First it was the bankers, second it was the Members of Parliament and now it is journalists, media moguls and the police under the spotlight for corruption, dishonesty and downright disgraceful behaviour. In news that is scarcely surprising, people in positions of power will abuse their power. The whole situation is a sad one but it one from which important lessons can be drawn.
The first is that it shows the truth of the true-ism “and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32v23) and its New Testament counterpart: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. (Galatians 6v7). It is often God’s way to bring hidden sin to light, in the lives of individuals and in society as a whole. And when this happens it should remind us that God is not unaware of our rebellion against him, he is not in the dark about the secrets we hold and the sins we commit in private. “Death and Destruction lie open before the LORD--how much more the hearts of men!” (Proverbs 15v11) A consequence of sin, aside from pain, break down and emptiness, can often be exposure. This all in turn should remind us of the day when Christ returns and all will be judged for their actions:
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.”
Revelation 20 v 11 – 12
The exposure of sin and evil in this life reminds us that God is Just and he cannot be mocked. And it is a warning to look at our lives and realize that our sin is not hidden from God and this in turn should send us running to the Cross and Jesus Christ crucified to take the wrath of God for our sins; giving his life so that we might be saved. For on that last day when all my deeds are judged then I will admit them all to be true but claim the righteousness of Jesus Christ to be mine because “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5v21)
As I was thinking about the whole scandal it occurred to me as well how little human nature changes. Corruption has been rife in most time periods of history and ours is not an exception. The human race is not more ‘enlightened’ than we were, modern culture is not ‘higher’ than others, scrap aside all the vanity and we find the same truth that has permeated all of human history: “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3v19) When I look at the world and see evil it is terrible, saddening and can even make me angry but it never surprises for this is what the mankind is like. Even the worst of men are still only men at worst.
But as well, we really are all a bunch of hypocrites, how many of us can say that had we been in the same position we won’t have done the same? I liked to think I won’t but then it would have been easy to make excuses for such behaviour, easy to quiet my conscience with false justification, easy to argue that I wasn’t doing anything wrong, not really. Yes, the phone hacking thing is wrong and terrible but there’s nothing ‘monstrous’ as such by the people who did it, they were just like you or me only with the ability to act in the way they did. Often it seems we use national scandals such as this one to make us feel better about ourselves because we’re not like person x who did action y. Yet at heart we are; for as Jesus said: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” The diagnosis is in: we’re sinners, rebels against our Creator God, breakers of his holy law, despisers of the gifts he showers on us and unbelievers in him and who he proclaims himself to be.
Finally, it is also the case that reading about a scandal like the Murdochalypse makes us think that things should not be this way, corruption should not happen, hacking should not happen, evil should be replaced by good. So we try and solve this problem, we implement rules, checks and balances, we educate and attempt to enforce goodness on everybody and these things can work to some extent but they never work completely. They are inadequate solutions and incomplete leaving man in the position where he knows what is wrong but not how to fix it. For evil comes from our hearts and how can we change our hearts by ourselves? How can we overcome our natural inclination to sin? As Paul writes:
“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. …What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Romans 7 v 21, 24 - 25
This is the reaction of a Christian to sin in their life but it works as well as a summary of the problem facing the whole of the human race: we’re sinners, when we want to do good evil is right there, we are wretched people. But then comes the second part: who will rescue us from our bodies of death? Thanks be to God – through Christ Jesus our Lord.
The solution to the Murdochalypse, the solution to all evil whether in our lives or in society as a whole is the simple message that Jesus saves, he saves us from sin, death and evil, saves us to do good and be re-united with the God we have forsaken. As God says in his Word:
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”
Romans 8 v 1 – 11