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The Gospel and Politics

June 25, 2017

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

One major teaching of Scripture that is oddly forgotten in our modern political debates, is the teaching of the sin nature of all human beings. Having political views is good and necessary for Christians. We need to examine various systems, and determine which ones are most consistent with biblical principles. However, we can often approach these discussions as if only those who disagree with our political view are sinful, and if only we had the power, all would be better. We think that the reason that evil, corruption, and suffering are in the world, are because “the other” people have power.

While one can understand how people who reject the Word of God may think in this way, this is not how those of us who follow Scripture should think.

Let’s begin with a few questions. Why is it that evil, corruption, poverty, and suffering have existed in every culture, regardless of the political system in power? Why is it that there has been evil, oppression, and corruption in cultures with capitalist principles? Why has there been evil, oppression, and poverty in countries that have been socialist? Why is it that there is evil and oppression in countries that are communist? Why is it that evil and oppression exist in countries where anarchy is taking place? Why is it, that for thousands of years, various political systems have not been able to solve the problem of evil and corruption?

As Christians, we know the answer. The answer is because people, all people, are filled with evil, hatred, selfishness, and greed. The reason sin is so rampant in our world, is because sin is rampant in the human heart. Unfortunately, for many of us who are so passionate about our political views (this writer included), simply having our view in power will not eradicate sin in the heart of human beings, and will therefore not eradicate evil, suffering, corruption, poverty and greed.

You see, if we are thinking biblically, we recognize that evil, hatred, and greed are not character traits of only those people that disagree with our politics. Evil, hatred, and greed are unfortunately in the heart of every single human being that has ever lived, except the Divine Son of God. Let’s take a moment and summarize the types of people in the world that the Bible says have evil in their hearts, and are the immediate causes of corruption in the world (see Mk. 7:20-23).

Here is a list, using contemporary categories, of people who are the problem with this world, according to Scripture:

1. Americans.
2. Europeans.
3. Russians.
4. White people.
5. Black people.
6. Asian people.
7. Capitalists.
8. Socialists.
9. Libertarians.
10. Donald Trump.
11. Hilary Clinton.
12. Bernie Sanders.
13. Those who voted.
14. Those who didn’t vote.
15. Men.
16. Women.
17. Majorities.
18. Minorities.
19. Heterosexuals.
20. Homosexuals.
21. Complementarians.
22. Feminists.
23. Local officials.
24. Federal officials.
25. Citizens.
26. Anarchists.
27. You.
28. Me.

Obviously, we have not even come close to being all inclusive in this list. But what this should tell us, is exactly what the Bible tells us. The problem with this world is the human heart. Sin exists in our hearts. That sin must be conquered. Unfortunately, capitalism will not conquer sin in the human heart. But neither will socialism. For that matter, it does not matter who is in power, people with sinful hearts, that are captive to their sin, will always be in power, unless their sin is under the control of the Holy Spirit. This is why the writer of Proverbs tells us, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan,” (Pr. 29:2). Righteous rule is the prerogative of righteous people.

As Christians, we can even recognize that if a Christian ran the entire country, that person is still subject to sin (although progressively being sanctified by the Spirit). Because of their finiteness, and because sin will not be fully eradicated until Christ comes again, they are liable to sin and make wrong decisions, and thereby, to hurt people in their country and culture. Unfortunately for those who would use this as an excuse to say that Christians do not therefore belong in government, as we have pointed out above, the same is true of all people. The difference is, many who do not follow Scripture live without an awareness of their own sinfulness, and do not use the Word of God to establish their principles, which is, of course, extremely dangerous.

In light of all of this, what are we to hope in? What should our primary focus be in light of these Biblical truths? If sin is in the heart of all people, the hope for ending evil and corruption is in the defeat of sin in the human heart. This comes only by the Holy Spirit, through faith in the Gospel of Christ. Although christians still sin, the Holy Spirit progressively restores the corrupt heart into the nature of God. Because of this, for those who follow the Lord, sin has less and less control of their hearts.

So, what should we be hoping in as Christians? What battle should we be fiercely waging? Is it the battle of who is in power? Is our primary battle between capitalism and socialism, as if simply having one of these systems will change people’s hearts? Is the primary battle a legal one? It is none of these things. The battle that we need to be primarily focused on is the battle over the Gospel of God and the truth, directed at the heart of people. Christ said, “We are sanctified by the truth, Your Word is Truth,” (Jn. 17:17). You see, if we want to see evil and corruption minimized in this world, we must see that this will only occur as the sin in people’s hearts is minimized, through the truth and power of God. This only happens through faith in the Gospel, by the Spirit working with the Word of God.

If we spend all of our time on only the other battles mentioned in this post, then we are simply fighting the battle over which group of corrupt people get to wield the power. And of course, as Christians we must agree with Scripture, that the time when all evil, pain, corruption, and suffering, will be eradicated, will be when Christ rules in the New Heavens and the New Earth.

May we keep our eyes on the truth.

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