The Sword or The Savior: The Only Two Constraints for Evil

On July 22, 2011, Norway was rocked by a heinous crime that remains an open wound. Anders Breivik, a 32-year-old terrorist armed with tactical gear, firearms and bombs, murdered a total of 77 innocent civilians, mostly teenagers enjoying their summer camp.

Breivik had long planned the massacre hoping to stir up sympathies for his political ideologies. His trial began on April 16, 2012 and lasted until June 19, 2012. He was found sane and guilty by a panel of five judges. This convicted mass murderer was sentenced to “preventative detention” for 21 years. The sentence can be repeatedly extended by 5 years as long as he is considered a “threat” to society. He received the maximum sentence allowed by Norwegian law.

Only weeks following the tragedy in Norway, the world once again looked on in stunned disbelief at mass barbarism in a “first world” nation—The United Kingdom.

On August 6, 2011, random acts of looting and rioting broke out in London and spread to cities and towns across England.  Pedestrians were attacked. Small businesses, homes, and even a double-decker bus were randomly burned or destroyed by flash mobs of predominately young people, some only nine or ten years old.

The so-called “Blackberry Riots” (because they were organized by cell phone texts and social media) lasted until August 10th and resulted in the arrests of 3,100 people. Some of England’s finest young leaders were later determined to have taken part in the senseless rampages of destruction.  Many were not driven by anger or rage as much as by boredom and the thrill of taking part in illicit activities along with their peers.

The riots shook the sensibilities of the once proud and proper nation and generated ongoing debate among political, social and academic figures about the causes and context in which they happened. Many blamed the rioters’ behavior on structural factors such as racism, classism, and economic decline, as well as cultural factors like criminality, hooliganism, the breakdown of social morality and gang culture.

In a nation that gave us a harvest of great teachers, missionaries and reformers such as Mueller, Wycliffe, Tyndale, Spurgeon, Taylor, Lewis and Stott, we now find only the dried husk of a once vibrant religious landscape hidden beneath crippling political correctness. Church attendance has almost vanished. Christianity is more a target for mockery and derision than a force of cultural influence.

Parallel to the decline of Christian faith, the judicial systems of both England and Norway have become so liberalized that they appear to slant in favor of criminals, not victims.

Which brings me to our own troubled shores.

The December14th massacre in Newtown, Connecticut was a horrifying display of evil inside an elementary school that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. It was the eighteenth such shooting in the U.S. thus far in 2012. The senseless rampage caused the same shock and dismay to us as the mass shooting in Norway and the Blackberry Riots of England caused their countrymen. We have finally been shaken from our national slumber.

The “why” will be debated for years to come.  My guess is that every explanation except a biblical one will be given credence.  Sin and the solution to it will once again be ignored or viewed with contempt.

While it is not difficult for Christians to understand the cause of the moral, social and cultural decay that now rots Western nations, the world is blind to it. Man is sinful and therefore needs either a sword or a Savior to ensure a lawful, orderly and peaceful society. The sword may constrain man’s evil desires, but only the Savior can transform them.

Sin is the manifestation of the evil that resides in the heart of every man. When sin is unleashed, the resulting wickedness knows no bounds. Without the power of the sword or the transforming power of God Almighty, many laws are useless.

American malls, military bases, colleges, churches, high schools and now, elementary schools are no longer safe from cold-blooded killers who desire to go out in a blaze of horror by harming innocent people.  Dare we call that damnable sin? Do we call for government to wield the sword of punishment?

The Newtown murders will drive the well-intentioned but misguided to demand that lawmakers fix the problem. More gun control will be the balm of choice, but don’t be deceived. God cannot be mocked. Regardless of the laws upon laws passed to stop the violence, it will not end.

Return of the Sword

The government has a God-given role to be the bearer of the sword.

“For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4).

Like Norway and England, we have liberalized our justice system to allow criminals to operate with little fear of consequences.  It has been reported that Anders Breivik has already registered a formal complaint regarding his uncomfortable prison conditions. Really? Numerous American mass murderers are sitting comfortably behind bars awaiting trial even though there are plenty of eyewitnesses to their crimes.

It is time for the sword to be drawn and used to punish the wrongdoer. It is time for those who conduct terrorist acts in our military bases, in our theatres, in our malls or in our schools to be afraid. In so doing, the sin of man will not cease, but it will be constrained.

Return to the Savior

The sinful heart of man needs to be transformed, made submissive to the laws of man and of God. The Church has a God-given role to lovingly preach the transforming power of the Good News.

The Church—that is, people like you and me—must return to evangelizing the lost, sharing both our guilt to sin and eternal judgment and the grace and redemption found only in Christ. We must be true salt and light in a culture darkened by evil.

As government relaxes our criminal justice system and culture rejects the Gospel, two significant constraints are gone: fear of earthly punishment from the State and fear of the eternal judgment of God for our sin.

Do we really expect more laws to be the answer?

As we approach the celebration of Christmas, may we humbly recognize our desperate need for the Christ Child. Without a revival—without people en masse submitting to God’s laws and receiving His grace—our nation will continue to suffer the consequences of societal sin, encountering the sort of unbridled evil we saw in Newtown.

About Chuck Bentley

CEO, Crown Mininstries
This entry was posted in Handwriting on the Wall. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Sword or The Savior: The Only Two Constraints for Evil

  1. Jo Turner says:

    An excellent article. Man needs a sword or a Savior to keep his evil impulses in check. The law or freedom in Christ. I shared this on Facebook. It comes down to each individual heart surrendering to God. Thank-you Chuck for your steadfast service to the Lord. I feel I have not been so steadfast…and I have seen and see problems in my own family that are occuring due to man’s sinful nature and I believe, the influences of the present culture. It is very scary!

