Fruit of the Fall

A few months back, a deranged shooter shot his way into an elementary school in Connecticut and killed children and teachers. This incident has spawned a tremendous national discussion about gun control, mental health, violence in general and the security of schools. Various groups have tried to blame inadequate mental health care, violent video games, the availability of “assault rifles,” even “gun-free zones” in schools and other public places that don’t allow people to carry guns that might be used to deter such an attack.
When a tragedy like this occurs, especially when young children are killed en masse, almost everyone has an opinion and certainly anyone who is paying attention and has a heart is asking, “How could anyone do such a thing?”
So what is the answer? Biblically, the answer is one that almost no one wants to hear. In fact, many will reject the real answer out of hand, and many of those who reject it profess to be biblical Christians. But truth can never be the slave of opinion, and Bible truths will often be rejected simply because they are absolute truth, that is, truth that transcends and opposes human opinion.
To understand, we have to go back to the beginning. The biblical account begins with the creation of the world and with the two people God created to populate it, Adam and Eve. But though they were created innocent, they disobeyed their Creator and fell into sin. Since that time every human has been born the heir of Adam’s sin. Within a few years of that fall, Cain, the first-born son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother, Abel. Some commentators believe the word used for this particular “murder” in I John 3: 12 means “to kill by slitting the throat.” Jewish tradition says Cain slammed a rock into his brother’s head.
So understand, the very first child born into Adam’s sin killed his own brother. Why? According to the I John passage, “because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” So begins human existence. If we continue the story, we find that one Cain’s descendants killed a young man for revenge and then proudly claimed that “If Cain shall be avenged seven-fold, then Lamech seventy-seven fold.” In other words, Lamech believed that, if he didn’t get away with this killing, his relatives should perpetrate a mass slaughter.
A couple of chapters later in Genesis, God gives Noah his reason for visiting the world-wide flood on humanity, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6: 12 So humanity had continued on the path of slaughter set for them by Cain.
But surely humanity has gotten better since then, right? Remember what Pharoah did in Egypt, killing Hebrew infants? Remember Herod’s response to the news of Christ’s birth? He killed all of the male children in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.
But we’ve become so much more civilized since then, right? Attila the Hun, Idi Amin, Hitler, Pol Pot? We know the names of these mass murderers, some of them responsible for the deaths of millions. But how did they kill all of those people? They had many thousands of willing accomplices, Nazi soldiers, Cambodian death squads. In Africa even today thousands of children are being recruited to commit murder in the Sudan. Indeed, the “earth is filled with violence through them.”
Martin Luther wrote that violent human behavior is restrained by civil law, by the power of ruling authorities, by the teaching of parents and the expectations of society and by the influence of the Holy Spirit in the world. But there are some people who care nothing for law, we call them criminals. Some of them are violent, hence our prisons are full and overflowing. And why is it that those violent video games are best sellers? Is it not because some people, many of them young, long for a way to exercise a tendency to violence without running afoul of the law? Of course, the vast majority of gamers are satisfied by the violence within the game and don’t seek to harm anyone outside of the game.
When, however, some few people, often young men, become disconnected from the these limiters of violence in society, law and religion, there is nothing to keep them from indulging those fantasies, whether they come from a game or other source. Dylan Quick, who recently slashed several people at a Houston community college, said he had fantasized about stabbing people since he was 8 years old. The Sandy Hook killer had created a “score board” seven feet by four feet with tiny print that he used to calculate how many children he would have to kill to gain a “top score” among mass murderers. And, of course, when religion, as in the case of radical Islam, promotes violence as a point of doctrine, we get mass murderers like the Tsarnaev brothers who lurk in the shadows and blend into society until they find the opportunity to slaughter innocent people.
But make no mistake, these killers, who seem insane to the many who live under and honor these limiters of the natural violence of humanity, are simply behaving as all of society would–and did in that period before the flood–when not restrained. I was speaking recently to someone who grew up in India, and he was talking about the constant, almost daily incidents of mass murder that take place in that country. This populous nation has a history, especially in the last 100 years, of phenomenal violence between religious groups, ethnic cleansing, continual reprisal, but these events seldom make the news in the U.S.
In nations founded upon the principles of reformed Christianity, there was a limiting of this kind of violence for at least a period of time. Especially in places like England and America, where the Christian Reformation influenced government and society at the most basic levels, religion and law largely became one. Of course there were events, like the British using force to quell resistance in its many colonies and most grievously, the Civil War, where Americans killed each other until 600,000 died in one of the most remarkable displays of violence perpetrated by government upon its people. Even these are clear evidence of the compelling violence in the nature of man.
So what is the solution? The Bible tells us that there will be a time, after great bloodshed, perhaps the greatest the world has known, when Christ will establish 1000 years of peace (Revelation 20) and that then there will be one last rebellion against God which He will crush and then introduce a “new heaven and a new earth” where there will never again be “death, sorrow or crying” where the “nations of the saved shall walk in its light and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.” (Revelation 21)
Until that final bringing of peace, the only true peace to be had in this world is the peace that Christ brings to those who come to Him in repentance and faith. Romans 8: 6, 10: 15, 12: 18, 15: 13. We can never bring peace to other people without bringing them to Christ, and this world will never know peace until He finally brings it by His sovereign rule.

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