We live in increasingly perilous times. No place is safe from violent, tragic events. But why? What is the ultimate solution?
No place is safe in this violent world we live in. Whether shopping at the market in Bagdad, a night out at a Batman movie in Colorado, or even attending a church service, our neighborhoods are experiencing callous acts of murder at an alarming rate.
It wasn't just another day at high school when students in trench coats gunned down their classmates. People out for a casual evening meal didn't expect violence at their restaurant. Or at a retreat in Norway, innocent teens were hunted down like animals in a horrible shooting massacre.
The sad truth is violence like this is far from uncommon. What's happening to our world, the sanctity of life, the fabric of society?
Is there any doubt that we live in an increasingly brutal culture? How can you understand the cruelty and cope with our violent society around us?
Stay tuned to this special edition of Beyond Today as we discuss: "When Evil Walks In."
[Announcer] Join our host, Steve Myers and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today!
[Steve] Welcome to a special edition of Beyond Today. As we record this program America is reeling from another tragic shooting spree that's left many dead. It's the latest in an unfortunate, long series of tragic shootings. Sadly, we know it won't be the last. So I'm here with fellow hosts Darris McNeely and Gary Petty with a special Beyond Today program on this subject. We want to help you understand why these violent events occur. Now is it because of video games? Some say bad parenting. Or are demons involved? How do you cope with the aftermath and what can you do about it?
You know when we think about these events, it just tears your heart out to know that families are going through such tragic things.
[Gary] And I think it's important that we just don't just set it aside. That we pray for those people. We think about those people. And this is just going to get worse and worse in our society and we need to not become callous to it.
[Darris] Yeah, they're very difficult and our prayers do go out for the friends and family of those that were victimized in this.
[Steve] Now as we begin to think about this difficult topic, can we look to the example of Christ to help give us some perspective on it?
[Darris] I think there's really, that's the way to frame an understanding of this, Steve. We did a couple of BT Daily's on this and we opened up by going into Luke 13:1-5 where Jesus Christ had brought to Him two tragic examples in Galilee of His time and in Judea. Where one were some people were actually engaged in a worship service and Pilate killed them and mingled their blood in with the sacrifices, the animal sacrifices at the time. Here were peaceful worshippers and they got caught up in something.
There was another situation where 18 people happened to be in a spot in Siloam where a tower fell and all died - wrong place, wrong time situation. Christ's statement about that was that look they were not any worse sinners than anyone else. And so He didn't really comment on the people in one sense except to say that look, these things happen. And it was a violent period in the first century - it's a violent time in the 21st century - and I think Jesus' statement is instructive. They weren't evil people but there are bad times and bad things that do happen whether it's in the first century or the 21st.
[Steve] And so then we got to take into consideration, why would this happen? Is that a reflection on what this world is like?
[Gary] Well, you know, human beings have always been brutal and violent. It's part of our darkest part of our nature. And it is interesting that the apostle Paul writes to his protégé Timothy, and in 2 Timothy he tells him about the perilous times coming in the end. In other words, he was telling him this is the way humanity is going to keep going and this is the way it's going to end up. And he gives a whole list of the darkest parts of human nature. They'll be lovers of themselves but it says they will be unloving, unforgiving and brutal. That's one of the terms he uses. And as we move through human history, brutality - we see that. You look back through human history, brutality increases and increases and we're headed towards just more and more of a brutal society.
[Darris] And the apostle Paul labels it this "in the last days." So the time period we're living in right now is what Paul is addressing here in 2 Timothy 3 and he said it will be a very dangerous period of time. And as you pointed out in your opening sequence, it doesn't, almost doesn't matter where you go today, there is the potential for some type of violence to happen and that too is beginning to increase the fear level that we have in our society today.
[Steve] We were talking to some people on the street getting their concepts, their ideas, their opinions on some of the tragedies that have gone on. And one of the passages in the Scripture that came to mind as we were talking to these people was in Isaiah 1. Right at the very beginning of Isaiah he nailed it down as to the chief cause and Isaiah says this. He says, "Alas sinful nation." And he looks at us as a people, as culture, and points to the fact that we are sinful and there are consequences to sin.
It was interesting what one of the ladies that we talked to said:
> I believe when they took God out of this nation - they're starting to take God out of this nation - I think that's the, that's the foundation. I mean you take morality out of a society, people are going to do whatever comes to their mind - literally. So, if you put God back into our nation, you put morality, you put ethics back into a nation, things will definitely look up.
[Darris] I think that says it right there when you find someone on the street recognizing that God is not in the picture. They're actually in their own words quoting what we just read out of Isaiah 1 and that is a nation, a sinful nation, laden down with problems and sick from the head to the foot. And, what Isaiah brought out right there is only magnified - of course Isaiah was talking to Judah in Jerusalem in his day - but when you carry that on through with what Christ pointed out, especially what we read with the apostle Paul, it shows the increase of that because of sin and not having God in the picture.
