He’s a Good Man? Seriously?

Last week Paul J. Spencer jumped out of his crashed Cadillac wielding a large knife and stabbed Lafayette Police Officer Ron Dombkowski in the face.  You heard me right–in the face.  Two other officers involved had no choice but to fire on Spencer, fatally wounding him but also bringing his murderous actions to an end.  Yesterday an independent panel ruled that the officers’ actions were justified.

Is anyone bad anymore?

Spencer’s mother added to the spectacle by repeatedly proclaiming, “My son–he’s a good man.”  Seriously?  In all deference to a grieving mother, that analysis is outrageous.  When a person picks up a large knife and attacks one of our local police officers, he is decidedly something other than a good man.

What would a person have to do in this culture before people would simply be willing to conclude — “that was bad”  or maybe even, “that was sin?”  And at the expense of sounding like a really old guy, it is fascinating to me how much that dynamic has changed in one generation.  When I was growing up, my mamma had very little trouble saying that I was a bad boy.  And I never stabbed anyone.  In the spirit of full disclosure, there was that time I shot my sister with a BB gun, but I digress.  But all I had to do was carelessly spill my milk at the supper table, and that earned me the pronouncement yet again, “Stevie, you’re a bad boy.”

My mom was right. I am a bad boy. (And so are you.)

What would a person have to do in this culture before people would simply be willing to conclude — “that was bad”  or maybe even, “that was sin?”

The apostle Paul sounded a lot like my mom.  “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10).  “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  Badness is the universal condition of the sons (and daughters) of Adam.  “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).  We are all bad boys, period.

This isn’t trivial. The stakes are high.

This is much more than an academic discussion.  One of the lessons of this tragic story is the brevity and uncertainty of life.  The upshot is that we should all give careful thought to where we believe we will spend eternity.  I wonder how many people in our own community believe they will earn their way to heaven because they were essentially good.  If mothers say that about their knife wielding sons, we shouldn’t be surprised that sons (and daughters) draw the same erroneous conclusion.

Acknowledging our badness points us to the cross of Calvary.  It motivates us to admit that we need a Savior and Lord, someone willing to die in our place and qualified to take charge of our lives.  Because my mom was honest with me, and about me–I chose to place my faith and trust in Jesus Christ and His righteousness.  Now mom’s analysis of me is, “he’s a bad boy, but He has a wonderful Savior who is slowly remaking my son into His image.”  That’s an analysis that will stand the test of time.

Steve Viars
Dr. Viars has served as a pastor and counselor at Faith since 1987. He is an author, national speaker, and Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Biblical Counseling Coalition.