When I tried to understand all this, it troubled me deeply till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny. – Psalm 73: 16-17 (NIV) It is sad to watch the talking heads and pundits whenever something tragic occurs. We saw recently with the shooting in Newtown Connecticut and now the latest tale of horror coming out from Cleveland Ohio. Watching the television coverage is an exercise in denying God. I see the twists and contortions people in the world must go to in order to avoid talking about good and evil, which of course is at the heart of this case. How else do you explain a man who was able to lure three girls into his home, chain them in the basement for ten years, all the while using them for his sexual perversions? As more and more details come out we see the depth of the depraved evil in the persona of Ariel Castro. Apparently, he impregnated one or more of the women multiple times and each time would forcibly ensure the child was lost. Ten years, holding three women hostage in the very neighborhood he abducted them from. Acting like a member of the community all the while. What will it take for the world to have a real adult conversation about good and evil? Because to hear the experts weigh in on this case is so typically frustrating. I hear over and over again about how Castro once wrote a suicide note indicating he was abused as a child. Evil often begets evil. I have heard about Stockholm Syndrome, a nice worldly theory about how the captured start to align themselves with their captors. I hear the debates about his sanity; his sanity! How can you conclude sanity and avoid talking about the fact that this was an evil depraved act? I’ll tell you how. Because in order to discuss good and evil, you eventually must discuss God and the world will avoid that discussion as much as possible. A discussion of God must eventually come around to a discussion about sin and the world is ruled by the lord of sin; Satan. If you can hear the specifics of this case and still dismiss the fact that there are evil spirits in this world, then I am at a loss. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, - Romans 1: 18-22 (ESV) What we see is a suppression of the true conversation we need to be having. These verses make clear that no one will be able to say they did not know. God has made Himself evident to everyone, there will be no excuse. The closing here is what stands out the most – claiming wisdom, they have become fools. The wisest thing the world thinks today is to dismiss God out of hand. There can be nothing more foolish. But on we go. From a Colorado movie theater to an elementary school in Connecticut. From a dungeon basement in Cleveland to the next great tragedy to expound upon. What is a Christian to do? First of all we must realize that the time is growing short. The days grow more and more evil. The Bible says the love of most will grow cold in the last days. God will only tolerate so much before He comes back to judge. I remember when Jeffery Dahmer came into the national spotlight and I thought that was the tipping point. But since then we see increasing wickedness as Satan turns up the heat on a lost and dying world. With the time growing short our appointed responsibilities take on even greater importance. That is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be salt and light to the world while there is still time. Evangelism may be a gift but witnessing is a requirement for every believer. Secondly, events such as these and others remind us of the true fragility of life: Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. – James 4: 13-16 (NIV) Yet boasting continues on. One of the greatest tricks the devil ever pulls is convincing us that we always have tomorrow. Just this past week Neriza Fojas was heading to her bachelorette party when a fire broke out in her limo. The bride to be did not survive. This is not an exercise in sadness. We need to realize that the clock is ticking. That Jesus is coming back soon and the life we enjoy here on earth is but a glimmer. In the end, the only thing that will matter is whether or not you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Whether you have eternal life. Lastly, we are to leave justice to God. We do not have to worry about Ariel Castro. Events like this make us shake our head and maybe shake our fist. People wonder where God was. How can someone be allowed to perpetrate such evil for so long. The Psalmist asked these questions in Psalm 73. Why do the wicked prosper? He even goes as far as to say that he envied the arrogant because it appeared that they were getting away with so much. But then we come to the key verse. From it, we see two very distinct lessons for us today. First of all, in the course of trying to comprehend such evil, it is understandable to be troubled deeply. God doesn’t expect plaster saints beloved. We have feelings. We have raw human emotions. It is ok to look upon the depravity of a case such as this and have difficulty wrapping our Christian minds around it. In the end however, we have the assurance of the second lesson. Once we bring the reality of the situation into alignment with who God is – we should be assuaged. Once again, it is the valuing of the wrong life. Ariel Castro may have had a free run for ten years but God saw every single moment. The Bible says we will be held to account for every careless word – how much more for our deeds? The final destiny for those on the outside of salvation is much more permanent than 10 years – it is forever. The pain and suffering inflicted will pale I’m comparison to what lies ahead. That is why we should not wish it upon anyone. Judgment is God’s and God’s alone. Leave it to Him. Preach the Gospel. Rev. Anthony.