What Will It Take to Stop Evil? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kris Brewer   
Saturday, 22 December 2012 20:39

This week, like most people in America, I have been disturbed by the news story out of Newtown, Connecticut. A maniacal gunman walked into an elementary school, opened fire with a gun, and killed 27 people, 20 of which were children. We should be angry that this kind of despicable thing should ever happen!

 

In the aftermath, many broadcast and print journalists have raised the question: What can be done to stop such tragedies? Of course, they have run through all of the regular solutions. They have blamed guns, violent movies and video games. The solutions they offer are to simply ban those things, and hope that the violence will stop. Unfortunately, these solutions will not end the problems that we see in our society, they will only attempt to treat a symptom, which has never worked! The solution has to be found in identifying the true problem (which is much deeper than seeing such violence perpetrated upon the innocent), and then working a plan to deal with the problem rather than simply the symptoms of the problem. Banning guns, movies or video games will never stop evil men from doing evil things.

 

First, we must seek to identify the problems that have led to the violence that we have seen in our society. Some have identified the problem as a cultural issue, but they identify it as a “culture of violence.” While this may be a problem, it is not the problem. The problem is a cultural one, but it is far deeper, and far more damaging than just a problem of violence.

 

Removing God. It has been made perfectly clear in recent years that God has been removed from society as a whole. Of course, there are still many who claim to be religious, but they do not allow that religious inclination to interfere with their “real life.” God has been removed from government, from schools and from all public places. He has been deemed “offensive” to most people. Even to those who claim some allegiance to Him, the acceptance of the mantra, “separation of church and state” is evident. They believe that they must keep God out of their daily interactions. This has essentially rendered the moral instruction of the word of God null and void. While the Bible is viewed as a good book, with good ideas, the concept of requiring people to actually act or be obedient is rejected as politically incorrect. Removing God from society has led to some very pointed conclusions, that are at the very heart of the problems that we see facing our society today. Once God is removed, there is nothing left to guide the moral decisions of a society. Without God, one man’s choices are just as legitimate as another’s. There is no standard by which a person can choose what is right and what is wrong.

 

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight (Isaiah 5:20–21)!

When there is no accepted standard, it takes no time for evil to be thought of as good, and good as evil. This process is quite evident in our society.

 

Effects of Removing God. There are many problems that are brought upon a society that chooses to reject and exclude God. For example, it has become common place in our society to remove God from the explanation for the creation of this world. We, as a society, teach our children that they are the result of a cosmic accident. The world, and all that is in it came from a great mishap, and that they are here for no other reason than happenstance. General Evolution, though unproven, is spoken of as fact, and children are taught that they are no different than the primates from which they descended.

 

While most scientists applaud this teaching as a great advancement to our society, the fact is that it has caused severe and most likely irreparable harm. Children have learned from this teaching that there is no value to life. They see our government pass laws making it perfectly legal to kill the unborn, the most defenseless among us, without consequence. In fact, the choice to end the life of the unborn is often portrayed as somehow brave, and heroic. On the other end of the life spectrum, it is becoming more and more common place to end the life of the elderly, when the decision has been made that they are no longer of value to the society. Recently, some states have considered the prospect of assisted suicide. Foreign nations are already ahead of the US, proud of their progressive nature in this area. As our children watch this lack of respect for human life, is it any wonder that we now have a society that has so little regard for life? We ask why a man would carry a gun into an elementary school and kill 20 innocent children. It is easy to deflect the problem onto movies or video games, but the problem is much more deeply seeded than that!

 

Another result of removing God from society is that the society becomes very self centered. God instructs us to be servants, putting others before ourselves:

 

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3–4).

But, when God is removed from society, there is no reason for man to think of others ahead of himself. In fact, according to the principles of evolution, a man should think of his own welfare ahead of anything and everything else! Selfishness can make people act in ways that they otherwise would not act. One reason given for the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, was that the shooter was upset that his mother spent more time with her students at the school than she did with him. He believed that she cared more for the kids than she cared about him. Setting aside the idea that he may or may not have had mental issues, this indicates a serious problem with selfishness! We are cursed with a “me first” type of generation. Children are taught from an early age that they can have whatever they want, that they are the center of everything that happens around them. This leads to adults who believe and act in the same manner. Selfishness causes people to have a disregard for authority, and a lack of respect for their fellow human beings. If this manner of thinking is put together with the early teaching that trains children to have a disrespect for human life, it leads to very evil practices!

