Violence & the Second Sin

Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
-Genesis 4:8

It happened again. Another troubled young man. Another school. Another hour of terror. Another heartbreaking loss.

Our culture is scrambling for answers. Again. Is tighter gun control the answer? Is better mental health analysis and treatment the answer? Is a renovated public school and educational system the answer? And on and on we go.

Christians in our culture are in a tough spot. While we all should be considering practical ways to prevent people from killing each other (check out Romans 13:1-4), we know that none of these is the answer. Why? Because we know what the problem is. Sin.

At this point you might roll your eyes and think, “We don’t need Sunday school answers. We need real solutions.” While I agree with the latter, if we really want to solve the problem, we have to know the cause. Access to guns didn’t cause these murders. Poor education didn’t cause these murders. Inadequate psychiatric care didn’t cause these murders. Failed investigating didn’t cause these murders. It was sin—rebellion against God and his law.

It’s not a coincidence that the second wrong recorded for us in the Bible is an act of violence. The first was Adam and Eve’s tragic choice to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. That one seemed harmless enough, but it led to the second. Cain was angry that God accepted Abel’s offering and not his. God took the time to speak to Cain about his anger, correcting him. In Genesis 4:6-7 God asks Cain why he is furious. He instructs him to do what is right and beware of sin and temptation.

It was after God spoke to Cain that he killed his brother. He thought, “I’m not the problem. Abel is.” Or, “I hate Abel.” Or, “I hate God.” Or all of the above. We don’t know. One way or another, in direct rebellion against God, and in an act of violence against his family and community, Cain murdered his brother.

Fast forward to today and we have bigger weapons with greater capacity for harm, a failing public educational system, faulty concepts of mental health, investigative failures, and more. These are problems that need to be addressed. But they aren’t the problem. The problem is still rebellion against God.

And the solution is submission to God by repentance over sin and faith in Jesus Christ. Imagine—if every person lived in real time submission to Jesus these problems would cease to exist. Jesus calls us not only to not murder, but to not even hate others. Imagine if we lived by that standard.

These wrongs will be dealt with. When Jesus returns, he will judge the world. No one will have gotten away with anything. Only then will the New Jerusalem descend to earth, bringing with her eternal peace: no sin, and therefore no sickness, suffering, or death. That’s what our culture is clamoring for, and there’s only one way to get it.

In the meantime what can we do? We mourn. We improve laws. We address public safety as best we can. But most importantly, we must preach the gospel and call people to repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus who died and rose from the dead to save us from our rebellion against God.

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