Some time ago I read an article about the autopsy results of the Las Vegas mass murderer Stephen Paddock. The article titled Las Vegas Gunman’s Brain Exam Only Deepens Mystery of His Actions was about the autopsy of Stephen Paddock, in particular a pathological examination of his brain that failed to reveal any clues on why Paddock committed this evil act.
The toxicology report concluded that there was no presence of any drugs other than a small amount of anti-anxiety medication. The examination of the brain did not reveal any kind of significant mental illness, although there was mention of a possibility of him being bipolar. The author noted that “while some studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to have a history of violent behavior than the general public, the majority of them do not, and the relationship between mental health and violence involves many other factors.”
The article pointed out some other findings from the examination of the brain that might provide some answers as to what led this man to commit one of the most heinous crimes in American history. However, from what I gathered from the article, there was nothing conclusive from a physiological examination of Mr. Paddock’s brain that provided the kind of answer they were looking for; what led this man to do what he did?
As I read the article I couldn’t help but think about one particular aspect these medical professionals might not have considered. They were looking at the wrong part of this man’s anatomy. The fact is they should have started with examining the man’s heart but the scientific study of his heart would not have provided any answers either.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
A Heart Issue
This isn’t about the beating, blood-pumping heart but the spiritual heart of man. It is the spiritual heart that Jesus refers to when He says, “For out of the heart comes evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:19). Does any of that sound familiar? In like manner Mark 7:21 quotes Jesus as saying, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.” If I’m not mistaken I believe it is every one of these aspects of the heart that is at the root of all the problems were are experiencing in this world.
It comes down to the fact that every one of us has a heart condition and it is this condition of the heart that is at the heart of all the evil, hatred, and corruption in the world. It causes a person to murder, steal, destroy, rape, rob, and instigate anarchy. It goes against all good in this world and even causes our brothers and sisters in blue and brown to stray from all that we stand and fight for.
Now when I think about this heart condition that we all have, I can’t help but see it fleshed out in a couple of ways.
This heart condition doesn’t just affect maniacs like Stephen Paddock. To the contrary, it has the potential to affect every law-abiding citizen, including those of us who enforce the laws of this land. I believe that every single one of us, even the most faithful follower of Jesus, has the capability of doing the kind of things we see in this world every day and the kind of things for which we take people to jail.
I believe that it is only by the grace of God and a determination on our part to not allow our hearts to be drawn to do that which we know is wrong. This is why Solomon writes in Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This should cause each of us to examine our hearts and never give in to the idea that “I would never do something like that” because every one of us still has the propensity to sin and do wrong. You may think you are strong enough which renders you more than capable of resisting temptation. You may think there is that one certain area of your life that you don’t really worry about because you feel you’ve got a handle on it.
In the words of Oswald Chambers, “An unguarded strength is a double weakness.” In these days when law enforcement is so carefully scrutinized it is so important that we remember this.
When someone asks you what it is that causes people to do all the things that law enforcement has to deal with and all the evil in this world it can be said that it all comes down to this:
The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart
We will never see an end to evil unless the heart of man is changed. We don’t just need a change of heart we need a heart that has been regenerated. I believe this is part of the reason that Jesus gives us such an ugly view of the heart and he wants us to see that it’s not about outward circumstances but it is about the heart and soul of a man that needs to be transformed.
And Jesus is the only One who can do that.
Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments.
Be blessed and be safe!