Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Penn State and Aurora: The Reality of Sin

Two events have certainly been in the news in recent days. Both of them underscore an important Bible doctrine, yet in both cases, the truth is basically ignored by the media and others who offer opinions on the question of "Why?"

The first incident is the Penn State child abuse situation. I refuse to take a position on Coach Joe Paterno's involvement and responsibility. His defenders suggest he did everything he could have and should have done. Others want him crucified posthumously. I wasn't there. I don't know. It is hard to know who to believe, because almost everyone has an agenda. I believe it is unwise to take a strong position on either side of such an issue without really knowing what did and did not occur. Too many in the media are so quick to offer opinions that later turn out to be dead wrong. However, Joe Paterno's guilt or innocence in the matter is not really my point. 

Quite telling is the fact that those who hold the latter position quite obviously believe that evil actions overwhelm a lifetime of positive accomplishment. Theologically, it would be difficult to disagree with that. Sin corrupts and destroys. However, many would believe that we mere humans have a right to vilify someone based on our assumption that what we believe he or she did was wrong, but they somehow deny that God has the same right. "God wouldn't judge me. After all - if my good outweighs my bad, He will let me into heaven. He will be fair." So while many people think God must be held to some kind of manmade standard of fairness, it is totally OK to judge our fellow men based on a manmade standard of justice.

The foolish assumption that our "good" can outweigh our "bad" is a denial of the nature of sin in comparison to the righteousness of God. God is holy and perfect in righteousness. Any sin is an offense against God, the holy and righteous One. One sin is enough to condemn a person, because we fall short of His perfect standard. "... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, NKJV). "...The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, NKJV). All humans stand guilty before God. "...that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19, NKJV).

This assumption is also a denial of our need for a Savior. God, because of His love and by His mercy and grace, has provided salvation for all who come to Him through the Lord Jesus Christ. His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead provide the perfect solution for the dastardly problem of sin. So when someone chooses to villify Joe Paterno, whom they assume to be guilty, they have a small glimpse into God's view of sinful man, whom He knows to be guilty. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23, NKJV).

The second incident, which for a time has take attention away from the first, is the horrific and dastardly shooting of 70 (12 dead, 58 wounded) people in a theater in Aurora, Colorado. There were immediate questions about why this happened, but little, if anything, was said in the media about the sin nature that is at the root of all such actions. President Obama announced that this was "not a time for politics," but that did not stop the media and politicians from politicizing the situation. It was suggested that the shooter was a member of the "Tea Party," yet it turned out that the tea party member with the same name as the shooter was more than double his age.

Others tried to somehow connect the shooting to Rush Limbaugh. Whatever someone thinks of Rush Limbaugh, this accusation is just as absurd as blaming the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin because she had used the word "target" in various campaign ads. How about blaming the individual who pulled the trigger? Individual human beings (sinners) commit sins. Everyone is responsible for his or her own actions.

Still others, in a very predictable manner, started in with the same old "gun control" arguments that always surface when an incident such as this occurs. Never mind that in 1990 in a New York nightclub, the mass murder of 87 people was committed with a container of gasoline and a couple of matches. By the arguments made by the gun control people, mass murders could be prevented by outlawing gasoline and matches. This is obviously absurd, as is the same argument when made about guns, because it again ignores the basic nature of man. Man is sinful, and the sin issue must be dealt with. No amount of pretending that man is basically good can change or cover up the evil in the world.

Only God can deal with sin, and He has done so through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,  by which also you are saved ... that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, NKJV). "For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12, NKJV).