“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
The only way to stop mass shootings, or any other crime, is for humans to have a change of heart. As long as there are people who persist in rebellion against our Creator, crimes (and criminal behavior) will continue. Murder, rape, assault, theft, adultery, etc. will not only continue but will increase as society worsens and begins to look upon many of these sins as ‘normal’.
Secular culture believes that criminal behavior can be stopped through incarceration and/or psychological treatment. They believe that people are inherently ‘good’ and that they simply need encouragement to act that way. And, if that doesn’t work, those who persist in their criminal ways can be locked up.
Jesus, when warning about false prophets, said this, “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-18).
Jesus also tells us that even the words that come out of our mouths originate from our true self, “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil” (Matthew 12:34-35). If our words have their source in who we really are, how much more will our actions stem from the very same place?
Therefore; if we are to truly, and permanently, alter our speech and our actions, there is simply no other way to do it than to have our innermost self changed.
The Bible (given to us by the Creator/Lord of the universe) is clear on how an unchanged heart manifests itself on the outside of a person. It tells us that the wicked speak wickedness (I Samuel 24:13) and Isaiah 32:6 tells us that, “…a fool speaks nonsense, And his heart inclines toward wickedness: To practice ungodliness and to speak error against the Lord, To keep the hungry person unsatisfied And to withhold drink from the thirsty” (Isaiah 32:6).
The New Testament contrasts ‘living by the flesh’ with ‘living by the Spirit’. ‘Living by the flesh’ is living a life apart from God, in rebellion against His lordship and authority. ‘Living by the Spirit’ is a life lived as forgiven sinners under the lordship of Jesus Christ. We read these words in the book of Galatians, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). It is clear that actions such as the mass shootings we have witnessed of late, are the ‘fruit’ of a life lived apart from, and in rebellion against, our Creator God.
Jesus promises that those who are His followers will exhibit the good ‘fruit’ of the Spirit (John 15:2-16): “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).
Continuing the contrast between the deeds of the ‘flesh’ and the fruits of the ‘Spirit’, the New Testament tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:22-24). A person who is living under the guidance and rule of Jesus Christ will not commit the heinous acts of violence we are hearing about more and more often in our day.
Christians are instructed to live according to the renewed heart they have been given, “...for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)...” (Ephesians 5:8-9).
Every day, by continuing in rebellion against a Holy God, our society chooses to support the cultural climate which fosters a mindset (heart condition) from which senseless, evil acts of violence emanate. If we are truly concerned with putting a stop to these terrible tragedies, isn’t it time we considered the only course of action which will guarantee their cessation?
Isn’t it time we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ and allow Him to change the hearts of the people from evil to loving? That truly is our only hope.
*All Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible