Archive for the ‘wicked’ Category

11:21 Unholy Alliances

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

Though they join forces, the wicked will not go unpunished; But the posterity of the righteous will be delivered.* Proverbs 11:21

Maryland National Guard unit battles union workers.

When for a few months I was compelled to belong to a union in order to hold a job, I read the union papers with interest. I found that unions had made unholy alliances with evil organizations for political power. Hand had joined in hand for evil. The union urged support of abortion, reverse discrimination, and homosexual “rights.” Not surprisingly union bedfellows included socialists, communists, and everyone opposed to free enterprise. Historically unions have advanced their power through mob violence. Those same coalitions and tactics are evident today. In nothing I read from the union did I get a hint that the authors and editors gave a moment’s consideration to God or to the eternal consequences of their advocacy issues. A naked materialism held sway.

There are unholy alliances on the other side, too, where materialism is often masked behind a facade of faith. Historically, the money interests have often colluded with unjust political structures and established religions. Such coaltions are also evil. The point is that when evil men join hand in hand, whatever their politics, they are wrong and will not go unpunished.

Jesus belonged to no coalition. Like the boldest of his followers ever since, he stood alone when it counted, not linking hands with evil-doers on any side. Unable to co-opt him, all factions united to kill him–the money interests, the religious establishment, the mob, and the tyrannical Roman government. Forty years later, the Jewish nation reaped the fruit of their choices in the destruction of their nation, their holy city, and their temple. But the righteous Jesus was resurrected from death to found the most noble institution the world has ever known.

*Some modern translations lose the concept of coalitions.

25:26 Giving Way to the Wicked

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring. Proverbs 25:26

Richard Wurmbrand tells that, fearing for their families and lives, many pastors in Romania publicly endorsed the atheistic Communists when they took power. Solomon would categorize them as fouled springs. By contrast, Wurmbrand spoke up for Christ and spent many years in prison where he was brutally tortured.

In his suffering this Lutheran pastor was like Christ his master. Jesus would not give way to false accusers. He neither endorsed untruth nor kowtowed to the men who gave him a kangaroo trial. Rather, he witnessed plainly to those who were about to crucify him. Consequently, he suffered all that the spite of men and demons could contrive against him. He was no polluted fountain.

17:15 A Dilemma of Justice

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. Proverbs 17:15

Christ bore our penalty.

Citizens are rightly outraged when judges don’t do their job. When one slaps a child molester on the wrist or excuses a murderer on a technicality; when one buckles before a rich playboy or releases a thug who has some powerful organization behind him, everyone recognizes justice has miscarried. We grumble and protest.

Nonetheless there is a widespread expectation that God ought to let all of us (except maybe a few Hitlers and Stalins) off the hook. No matter how we have slighted him for idols, blasphemed him with doubts, perjured ourselves before him, stolen his glory, hated his righteousness, not a few of us think it unfair of him to punish us for what we’ve done. We forget that because he is infinite, any sin against him is infinite and deserves infinite punishment; and we resent the knowledge that he has prepared a place of such punishment.

God is pure and holy. He hates the smallest sin. He cannot justify the wicked. He cannot condemn the just. Yet from the first he had promised to provide salvation for us. That gave rise to a dilemma. How could he be just and yet justify the wicked?

His solution became the most astonishing fact of all history. He himself became a man and took man’s punishment. This was no light thing. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit had enjoyed an unbroken communion of love through all eternity. When Christ became sin for us, that communion was destroyed. God had, in effect, torn himself in two, a spiritual agony that makes the physical misery of the cross pale by comparison.

15:6 Revenues vs. Treasures

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, happy couple.

In the house of the righteous is much treasure, but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble. Proverbs 15:6.

When worldly church-goers hear the word “treasure,” they immediately assume the gold and silver kind are meant; but the person who knows Christ understands that something else is intended—treasures of love, joy, justice, wisdom, and peace. Christian homes, armies, societies and nations are distinguished by such treasures. Often physical treasures follow, too, because people who live well-regulated and honest lives tend to husband natural resources wisely and increase them.

