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The Spirit of the Age

Wisdom in protecting the innocent

*Note: the following is a "classic" DEEP that several readers had responded to in appreciation, and I felt could stand a reposting. 

Proverbs 6:19

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,

Proverbs 24:11-12

11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”
Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?
He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?

For nearly fifty years, a ravenous beast has stalked the land. It has devoured, it has defiled, and it has enjoyed near invincibility against all who sought to slay it. The beast’s victims have been broken-hearted women, millions of innocent children–and the soul of a nation. 

This bloodthirsty creature has gone by many names wherever child sacrifice has been the rule: Baal, Moloch, and…abortion. 

On June 24, 2022, the beast was dealt a deadly blow. The United States Supreme Court, in a landmark ruling on the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, struck down the precedent of previous court rulings. Suddenly, abortion could no longer claim as “law of the land,” but instead returned to the states to decide. 

Justice Clarence Thomas rendered an opinion that readily explained that, though this infamous beast had raised its head in haughty confidence of its invincibility, it was nevertheless, always on shaky ground: 

As the origins of this jurisprudence readily demonstrate, the putative right to abortion is a creation that should be undone. The Constitution does not constrain the States' ability to regulate or even prohibit abortion. This Court created the right to abortion based on an amorphous, unwritten right to privacy.–Clarence Thomas

Justice Thomas not only struck a blow against the rampaging kaiju of abortion, and restored the direction of a nation’s moral compass, he has struck a blow in the defense of innocent life. 

Death is an ever-present factor of life in this fallen world. Poet W.H. Auden penned that “death is the sound of distant thunder at a picnic.” Death comes for one and all, and for the believer, death is truly the gateway to eternal glory and rest in Jesus Christ. However, death that strikes at the helpless–and is inflicted maliciously for the most selfish of reasons, is death that stirs the fury of almighty God.

Solomon, in Proverbs chapter 6, reveals this fury as he catalogs the “seven deadly sins” that God hates:

16 These six things the Lord hates,
Yes, seven are an abomination to Him:

17 A proud look,
A lying tongue,
Hands that shed innocent blood,–Proverbs 6:16-17

What does it mean to shed innocent blood? Like the specter of abortion that has seared the conscience of the west for three generations, this is refers to the wanton killing of those who cannot defend themselves, or who by their actions have not merited death as punishment for crime, or in time of war. 

Killing, for a soldier, is different from that of shedding innocent blood. C.S. Lewis, himself a veteran of the horrific trench warfare of WWI and the fighting in the Somme region, explains:

We may kill if necessary, but we must not hate and enjoy it. - CS Lewis

The bible is filled with stories and accounts of death. The great battles of the Old Testament. 100,000 Syrians were slain in battle (I Kings 20:29) by Ahab. Numerous plagues, catastrophes and other events claimed the lives of thousands more. God is not meek when it comes to death when it serves His purpose, but he abhors death that is inflicted on those who cannot help themselves. 

Simply put, this is about murder. 

Ah, now here is a “deadly sin” in which you can doubtless feel safe, right? Chances are, you have never committed cold-blooded murder–or even warm-blooded murder, for that matter. Perhaps you have wanted to plant “six feet under” someone you felt deserved such a fate. You may have rationalized that the world would be a better place for it, but alas, those were just fantasies of someone struggling in life, and not true premeditated homicide. 

If anything, you have run afoul of a murderous tongue and a careless or cruel comment that may have murdered someone in your heart. As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount: 

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.–Matthew 5:21-22a

This is, of course, a sinful struggle that every believer and indeed every person has experienced–either with a murderous tongue or in feeling the bite of the cruel words of another.

The shedding of innocent blood here in this proverb, is about those who actually commit murder–or passively allow it to happen. On this latter group, God reserves a special anger, for they know better, and yet allow murder to take place. 

One of the clearest examples of this in modern times is that of abortion. Before the Dobbs decision of 2022, many Christians and others who opposed this moral outrage met abortion with protests and other measures. But the culture of the west in general malignantly embraced the cult of infanticide. 

