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Americans desperately want to prevent another massacre like the shooting that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 from ever happening again. Many are hoping that increased gun control measures would achieve this goal. The first installment of this series listed some of the practical reasons why increasing gun control measures would not solve the violent crime problem in America. The second installment described some of the legal issues which would prevent legislation or executive orders seeking to severely restrict gun ownership from addressing the issue. Statistics in other countries which have drastically increased gun control measures indicate that increasing gun controls increases crime rates instead of reducing it. The right to bear arms is a basic human liberty guaranteed by the Second Amendment, so the government's power to restrict and control gun ownership is very limited. To reduce crime, Americans must acknowledge that the root problem is not the weapon itself, but rather, the condition of the human heart.
A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. (Luke 6:45a)
Ever since the original fall of man, mankind has been subject to evil. God, by definition, is perfectly holy and forever good. While God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, he cannot ever contradict His character. Thus, the perfectly righteous God cannot dwell with evil or sinful men.
"The perverse of heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with what is evil." (Psalm 101:4)
Yet, God, in His love and mercy, made a way to cleanse sinful hearts so that fellowship between God and man could be restored. All sin deserves death. Throughout the Old Testament, sacrifices of pure and spotless animals were offered for atonement for sin, but these sacrifices were never enough to pay the full penalty of man's sin. So God sent His perfect Son to bear the sins of all mankind in man's place. Christ's shed blood on the cross provided the perfect and complete atonement for all sin. Christ's battle with Satan has numbered his days. Soon, following Christ's return, Satan will be banished forever, and all God's people will live forever, free from sin.
Christ has already taken care of the root cause of violent crime for all eternity. Yet, for a set period of time, God is allowing evil to persist so that more people will have the opportunity to choose Christ as Lord and Savior for forgiveness of sin, freedom from sin's bondage, and eternal life with Christ. Authentic love is volitional. It cannot be forced or bought. Mankind has been given a choice. Choose God and live in freedom, or choose whatever false gods this world may offer. Too many people have chosen the gods of power, fortune, beauty, material possessions, sexual perversion, media figures, career, politicians, narcissism, or the ideological movement of the day.
"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
Christ passionately pursues every human heart. He knocks on the door of every human heart desiring that all would choose to open their hearts to Him. A heart surrendered to God and filled with His Spirit has no room for evil. While Christ followers are instructed to live in the world and to shine Christ's light into the world, they do not have to live in bondage to sin. While Christ does not guarantee an easy road, He does promise to carry believers through it. As Christians cling to Jesus, He pulls them up closer to Him so that sin and evil loosen their grip.
"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36)
When believers are raised with Christ, sin will be vanquished forever.
52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.... 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15: 52, 54-58)
Christ is the solution to the world's sin problem. However, there has been a strong push, especially over the past 40 years, to eliminate Christ's name from the public sector. Prayer has been removed from public schools. The Ten Commandments have been forced out of courthouses. Efforts have been made to eliminate God's name from public buildings, government assemblies, text books, and currency. History books have been revised to remove all mention of God or His hand in the founding of America. A British textbook publisher has even replaced Israel on its textbook map with "Occupied Palestine". (Learn more about Garnet Education's attempt to indoctrinate students with anti-western ideas here.) It seems as though God's name is only welcomed in public discourse when used in vain.
The theory of evolution and its accompanying "survival of the fittest" ideas have replaced all mention of the Biblical creation account in public schools and universities. The evolutionary worldview suggests that human life has no intrinsic value and merely evolved by random chance. It also insists that there is no moral law or God to whom man is accountable. Therefore, each man may judge what is right in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:5) This worldview makes it very easy for someone to justify murdering those he or she does not judge to be valuable. Teaching this worldview was an integral part of education in Nazi Germany where atrocities in eugenics so often occurred.
Television programs, movies, and music videos are filled with moral corruption to deaden the moral senses of the human heart. Video games are often filled with horrific violence and use 3D graphics to pull users into an extremely realistic digital world. For avid video gamers, it's a small step from killing human pictures on the screen to killing a classroom of living, breathing human beings.
Abortion is celebrated in America with one abortion being performed in Planned Parenthood centers every 94 seconds. The United States government contributed $542.4 million in 2011-2012 to this billion dollar industry. (Reference "Planned Parenthood's New Annual Report: We Did 333,964 Abortions; 1 Every 94 Seconds"). T-shirts that read, "I had an abortion" are now being sold to encourage others to come out about their abortion experiences. (Reference "I Had an Abortion' Shirt Sales Stir Controversy at University of North Carolina at Wilmington".) Planned Parenthood wants to remove the shame of having such a procedure for the sake of convenience. One woman recently aborted twins 20 weeks into her pregnancy after her pregnancy was quite visibly noticeable through a 2-day procedure involving induced labor and delivering the twins into a toilet. (Read more about that story here.) As acceptance of abortion increases, human life loses value in the hearts of mankind. God fashioned every human being in His own image and knitted together every human life wonderfully in each mother's womb (Psalm 139:13), yet Americans now believe that human life is only valuable when that life is convenient and greatly desired by the parent(s). When life is no longer regarded as sacred, there is nothing to stop an angry person from killing masses of innocent people.
