A Nation Given Over By God
October 17, 1999 / No. 2963
Already the horror of the brutal killing of twelve students and one teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado fades from our minds. Memories fade of the frantic voice of a young girl begging for her life, and of another young girl, a Christian, witnessing a good confession that she belonged to her Savior and then being killed. Very quickly that event joins a growing list: Jonesboro, AR; Peduka, CT; Pearl, MS; Springfield, OR. Parents send their children to school with fear. Teenagers come to school apprehensive. Polls are taken asking students whether they feel safe and whether the security systems now being put in place are adequate.
Yet, one question persists and burns to be answered: Why do these things happen? The human mind rejects such events as meaningless and unrelated. So politicians and psychologists and newscasters and commentators try to furnish the American people with some type of plausible explanation. Why? Governors are quoted as saying that a virus is loose on our culture. Time magazine and other magazines offer the insight that the bottom line is: “A particular environment imposed on a particular biology turns a child into a killer.” Some speak of risk factors, of coming from a family where there is a known history of criminal violence or abuse. Others speak of gangs, abusive drugs, problems at school, gun control. Still others speak of the biology of violence – neurological problems that impair correct thinking. And some even insist that it is related to one’s diet and that one should eat fewer eggs and drink less milk. The world cannot come to an answer. Why?
The answer can be found only when we look to heaven. It can be found only when we come to God and to God’s Word. There we find the answer. When that answer now is given to us from the Word of God it is not spoken without sympathy, without feeling for those who suffer under such tragedies. It is not spoken with an attitude of being “holier than thou.” It is spoken by a believer, a believer who is convicted, with all Christians, that our life, our attitude, and our thinking must be governed by the Word of God, and that it is the Word of God which tells us why man is what he is and why the world is what it is.
Why? Why do such things happen? The Word of God points us, first of all, to the depravity of the human heart. The Word of God tells us that we must not begin by looking at outside influences, not even at the chemistry of the brain. But the problem of man (your and my problem) is to be found in the heart, a heart which is corrupted in sin.
What happened is an example of the sinful depravity of a human heart. The problem does not find its solution simply in a few isolated events or a few isolated people. The Word of God teaches us that all are fallen into sin and that sin is depravity and that man’s problems do not begin from outside of himself but are to be traced within. The Savior said in Mark 7:14, 15, “Hearken unto me everyone of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.” The Scripture states the problem correctly, it states it honestly and forthrightly, that man’s problem is the depravity of his own heart. Romans 3:10-12, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Man is a fallen sinner. Mankind and the human heart are as depraved as they can be. The problem is sin, sin which began already in Paradise when Adam transgressed the command of God, sin which brought devastating consequences. The first parents, Adam and Eve, were grieving parents. Cain, their son, killed their son Abel, his brother.
Especially when we are spurned, when we are ostracized, there is a reaction. When others hurt us, or we imagine that they have hurt us, by nature we become filled with envy, hatred, resentment. The human heart, apart from the grace of God, is a world of iniquity, it is deceitful, it is filled with evil. If you desire to have the answer as to why, then God’s Word points you to the stark, inescapable reality of the depravity of human nature.
But the Word of God goes beyond that. The Scriptures make plain that these things begin to happen and sin develops in all of its gross forms because of a widespread rejection of the truths of God. Today the truths of God are cast aside and men claim that there are no consequences for spurning the truth of the living God. But not so. Take, for instance, the truth that man was created by God. That is set aside today by the theory of evolution. America says that we can forget God, that man is simply a complex one-time amoeba, that man is not a spiritual being related to God or responsible to God. We can throw all of that out. Man is simply a product of evolution. He came from a lower life form and he simply expresses evolutionistic urges within him. They say to us that, as you cannot tell a horse to be faithful to its mare, as you cannot tell a lion to quit killing, so also you cannot tell man not to do what he finds within him. Man must be free to do what he feels urged to do. So, instead of submitting to the Word of God, man says “This is the rule we will live by: If it feels good, do it.”
Politicians say, “One thing for sure: we must get rid of the violent games on videos and the violent movies.” Yes. But as they speak, what about abortion? In abortion there is violence. In abortion there are no stuntmen, there are no video-graphics. But there is the killing, the taking of life. We live in a society in which it is not at all unusual to hear that a girl is pregnant, and then later that she is not pregnant. Why? Because there was a violent destruction of human life.
Still more, there is the widespread rejection of morality as it is given by God. Our society says that there are no absolutes. Our society says, “Who gives you the right to say what is wrong and what is right?” They reject the law of God. Especially there is the widespread rejection of eternal damnation, of punishment for sin, of the results of wickedness. They say that any church that proclaims the truth of the Scriptures concerning eternal punishment is a church that must be dismissed as a relic of a twisted past. But what do the Scriptures say? The Scriptures are very plain that the wages of sin are death. The Lord Himself, more than any other in the Scriptures, spoke of the fact that there is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, of a fire in which the worms die not. The Lord’s own words were that He would say to many in the day of judgment, “Depart from me; I never knew you; enter into the pit prepared for the devil and all of his angels.” Man refuses to hear the truth of the judgment of God.
As a nation, we have rejected the truth of eternal hell. As a nation, we have bought into the idea that man is cut loose from God, cut loose from accountability to God, that there is nothing anymore which is absolutely wrong or right.
