On a Sunday afternoon, on October 2, 2017, 64 year old Stephen Paddock opened fire on thousands of unsuspecting country music concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Within minutes, more than 500 people were shot. Fifty eight people die. Then, Paddock killed himself as brave police officers descended on his sniper’s nest. Since the moment the massacre began, the world has wondered why.
It has been suggested that Stephen Paddock was angry with the Casino over some unresolved issue. Talk show personality Rush Limbaugh set forth the idea that when a democratic society becomes a bureaucratic maze so that there is no one in authority, and no one to talk to for conflict resolution, explosive anger and violence becomes a viable alternative.
It has been reported that Stephen Paddock was a member of Antifa. The assumption is that because so many country music lovers are supporters of President Donald J. Trump, they were worthy of being slaughtered. The irony of the Antifa movement is that those who embrace this godless, evil, and self-centered organization are themselves fascist. Individuals without a soul take upon themselves the ultimate authoritarian role of being judge, jury, and executioner. They forcibly suppress opposition and criticism. They silence free speech, disrupt industry, and commerce, and are racist by denouncing those who are Caucasian.
It has been circulated that Stephen Paddock was a convert to the Islamic faith, which advocates the wholesale destruction of Infidels. Quran (8:39) – “And fight with them until there is no more fitna (disorder, unbelief) and religion is all for Allah”. Perhaps Paddock was lusting after the alleged 72 virgins (houri) with “full grown”, “swelling,” or “pears-shaped” breasts (Quran 78:33) of Paradise after his slaughter of the innocent.
It has been postulated that Stephen Paddock was on medication that altered his personality. Sometimes medications are helpful in controlling a person’s thinking and behavior, and sometimes medications are harmful.
While the immediate cause for the murderous behavior of Stephen Paddock might prove to be elusive, the root cause is not. Long ago the writer of Proverbs said, “For as he [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he.” By all accounts, Stephen Paddock gave a lot of thought to what he would do on October 2. His planning was extensive. Paddock checked into room 135 on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Thursday, September 28. He placed a “do not disturb” sign on the door for three days so as not to be bothered while he assembled his arsenal of weapons, put security cameras in place, built platforms for maximum firing, and bore holes in the windows of the hotel room. Stephen Paddock thought about murder, and became a murderer.
There are some practical lessons to learn from the life of Stephen Paddock.
First, every person, at birth, by nature, has the same corrupt heart of Stephen Paddock. It does no good to protest this concept, for God Himself has addressed, in His Word, the Bible, the total depravity, the radical corruption, the objective pervasive depravity of the heart of individuals.
Every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin as a result of our fallen nature. Apart from the constraints of society, and apart from the efficacious and prevenient grace of God, every person would manifest, when possible, the darkest side of the soul. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9) It is the practice of the natural man, the person not born again by the Spirit of God, to embrace iniquity. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Rom. 3:23)
Second, only Christ can restrain the heart. Only the Lord can make a person not want to murder, or hate. The Lord does this by giving individuals a new heart, a new mind, and a new spirit. Left to themselves, individuals will produce the natural fruit of their fallen nature. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” (Matt. 15:19).
Third, there will never be a full understanding of pure evil. The best society can do is to label aberrant behavior. But even in that effort society fails, and becomes foolish to the point that words have no meaning. The slaughter of unborn children is still labeled, “pro-choice.” The unnatural practice of homosexuality is called “homophobia”, when protested. When individuals want to legally unite with dogs or dolphins or members of the same sex it is called marriage. Oh how foolish humans are. How dark is their understanding of the human heart. In the end, fallen humanity cannot help fallen humanity. We all need the Lord, because evil is a great mystery.
However, there can be a cessation of pure evil, and that comes by way of the new birth.
Saul of Tarsus had the heart of Stephen Paddock. He breathed out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. Saul went to the high priest of Israel and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any person who belonged to the Way, whether man or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. On his way to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was converted to Christ. The madness ended. A heart of hatred was transformed into a heart of love. He who persecuted the Church found himself wanting to protect it.
As the nation reflects on what took place in “Sin City”, USA, let every person look inward, and be alarmed. Then let individual look outward to the Cross of Calvary and to Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world. Finally, let individuals look once more upward to their God and their Creator, and cry out for mercy, for compassion, for healing, and for salvation. Therein is the comfort that will bind up the wounds that sin has inflicted.
No amount of gun control legislation will correct the condition of the human heart. Guns do not kill, people kill. Pens, pencils, and keyboards do not make spelling errors, the typist does. Eating utensils do not cause obesity. A person chooses to use these items to place more food than is necessary into their bodies. The Moral Law of God does not cause individuals to engage in idolatry, steal, or covertness. The Moral Law of God will only prevent these activities when the heart is engage in gospel obedience. The cure for the sins of society is as simple as it is difficult. Let individuals embrace the Saviour, Jesus Christ, and His teachings, and live out the ethics of the kingdom of heaven, and righteousness shall cover a nation as the waters cover the seas.
When looking for the cause of pure evil, look no further than the human heart.