Evil is at the heart of America's crime problem. Jesus Christ is the answer to this problem, yet the majority of Americans have rejected Christ as Lord or Savior.
1 I have a message from God in my heart
concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God
before their eyes.
2 In their own eyes they flatter themselves
too much to detect or hate their sin.
3 The words of their mouths are wicked and deceitful;
they fail to act wisely or do good. (Psalm 36: 1-3)
So, what can Christ followers do when its nation has rejected the Savior? In the book of Psalms, David asked this question.
2 For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11: 2-3)
Like so many prayerful Americans are doing today, David cried out to God to end the violence and make the nation secure.
"Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
and make the righteous secure—
you, the righteous God
who probes minds and hearts." (Psalm 7:9)
The first thing every Christian should be doing is crying out to God humbly, confessing both personal and national sin, and seeking His mercy and forgiveness. They must plead for revival and revere God's word, reading, studying, and meditating on it daily, as young King Josiah did as he led the nation of Judah into national repentance and revival as described in 2 Kings 22.
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Christians should be praying without ceasing for America and its leaders, for the preservation of families, for moral reformation across media outlets and other influences. They should be praying for this generation and the next to follow hard after Christ.
Christians must be faithful in sharing the hope for the entire world found only in Christ and to live a life consistent with their testimony. They must faithfully disciple new believers so they may grow in spiritual maturity and wisdom. They must meet together often for accountability and encouragement so that they may sharpen one another as iron sharpens iron. (Proverbs 27:17)
Christians should vote for God fearing leaders who love God more than power, so that power will not corrupt their hearts. They can ask God to raise up leaders who follow His commands and model righteousness to their constituents. Christians should vote with discernment, choosing leaders who are characterized by seeking God's wisdom in every decision so they may judge rightly. Christians may also need to heed a call on their own lives to righteous public service.
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” (1 Samuel 13: 13-14)
After the shooting in Connecticut, public awareness was raised regarding how to best support and help the special needs community and their families. Churches need to be more intentional about reaching out to those with special physical needs, neurological impairments, or various psychoses. These segments of society are too often neglected by the church even though Christ made them a priority. (Learn how Raleigh area churches are ministering to those with special needs here). The love of Jesus is for everyone, and it may be that God plans to reveal His glory in a magnificent way though the lives of those with special needs.
"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. (John 9:1-3)
The data indicates that violent crime primarily occurs in or near densely populated metropolitan cities. These high crime areas often have much more drug and alcohol addiction, fatherless homes, and gangs than suburban or rural areas. To reduce crime, Christians need to be investing their time, energy, resources, and hearts into these high risk areas. Instead of only engaging in political rhetoric about these issues, Christians should step out of their comfort zones to extend genuine friendship to those in these troubled areas.
A number of Christians in Raleigh, NC have purposefully relocated to inner city apartments so that they can develop closer, hands-on relationships with these people. Fatherless children need mentors to come along beside them and show them what it means to be a real man, surrendered to God and faithful to his family. Children from broken homes often struggle in school, so Christian tutors could meet this need while also sharing the love of Christ with those who long to be loved and valued.
Christians should be the hands and feet of Jesus, meeting these people were they are and inviting those with addictions to join them at loving support group meetings. Christian churches and organizations could help by offering free counseling sessions in a safe, non-judgmental environment. Focus on the Family, Family Life, and Family Talk are all very effective ministries offering a tremendous number of resources for hurting families. When individual Christians invest in relationships with the hurting, then they can earn the right to share these resources in a way that they may be received.
Christians could offer additional assistance by becoming involved in outreach ministries such as Love, INC. or the Raleigh Rescue Mission to provide basic physical needs, handyman services, childcare services, and fellowship to single moms. When these burdens are lifted from single mothers, then they are free to focus on parenting, disciplining and enjoying their children.
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:45)
Finally, Christians must never give up hope, give way to fear, or stop trusting in the sovereign God. He knows what lies ahead for America, and He has promised to never leave or forsake His people.
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
While the future of America is filled with uncertainty, Almighty God, who works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) and for His glory, will direct every step.
"A person’s steps are directed by the Lord.
How then can anyone understand their own way?" (Proverbs 20:24)
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