For an example of a home filled with spiritual treasure, one can look to Jonathan and Sarah Edwards. The beauty of their affections and their godly oversight of their children were recorded by contemporaries. Evangelist George Whitefield was so impressed with the love he saw between the pair that he promptly determined to marry himself. His ill-advised union was not so happy.

One of the chief treasures of the Christian is contentment. The revenues that the wicked extract (often by unjust methods) do not bring them much happiness, not least because they constantly crave more and are never satisfied.

Christians enjoy spiritual treasures others can only crave. This is possible because of Jesus, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3) and who “became poor so that we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).” The deposit he has left us is the Holy Spirit, who resides in us, whom Paul likens to those clay pots in which the people of the Middle East stored documents and gems they wished to preserve.

18:3 Pursuing the World’s Contempt

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

The glory is departing.

When the wicked comes, then comes also contempt, and with ignominy reproach. Proverbs 18:3.

Although it is doubtful more than 5 or 10% of Americans have ever been heart-Christians, there have been times when the Judeo-Christian ethic exerted considerable control over the United States. Other nations admired and looked up to us then and sought to imitate our ways.

This is much less true today, for we have become a people that chases every kind of sin, excess and folly. Where once we strove for political and spiritual freedom, today the urge of the masses is for sexual pleasure, degenerate music, vampirism and the occult. We pile excess upon excess and spend money we do not have as though there will never be a reckoning. The Muslims call us the Great Satan and much of the world holds us in contempt.

We have rejected Christ as king, and have lost all restraint. Jesus still calls us to take up our cross daily, warning that anyone who wants to save his life will lose it, but those who lose it for his sake save it. A wicked nation plugs its ears and pursues another round of self-indulgence. How can these once noble states escape reproach when such is the face we turn to the world?

10:7 Blessed Memory, Rotten Name

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Raoul Wallenberg, blessed for trying to save Jews.

The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot. —Proverbs 10:7

In Israel there is a memorial to “righteous gentiles,” whose names include such figures as Corrie Ten Boom and Raoul Wallenberg. Books and movies perpetuate the memory of these brave individuals who attempted to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. The memory of the righteous is blessed. By contrast, even authors who claim there is no absolute right or wrong, concede that Hitler was evil and find grounds to deplore him. Indeed, so great is the abhorrence of this ruthless man, that political opponents label each other as Nazis or Fascists, so as to daub each other with something of Hitler’s opprobrium.

This brings us to the most righteous of men. The memory of Christ is revered by billions, so that the highest compliment you can pay a person is to call him or her “christlike.” A complement is a form of blessing. The memory of Judas his betrayer, Caiphas his accuser, and Pontius Pilate his judge resound with infamy to this day.

10:6 Blessed Head vs. Violent Mouth

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

Bishop Stephen Gardiner of Winchester who condemned Taylor.

Blessings are on the head of the righteous, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. —Proverbs 10:6

During the reign of Queen Mary Tudor, many Protestant churchmen were put to death for their faith. Bishops Bonner and Gardiner were her main agents. Gardiner, who had sworn an oath to serve the Reformation, and then switched sides, was especially notorious for his insults, jeers, and sarcasm toward the men he examined. One of these was Rowland Taylor, a pastor of godly character from a village fifty miles from London.

Gardiner greeted the holy man with his usual barrage of disparaging words (violence covering his lips), and soon enough contrived to do real violence, having Taylor condemned to death for views which differed from those of Rome. To make an example of him, the bishop had him burned to death in the town where he had preached.

The sheriff and his men who took Taylor home to die were amazed at the joy with which he approached death, and at the love and reverence his people showed him. Along the route people called blessings on their good pastor, thanking him aloud for kindnesses he had done to them. One old lady knelt beside him as he made his final prayer, and would not be driven away.

Taylor died patiently. In this he was like his Lord and master, Jesus Christ. Blessings cover Christ’s head and always will, especially the blessing of God who said, “This is my beloved Son.” But violence, jeers, mocking and curses covered the mouth of our Lord’s opponents, who wagged their heads at him while he was on the cross, and taunted him with the words, “He saved others, let him save himself.”

