Where Does Child Killing Come From?
Sanctity of Life Sunday
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. 4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"? 6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE." 7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.
Abortion Is About God
At the end of this Sanctity of Human Life week, and three days after the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade, which struck down all state laws in our land regulating abortion and made abortion on demand the law of the land and confirmed an individualistic, unencumbered view of human liberty that has allowed the killing of 35 million children, I want to say this morning that abortion is mainly about God. Abortion is about God, the Creator of the universe, the Giver and Sustainer of all life, the Judge of the living and the dead, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the Redeemer and Forgiver of all who trust him. Abortion is about God.
To leave God out of the picture of abortion is to trivialize it. All things are trivial without God. God is the ultimate reality over the universe. All other reality is derivative and dependent and has no ultimate meaning at all without reference to God the ultimate reality. In him we live and move and have our being. If we leave him out of account, we know nothing of any lasting significance about ourselves or the world. Therefore the message that I have to give is that abortion is about God. And therefore it is not trivial. Motherhood is about God, therefore (and only therefore) it is not trivial. Fatherhood is about God, and therefore it is not trivial. Sexual relations are about God, and therefore they are not trivial. Children - inside the womb and outside the womb - are about God, and therefore they are not trivial.
Abortion is about God. The most important things to say about abortion are how it relates to God and how God relates to it. So let me mention four ways that abortion is about God. The first two I deal with briefly not because they are less important, but because they tend to be more commonly dealt with, and John Ensor has dealt with them beautifully this weekend. The fourth I bring in because of the turmoil our President is in at this moment and how it relates to abortion. But the third is from our text and will receive more of our attention.
1. Abortion is about God because the child in the womb is created by God in the image of God.
The reason Genesis 9:6 is important here is that it shows that the words of Genesis 1:27 (that God created male and female in his own image) is true of all humans who follow after the first man and woman. God says to Noah, "Whoever sheds man's blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man." In other words, every member of the human race is in the image of God. And, as John Ensor showed in his seminar yesterday, the Bible treats the unborn in the same way it treats babies that have been born (Genesis 25:22; compare Luke 1:44 and 2:12; Psalm 139:13).
To be made in the image of God means at least that the aim of God in making us in the womb is that we might image forth God. Images of reality exist to image forth that reality. We are images of divine reality. Our meaning on earth is to image forth that divine reality. That is why we exist. To attack the human being in the womb and kill him or her is to assault God. God is making the child. God is weaving a unique image of his divine glory with the purpose of imaging forth that glory in the world. Killing the child is an attack on God's glory and is treason against the Ruler of the universe. So, fundamentally and most importantly, abortion is about God because children are made by God in the image of God for the glory of God.
2. Abortion is about God because only God can forgive the sin of killing unborn children.
This is why John Ensor's book, Experiencing God's Forgiveness, is so important. The ultimate evil of abortion is not that it kills children or that it damages women - which it does. The ultimate evil is that it assaults and demeans God. Now that is what the gospel of Jesus Christ is about. How God planned and brought about a plan to forgive people who have committed the ultimate outrage of discounting his glory and treating it as less valuable than their own private preferences.
The apostle Paul says in Romans 3:23, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." That is the essence of sin: falling short of the glory of God, exchanging it for the preference of our own plan. But then verses 24-25 say that those who trust in God are "justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith." In short, what this means is that God is the only being in the universe who can forgive the sin of abortion and actually "justify" or set right the relationship between himself and us sinners who have so grievously offended him. He sets it right by the death of his Son in our place so that all the wrath that we deserve for the sin of abortion - and every other sin - is put on Jesus, and he dies in our place and we are acquitted and given eternal life and joy at the cost of the Son of God.
Abortion is about God, because only God can forgive the sin of killing unborn children. He can and he does, and it is the greatest, most freeing news in all the world. "Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).
3. Abortion is about God because the root cause of abortion is a failure to be satisfied in God as our supreme love.
Let's see where this comes from in the Bible. If you start reading in James 4 and stop after verse 2a, what you would have is a simple, psychological, trivial analysis of where child-killing comes from. An analysis without God. Let's read this analysis:
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust [or: desire] and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.
The issue of murder in this text is rooted in unsatisfied desires. "You desire and do not have; so you commit murder." We could spend a long time here examining all the desires and longings that an unplanned pregnancy threatens: a pleased boyfriend or husband, education, financial solvency, career, freedom from morning sickness and diapers and runny noses and the terrible twos and sleepless nights and homework help and sports and band and drama and transportation and teenage moodiness and college expenses. You desire all these things and all this freedom, but along comes a baby, and your desires are threatened, and you are tempted to get rid of the troublemaker, the baby. That's where abortion comes from.