 

Another consequence of removing God from society is that men lose any sense of personal responsibility. If there is no moral standard, then there is no one to answer to. While this leads to moral depravity on a large scale, it also leads to people refusing to take responsibility for their own lives. This leads men to stop caring for themselves and their own families, instead relying upon others to take care of them. Instead of having a society of people that work hard to provide for themselves, we end up with a society in which many demand more and more from others. This is yet another symptom of the selfishness that is propagated in this society. If anything negative happens, most people look for someone or something to blame. If life doesn’t go as they desire, then they believe that someone else owes them something. This type of selfishness makes people greedy. Instead of learning to be content, men become envious of anyone that has more than they do. Terms like social justice drive people to believe that they are owed fiscal equality! Paul tells us how we should view our fiscal well-being:

 

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:6–10).

Rather than selfishness, which leads to feeling like a victim, we should celebrate our spiritual victory in Christ. While righteousness may not lead to wealth and fame, it does lead to an eternal treasure, stored up in Heaven!

 

Paul, as he wrote to the Romans, revealed the ultimate consequence of removing God from the cultural fiber:

 

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them (Romans 1:28–32).

In this chapter, Paul addressed the complete breakdown of the society in which the Roman Christians lived. One of the key identifiers of their departure from God was the acceptance of homosexuality without condemnation. When people reject God, they depart from what He has established as natural. In fact, the New King James translation uses the word unloving, but the American Standard Version says that they were without natural affection. How can a person kill innocent children, whether inside or outside of the womb? They are without natural affection. How can such wickedness exist, how can such depravity be so prevalent? So many in our society have been taught to have no affection for those around them.

 

What is the Solution? The typical offered solution to the problem of such wickedness in our society is to ban guns, ban violent movies, and ban video games. Each of these solutions have been proffered within the last week. Some have tried to approach the problem from the opposite standpoint, declaring that the only solution is to arm more people, just to stop the evil people. But, none of these solutions will put an end to the problems that we face as a society.

 

There is only one solution to stopping the evil that is present in our society: overcome evil with good.

 

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17–21).

We can only make a dent in the evil that is present by declaring the goodness and righteousness of God, the good news of the gospel message. The only way to stop evil men is to change their hearts so that they are no longer evil. We, as the children of God, must go forth teaching and showing by example that there is a better way. We must re-introduce the people of our society to the God that they have tried to expel from their presence.

 

By teaching about God, and the redemption that He offers we can open the door for a new way of thinking. Men can have a new hope, a completely new viewpoint on life. Instead of thinking of themselves as insignificant and unimportant, they will see themselves as being of the utmost importance. After all, how can one think of themselves as unimportant when the mighty God and creator of all that exists sent His own Son to die so that they could be freed of the guilt of sin that ensnared them? Realizing how great the value of one soul is will help to do away with the manner in which so many view topics like abortion and euthanasia. It will convey just how atrocious the taking of another life is, whether child or adult. When we understand that we have an obligation, a responsibility to a being that is greater than we can imagine, it becomes unthinkable that we could act with such disregard for our fellow men.

 

As you read this, you may think that the solution is over-simplified. Perhaps it is. We realize that we will never be able to stop every single person in this world who is determined to bring evil upon others. No matter what we might do, there will always be evil men who will do evil things. But, that should not deter us from doing our part. We can go forth and make every effort to share the good news of the gospel with everyone we have opportunity to teach. We may never know when we change the heart of one person who was poised to commit some evil and atrocious act.

 

I am reminded of the warning that Mordecai gave to Esther as he petitioned her to go before the king on behalf of the Jews:

 

And Mordecai told them to answer Esther: “Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13–14).

We may never know why we are in a particular place at a particular time, or what opportunities may have been laid before us. All that we know is that we can proclaim the good message of the kingdom of God and trust that message to change hearts and minds and bring them into subjection to the eternal king.

 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

We must focus on changing the way that men think. If we can accomplish that, then there is some hope for mankind, and some hope for our society. While it is unrealistic to think that we can convert everyone, we must work diligently to convert as many as we can to Christ. Let us change hearts and minds, and do what we can to stop the wickedness that exists.

 

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5–8)
Last Updated on Saturday, 22 December 2012 20:51
 

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This is the personal page of Kris Brewer, who currently works with the Gallatin Valley church of Christ in Bozeman, Montana.

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