5:21-23 Ensnared by Sin

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

Cardinal Wolsey

Godless Cardinal Wolsey

For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly. Proverbs 5:21-23.

Cardinal Wolsey, after a long life of wickedness, which included every kind of self-indulgence, extortion, political maneuvering and worldliness, fell afoul of his master, King Henry VIII. The King summoned him to London to give an accounting.

Knowing that he would most likely be found guilty and executed, the churchman dosed himself so heavily with purges that he died. Before death took him, he said, “Had I but served God as diligently as I have served the king, he would not have given me over in my gray hairs.”

What a contrast Christ Jesus presents to Wolsey. Because of his faultless and disciplined life, which sacrificed everything for obedience, God did not allow him to see corruption, but raised him from the dead, to reign forever and ever. He had no lament of failure as he went to his death.

10:11 Mouth of Peace, Mouth of Violence

Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Beau Nash

Beau Nash

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked.

Beau Nash was the reigning dandy at Bath in 1739. An adventurer and gamester, he paraded his materialism with gaudy displays of pomp and profligacy. When he learned John Wesley was coming in June, he promised to drag him down. Friends pleaded with Wesley not to risk preaching, but Wesley refused; he must share the word of life.

As a consequence of Nash’s boasts, the crowds were larger than usual, and many among them were the fashionable people and visitors of the town. Wesley preached in his normal style, warning people high and low that all were locked under sin and needed a savior.

Nash appeared and tried to disrupt the meeting. He asked by what authority Wesley preached. Wesley easily answered; he had been ordained by the man who was now Archbishop of Canterbury. Nash then twisted the law to claim the assembly was illegal; Wesley replied that the law referred to seditious gatherings. Nash next charged him with frightening the people, to which Wesley demonstrated that Nash was speaking from hearsay. Finally Nash demanded, “I desire to know what this people comes here for.”

An old woman shouted in reply, “You, Mr. Nash, take care of your body; we take care of our souls; and for the food of our souls we come here.” Nash retired defeated.

Anyone who has read the accounts of Christ knows that, like Nash, the Pharisees did all in their power to impede Him from speaking of true righteousness. There was violence in their speech, and ultimately violence in their deeds.

These examples remind me of something Paul Johnson wrote in Enemies of Society. He said that those who will do violence to the language [i.e.: twist facts and meanings to make a point] will do violence to people if they get the power. It has been the way of Satanic opposition from the beginning, for as Christ reminded us, Satan is a liar and a murderer, and his followers act like him.

We must make every effort to be honest with our facts, use words properly, and tell the whole story, not just the parts that support our position.

29:10 Redeeming Bloodthirsty Souls

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Willems rescues his would-be killer.

Willems rescues his would-be killer.

The bloodthirsty hate the upright: but the just seek his soul.

Christian history is replete with examples of wicked men who sought the lives of the godly, who in turn faithfully witnessed to the wicked. No doubt you can fill in examples from your own knowledge. Two that sprang to my mind were Richard Wurmbrand who showed love to his torturers, and Robert Jaffrey who spoke to his Chinese captors of Christ.

But the noblest story I recalled was that of Dirk Willems. Willems was an Anabaptist pursued for his faith. Fleeing from the man sent to arrest him, he fled across an icy pond. The man followed, but broke through the ice. He cried for help, and Dirk Willems turned back, dragging him to safety. In gratitude, the man-hunter would have let Willems go but a higher official sternly commanded him to fulfill his duty, keep his oath of office, and bring in the prisoner.

Willems held fast his religious views, and was sentenced to burn. At the stake, a strong wind blew the flame away from his body so that his torments were lengthened. Finally the judge could bear to see and hear no more and ordered the executioner to dispatch the victim immediately.

The parallels between Willems’ behavior and Christ’s are obvious. Both are prime examples of this proverb. Neither sought the lives of the bloodthirsty men who took them into captivity. Jesus healed the ear of one who came to arrest him, and testified to the Pharisees and Pilate in words that might have saved their souls had they listened. He appealed to the Father to forgive the soldiers who nailed him to the cross, saying, “They don’t know what they are doing.” And he won the soul of one of the thieves crucified beside him who had earlier mocked him.