  2. Penny Palmer says:

    An awesome article. Well done.

    • Chuck says:

      Appreciate you kind words Penny. Jim Henry is our Editor in Chief, he helps me make everything I write much better! John Greco helped on this one too.

  3. Jim says:

    Thanks, Chuck! This is a very thoughtful response which points the way to the only lasting solution.

  4. Travis T says:

    Thanks Chuck for perspective that comes from the Word, and encouraging us to obey God and to remember to proclaim the truth .

  5. Tom G says:

    A well thought out and written article. Lord Jesus we need you!

  6. lisa Simmons says:

    Well done Chuck…
    My “fear” is that we will become weary in well-doing. We will see this tragedy in Newtown as the ultimate depravity that cannot be overcome. My sense of loss and despair has seen a new depth for sure. It’s the loss of hope in humanity…the feeling that no matter how much we pray, beg, give to “causes” we are not going to see a better world…ever. So one may say “What’s the point?” (and this thought has crossed my mind and heart) Why pray? Why seek God’s comfort when it is temporary at best? The next tragic circumstance is waiting just around the bend, right? So we begin to think we just live from tragedy to tragedy instead of triumph to triumph. But this verse was brought to me this morning…TWICE in two separate emails from two totally unrelated sources… Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    It is not in my power or strength that I hope, but in that of the Holy Spirit. I have to keep repeating this to myself, because I feel so inept…even to call on the Holy Spirit to help me.
    I wrote this song a few years ago and it has offered some comfort to me and hopefully to others with whom I have shared.
    Love Hopes On

    A precious little baby
    born into this world
    grows up inside a home
    where God’s name is heard
    But because he has the freedom
    to choose his path in life
    he makes the choice to go his way
    even knowing wrong from right
    But love hopes on

    While his mom and dad pray every night
    that in the light he’ll see
    though their faith is running low
    Love hopes on

    Looking thru the pictures
    of their wedding day
    He remembers all the feelings
    he thought had gone away
    when the one you thought
    would never leave
    walks right out the door
    though he had to let her go
    Love hopes on

    While he’s wondering how their love has died
    and the pain he feels is deep
    trying not to let it show
    love hopes on

    Chorus
    It’s love that keeps you going
    when the wind has left your sail
    Loves keeps on believing, love endures
    it will not fail
    When you cannot see the light of day
    and your dreams seem so far gone
    somewhere deep inside
    Love hopes on

    A child is left an orphan
    halfway round the world
    his mom and dad have gone away
    and all he knows is hurt
    when he doesn’t know what he will eat
    or where he’ll lay his head
    He hears the words, God loves you
    and he smiles at them instead

    ‘Cause Love hopes on
    When there is no explanation
    for the pain here on this earth
    one more baby finds a home
    Love hopes on

    Repeat chorus

  7. Thank you Chuck. I could not have said it better myself. In fact, since becoming a Christian some 45 years ago my answer to every existing issue on earth has been redemption through the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. Unfortunately, the world, for the most part has yet to acknowledge it’s need for Him. Although my expectation for the future is pessimistic, in that I believe that unbelief and apostasy will increase until His coming again, I also believe that my and every other true believer in the world’s responsibility and privilege is to proclaim the Gospel of Christ through word and works. The Lord still has much for us to do and many in the world to save. Let’s press on knowing that He and He alone is the answer and His will, will be done. Thank you Lord, for Your gift of eternal life and for Your promise of grace to those You will ultimately bring into Your Kingdom. Please give us the strength and tenacity to keep on keeping on in Jesus Name!

  8. LBL1942@AOL.COM says:

    Leroy B. lowery
    You said it well Chuck. We have abandoned our God and now we are reaping the whirlwind of that decision. All men, all nations, all peoples of the earth that forget God shall descend into hell.
    I would like to think that the future will be better but Scripture tells us that men shall grow worse and worse in their sin and folly. May the dear Lord help ,us to proclaim His Gospel to this lost world , perhaps we can helpome to come to Him.

  9. Roy says:

    When our kids were small, we always told them that if they didn’t heed instruction, eventually they would be disciplined: Either by us, or the school, or even the law, if they were of legal age, so it’s better to discipline yourself, beforehand.
    Fast Forward 25 years later, we as a family, are dealing with a family member, in his 30′s that grew up with our children, who always got their way, now on the verge of a 10 year jail sentence, and still denying any responsibility. Reminds me of Proverbs 26:3 “a whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools” All of us have potential to ignore instruction(and sometimes do), I pray for open eyes, and listening ears, for myself, my family, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and our country’s leaders as well.
    Great commentary, I would like to post it to my FB page, but I’m not sure how. Have a blessed Christmas.

  10. Very appropriate and powerful article. I will be reblogging this on our site as it is especially appropriate for those of us who are Christians serving in Law Enforcement. God has called and ordained us as “ministers unto God for good,” and we also are called to be “a terror unto evil” in that we do not bear the sword in vain. Finding that redemptive purpose and integration is ever present in our hearts and minds. Blessings in this New Year and thank you for your ministry.

    Jonathan Parker
    http://www.CoveredLawEnforcement.org

  11. Reblogged this on Covered Law Enforcement and commented:
    Very powerful article by Chuck Bentley of Crown Ministries in which he brings to light our calling as Christians and as Law Enforcement Officers who are ministers unto God for good, a terror for evildoers, and do not bear the sword in vain (according to Romans 13). Never forget the calling, responsibility, and privilege to serve as a contraint for evil.

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