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Why are so many of us upset and, yes, even angry at the events that occurred yesterday during the Boston Marathon?
Because something on the inside of each of us speaks to a violation of our standard of what is right and what is wrong and, conversely, when our standard of right and wrong is violated, something within us longs for justice to be done so that our benchmark of what is right (righteousness) might be restored. This is true whether it be police investigating terrorism or parents dealing with a child’s temper tantrums. In either case, there exists a standard of justice that resides within us all that, when distorted, longs to be made right.
However, this perspective is not limited only to us. God also has a standard and, whether you realize it or not, your standard of righteousness or “morality” (as some would say) is rooted in God’s standard of righteousness. Romans 1:19 reads, “…because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.”
Try as we might, the truth is that the innate character of mankind is such that we are not naturally inclined treat one another righteously. In fact, just the opposite. Which is exactly why, in yet another display of hard-headedness and futility, our response to what happened yesterday in Boston will no doubt be to enact more laws, all under the misguided notion that we can legislate ourselves into treating one another better. But, consider this, God found Cain guilty of murder (Genesis 4:9-11) long before the Ten Commandments were ever given (Exodus 20:6-17).
That God deemed the violence perpetrated by Cain against his brother as murder prior to God giving Moses the commandment “Thou shalt not murder”, speaks not to Cain’s refusal to obey the law (because there was no “law” yet against murder), but to the condition of Cain’s heart despite the fact that there was yet no “law”. Hence, man’s penchant to sin is innate. The desire to sin is so deeply embedded within our hearts that we don’t need laws to serve as an impetus to sin.
When it comes to sin, we’re like Nike© – we “just do it.”
Whomever is responsible for the bombings in Boston knew that what they were doing was wrong. They did. In their heart they knew it. And, yet, they did it anyway. Was the problem that existing laws weren’t strong enough or stringent enough to prevent the person from doing what he did? No. It was that his heart’s desire to disobey the law was stronger than the desire to obey the law. And, consequently, he made the volitional decision to give in to the former rather than the latter.
Consider, again, for a moment, the account of Cain and Abel. In Genesis 4:7, God warns Cain to his face about the dangers of consenting to his sinful urges, and yet, in the very next verse, Genesis 4:8, Cain commences to murder his brother. How does one explain this?
You see, man’s problem isn’t that he fears the law, otherwise, logic dictates that more laws would produce fewer acts of violence, would it not? No, my friend. Man’s problem is not that he fears the law or even those who are charged with enforcing it. Man’s problem is that he doesn’t fear God. Jeremiah 2:19 reads, “Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you; know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you forsake the Lord your God, and the dread of Me is not in you,” declares the Lord God of hosts.”
Truth be told, the reason we set off bombs to kill people is because we don’t fear God. We cheat on our spouses because we don’t fear God. We steal from one another because we don’t fear God. We lie to each other because we don’t fear God. And this reverential fear of God can be realized only through a heart-transforming encounter with His Son, Jesus Christ, not through the enactment of or forced compliance with an ever-expanding list of laws.
More laws is not the answer. It never was and will never be. People’s hearts must be changed; and it is only through the power of God’s Word that such lasting change can take place.
“Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” – Ezekiel 18:31 (NASB)