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PERIL #13: “MEN SHALL BE . . . FIERCE”
by Philip Owen

One of the remarkable things about the list of perils before us is that, without the warning from God’s Word, we might be tempted to view most of the problems they reveal as merely inconveniences.  Like the Levite in the “Parable of the Good Samaritan,” we might look on them and then pass by on the other side, giving them very little thought.  But the peril before us today is of a different stripe.  It is a retrogression from the preceding peril of incontinence, or lack of self control.  The danger it presents is physical and, therefore, readily apparent, and difficult to walk around.  A society that has sunk to “fierceness” is in a pernicious state of decline.

 

“Men shall be . . . fierce” (II Tim. 3:3).  Literally, the word means untamed.  But in context, the connotation does not include any of the gentler associations with the word but only the vicious and violent ones.  While it is true that a squirrel and a robin are equally untamed with a lion or a bear, it is in the sense of the latter two animals that we are to understand the word in its present context, in other words, brutal, savage, merciless.

 

History is rife with examples of man’s fierceness and savagery.  Such characteristics have plagued the human race from the time of Cain and Abel:  it is the expression of the sin nature left to its own unrestrained devices.  What is peculiar to the brutality of these last days in America is that it has sprung out of, not a backward, uncivilized, deprived culture, but out of what many might regard as the most educated, enlightened, richest, in short, civilized culture in modern history.  A mere fifty years ago, many people, except in the worst of neighborhoods, felt safe leaving their homes and cars unlocked.  Children were safe playing outside alone for hours, even roaming far from home with a sense of security.  The threat that someone might cause another bodily harm was real but still distant to most Americans.  The contrast is striking.  The peril stark.  And designedly so.  It is a clear warning from God that judgment impends, for when a society is characterized by fierceness, judgment is its only remedy.

 

Everywhere we turn we see evidences of this fierceness.  Though there are occasional dips in the graph, becoming the victim of a violent crime exists as a real threat to the majority of Americans.  But assault, rape, and murder are not the only evidences of the brutality that rages in our midst.  Can there be a greater evidence of the searing of our consciences than the prevalence of abortion?  It is difficult to imagine either a more brutal or a more inexcusable act.  The cream of our society, those who should be the protectors of all that is good and noble and wholesome—young mothers-to-be—are the very ones embracing this brutality against their own bodies and their own would-be offspring.  Such brutality is unheralded, unconscionable and the most glaring evidence of the depraved peril of these times.

 

Much of this spirit is fed by many aspects of popular culture, including rock music with its promulgation of the violent and perverse, violent movies, and video games with their vicarious brutality.  When the lines between human and bestial and civilized and savage behavior have been so thoroughly erased, peril is rampant.  Some scorn the parallels drawn between our society and that of ancient Rome.  But the nature of man does not change, and the parallels are striking.  Rome had not yet fallen when tens of thousands of its citizens flocked to the Coliseum to watch gladiators fight to the death or Christians being slaughtered by wild animals.  But that outward violence, an evidence of its moral turpitude, was a harbinger of its inward corruption.  Rome fell from internal rot.  The enemy has announced his presence:  he is within us.

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