It was 1971, and the man was quickly convicted of murdering a U.S. military officer. He was sentenced to public execution. The town buzzed. It seemed like everyone had come to the gravel pit near the city to see the man put to death. The police set up a barricade to keep the crowd back. Soon there were refreshments and souvenirs being sold, making the execution resemble more a carnival than a solemn occasion meting out due justice. A post was driven into the ground before a wall of dirt, and then a cloth screen was placed in front of it. A target was strategically fastened to the screen in line with the post behind it.
The condemned man was led in, blindfolded, and tied to the post behind the screen. The foreign military’s firing squad lined up facing the target. On command, the five men fired. It took only a second for the death sentence to be carried out. What happened next surprised those overseeing the event. The crowd surged forward past the barricades and tore down the screen to get a closer look at the result of the five bullets.
At first I believe most Christians would be amazed at how people might actually want to see such a sight. However, we must remember the lost will act like the lost, and therefore, we should not be surprised by such behavior. Jesus said about the lost in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” Jesus said that the unsaved will imitate their father.
Many years ago, Christians were victims of activities that were beyond what I will describe here. Men, women, and children were condemned and brought into an arena for the entertainment of others. Wild beasts were also released, and in time only the wild beasts remained alive. Unwillingly, Christians were brutally killed for the pleasure of others. How could humanity ever stoop so low as to take enjoyment watching others suffer? The answer to this is that Satan is a murderer and takes joy in it. Satan takes delight in the evil and violence that is perpetuated against human beings in our world. Therefore, we can expect the lost to take enjoyment in it as well. This isn’t being said in a harsh, judgmental way. It is simply the way it is for a man without Jesus Christ.
The Bible is very clear regarding the depravity of the lost soul. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). “How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water?” (Job 15:16). “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good” (Psalms 14:1). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19). Whew! Would you believe there is more about this in Scripture that we don’t have room for here?
As we read what the Bible says about the depravity of the soul, it is easy to see how a lost person could take enjoyment and be entertained watching violence, including someone being brutalized or murdered. I must confess that I attended the execution with my military friends and the local townspeople. I was there participating in the festive spirit. I didn’t rush forward afterwards, but I might as well have. I remember even in junior high school how I was part of the crowd hurrying outside to see a couple of boys fight it out.
But would I go now to that type of public execution for the sake of seeing the gore, or a legal event for entertainment where people could hurt, injure, maim, or even kill others? NO! At salvation, Jesus gave me a new heart and changed me. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26). My new heart no longer enjoys seeing fights, strife, brutality, and killing.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The key is “if any man be in Christ.” I am a new creature in Christ: the old has passed away and all things are become new. My new heart is now indwelt by the Spirit of God. My Lord Jesus came to earth to die on a cross for mankind. He loves man so much He gave His life as a ransom so that man wouldn’t suffer for all eternity in hell. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Think about that love. If I have even an ounce of the love of Jesus in me, just a portion of His Spirit, how then could I ever take pleasure in or be entertained watching someone being hurt? Is it possible for a believer to enjoy such a thing? How could I ever call human suffering entertainment?
Even though we should expect the unsaved to act like the unsaved and not judge them for it, Christians should not act like the lost. “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:5-9).
My question for each of us is: “Would we ever go to see some act of brutality if we had the chance?” If your answer is “yes,” I would encourage you to evaluate your heart in light of Scripture. Maybe the “yes” came without really realizing that Jesus would not have one of His children observe such a thing. However, think about it, and ask God to try your heart, and seek to find out what is wrong.
Now for those who answered “No!” I have a few thoughts to share. Praise God that we realize that we could not be entertained in such a fashion. However, for the sake of our children, let’s take this to a deeper level. Jesus said in John 8:38, “I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.” What do our children see us doing?
If children see their fathers being entertained by violence, they will want that for themselves. Maybe a father enjoys watching TV shows or movies that are violent. Perhaps they are actually tame ones by today’s standards, where people are neatly killed. Still, they involve violence against those Jesus died to save. Regardless of the fact that it is fake, it is being presented as real. If this is the example a father sets in how he spends his time, according to John 8:38, his children are likely going to find pleasure in the same.
If someone tells us about a “great” movie or TV show where this type of stuff is going on, do we want to hear all about it, or do we challenge them as to how they could consider watching such a thing? Are we salt and light not only to a lost and dying world but also to “brothers” who are being shameful in their conduct and being a stumbling block for their children? It only takes one generation to lose one’s children.
Men, if you find yourselves drawn to ungodly viewing, I implore you to reconsider. May we identify with our Father in heaven and not with the father of lies. May we be good role models for our children and not be stumbling blocks. May we love the light and flee the darkness. May our children observe in us the fruit of the Spirit and not the fruit of Satan.
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-25).