Monday, April 27, 2020

Unintended but Culpable Consequences of Deifying the State

Many believers in my nation are increasingly, justifiably furious at the expansion of tyranny in recent days. What was originally an attempt to keep medical resources from being saturated has become the wildest of goose chases, with increasingly prodigal wasting of life and livelihood to secure little or no ultimate benefit.

But what many believers aren't recognizing is that this—as bad as it is—is not itself the great problem, but a small consequence of a much greater problem. To use the current, "viral" language, the current destruction of life and livelihood by the state is not the disease, but a symptom of a more complex and deadly disease.

The symptom may be a moving target with unintended consequences. But the disease is the deification of the state—with inevitable consequences.

The original target was excusable; we do not know the future, and do our duty before God as well as we can with what we know. But deification of the state is so inexcusable that it is a violation of the very first commandment in the Decalogue. We are natural-born idolaters who violate this commandment most of all by deification of self. But, when our self-deification fails, a close second is the deification of the state.
“And Yahweh said to Samuel, 'Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.'” 1Samuel 8:7–9
Violation of the first commandment and the only-ness of God always results in the destruction of man, who is made in God's image. When an individual deifies himself, a few lives may be destroyed, perhaps several or even a very many. But when the state is deified, the destruction is greatly magnified.

Over the last several weeks, this has morphed into something that has some striking parallels with Marxism. The idea that government can eradicate disease is even more deluded than the idea that government can eradicate poverty or economic differences between people, or that the government can ultimately undo the creation's bondage to corruption and decay.

And when man pursues divine prerogatives, he becomes increasingly ruthless in his pursuit of that which he can never do. Marxism has taken more than a hundred million lives in the last 150 years. Who knows how many environmentalism (another species of the same evil) has taken?

Thus far, medical messianism has done most of its killing under the guise of altruism in places like sub-saharan Africa. I'm not even suggesting that this is coordinated (at least by men), but with not only what is currently being done but what is being proposed, medical messianism could end up being the most deadly of the three.

Sin's consequences are inevitable, because God has built into His providence the principle that "you reap what you sow." As such, we don't need to know the evil that will come from our sin in order to be culpable for it. "Duty is ours; events are God's." And to that, we can add, "And God is just." We should expect that all sin is harmful. And we are culpable for what harm it brings. And there is no greater sin than to put man, or any other creature, in the place of God.

Even if we get this expansion of government turned back this time—and God grant that we will—the long-term destruction of human life through statism will continue until the gospel breaks out in the power of the Spirit, God alone is recognized as God, and the state is acknowledged as a servant under God for the good of the church.

This is an outbreak, without which our nation and its churches cannot survive. Only then, will the threat of deified government be curtailed. Only then, more importantly, will we curtail the giving to government of that honor which is due alone to the living and true God.

There have been opportunities in recent days to see in our culture, in our churches, and in our own hearts carelessness about the fourth commandment, carelessness about the fifth commandment by both inferiors and superiors, carelessness about the sixth commandment from all sides, carelessness about the eighth commandment and Scripture's equation of livelihood with life. In fact, we could serialize these little articles and cover each remaining commandment in the Decalogue.

What great opportunity for repentance God has given us in so many areas! Lord help us! For history and Scripture teach us plainly that opportunity by itself does not bring repentance. God's Spirit must do that, and He does it by God's means. So, let us pursue those means with all of our might—especially asking that His Spirit would own them unto repentance and reformation.

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