[Steve] In this section it's almost like there's three different things that Isaiah's prophesying about, not just for the time of his day but looking forward even to today when he says watch out for sin in a nation. That's going to have its effect. But he also talks about children who are corrupters. What's happened to our kids today? What are the effects of what we call entertainment? How has it impacted our culture?
[Darris] Quite a bit. And this is probably the one area that people don't really want to focus on. They first want to go to gun control or deal with that as a means of eliminating this type of violence, but that's not really getting at the heart and the core of people and human nature and what we are doing with a desensitizing through so much violent entertainment.
I was struck in the aftermath of this recent one by a quote by a famous Hollywood director, Peter Bogdanovich, who himself has made violent movies and in his own personal life has been victimized by violence and murder. His wife was killed. He said that violence on the screen has increased tenfold. It has almost become pornographic. In fact, it is pornographic. Video games are violent and it's all out of control. I can see where it would drive somebody crazy.
When someone who is trafficked in that type of entertainment recognizes that their own work has had such an impact upon culture and society, then it's time for us to stand up and take notice and recognize what really is taking place and a root cause of these problems.
[Steve] It's interesting that the producers of some of these things are beginning to recognize the impact and it's not something that's hidden. I think the everyday person can see it. In fact, a couple of the people we talked to mentioned that very thing.
Do you think movies, violent video games, these role playing things, do you think they affect behavior?
> Sure, in some aspect I guess.
[Steve] How do you think they affect people?
> I don't know, just things are a lot more violent these days. Games, I mean, just the way it is. But you got to sell it; you got to make something more interesting. Games when I was young were boring now. So they got to make things... they got to make things more viable for kids that want to buy.
>> Because people are watching too many of these violent videos. The younger kids, that's all they see is violent videos. Their reality is their video game. Their reality isn't being out on the street. Today, if somebody does something to you, you don't like it - what do you do? You lash at him with violence. Instead of when I was growing up, you lashed out at him with words.
[Gary] Well you know what's interesting is, is we've done something that the Roman Empire did, and they institutionalized violence. We've institutionalized it, but sort of cleaned it up. It's not real, so we can sort of fantasize through it and act like it's not real but the effect on us is terrible. As human beings, as we witness all this glorified violence that we see in entertainment, it becomes part of who we are. And eventually, especially children as you mentioned earlier, as that becomes part of the programming of who they are, what they learn as children, they're going to act it out. It's that simple.
[Steve] No wonder Isaiah said the whole head is sick. If our head is sick, our thinking isn't right, we're going to have problems. And so when we think about the answers to these tragic violent events - Absolutely they're horrible! They're awful things! They leave a wake of tragedy behind them. But what about the explanation for it?
There is a deeper biblical explanation as well and we're going to go into that next so we hope you'll stay with us. But we've got a special offer that we'd like to offer for you today, that will help put it all into perspective. It's our study aid, The Ten Commandments.
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[Steve] Do you think that a person could be under the influence of spiritual forces?
> I can't say that, but that's a possibility.
[Steve] Do you think a person could be influenced by spiritual forces?
> Definitely, definitely. Everyone one is under... there's, there's, you know, physical, mental, spiritual elements to each human being. So definitely, if you don't feed the spirit right; like you don't feed the mind and the body right, there are consequences. Yes.
[Steve] When you think about that, I don't think you can deny there are unseen forces that are at work out there.
[Gary] You know something that would surprise a lot of people and even a lot of Christians, is something that the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians. And he says, "But even if our gospel" - or the good news - "is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded" (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
People think well God is ruling over the earth right now but in reality, the god of this age, of this time... The spiritual influences on the, on humanity which are so much of evil, is not of God, from God but from Satan! And the idea that Satan exists has been removed even from a lot of mainstream Christianity. The result is we don't realize that God is allowing the god of this age - who is not the true God but Satan - to actually influence what's going on. And they become through this, as Paul says in Ephesians, children of wrath.
[Darris] Yeah, I think the last thing that the media today, in our world and those who shape and influence young lives in education, the last thing they want to admit is just what he read: that there is a devil. That he is the god of this world and that that scripture is true. And, that is not admitted into an honest or into any open discussion it seems in our educational circles and in the areas where this is done. And this is the problem that needs to be confronted and everyone needs to understand that that scripture is true!
It's true also because Jesus Christ said it. In John 8:44, where Jesus was having one of His classic confrontations with the Jewish religious leaders of His day who were confronting Him, He got into a very solid point where He said that, as He confronted their attitude, you are of Satan! He says, "you are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth."
