preaching of the Word of God every day of the week and, eventually virtually at will have rejected the truth about the vicarious death of Christ as the only remedy for man’s fallen nature and have substituted futile humanistic solutions.  And we are now reaping the fruits of that rebellion.

            God was not lying when He said that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9, KJV).  And it would be a grave mistake to think that God’s comment about the nature of men in Noah’s day is a description confined to the antediluvians:  “Then the Lord 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).  While it is true that the vast majority of people do not resort to committing the horrific acts of violence to which we have been subjected so frequently recently, it is equally true that God is using these atrocious acts to reveal to all who have eyes to see just how hideous the depravity of the unregenerate human heart really is.

            This rapacious violence gets our attention, but we should always remember that not one person has ever gone to hell for committing murder—even mass murder.  Nor has anyone ever been condemned to hell because he had committed a succession of unspeakable crimes.  The most heinous sin, the most damnable deed is not one that is committed against humanity, as offensive as we find these crimes to be.  The most heinous sin is the sin of unbelief, of rejecting the Son of God and His payment for sin through His death on the cross, of refusing the infinite grace of salvation freely offered by God through Jesus Christ.  It is that rejection that sends a person to hell—nothing more and nothing less. 

            It says much about our jaded view of sin that we become sickened or incensed over these horrendous murders but barely blink an eye over the masses who arrogantly reject the Lord Jesus.  In that regard, the Lord has shared some of His thoughts with us.  “How will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:3a).  “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29).  “See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.  For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven” (Heb. 12:25).

            These all-too-frequent acts of mass murder are inexpressibly horrific, and we have every reason to recoil from them.   They give stark testimony to the nature of man when left to his own devices.  But the greatest outrage is that done against the blessed Son of God, “who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:6).  May we who know the Lord not “tsk, tsk” those sins while missing the sin that will bring men to hell.  May these manifestations of man’s inherent depravity produce great thankfulness in us that the Lord was pleased to redeem us and provide opportunities for us to point lost sinners of every sort to Christ.

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