Monday, September 23, 2013

Wicked vs. Righteous [Meditations on Psalm 37]

Before reading this I highly encourage you to read Psalm 37 in its entirety.

Wicked... and righteous... these are two of the most used words in this psalm.  Wicked is used at least 15 times by my count, and righteous at least 7.  In addition, there are many synonyms to these two words, such as evildoers, cursed, wrongdoers, saints, blameless, and blessed.

What does Psalm 37 say about the wicked?  The wicked are like grass, and will wither away.  They will be cut off from the Lord.  They plot against the righteous and borrow without repaying, but God laughs at the wicked, because he sees that his day is coming.

What about the righteous?  The righteous will never be moved.  They will delight in abundant peace.  They are never forsaken by their God.  They are delivered from the wicked by God.  They are known by God.  They will live forever.

In which category do you fit?  Maybe you would say that its not black and white; that you have some evil and some good in you.  But this is not a category the Bible lays out.  The Bible says that every person is either wicked OR righteous with no grey area in between.

And to make it even more challenging, the Bible also says,
“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
“Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
“Their feet are swift to shed blood;
in their paths are ruin and misery,
and the way of peace they have not known.”
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18, ESV)
 This means that all of us are born into wickedness and enmity with God.  We turn away from his love repeatedly and reject him from being king over us, and rightly deserve his punishment and curse.  Because God is holy, perfect and just, we have no way to earn or work our way towards the blessings and favor from God that Psalm 37 lays out.

But God...

These are possibly the two most important words in the Bible.  Let me show you:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:1-6
Every person is born into wickedness... but God can and does choose to save some.  He died for the punishment that we deserve.  By paying our debt, cleansing us from the inside, and causing us to be reborn, he has transferred believers from the category of wicked to the category of righteous, from cursed to blessed.  And it it is not because of our righteousness, but because he generously bestows on us his righteousness.  This is amazing.  This is grace.

So if this applies to you, bask in the truths of Psalm 37.  Rejoice that God will not forsake you, his saint.  Moreover, rejoice that you did not earn his favor (nor could you) but that God was rich in mercy and love and has made us alive, made us his.

As Pslam 37 says in verse 39, "The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble."

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