Have you ever heard about “Depraved Indifference?” Whether we have heard of the term or not, it plays a huge part in all of our lives. Let me explain. Depraved indifference is a standard used to show mens rea in court. Mens rea is a legal phrase used to describe the mental state a person must have been in while committing a crime for it to be intentional.It can refer to a general intent to break the law or a specific, premeditated plan to commit a particular offense.

  If you allow another human being to die when it’s in your ability to save him, you are guilty of “depraved indifference.” Countries such as The United States and England have used the depraved indifference standard as a basis for determining the legal state of mind of a defendant, although it is known as “depraved heart” under English common law.

Here is a story to help us understand:

The Firefighter

  An experienced big-city firefighter was charged recently with grave neglect of duty. Prosecutors maintain that he abandoned his responsibility and betrayed the people of the city when he failed to release rescue equipment during a recent fire, resulting in the needless and tragic deaths of a family of five.

  The lead prosecuting attorney said that for more than three minutes after arriving at the scene, the firefighter sat in his vehicle, wearing earphones and listening to a CD, while the family of five screamed to be rescued from the sixth floor of the burning building. Horrified bystanders reported that as the flames licked at the mother’s clothing, she cries out in terror and fell to her death, still clutching an infant in her arms.

  The distraught onlookers also said that the father held two terrified children as the massive flames engulfed him. This terrifying drama took place in full view of the firefighter as he remained seated in the fire truck, listening to the CD.

  Eyewitnesses were sickened when they discovered that the reason the firefighter had remained in the locked emergency vehicle was simply to test a new high-tech CD player that he had purchased as a gift for the fire chief.

  The chief immediately distanced himself from the defendant and dishonorably discharged him from the fire department. In a prepared statement, the chief said that there were no words to describe such a betrayal of those the firefighter was sworn to protect.

  At the trial, the defense pleaded, “no contest,” but added that the defendant had gone to great personal sacrifice to purchase the expensive gift for the chief, and hoped that the judge would take that into account when passing sentence.

  What do you think would be a fitting punishment for this firefighter’s serious crime – probation? Two years in jail? Twenty years? Life? Death? What sentence would YOU give the negligent firefighter? Please make a judgment.

  Do you enjoy worshiping God? Most people in church would say they do. Every Sunday all across the country, auditoriums are filled with hand–raising, God–loving Christians singing their praises to God. That’s understandable, because when the Holy Spirit dwells within us, it’s not hard to worship our Creator. In the light of the Cross, it’s as natural to worship God as it is for flowers to open up their petals in the warm sunlight.

   May I ask you a personal question? When was the last time you shared your faith with an unsaved person? When did you last go out of your way to witness to a stranger? In his book, The Coming Revival, Dr. Bill Bright notes that only two percent of American churchgoers share their faith with others. That is tragic. If the love of God dwells in us, how can we not be horrified at the fate of the lost? Yet many professing Christians today are so locked into worship (with the volume turned high) that they seem to give little or no thought to the fact that all who die in their sins will be cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 21:8) (Way of the Master, Ray Comfort page 6)

  This is the essence of “Depraved Indifference.” I’m not doubting the salvation of those that are guilty of this but I do know that we have no excuse for acting this way. Often we are motivated by a fear of man instead of a fear of God. We are too worried about offending someone while we pull them from the flames they cannot see. But this is just evidence of something deeper, a denial of something we claim to believe. We don’t really believe in Hell. If we did we would take the proper action to warn the millions upon millions of our fellow human beings, our neighbors that will spend the rest of eternity in such a place.

  One of three things are true for the Christian. Either you don’t really know Hell is real and so neglect to tell people about it, you know it is real and still fail to tell others because of apathy and selfishness or you know it is real and so you act on that knowledge and tell the world the reality awaiting them after death. If we are either of the first two examples we are guilty of “depraved indifference.”. Either we know and do nothing about it or we claim to know and still do nothing. This is evidence that hate is not the opposite of love, but apathy is.

Again I quote Ray Comfort,

  Worship is the highest calling of every Christian, and we can see in the book of Revelation that the church will one day be consumed in worship before the throne of the Almighty. We are going to worship God for all of eternity. But when we look back at the book of Acts, we don’t find the church consumed with worship. Instead we find it was obsessed with reaching the lost, to the point that they willingly gave their lives to preach the gospel.

  So please, reevaluate your priorities, take off the earphones, unlock the doors, become equipped, and demonstrate the depth of your love for God by rescuing those who are about to perish.

The question arises, Why worship a God you don’t obey? The early Christians truly believed in Hell. They knew it was a real place and acted upon it. They had a deep love for the one that saved them from Hell and their sin and because of that love obeyed Him. They weren’t guilty of “depraved indifference.” They had no blood on their hands because they were the watchmen on the wall that sounded the warning of coming judgment. Most Christians today don’t like to hear that “God is angry with the wicked everyday” because they feel indifferent to the flames of His holy wrath. No wonder the world calls us hypocrites. We tell them of Jesus’ return and of eternal death and act like they don’t exists.Where is the evidence that what we claim is true? They should hear the torturous flames in our pleading voices. They should see the mighty grace of a holy God behind the compassion of our eyes. Our lives should be evidence of what we claim to believe. Maybe then the lost would see we are serious.

Jesus Christ will never be real to the world if He isn’t real to us. The flames of Hell will cease to sear if we ignore its reality. Heaven becomes a fairy tale when we live for earthly things.

I’m no longer interested in playing games. I’m not interested in being at peace with the world. I’m not interested in watching my neighbors burn up in the consuming flames of sin. I’m not interested in a gospel stripped of it’s power by modern day preachers that preach peace when there is no peace.

We have become a people consumed with depravity and indifference while the world marches on into the gates of Hell. We have burned in our lusts of worldly pleasure and comforts while a silent holocaust greedily rips our children limb from limb. They smile and we smile with them, too afraid to rock the boat. We want to blame the world for their “depraved indifference” while being guilty of the same thing.

If you do nothing for the lost, if you stand by while the youngest among us are being systematically exterminated we are guilty of “depraved indifference.” Your mind will protest and say that I am wrong but look at your hands. Do you see the blood? You have so readily accepted the blood on the hands of your Savior, it is time to have the “ministry of reconciliation.”


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