And this is what it is, a cult. Abortion is an act of destruction, it is a strike against that which is holy and that which reveals the divine. As Carl Trueman puts it: 

Abortion is desecration. That is why it raises such passionate emotions on both sides of the debate. Sex and conception create new life and that means they possess—or should possess—a mysterious aura of the sacred. Attitudes about them therefore go to the heart of what, if anything, society thinks it means to be human.-Carl Trueman 

Abortion is the idolatry of self, and its source is the same selfishness of whuch James writes: 

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.–James 4:1-2 

John Piper describes abortion is about God, about loving self more than God, and in satan’s efforts to destroy the image of God:

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.–John Piper

Satan longs to destroy and desecrate the image of God and one way in which he does this is to enslave people into following his lies through the spirit of the age. Echoing the words of Jeremiah 31:15, artist Michael Card captures this well in his haunting song, “Spirit of the Age:”

I thought that I heard crying coming through my door
Was it Rachel weeping for her sons who were no more
Could it have been the babies crying for themselves 
Never understanding that they died for someone else

A voice is heard of weeping and of wailing 
History speaks of it on every page
Of innocent and helpless little babies 
Offerings to the spirit of the age.–Michael Card, “Spirit of the Age”

Thankfully, the Dobbs decision pulled abortion off the national stage in America and sent it to the states to be worked out. Here, the battle continues, but the cultural clout that abortion has enjoyed is diminished. 

But herein lies your current duty, according to Solomon. It is one thing to avoid murder of the innocent, it is another to stand by while it happens–or to accept the conditions in which it occurs. Proverbs 24:11-12 bring new responsibilities to light: 

11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death,
And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

12 If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”
Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?
He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?–Proverbs 24:11-12

Here, you are called upon to do more than simply avoid murder or to feel outrage over calamities such as abortion. You are called to seek out and help those in danger. Commentator Bruce Waltke reveals Solomon’s instructions as an appeal to honor, and a call to heroic action on behalf of righteousness: 

If the son meets his moral obligation toward a person who is threatened by death, he will show that his mental toughness, his moral courage, and his physical strength are great and large enough to reach out to those in need.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs”

Do you have the moral courage to oppose the culture of death that surrounds you? This may or may not be a call to join a pro-life rally or to add your voice to the chorus of others opposed to its bloody rampage, but you are called to be on the lookout to protect those who need protecting. 

Where abortion is concerned, John Piper finds this proverb especially damning to those who have stood idly by and allowed its millions of victims to die:

Notice that the verse does not say, "You claim not to know about the slaughter, but God knows that you do know." It says something more radical. What it says is, "You claim not to know about the slaughter, but God knows how your heart works." In other words God not only knows what we really know inside. He also knows when our ignorance is guilty ignorance.–John Piper 

It is easy in this life to simply claim, “I did not know,” but in this modern day with 24/7 news, that is a foolish claim to make. No, to love Christ and to follow Jesus is to have the same sight as His, to see the suffering around you and to minister to them with the Good News of the gospel that you know. In this, you provide the hope of eternity, to those struggling in the darkness of this cruel world.

Can you do this? To have the same eyes if Jesus is to notice the same things that He did. Jesus came to the pool at Bethesda and saw the lame man, lying amid the crowd (John 5) and later, as He walked in Jerusalem, He saw a man who was blind from birth (John 9).  

Jesus saw these “invisible people,” and so calls on you to do the same. In the case of abortion, or the protection of the innocent, a vigilant eye and a compassionate heart may well save a life. Waltke explains your duty and honor in this:

In whatever way not in whatever place the lawless pervert justice, the disciple must show his mettle and intervene and not act cowardly, nor ignore or pass by the wrongdoing.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs”

Can you do this? Who are the innocent in your life who may need protecting? Is it a neighbor being abused by a spouse? Is it taking a moral stand among culturally accommodating friends to uphold righteousness in a world of decay? Is it simply taking the time to share wisdom, care and assistance to those who struggle all around you in silence? 

No matter what you call may be, like Solomon says, you cannot sit idly by and expect to render aid. Seek out those in need, the innocent who need protection, and share the eternal hope and comfort of Jesus Christ.



The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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