Saturday, November 12, 2011

When Evil Triumphs

As I have continued to listen to the media coverage of the Penn State child abuse scandal, I was reminded of the famous quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

This certainly appears to be the case as Jerry Sandusky, the architect of the “Linebacker U” defense for the Penn State football team, was charged last weekend with sexually abusing eight boys over 15 years. The athletic director and a university vice president were charged with perjury and failure to report a 2002 allegation to police, and Head Coach Joe Paterno was fired following mounting fury that he did not do more about the 2002 allegation when it was brought to his attention. President Graham Spanier also was fired for similar reasons.

As I begin to research this story, I found an amazing sermon on “The Forum Terrace” that addresses how sin is able to proliferate through a society that does not address evil practices. I willl share a portion of it here.

The Bible tells us in James 4:17, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Unlike sins of commission, such as, adultery, murder, stealing, and idolatry, sins of omission are the sins of doing nothing. Sin is not just doing bad as many think. People assume they are good, simply because they have done no evil. They forget that goodness is a positive quality; not merely the absence of doing evil. Sin is more than just a transgression of the law (1 John 3:4). Sin is also a failure to do the law.

Sin can also be defined as a failure to do as you ought to do. For example, the one-talent man in Jesus’ parable in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 25:14-30) did not do anything outwardly sinful. Yet, it is affirmed that he was “wicked” (Matt. 25:26). He could have defended himself by protesting, “Wait just a minute there. I will have you know that I am not an embezzler, I did not squander the money through riotous living like the prodigal son, in no way was I dishonest, never have I been a drunkard, murderer, fornicator or thief of any kind. I was entrusted with a talent, and it is a talent I have returned.” He was still condemned a wicked man because he failed to do as he was commanded.

R.V.G. Tasker wrote, “It is probably true to say that we more often leave undone that things we ought to have done than do the things we ought not to have done.”

God did not create mankind just to avoid doing bad things. We are not Christians just because we shun evil practices. We were created in Christ to do good works (Eph. 2:10). We live the Christian life in order to do those good deeds which please God (Col. 1:10). No one persecutes us just because we do not murder and steal. Christians suffer for doing good in the name of Christ (1 Peter 3:17). By suffering persecution for doing good, we confirm and promote Christianity before the world (1 Peter. 2:13-15). God has equipped all Christians for doing good (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). He rewards us for doing good (Rom. 2:6-8). Doing good as we have been commanded brings us happiness (John 13:17) and others as well.

What is tragic about the Penn State scandal is that it could have been stopped NINE years ago. I suppose it is easy to look at that university and point fingers but in reality as Tasker said, how many things do we leave undone that we ought to do?

The founding pastor of my church used to say that so many of the issues and problems we face in life would be avoided if we just lived more of what the Bible says. The wisdom literature books – Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes – provide practical wisdom to enable a person to live a skillful life before God and men. It would do us well to daily read portions of these books in order to equip our minds with the wisdom and knowledge of God.

Let’s also pray for the victims of these crimes as they begin to try to heal and piece their lives together and let’s also pray for Penn State, especially the football team who are unfortunate victims of this tragedy and yet still have to suit up and play football each weekend.
"A person's character is accurately measured by his reaction to life's inequities."
- Author unknown

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