RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WICKEDNESS
Copyright © 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Book of Psalms is a manual for war, for the conflict between righteousness and wickedness. As we are heading into the closing of the Church Age and the opening of the Kingdom Age, we will find our battle instructions in the Book of Psalms.
From this point forward the saints will be in a period of preparation for their task of invading their land of promise.
Table of Contents
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND WICKEDNESS
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
We saints are approaching total war, the war between righteousness and wickedness. Satan, the fallen angels, and the demons fight from their vantage points in the heavens, that is, from the spirit realm.
The enemy fills the earth and affects all that is done therein. The enemy also inhabits human beings, including Christians.
We Christians are so accustomed to the compulsions of the enemy in our personality that we are heard to explain, “As long as we are in the world we have to sin.” This is to say, even under the new covenant there is neither authority nor power sufficient to deliver us completely from the control of Satan.
This position is not scriptural, of course, but we have been led to believe sin is an unconquerable power that governs us while we are alive on the earth.
One of the problems in our thinking arises from the common belief that the Christian salvation is a plan to remove us from the earth and bring us to Heaven where we shall reside forever in a splendid mansion. Although there is not a shred of scriptural evidence for such a belief, it has been with us throughout the Christian Era. If this is the case, if our goal is to go to live in Heaven forever, then overcoming sin in our present life is not a major concern.
The truth is, God has been preparing a kingdom and a new world in which righteousness dwells. The Kingdom of God is spoken of in both Testaments. The coming to earth of the Kingdom of God was the primary topic of the preaching of John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus. Also, the Apostle Paul preached the Kingdom of God.
The scriptural concept that the Lord Jesus will return from Heaven and establish His Kingdom on the earth has given way to the myth that Christ is coming to catch away His Church to Heaven.
The Book of Isaiah, as well as other utterances of the Prophets, speak of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. Nebuchadnezzar’s vision of the huge statue was interpreted by Daniel to mean God has in mind to set up His own eternal kingdom.
Because of the mythologic idea that the Christian salvation is a plan to move us from residence on the earth to eternal residence in Heaven, we have been willing to believe as long as we are alive on the earth we can be compelled to sin.
To then view the Book of Psalms as a manual for war doesn’t make a great deal of sense. If we are to fly to Heaven in a “rapture” or by dying, why do we need a manual for war?
But if the goal of the Christian salvation is to restore man to Paradise on the earth, and Satan, a rebellious cherub, considers the earth to be his rightful habitation, then we can understand the necessity for warfare.
There is another problem that prevents us from understanding why Christians are to regard the Psalms as essential information they must have if they are to be victorious in Christ. This problem is ignorance of the place of righteous behavior in spiritual warfare. The Book of Psalms speaks much of righteousness and wickedness, and it is not referring to imputed righteousness but to righteous behavior.
As the Apostle Paul labored to convince the Jews to turn from the Law and look to Christ for righteousness, Paul spoke of righteousness being imputed to us because of our faith in Christ. We now possess all the righteousness of the Law because Christ obeyed the Law perfectly on our behalf. The ascribing of righteousness to the believer in Christ is the common definition of grace under the new covenant. We are saved by grace, by unearned forgiveness.
However, Paul meant we are saved by grace instead of by the Law of Moses. We Gentiles interpret Paul to mean we are saved by Divine forgiveness instead of by living a righteous, godly life. Thus we have made grace an alternative to moral transformation. Since moral transformation is the reason God issued a new covenant, presenting grace as an alternative to moral transformation is the ultimate error in interpretation.
Yet, this error forms the basis for current Christian teaching and preaching.
We are misapplying and overemphasizing the role of forgiveness in the Christian salvation until numerous believers would find it virtually impossible to regard major portions of the Psalms as relevant, in that so much of the material distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked.
Every Christian is perfectly righteous in Christ, so how does the discussion in Psalms of righteousness and wickedness apply to us?
An American Christian might practice many forms of sin, but he would not think of himself or herself as wicked. He would suppose he was righteous even if he was practicing immorality, unforgiveness, slander, hatred, and the other works of the flesh that, as Paul informed us, will prevent our inheriting the Kingdom of God.
An unbiased observer can see immediately how far removed from the Scriptures Christian preaching is.
So as we begin our study of the first Psalm, let us keep in mind that God intends to remove all the practitioners of sin whether they are human or angelic, from the presence of Himself and His children. All sinners will be confined to the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.
While the Lord did all the fighting when we were saved, dying on the cross to make an atonement for our sin, such sovereignly imposed victory will not be the case as we enter our inheritance. We ourselves will have to fight. Our inheritance includes our own personality, life lived in God’s incorruptible eternal life, the saved nations of the earth, and the farthest reaches of the earth.
