“Why would someone do that Grandpa?”  That was the question my grandson asked me the evening of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

It’s a question that myriads of experts will attempt to answer in the weeks and months to come.  I answered this way, “there’s evil in this world and the source of that evil is a demonic being called the devil.”

“Can the devil really make people do things like that,” he continued.  Now that question requires more thought.

I claim no expertise in human behavior or the psychology of the mind, but I believe the answer is neither difficult nor profound for those who can accept three basic truths.

First; the Bible is the inspired Word of God, both true and accurate. (Heb. 4:12, II Tim. 3:16)  It is the source and foundation of all truth; and truth, by definition, is exclusive.  It leaves no room for the lies of the devil which take form in the humanistic philosophies of this world and the traditions of men.  (Colossians 3:8-10)

Second; the human heart is not inherently good.  (Jeremiah 17:9)  It must be shaped and molded like the clay on a potter’s wheel.  Ultimately it must be transformed by a power greater than the hands of the potter.  Like the potter’s kiln that fires clay, the Holy Spirit can forever change the nature of the heart. (John 3:5-8)

Third; evil is not a concept, it’s real.  We have seen it manifested in the unspeakable atrocities of the holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia, and in schools, theaters and malls right here in America.  The source of that evil is satan and his demonic forces. (John 10:10)

Yes, the devil was completely and utterly defeated by Jesus through His death and resurrection.  But it’s important to understand that he retains the power to influence the hearts and minds of those who are unaware of his schemes and devices. (Acts 5:3)

What my grandson could not understand was how a man’s heart became so stone cold that he could look into the eyes of a small child and pull the trigger.  I’m so thankful he doesn’t get it and that he has never known such evil up close.  Not all children have escaped it.

We must understand that all behaviors begin with the meditations of the heart.  Proverbs 4:23 says this, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” The word issues also mean boundaries and borders.  So, you could say that the constraints of behavior are formed in the heart.

We read in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.”

There is more than enough evidence in the Word of God to make one thing clear.  What happened at the Newtown, CT, elementary school began in the meditations of twenty year old Adam Lanza’s heart long before it manifested on a peaceful Friday morning.

So, how is the soft and moldable heart of a child shaped?  By the hands of the potters who have been entrusted with that wonderful privilege and awesome responsibility.  But too many times the potters ignore their commission or abdicate their responsibility.  When ignored, the clay hardens like stone, and when abdicated to another, the outcome is in doubt.

The cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and love of other things are unrelenting forces; pushing us to ignore or abdicate. (Mark 4:19)  Their power resides in the human desire for security, fulfillment and happiness.  Jesus understood, that’s why He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

We can blame the media, which is certainly a contributing factor.  In fact, King David wrote this in Psalms 101:3, “I will allow nothing wicked before my eyes.” He understood the effect that what we see and hear can have on the heart.  That should be a warning for this generation of parents whose children have unlimited access to information.

We can point our finger at the educational system.  God knows it has morphed into a tool for social engineering.  But the Bible makes it clear; parents are responsible for teaching their children the ways of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4, “…fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”   One of the reasons God chose Abraham to be the Father of many nations was because He knew he would teach his children.  (Genesis 18:19)

We can look at our government which has enacted laws that seem to be aimed at destroying the family rather than preserving it.  But the truth is that government is nothing more than a reflection of the prevailing views of our society.  All that it can do in an attempt to protect citizens is write more laws that have no affect on the heart nor prevent violence.

We can even find fault with the church.  Some are nothing more than social gatherings, appealing to the vanity of the mind and tickling the ears with words that soothe the pain and avoid personal responsibility.  However, it’s not the church that builds strong families; its strong families that build effective churches.

When parents are distracted and step away from the potter’s wheel, the hearts of their children are up for grabs.  Is that what happened to Adam Lanza?  Only God knows the truth and the secret motivations of his heart.  But we do know this, at some point in his life, his heart became stone and the love of God was shut out.

I write this to encourage you and give you hope as parents.  Love your children unconditionally; present the truth of the gospel and the love of Jesus to them; protect them from the enemy and his devices and most importantly, remember that you are not alone in this.

We have a heavenly Father that loves our children more than we ever could.  He lives in us and He has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth, teach us all things, bring to remembrance what Jesus has said and show us things to come.  With that kind of power residing on the inside of every born again parent, we can be confident that our children cannot be snatched away by the devil.  (John 10:27-29)

This Christmas, I know that all of us will be thanking God that our children and grandchildren are safe.  And that we will all be more thankful for the grace that God has provided through Jesus Christ.

Jim Ertel
Heart of the Family

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