This past weekend, a small church in a small community was attacked by a man with a gun. Lives were taken from churchgoers between the ages of preborn to 77 years old, and the young gunman died soon after his attack.
In recent years, I’ve looked at situations in places like Syria and thanked God that my children were born in a country where they didn’t stand a strong risk of watching parents, cousins, grandparents, and siblings gunned down right before their innocent eyes. But with massacres such as the ones in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs becoming more commonplace, nearly a monthly occurrence now, I fear that sort of safety is no longer something we in America enjoy.
We can debate laws and gun control, and the ifs, ands, and buts of their effectiveness on alternative outcomes to these massacres will forever remain hypothetical. I, for one, am inclined to believe that if someone wants to kill, they don’t need a gun to do it.
But that begs the question of why someone feels the desire to take another’s life. Regardless of what some judges, atheists, or everyday Joes might argue, a basic law in America – that it’s illegal to murder another person – is rooted in God’s Word (Exodus 20:13). Still, how many people have ignored that law since God spoke it to Moses and etched it into stone? Or how many people have ignored it since America jotted it down and adopted it into its code?
What is it within us that looks at a law or a rule and decides to rebel against it? We know that no good can come of this rebellion, and still we go against what we know to be right. That doesn’t always present itself as a man with a gun pointed at another person. Sometimes it lives in our decisions to feed our flesh in the form of idolatry, sexual immorality, gluttony, covetousness, or disobedience to our parents.
The truth is this sort of rebellion has been around since the beginning, when Adam and Eve chose to go against God’s instruction for them:
“Just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin,
and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”
We all harbor a sin nature that has been with us since our beginning. And no good comes from feeding that natural tendency. In fact, the Bible tells us the cost of doing so is death (Romans 6:26).
To simplify: Sin = Death.
Death, by its own name, is dead. Something that is dead is not living on its own. Death found its first fleshly vessel in Adam, and humankind has chosen to continue giving life to it ever since.
But Romans 6:26 doesn’t end with the wages of sin; “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” it continues.
Paul writes in Galatians that having been crucified with Christ, he no longer lived, but Christ lived in him. “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me,” he says. He considered himself “dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ” (Romans 6:11).
So we are dead in sin, but when we are dead to sin, that means we are dead to death. If death is dead, without a vessel, then only life is left, and that is something only found in Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Paul chose to be a vessel for life instead of death. Jesus says in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus is always alive, because He is life. But He remains the light in the world as long as He is in the world. He could do that in any form He sees fit; it just so happens that that form (or one of them, anyway) is through His believers, His vessels.
As long as we are in this world, we are among sin, which means we are among death. Thanks to Adam and Eve, that comes with the territory. By condoning or ignoring sin, we continue to give life to it, to things that are dead. Death to our sin nature is the only cure, and that’s something that is only accomplished through Jesus.