I say that would be a trivial analysis. Because God is left out. But in James 4 God is not left out. In fact, he is brought in with a shocking image. Behind verses 2b-3 he sees a transaction between people and God. "You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures." So he pictures people wanting something (or someone) that satisfies, and then coming to God not because he satisfies, but only to ask him for the means to get something else, and then leaving God behind to go get satisfied with this other thing.
And then he names that bluntly in verse 4: "You adulteresses!" (A good literal translation.) Where did that come from? It came from the situation he just described. We have a great and loving husband, God. But we are in love with another man or another thing, and do not find God satisfying. But we can't afford this paramour. So we go (believe it or not!) to our husband, our God - this is prayer - and we ask him for the means to get this other lover. That's why James shouts, "Adulteresses!" to both women and men.
This gives the sense of the next words in verse 4: "Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." If you don't find God and his ways and promises satisfying, and you turn to the world as your real love, then you put emotion between you and God and bring down the wrath of God. Why? Well, it should be obvious, but James goes on to tell us in verse 5: "Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose [when it says]: "He jealously desires the Spirit* which He has made to dwell in us"?
I think this means: God is jealous for your affection and admiration. He has created you so that he might be your supreme love and satisfaction. "In his presence is fullness of joy; at his right hand are pleasures for evermore" (Psalm 16:11). So when James says that killing comes from unsatisfied desires, he is not giving a trivial psychological analysis of the problem. He means: killing comes from rejecting God as our highest treasure and our ultimate satisfaction and our supreme love.
If we found in God what God really is, if we were not willfully blind and rebellious against him as our all-supplying portion in this life and the next, we would not abort our children. The root cause of abortion is the failure to be satisfied in God as our supreme love. And, for all the great legal work that needs to be done to protect human life, the greatest work that needs to be done is to spread a passion - a satisfaction - for the supremacy of God in all things. That's our calling.
There is at least one more way that abortion is about God.
4. The political and cultural events that will make abortion unthinkable and illegal are in the hands of God.
Beware of thinking and praying toward an impeachment of President Clinton because of his most recent turmoil. That may be the right thing to do. But our puny wisdom is not worthy of running the world. If he is impeached and convicted and forced out of office, Al Gore will become the president of the United States. That will make his chances of being elected president in the next election much higher as an incumbent.
And where was Al Gore Thursday on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade? At an abortion-rights gathering, not a pro-life gathering. Richard Neuhaus points out that it is very likely that the next president will appoint four new Justices to the Supreme Court. That means that an impeachment and conviction of President Clinton would probably put a radically pro-choice president in office for the next ten years, namely Al Gore. But if Clinton has to limp to the end of his presidency in disgrace, history may take a very different turn. We don't know.
I only point this out to remind you that God is in heaven and rules over the affairs of men, and is much wiser than we are in running the world. It behooves us to pray for God's wise and just and merciful plan to unfold rather than to assume that our shortsighted guesses are the best. When Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, became proud and defied the living God, Daniel 4:31-32 says,
A voice came from heaven, saying, "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes."
This is still true. God will rule over who is chosen for the Supreme Court in the next several years and we do well to join him in his wise and just and sovereign rule of the world by praying for his kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth the way the angels do it in heaven, and by voting and acting in accord with God's will revealed in Scripture.
The sum of the matter is this: Abortion has to do with God. 1) Because the child in the womb is created by God in the image of God for the glory of God. 2) Because only God can forgive the sin of killing unborn children. 3) Because the root cause of abortion is a failure to be satisfied in God as our supreme love. 4) And because the political and cultural events that will make abortion unthinkable and illegal are in the hands of God.
How then shall we spread a passion for the supremacy of God among abortion providers at Midwest and Meadowbrook in our neighborhood, so that they will find their satisfaction in God and turn from violence toward women and children? That is our question and our prayer.
© Desiring God Foundation. Distribution Guidelines
Share the Joy! You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in physical form, in its entirety or in unaltered excerpts, as long as you do not charge a fee. For posting online, please use only unaltered excerpts (not the content in its entirety) and provide a hyperlink to this page. For videos, please embed from the original source. Any exceptions to the above must be approved by Desiring God.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org