I care deeply about human behavior. For one, behavior shapes a society. If a significant portion of the population doesn’t see anything wrong with stealing, then that community will be quickly devastated by thievery. So I am all for putting place measures with teeth that discourage behavior that is detrimental to a society. However, there are severe limitations inherent to this method. Let’s think together about this…
Political systems, for the most part, work within the realm of laws and money. Given the example above, there’s a place for caring what those laws are and how that money is spent. However, political systems are at a disadvantage when it comes to shaping the behavior of people within a society. How so?
We need to think no further than the Old Testament people of God to see ‘Exhibit A’ of a judicial system possessing limitations in shaping human behavior. Israel had 519 laws on the books and the conclusion of the matter was still those laws were powerless to transform human behavior (Rom. 8:3). So what’s the solution? Look at the whole passage:
“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:3-4).
Political systems work “outside-in”. That is, they work to control external environments through legislation. But the Bible’s worldview is radically different. God’s Word tells us the key to transformed human behavior is the gospel working “inside-out.” In fact, the “Law-Gospel” juxtaposition is showing us the key to transforming a society lies in “inside-out” transformation not “outside-in” legislation.
So if you care about the collective behavior of your community or the world, then you should care supremely about evangelism. Because it’s only through people hearing and responding to the gospel that they and their societies are transformed from the inside-out.