To understand the Virginia Tech massacre, one must understand sin and redemption.
In the midst of blame-throwing, soul-searching & question-begging on the national scene, such a statement appears unbelievable. But please bear with me.
Guilt is an inescapable condition of sinful man. Thus, in the Old Testament economy the main thrust of the ceremonial law was sin and redemption. The temple, the priesthood and the animal sacrifices portrayed these realities. To assuage a guilty conscience satisfaction had to be rendered. Justification before the tribunal had to be accomplished.
During the Day of Atonement, besides the offerings, a goat was sent free. The sins of the people were placed symbolically upon the creature and it was sent into the wilderness. It was the scapegoat.
Through the centuries peoples and nations have lived with guilt. Before the absolute perfection of Godâ€™s moral Law, all men are guilty. They have transgressed the Law in thought, word and deed (Rom. 1:20ff.). Accordingly, they have all sought freedom from such a guilty conscience. They have sought self-atonement and self-justification. This attempted jail-break from the prison of culpability has taken many forms, but can be narrowed down into two types: masochism and sadism.
Masochism is not merely that narrowly defined sexual sin wherein the person demands self-punishment as a license to sin, it is also broadly conceived as self-punishment to satisfy a guilty conscience. (Rushdooney lists five variations of this in his book, Politics of Guilt and Pity (1978, p.2ff.)).
Sadism is sometimes described as inverted masochism. This approach tries to level the moral playing field by attacking an innocent party. It, too, is a form of self-justification, but through punishing others it justifies its own sin. For instance, â€śSome parents will both indulge flagrantly and then punish savagely their children as they alternate between a mood of longing for the triumph of self-indulgence and a resentment that anyone can escape the punishment when they cannotâ€ť (p.6).
The need for atonement, purity and justification is strong in the minds of sinners. The Christian church must understand this fact in its analysis of itself and the society around it. Manâ€™s basic problem is sin and the accompanying guilt that consumes him. Thus, Christians out of all the world philosophies have the explanation for todayâ€™s troubled world.
The 9mm butchering of 32 students & faculty at Virginia Tech was not an unexplainable happenstance, as one popular conservative talk-show opined. Nor was this macabre act a result of a mind that was â€śill,â€ť â€śirrational,â€ť or â€śconfused,â€ť as many other commentators claimed.
The student was only acting out his atonement; his 9mm Gospel.
It is a gospel that would destroy everyone so as to save itself.
It is a gospel of frustration, trying to appease a guilty conscience through a bloody atonement accomplished in a rain of gunfire.
It is a gospel hemmed in by the man-made strictures of godless men. It believed the lie that truth is relative, that social restrictions and responsibilities are merely the product of manâ€™s ever-changing mind. It bought the lie that this world is a product of chance and whim.
Thus, he concluded that might makes right. Why should the ones with the biggest guns make the rules? Why should the majority be right? Why should other people be free from the sins gnawing at his soul?
In an ever-increasing de-Christianization of America through outright denials of God & the downplay of sin and grace, the fruit of generations of gospel-hatred are maturing. This is not simply a â€śblame societyâ€ť observation, but a realization that sin is leavening society to a critical point. The seams are fraying; the buttons are bursting.
And this young man is but one manifestation of rebellion against God. Most likely brought up in a semi-pagan home and feed nihilism and evolutionary thought, he simply acted out the logic of such a system.
He could not live with his guilt and he would not seek justification in Christ alone. So, he sought self-atonement through the bloody sacrifices of others.
Then he realized his sadism was insufficient. To prove his self-autonomy, his control over himself, he murdered himself.
Thus, his 9mm gospel brought him peace in this world. The controlling voices of family, friends and state are shut out forever. But the controlling justice of God is not.
Proverbs 8:36 sets before the world the antithesis between the 9mm gospel & Godâ€™s Gospel, Wisdom & foolishness, Life & death:
â€śBut he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.â€ť
To the newscasters, students and professionals, this horrible event is a terrifying peek into the soul of man. It is a peek into their own black rebellious souls. Every man is guilty before Godâ€™s tribunal. And many will seek a scapegoat to avoid that tribunal.
Yet, if they renounce their own self-justification and claim Christâ€™s atonement, their consciences will be assuaged and freedom will ensue. No man is more docile than a guilty man. And no man is more empowered than a guilt-free man.
If they do not learn the lesson of this wake-up call, the 9mm gospel of will spread its bloody hands far and wide across this country. Guilty men will see the failed attempts of less bloody forms of atonement and heed the siren call of redemption through the barrel of a gun.
Pastor Shawn Mathis was raised by God-fearing parents, served in the Air Force, worked as an electrical engineer and then entered the ministry by Godâ€™s grace....