Still more. Our culture feeds on perversity. Our culture idolizes evil. And then at the same time it dares to ask, Why? The Word of God again is very plain. The Word of God warns us up front of the power of a sinful influence. The Word of God tells us that sin is not just an abstract concept but is a power to infect and to control and to pervert. I Corinthians 15:33, “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” That is, a person’s companions, and what other people say and do in his presence, has an effect on him. We live in a society of video games, violence, movies, blowing people away, sadistic rock music. Supposedly, when you watch that stuff it will not have any influence on you at all. You will still be able to make informed and intelligent decisions. When even little children mimic the movie hero who grabs his revolver and blows someone away; when they play the video game in which a person walks down the hall shooting at anything that pops up, and doing it for hours; when there is the transvestite, Marilyn Manson, minister of the church of Satan, giving out his song “Get the Gun,” then the argument is that there is no connection between that and what happens later.
Perhaps I cannot connect all the dots for you. I cannot say to you, “The reason is twenty-five percent the movies that are shown, and thirty-four percent the video games, and forty-one percent the music and the sadistic rock.” I cannot tell you how much each of them contributed. But if you deny that there is a connection between our society which idolizes perversity and what happens in these events when students are slaughtered, the Word of God says you are a fool.
What about you as a child of God today? Do you play the video games? Is your video-game playing pleasing to God? Do you use the computer in a way that is pleasing to Him? What about your TV watching? Does that TV watching desensitize you to the horror of death and of murder? What about the shame that the Word of God speaks to us of fornication, of adultery, of uncleanness? What about your music listening? The music that you listen to, does it enhance your walk with God? Does it draw you closer to God? Does it set your heart upon spiritual things? Or, young people, is your unwritten rule concerning the music that you listen to: “Parents are not allowed. My parents must not know what I listen to.” Is that your rule for the music that you listen to? Do you hear the influence of evil? Do you hear the Word of God? Do you understand what pornography does? Do you know what evil will do when you take it and make it a plaything? Of will you, as a child of God, one day wake up and ask, “How did I get into this?”
The reason is to be found in the depravity of man. The reason is to be found in the rejection of the truths of God. The reason is to be found in a culture and society which feeds on perversity. The reason is to be found in that our nation is given over, by God, to its sins. I find no delight in saying that. That is the Word of God. Romans 1:18 is the portion that we must study. In verse 18 we read, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.” God is God. He is righteous and He is holy. The passage goes on to teach that, when men persist in their ungodliness and their unrighteousness, God in His righteousness gives them over to their sin because, when they knew God, “they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” And, according to verse 24, God “gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.” It goes on to speak of the perversity of homosexuality and lesbianism. God sits in His heavens. God is God. God judges a nation which rejects His truth. God judges a nation which spurns His law. God judges a nation which defends what He calls evil and unrighteousness, murder and perversity. The judgment that God sends to such a nation is that He gives it over to its spiritual darkness.
The most chilling words that I could ever read in the Bible are these words: “And God gave them up.” What did He give them up to? Read Romans 1 and find out that He did not simply give them up to an invading army. He did not give them up to the devastation of war. He did not give them up to communism to take away liberty. He did not give them up even to economic disaster and poverty. No. Verse 28 of Romans 1 says that He “gave them over to a reprobate mind.” When man insists upon his evil, God, in His righteousness, gives them over to his evil so that he becomes thoroughly corrupt and evil in his heart.
Our nation has made a god out of me. It is called the “Me-generation.” Life must be interpreted in terms of how I feel, what I want. Everything must revolve around me. I’m the great big beautiful me. That is idolatry. God is God, the only living God who must be loved and served. And when a society preaches false gods and makes each one god, that society stands before the wrath and the judgments of God.
Our society thinks that it can campaign against God and that it can do so without consequences. Our society insists that it can say, “No God!” and that will not suffer the judgments of God. But just because our society says that does not make it so.
What is our hope, our only hope? The only hope is the grace of God, the grace of God which will save, the grace of God which is able to break down the iron bars of the heart. And it must do that if we are to be saved. The grace of God, in the blood of Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our sins. The Holy Spirit, to change our hearts and to bring us into obedience to the law and will of God.
Not gun control. Not security guards at the school. A man must be born again. God Himself must change the heart. Only in the way of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, only in the way of a faith, given of God, which bows to the Word of God and says, “I am not God. I do not sit upon the throne of my heart. I do not determine what is right. I do not exist for my pleasures. The most important thing is not me.” It is a faith which says, “The only important thing is God – that I might know Him, obey Him, trust Him, serve Him, and belong to Him through Jesus Christ.”
That is the Word of God. Do you hear it?
Let us pray.
Heavenly Father, we hang our heads in sorrow, for we confess our depravity and our sin. We find that every evil exists within our heart. Especially, O Lord, when Thy Word is open to us, then we cannot say that there is a sin that we could not commit or that we have not entertained in our own hearts. For we are sinners. And a sinner is one who is vile and corrupt and dead. O Lord, we thank Thee for the gift of our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank Thee for His powerful salvation. We thank Thee for the assurance that Thy Word shall prevail, that it shall renew Thy children and bring them out of their sins in order that we might confess that Thou art God and that we might obey, love, and serve Thee. Grant this through Jesus Christ Thy Son. Amen.