Racism in America
President Obama said racism is in our DNA. In a sense he was right. The Bible gives us the real reason behind the racial divide taking place today. David describes the problem when he says, “In sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5). We are born in sin. Sin is in our DNA, and sin is the root of every other malice. This sinful nature that we are born with is also referred to as a sinful heart, which is why we are told, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it” (Jer. 17:9)? Our heart is evil and tragically the Bible says most people don’t even know it” or realize it! Many think they are good people while are born with a sinful heart, which leads to all forms of rebellious behavior.
Each of us is born with a sinful nature, also known as a sinful heart, and “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matt. 15:19). All feelings of anger, bitterness, hatred, rebellion, envy, and more derive from the sinful heart. This applies to every race and culture. Whether it is white people hating blacks, or black people hating whites, it is all born in the sinful heart. Whenever an incident occurs, even if it is a legitimate injustice, Satan uses these things, ignited by the media, to stir up the masses with anger. That’s why Jesus said, “because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12).
Many people allow the events around them to harden their hearts against others human beings. As a result, they grow cold and calloused. Today, many judge the culture by the sins of past generations. As a result, there is no cure. Some propose reparations of money, but this will never cure the issue. If money is given, it cannot cure the real problem, because the issue is the sinful heart, regardless of their age, race, or gender. The sinful nature does not discriminate. It affects all of us, bleeding out of our pores in hatred, bitterness, violence, prejudice, envy, lies, immorality, and all forms of evil. While we may try to outwardly pose ourselves as superior, we are all just as sinful at our core. But what does that mean?
According to the Bible, “all have sinned,” “sin is lawlessness,” or breaking God’s law, and “whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (Rom. 3:23; 1 John 3:4; Jas. 2:10). That means, all of us are equally as sinful. We are all just as capable of doing evil. All have the same potential to kill, rape, or abuse children because we have the same sinful heart. The only reason most of us don’t do these evils is because God puts His own love and kindness in our hearts, restraining us, but the more we resist God’s Spirit urging us to kindness, goodness, and love, the harder our heart becomes. This hardening occurs in small steps.
Many today are gradually turning from God, hardening their hearts, growing angry, and becoming rebellious. As a result, they will lose their love, lose and peace, and be driven by anger and vengeance. The more we turn from God, and the more we turn to sin, the worse we become. March, 1994, USA Today Magazine affirms, “Given sufficient doses of poverty, frustration and hopelessness, anything – including irrational destruction – can happen anywhere, by anyone, and somehow, some way, it will.” According to this, we are no better than the evil police who kill innocent victims because it is only by the grace of God that we have not been placed in the same position, and committed such sins ourselves.
We have all seen depictions of evil police who have committed horrific atrocities, but the Bible says that if we were in that same position, with our sinful nature, we would have committed the same crime. That really puts a new perspective on things. So often we flatter ourselves that we are better than others, claiming with the Pharisee, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men – extortioners, unjust,” or like these racists! Everyone familiar with the story know God did not like this prayer, but commended the one who prayed, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:11, 13). Those who realize they are no better than the racists are the ones God commended.
The cure for equality is humility. It is seeing yourself as just as big of a sinner as anyone else. When you really see yourself as a sinner, you begin to realize that your only goodness comes from God, so you have no room to brag for your good works. That’s why Paul said we are to “have no confidence in the flesh,” “not having my own righteousness,” but “the righteousness which is from God,” because “all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags” (Phil. 3:3, 9; Isa. 64:6). Our so-called goodness is not really good at all. Every truly good thing we do is inspired by God, so we cannot boast about or goodness (Jas. 1:17). Jesus affirms this with the words, “without Me you can do nothing” good (John 15:5).
A story was told of the reformer, John Wesley. As he walked through an alley with another man, the two passed a drunken bum in the alley. As the other pointed at the man in disgust, John replied, “If it was not for the grace of God that would be me!” Wesley realized that his goodness was only by God’s grace and good fortune. While we talk much about privilege today, most don’t realize their privilege. We were all born with the same sinful nature as the killer, rapist, and child abuser. God could have allowed us to fall into the same sins, but He has been merciful to most. Yet, instead of realizing we are sinners, many brag about their goodness.
I once told my niece Kayla, “Always remember you are nothing.” She replied playfully, “Thanks a lot,” but there was great wisdom in those words. You see, it is only once we realize our nothingness that we can find the key to equality! We must lay down our pride and admit that, except for the grace of God, we are no better than the killer, rapist, homophobe, racist, liberal, conservative, or whatever. When we see our true condition as sinners, we stop putting ourselves above others. Seeing that our sins killed the Son of God, we no longer think of ourselves as better than others. If we are killers of Christ, the Son of God, then how can we look down on rapists or racists, since we are worse sinners than they?
The problem is that most don’t see themselves as sinners. Working at an electric company as a new Christian, one of the other workers said to me, “You probably look at me and think I’m a big sinner.” Ironically, the very opposite was true. While I had given up alcohol, lying, cussing, porn, cigarettes, and other sins, I still knew how sinful my heart was. I knew that I was no better than anyone. I knew I was just as bad as the biggest sinner, but this guy, still involved in sinful practices, thought he was a pretty good person. I didn’t look down on him because I saw myself as a sinner, and when you are at the bottom, you cannot look down.
As long as people think they are basically good, they will continue to look down on others. Some will think they are better on the basis of race, while others will think they are better because they protest racism. The heart of the issue is superiority. Everyone wants to think they are better than others, but in an attempt to raise ourselves up, we climb on others. The only way to raise ourselves up is to put others down, and vice versa. The racist raises himself up by putting other races down, while the activist raises himself up by putting other groups down, but those who are Christians see that they are sinners, no better than anyone and say with Peter, “I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8)!
Sadly, many grow up as cultural Christians and do not consider themselves as evil. As a result, they think they are better than homosexuals, homophobes, rapists, racists, and other “sinners.” It is only when we see ourselves as sinners that we will find unity, for, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). The key to unity among races will only be done on a personal level, starting with you right now repenting and asking God for forgiveness so you can see all people as one.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.