Jump Start # 1972
Matthew 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
More thoughts on the Texas church shooting. If one stands in the shoes of an atheist, what makes the mass murder in the Texas church house wrong? This opens a much deeper thought for us and it helps us to understand why people think the way they do.
The first answer as to why shooting other people is wrong, is because it’s against the law. It’s against the law to kill people. So, in the eyes of the atheist, wrong is determined by society or a government. Because our laws prohibit killing others, then it is wrong. Be careful with that statement. It must be qualified. Our laws allow the killing of the unborn, called an abortion. Now, don’t go dumb and say, the unborn is a part of the mother’s body, like her gallbladder. The unborn can be a different sex, different blood type, different eye color and different hair color and you’d still say, it’s just like a gallbladder? I had my gallbladder taken out. I didn’t bring it home. No one threw me a gallbladder shower like they do a “baby” shower. Truth is, folks do not think abortion is wrong, because society and our laws allow it.
Go even further with this. If someone breaks into my home, the laws allow me to defend myself, including even shooting the person who broke in. If that person dies, I have not broken any laws. The government allows me to kill in that sense. Even in the Texas shooting, a neighbor shot the shooter as he was leaving the church house. The neighbor who shot him is being called a hero. The military and the police are allowed to shoot and even kill under certain guidelines. So, if killing another is wrong because society or the government says so, what happens if a society or government passes laws to put to death those in nursing homes? They are old. They are no longer productive. They costs a lot of money. If the laws changed, I guess we would have to say it’s ok, when standing in the shoes of an atheist.
This is why same-sex marriage has become acceptable. Laws changed and the government determines right and wrong. Decades ago, saying the “D” word was censored out of movies. Gone with the Wind, was the first to push that envelop. Now, there are commercials that use that word and it’s part of mainstream language. Why is it no longer wrong? Society, laws, government changes.
Here’s the point: without God as an anchor in our life, right and wrong always changes. There is never a time to say that a certain behavior is absolutely wrong. As society becomes comfortable with wrong and accepts wrong, wrong eventually becomes right.
This brings us to the important question, who determines what is right or wrong? Religiously, we could ask, ‘who determines what is sin?’ Because I call something ‘sin,’ does that mean it is? We’ve lived with little sins and big sins. We hear of white lies and black lies. Some classify sins as mortal and venial. Who determines what is right or wrong? The government? Society? The church? You? Me? Why is shooting people in a church building wrong? Because I think so? Because you think so? Because there are laws? If the laws changed, then would it be right?
Right and wrong is determined by God. This is why when God is removed from our hearts and from society, then man determines what is right and wrong. Corrupt and wicked men in power can pass laws that make wrong right. Sin is not determined by the church. It is not determined by man. Sin is a violation of God’s law. Our passage today illustrates this. Rather than doing the will of God, these people were doing what they wanted to do. Jesus said that their actions were “lawlessness.” That means, without law. They were acting as if they could do as they pleased. What they did seems not only innocent, but good and even something that we’d think God would like. They were prophesying in Jesus’ name. That sounds good. They were casting out demons. Jesus did that. They were performing miracles in the name of Jesus. How could any of that be wrong? It wasn’t the will of God. It was lawlessness. God hasn’t opened the door to allow us to do whatever we want. Worship is never “surprise Me” hour. God authorizes and we follow. We are to be obedient to God.
What makes the shooting in Texas wrong? It’s a violation of God’s law. What makes abortion wrong? It’s a violation of God’s law. What makes same-sex marriage wrong? It’s a violation of God’s law. Some of these things may be approved by the government. That doesn’t mean that God approves of it.
In Acts 5, when Peter was brought before the city officials for violating their law about preaching Jesus, Peter replied, “We must obey God rather than man.” When God’s law and man’s law move in different directions, we must follow God. When man’s law says certain wrong things are now right, we must follow God.
With the removal of God from society, we follow the whims of laws that are constantly changing. Our world is violent, mean and selfish. This isn’t the result of following God. This is the fruit of man trying to make the rules. It’s the blind leading the blind. A Hitler, with the backing of his government, could determine that certain people should not exist any longer. The Hitler story is not too much different from the story of Esther in which a government was going to eliminate the Jews. This story is not much different than a Pharaoh who decided that Hebrew baby boys should not live. This is not much different from a Herod who decided that boys around two years old ought to be put to death. This is the fruit of a government, the laws, determining right and wrong.
It is God who determines what is right and what is wrong. It is God, who through His grace, can call us righteous, which means being right. God can justify us, which means not guilty. God can cleanse us.
Sad and tragic events, such as this shooting in Texas, can make us look deep within and help us to see lessons that can change our lives. We all need to be walking with God. We need to follow God. Right and wrong is set by God. Life is precious. It is just a vapor as James tells us. Each day is a gift. We need to use it rightly. We need to glorify God with it. We need to be His instruments to help others.