Jesus Christ understood that there was a devil. He had confronted him. He understood his existence. And in talking to a group of people who were opposing Him and really opposing God, and God's ways and God's teaching, He said to them, you are of your father the devil. He was a murderer. He inspired the first murder and he inspires a culture that leads to the type of murders that we are talking about here today.
[Steve] You can't fool ourselves and say well the devil or Satan is just some kind of symbol for evil...
[Darris] No he's not a symbol.
[Steve] Cause that is not the way Christ described it.
[Steve] Makes me think of what Peter described: Satan as a roaring lion.
[Steve] And you think about he's out there to devour any one he can, and we fool ourselves if we think that it's not that big a deal. That it's not that big of influence because it really is.
[Darris] It is. He's also called in Ephesians 2 the prince of the power of the air. And that's one of the most apt descriptions in the Bible as to how Satan works in influencing humans to acts of evil and unspeakable horrors such as what we all too often see in the news today. And again, people don't want to understand and realize that if we give in to that, if we give ourselves over to any degree - and some minds are most susceptible than others - but there is something that at times, lurking there is able to be expressed through humans in extreme ways; whether it's a Hitler, a Pol Pot or a middle class teenager or group of them who walk into a school or a movie theater and do these actions, perform these actions.
[Steve] Now some people might say well, just religious fanatics are going to feel that way. That they're going to take Satan as a real being. But they try to minimize his influence, but that's not the case.
[Darris] No. No, I was reading in the aftermath of this recent one a former head of Hudson Institute, Herbert London, he said that we cannot admit to ourselves that evil is in the air we breathe. He's almost quoting from Ephesians 2. "We have allowed it to be unleashed. We cannot admit that mass murderers do the devil's work reducing sin to religious mythology. The radical secularists want to unfetter the limits of liberation and, alas, they have been successful. Now we reap the results." (source?) That's not a religious leader. That's not even, he's not quoting from the Bible but he certainly paraphrasing the thoughts of the Bible that we've covered here. And he's pinpointing the real problem and it's time people understand that.
[Steve] Yeah and whether you look at criminal psychologists, whether you look at various studies that have been done, there was an interesting one done in Iowa. And one of the interesting things that they mentioned was the fact that we become desensitized to violence. That it just becomes an accepted thing! One of the authors of the study at Iowa State University said, "The modern entertainment media landscape could accurately be described as an effective systematic violence desensitization tool." (Iowa State University study, The Effects of Video Game Violence on Physiological Desensitization to Real-Life Violence; Carnagey, Anderson, and Ferlazzo; article from ISU News Service; July 24th, 2006) So to say that it doesn't affect us, is not correct! It's just craziness to think that these things don't affect us.
[Gary] I have a memory early on in my childhood where I was watching a police show, black and white police show on television, and a policeman got shot. And I could remember him calling in that he was shot. And for years after that, I always wondered what happened to him. And that bothered me. I mean, for years until I got old enough to understand, of course television isn't always real. So yes, it becomes part of who we are and it takes where violence becomes acceptable answer to a problem.
It makes me think of where Isaiah writes, he says, "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" (Isaiah 5:20).
You know, we get to the place where evil is accepted as something that's actually good. Virtue becomes something that's unacceptable and sin becomes something that's acceptable. And that's where we are. That's where this violence on television and in the movies and this is where it's taking us.
[Darris] And that's why society can become sick from its foot to its head.
[Steve] And it's not just that we're spectators. I think that's where we sometimes fool ourselves. Well we can just kind of look and watch and be unaffected by these things, but you can't, can you?
[Gary] Eventually you become agents of evil. Now we don't realize we're doing that but we do. Because we, even if we vicariously participate in this over time, it changes who we are.
[Steve] So what do you do about it, what is the answer? Is there something that you can do to change your world? We'll be back in just a minute to discuss some real solutions, but first let me tell you about The Good News magazine. The Good News is packed full of information that gives insight into today's news as it relates to what the Bible teaches. You'll find interesting articles not only on world news and events but also prophecy and Christian living - all with biblical insight.
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[Steve] How do these violent events, these tragic things, affect the way that you think about your life?
> You know, honestly, I don't really think a whole lot about it. I think, you know obviously I'm saddened for the victims of it... As it impacts my life, you know ...
[Darris] You know I think that pretty well illustrates where we are today. A lot of people don't really stop to think and make a change in their life and really process through what God wants us to do. Let's go back to Luke 13 where we were reading about the two incidents that Jesus commented on in His day, where there were atrocities and a massacre and an unfortunate death. And again, He said that they weren't any more evil than anyone else, but what Jesus said to His audience in verses 3 and 5 of Luke 13 really applies to us and is what He wants us to understand.
