The Idolatry of Innocence and the Boston Marathon Bombings

ImageOnce again, the depravity of the human heart has been placed on display for the world to see. With around the clock news footage and the popularity of social media the news spreads very quickly. We have all been saddened, angered and concerned over the events that happened in Boston on Monday. It is now known that two brothers conspired to inflict terror upon the spectators who were watching the Boston Marathon. There were fatalities and many, many bystanders seriously injured. An eight year old boy was murdered. Eight. I have a son who is the same age and this really hits home with me. The anger is justified. Evil men have acted wickedly from the depths of their depraved soul.

There are also have been amazing acts of heroism. It is the amazing acts by first responders, ordinary citizens and medical personnel that have made us all proud. As some were running from…others were running toward. These men and women are to be applauded and commended for their courage. These acts of heroism are not new. They happen everyday. I have family members and friends who have served our country locally in law enforcement and in war in the Middle East.  On 9-11-01 we saw similar acts of bravery. While people were going down the towers before they collapsed…others were going up.  It is these moments of human valor that make these horrific events a tiny bit more bearable.

This morning, the father of Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev (aka, White Hat or suspect #2) told the media that his son was an “angel”. Many people are being interviewed and many are saying that he was a “nice boy”. There is nobody, that knew him, that would have thought he could of done something so heinous. The other brother has been described by his uncle as a “loser”. This raises an interesting question….is anyone really good?

Paul very eloquently declares the sinfulness of man in his letter to the Romans. (Romans 3:9-12, ESV)

“What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”

And then Paul drops the hammer down in case anyone thought they were innocent.

“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God.” (Romans 3:19, ESV)

Jesus was never shy to point out this fact. While the Pharisees were arguing with him for healing a paralyzed man, he pointed out their condition.

“But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” – Matthew 9:4 (ESV)

and again…

“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” – John 2:24 (ESV)

Because of the severity of the attacks it is easy to compare yourself with the terrorists. It may be very easy to feel superior or to claim some level of righteousness. Don’t be fooled, you may not have bombed the Boston Marathon, but you heart is just as depraved. You may not have shot up a movie theater, but you are as much lost in your sin as the shooter. We can not compare ourselves to them and claim any kind of righteousness. This is just another form of idolatry. It is the idolization of your morality and your self claimed innocence.  This news may be very offensive to you, but it is the truth you need to hear.

Jesus tells another parable about a religious person idolizing their morality. (Luke 18:9-14, ESV)

“9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

What is the point of this article? It is to warn you about declaring your innocence, in comparison with other evil men. There is only one comparison you need to make. It is a comparison with a Holy God & His perfect law. Any pride in your morality is nothing more than the idolatry of innocence.  Don’t be deceived. God is not mocked. Trust only in the finished work of Jesus to save and believe the Gospel. It is only through the justification that ONLY GOD can give that we can be made righteous and innocent before him. No one is good.

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