Since Satan is dwelling in our inheritance and will resist with all his might any attempt on our part to live in God’s incorruptible eternal life, to spread the moral image of Christ among people, to live in righteousness, peace, and joy on the earth, we are facing an intense conflict. God will help us, but we have to do the fighting.
The war has begun. The Spirit of God is revealing to us the areas of our personality controlled by Satan. City by city we advance as we are willing to confess our sins, denounce them, renounce them, and draw near to God for a closer fellowship.
The war will attain its climax in the Battle of Armageddon, as described in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
The Book of Psalms is a manual for warfare. We are going to have to become acquainted with the numerous lessons found therein if we are to enter our inheritance, enter the rest of God where God rests in us and we rest in God.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. (Psalms 1:1)
The primary issue of the conflict of the ages is that of righteousness and wickedness. It is not that of living on the earth, or in Heaven, or anywhere else. The issue is the development of righteous behavior and the total rejection of wicked behavior.
Once we have attained, through Jesus Christ, righteousness of personality and behavior, we can live successfully anywhere the Lord delights to send us. But while we still are wicked in personality and behavior, we would bring corruption and destruction into Paradise itself, making ourselves and everyone around us totally miserable—just as we do today.
At the very beginning of this manual for war we see the problem with the current misapplication and overemphasis concerning the grace of imputed righteousness. The Christian will reason: “I have Christ’s righteousness. Therefore the exhortation to not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers, has nothing to do with me.”
Yet numerous Christians walk in the counsel of the wicked. They follow the advice of wicked people. They criticize, gossip, and slander. They mock those who are seeking to live a righteous life, saying, “They are Pharisees. They are legalists. They are trying to add to the perfect righteousness of Christ.”
Such Christians are blind to the truth. They are not being blessed. In fact they are under condemnation for their participation in wicked behavior.
Those who have taught them are blind and are leading them into a ditch. Neither the leaders nor the followers can learn to wage spiritual warfare successfully because they cannot receive instruction from the Book of Psalms.
Yet, Paul exhorted Timothy as follows:
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3:16,17)
By the “Scripture” the Apostle Paul was referring to what we call “The Old Testament,” which, of course, includes the Book of Psalms.
The Book of Psalms is useful for training us in righteousness. But if we believe the only righteousness there is, is that which is ascribed to us on the basis of our belief in Christ, then we will not be trained in righteous behavior. We do not believe it is necessary; we already have perfect righteousness by faith in Christ.
The truth is, if we expect to have the blessing of God on our life and thus to be successful in driving sin from our land of promise, we must not behave according to the counsel of wicked people whether or not they are Christians. We must not have fellowship with sinners and do the things they do. We must not mock anyone, especially those who are seeking to serve the Lord.
If we do these things, whether or not we are a Christian believer, we will always go down in defeat at the hands of the enemy. Those who behave in an unrighteous manner cannot overcome Satan. They will not enter the good things of God.
I know it is taught today that if we will make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ we will go to Heaven when we die. The New Testament does not say this.
The New Testament states that if we make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ we will be saved. This means God will include us in His program of redemption. But the program of redemption consists of the fiery trials and judgments that are necessary if we are to be set free from worldliness, bodily lusts, and self-will.
If we receive Christ, and start on the path of righteousness, and then turn back, it would have been better for us not to have known Christ at all.
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (II Peter 2:20,21)
If we would be a victor in driving the enemy from our inheritance, then we must cooperate each day with the Holy Spirit as He leads us away from the counsel of the wicked; as He removes us from the company and behavior of sinners; and as He gives us grace so we are not found guilty of mocking the righteous ways of the Lord.
Accepting Christ is not a substitute for righteous behavior. Rather, it is the means of developing righteous behavior. To not understand this is to not understand the new covenant; to not understand the salvation that is in Christ.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalms 1:2)
When I first became a Christian I came under the influence of the Navigators. I was encouraged at that time to memorize as much of the Scriptures as possible. A great reverence for the Word of God was implanted in me and remains to the present hour.
The time I spent memorizing Scripture has proved to be one of the most valuable efforts of my life. Although having been a Christian for 57 years, I still read through the Bible at least two times each year. It is amazing how passages read many times suddenly come alive with additional breadth and significance.
As I write, America has begun a war against international terrorism. How successful our country will be remains to be seen. Unfortunately America is guilty of the blood of millions of aborted children, as well as of other practices condemned by the Scriptures. Therefore there is no telling how long this conflict will last or what damage will be done to the nation before the issue is resolved.
But I am certain of one thing: the written Word of God is faithful and true. Therefore we do well to meditate on various passages day and night.