He said, "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." Christ said, learn a lesson from these times. He's saying to us today, look around at our world, understand the perilous times in which we live and learn and repent. Repentance means to change our life. Repentance means to examine ourselves as to whether or not we are obeying God and whether or not our actions and the decisions we make and the choices we engage in lead, even in small ways, to this promulgation, this larger problem in society of a desensitizing that we've been talking about. That's what Christ is really saying to us today, repent.
[Steve] So it's more than just praying for those. It really comes down to how does it affect me personally? I can't just ignore it! I can't just go on with my life. Christ is saying you better take this personally and do something about it.
[Gary] It's interesting, you're reading from Luke 13. If you go back to Luke 12, right before that, Jesus gives a lot of instructions really about repentance and trusting in God. And in fact, He says in verse 23, "Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing." And if you read through here, you get to verse 31, He says, "But seek the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you." This is a starting point. If we're going to talk about repentance, we must seek God. We must seek His ways. We must seek His Kingdom and we have to change our lives. Because when you get down to this problem, the government can't fix it, and even religion can't fix it. It's an individual change made through each person and the Almighty God.
[Steve] You've got to change the way you think. In fact it's interesting that He goes on here, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Luke 12:34). And so if we're just thinking about ourselves, our own, our own family, our own jobs, we're not thinking about a relationship with God. We're not thinking about changing from everyday thinking that takes us away from God.
[Darris] Absolutely. In verse 56 of this same chapter, keep in mind this is, these are Jesus' statements leading up to the illustration of these two tragedies and the lesson He drew from them. He says in verse 56, "Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time?"
Today, we are right on top of weather. We can be alerted to a coming weather emergency, but we are totally inept as a society at really discerning the impact of all of these problems and where it's taking us and as Jesus said discerning the times, and coming back around to letting that make a deep, lasting change in our life. That's the critical point. Really Christ is saying, God is saying to us, you make a decision as to what goes into your mind. You make a decision as to what you engage in and I will take care of the rest of it. But you get your life straight; you repent and make a change in your life.
[Steve] Has to be done. Has to, in fact if you look back at verse 40 it says, you therefore be ready. That you've got to be ready! He says, "for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." (Luke 12:40). Are we ready? Do we have a spiritual relationship with God? What is the basis of our life?
Gary Well you know in order to have that kind of spiritual relationship with God, we have to do certain things, and the first thing is we have to turn to God. You talked about turning to God. We actually have to realize that our Creator knows how life works. We have to go to Him. We have to ask Him for help. We have to get into this Book and find out what we're supposed to, how we're supposed to live. We have to obey and you know we really start with the Ten Commandments. As a beginning point, we go, we start there. Say, do I apply those first ten steps to Christianity to my life? That's where you have to start.
[Steve] Yeah and I think some people think it's a mystery. What can I do? Can we do anything? One person had an interesting comment about that.
Is there an ultimate solution?
> I wish I knew. I believe there is one out there somewhere and I think it's God. And, boy oh what a perfect world we'd have then, wouldn't we? Mm hmm.
[Darris] In our increasingly, violent and brutal world, it's more important - increasingly import - that we individually turn to God and get our lives in order and make those decisions, and really get ourselves in line with His law and these principles and teachings. That's the solution. That's the way forward.
[Gary] And part of it is realizing that, you know we talked about how our nature has been corrupted by Satan, every human being has to be able to go to God and say yes, being a traitor, being brutal - because we have all betrayed God - being brutal, being a lover of self, being selfish. This is actually a part of all of us. And each one of us has to go to God, acknowledge that and say I don't want to be that way anymore. I want you to look at me and change me and give me the power. But we have to acknowledge that we're part of the problem, before we can ever become part of the solution. We have to acknowledge we're part of the problem.
[Steve] And we can't base our morality on the world around us.
[Gary] No, it can't be.
[Darris] No we have to base it upon the Word of God and begin with the commandments of God, the law of God and then let that flow into an understanding of how Christ can live His life within us and really get to the heart and core of the spiritual principles and teaching of those laws.
[Steve] Yeah there is no doubt there is something that we have to do about it. And, really appreciate the comments today. There is something we all can do. In fact you'll want to go more in-depth into the solutions for your life.
So I hope you'll remember our free offers. You'll want to order your copy of The Ten Commandments, and get that free subscription to The Good News magazine. So we hope you'll call us toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read and order both The Good News and The Ten Commandments online at BeyondToday.tv. Or, send us your request by mail to the address on your screen.
Hostility and aggression have become ordinary. The truth is that this world has a defective standard of reality. Don't be taken in by it. Don't take these tragic events lightly. Now is the time to wake up and come out of this warped culture and brutal system that God hates. Now is the time to turn to God and to begin to more completely live by His standard.
We'll be right back for a final word after this.
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