There has never been a worse time to be alive. The history of man is the history of wars. Cain killed Abel over vengeful jealous desire to have what he did not. The first son of man killed the second, and we have been repeating the exact sin for the exact same reason ever since.
Mankind wants what does not belong to him. He will get it by theft, by competition, by manipulating government, by amassing power, by war. Mankind denies --no, is highly offended by -- the idea that he is wicked. But his willingness to work for the downfall of others is obvious.
However, God in His kindness, put many graceful restraints upon mankind. He knows that we are wicked from birth, and so He interacts with us to keep us alive, keep us groping for Him. Some of those restraints we will never know until we get to heaven. After all, who can see the heavenly realm, and know the strong arm of God who sets boundaries on the demons, who sends angels to protect, who interacts with our thoughts and plans our days so that we will suppress our own desires for evil, and seek to do what is good?
But some of His restraints we see. We have consciences. They can be seared, they can be ignored, they can be wrong, but all in all, they serve to restrain our own evil impulses, or even the repeat of an evil act we have given in to. We of course have the Word of God, which, when it permeates society, benefits even those who don’t believe. And, when hearing the word, some are born again, they gain a new nature, one that desires good and not evil, one that brings life-giving restraint to evil in society.
However, a primary restraint given to the evil impulse of man is government. Beginning with the government of the family and then moving up to the governments of the nations. It is the parents who, in their best interest, and with the grace of affection for their own, teach restraint of evil impulses to children. Only the very worst of parents give no restraint to the sin in their own children. Most teach their children to live within certain bounds, for their own good.
As far as human government outside of the family, God gave this gift to us. Society itself restrains evil impulses, and with the authority of force. Though governments are made up of wicked men, it is in the self-interest of these very people to reduce chaos. Beyond that, mankind has been separated by being members of many nations. We speak our own languages, we have our own gods, and so it has always been. Our kingdoms, large to us, are small in most cases. We have little power and often little desire to know what is happening in all the kingdoms of man. We have enough work seeking to gain more treasure and power in our own kingdoms.
Kingdoms have always warred against other kingdoms from time to time, to the benefit of a few, to the detriment of most. But wars end, before they begin again.
And finally, mankind is restrained by the government of religion. As Christians, we know that all religions, no matter how close they may get to the truth at certain points, are false, with the exception of the revelation of the gospel through Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. In other words, Christianity, as taught by Jesus and His apostles, is the only true understanding of God on earth. The world finds this claim to be arrogant, but we know it is true, and that is that.
Yet, even pagan religions have a restraining power on the evil of mankind. Not that their false gods are merciful or good, but that those adhering to them are admitting that humanity is to be under submission in an ultimate sense. However great man might think himself, he is still less than his god or gods. Though he serve a false god, a man who submits to a rule above himself is closer to the truth than a man who submits only to himself. He is restrained by the god that he sees as outside of himself. The man who says there is no god has no restraints except the ones he places on himself.
Naturally, the grace of societal government and religion have always been combined. Nations have their gods. This has been the case throughout the long history of man. Until recently, that is. Mankind began toying with the idea of godless government a few hundred years ago. (One example would be the French Revolution. The most audacious examples are the anti-religious communist states of the 20th Century.)
We live in the worst of times because two of the global restraints of the evil heart of man have begun to fall away: the isolating influence of the existence of many nations, and the setting free of human government from its gods. This will lead to the unrestrained rise of man, and the evil in his heart will then come to full flower. Put plainly, the secular state as the understood human norm for government, and the ability for all the nations of the world to communicate and interact with one another, these two realities mean the end of mankind seeing himself as submitted to something greater than himself, and will enlarge his opportunity for greed and murder, conquest and exaltation.
It is as if we are rushing back to Babel, reversing the trend of nations set in order by God for our good. We are man, and we will choose our own destiny. Our destiny is wicked.
As we know, the rhetoric of the critics of religion maintains that religious wars and oppression are the cause of all evil in the world. That argument is thin, but we must endure it. However, those with clear vision can see that the problem is not religion nor lack of religion, but the evil in the heart of man. Man will kill, steal, and destroy his fellow man, either using religion as a tool, or not. Man will exalt himself above others, as a priest, a general, a philosopher, or a dictator.
We are like our spiritual father, Satan, and seek to exalt ourselves. (And so it is that the religion free regimes of the USSR and China have killed many more millions much faster than any religion based government ever has).
The secular state has become the understood norm of human government by the vast majority of the globe. By this, I do not only mean the Communists of China. No, I mean the United States, and Western Europe, and Eastern Europe, and South America, etc. Although the United States has not declared itself to be an atheist state, it rules itself with increasing regularity under the rule: no one’s God may enter into the governance of all. We are to govern without taking God into account. Of course, we are behind the times, as most of Western Europe beat us to the punch on this functional godlessness. We all give lip service to a general God at our highest ceremonies, but we all agree without saying, that if anyone dare define that God and begin to seek to rule according to His mandates, he must be removed from office.
As for Muslim lands, our goal as Westerners is clear: We want to see secular states. Let the Muslims be Muslims, but don’t let them rule by Sharia law. Of course, the secular state is preferable when speaking of Muslims since most Muslims don’t want to take over the world; however, the religious ones will give it a go if they can govern according to the dictates of their religion. But is it really a big a win if Muslims create secular states? Sure, it will avoid national Jihad-based wars in the name of Allah, but we are fools if we think secular nations will avoid wars altogether. In fact, Iraq had a secular government under Saddam Hussein. That didn’t go so well. He was certain he was destined to greatness, and his pride led to the death of many.
Today, the secular state is the goal. The peoples of the world aren’t saying that religions must go (except for the trolling atheist of the blogosphere and the true communists). Rather, they are saying, the rulership of nations shouldn’t be religious. Add to that, the world is a smaller place than ever. Through modern technology, we can communicate with all nations from anywhere in the world (I am communicating from a hammock on my back porch right now). We can also conduct wars and war machines from thousands of miles away. We can also effect the economies of the world from anywhere. That means that manipulating the entire world, or large portions of it, is more possible now than ever. National boundaries and city walls don't work quite so well at keeping others away.
So a small globe, added to a belief in a godless state, added to the innate desire of man to exalt himself, equals disaster. Why? Man is unrestrained, and his wicked heart if free to devour power like at no other time. People who live during the next 30 years will see the rise of great rulers or oligarchies, and the fall of many. People living in the next 30 years will see the violent deaths of more humans than any age in history. This is not a prophecy, this is simple logic. In fact, we are seeing these things already. Man is evil, he is unrestrained in increasing measure, his world is at his fingertips.
Many think that Christians fear Satan as the greatest threat to earth. The “Church Lady” made that clear, didn’t she? However, the greatest threat to earth is not Satan, after all. Rather the great threat is mankind itself: we are the the spiritual offspring of Satan. Cain is still the murderer. Cain is still the threat. Mankind’s evil will soon rise to unprecedented heights. Remember, the number 666 is not the number of Satan. According to the Bible, it is the number of man.
(note: this blog is the second of a series. the first is called, “This is the best of times.”)