American Christians have access to many translations, which is not true in some of the other countries. But I am not sure we are taking advantage of the opportunity to meditate on the Scriptures. It may be true in the days to come we will wish we had done so.
We can fill our mind with the worries and concerns of the present world, or we can fill our mind with God’s Word. The choice is ours.
If we choose to delight ourselves in God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, observing to do what is written, we will be successful in spiritual warfare.
But if we choose to go by our emotions and feelings, we will be deceived by the enemy.
So much is unstable today. But the Word of God is a rock and can be trusted absolutely.
It is true that the Word of God cuts across our sensual way of life. To the soulish nature the Good News is bad news. Therefore we have to make the effort to delight ourselves in the rugged ways of the cross. If we will do this, if we will choose to delight in the law of the Lord, it will not be long before we begin to taste some of the honey in the Rock.
Taste and see that the Lord is good!
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalms 1:3)
As I write, the hedge in front of the house is turning brown. This is because I am too busy to water it. However, there are larger shrubs that remain green. Why is this? It is because their roots are down, down, down to the water table.
So it is with the experienced Christian. His roots go down, down, down to the water table of joy. All around him may be danger and catastrophe. But joy keeps coming up from deep within him.
This is the dependability of those who are righteous of behavior. The fruit of the moral image of Christ keeps appearing in their personality. This fruit wins souls to God, because people see their righteous works and glorify God. Such is the influence of those who wisely have renounced wickedness and have chosen to delight in God’s law.
Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. (Psalms 1:4)
If an unbeliever is wicked he will be blown away by the winds of circumstance. Although his threats and blusterings may abound for a brief while, eventually his memory will be removed from the earth.
If a believer in Christ is wicked, God will reprove him. If he does not respond to God’s reproof, then God will judge him. Who knows whether the fires of judgment will save him by burning away all his personality that displeases the Lord, or if God, after having borne patiently with him, will remove his name from the Book of Life?
Many today say that once we have begun to follow Christ we can never have our name removed from the Book of Life. The New Testament does not support this. It is true rather that many of the Jews who were saved out of Egypt, perished in the wilderness because of their disobedience and unbelief. This is a lesson to us who claim we never can be removed from the Vine, from Christ. The fear of the Lord has been removed from the Christian churches by the teaching of eternal security; by the teaching of lawless grace; by the teaching of unconditional love. We are not being taught the whole counsel of God. Numerous American church members will discover when they die that they have been misled; just as numerous Muslims will discover when they die that they are not surrounded with beautiful women. Rather all will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ and be judged according to their behavior while living on the earth.
If it is true, as written in the fourth chapter of the Book of First Peter, that the time has come for the judgment of the living and the dead, and if the living are judged and saved by means of fiery trials, then it is obvious the dead are being judged and saved by means of fiery trials. I cannot claim to understand this, but it appears to be the logical conclusion of the passage. Perhaps life after death is different from what we imagine.
It is my opinion that if we follow the Holy Spirit carefully, the work of judgment can be completed in us before we die.
The spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement has begun. This means the heavens and the earth will be shaken until every creature who is to be saved has been reconciled to God in personality and behavior. Only that which has been made new in the Lord Jesus Christ will survive. All rebellion against God will be removed.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (Psalms 1:5)
The wicked mentioned here are not necessarily those who have rejected Christ. The righteous are not necessarily those who have accepted Christ. We need to clearly understand when the Old Testament and the New Testament describe the fate of the righteous and the wicked the reference is not to those who have accepted Christ and those who have denied Christ.
The rich man was in Hell because he was selfish, not because he denied Christ.
If we are a Christian, and persist in wicked behavior in spite of the rebukes of the Lord, we very well may end up in the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire has authority over the eight types of wickedness that are the source of all wickedness, from fear to lying.
All human beings were born in sin and can only be forgiven through the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary. However, there are people of all races who demonstrate integrity and kindliness—sometimes to a greater extent than those who profess faith in Christ. This was true of the centurion Cornelius, for example.
Perhaps, as in the case of Cornelius, if God is impressed with the righteous behavior of an individual, He will draw Him to Christ for salvation.
So there are righteous people who are not Christians. They are not righteous in the ultimate sense in that they were born in sin and have a sin nature. But in the ordinary course of life they are faithful and honest in their dealings. God recognizes them as righteous in spite of Christian teaching to the contrary.
In every nation, the individual who practices righteousness is esteemed by the Lord, whereas the Christian who practices wickedness comes under judgment.
No wicked person will be able to stand in the hour of judgment, whether or not he or she is a Christians. Sinners finally will be removed from the assembly of the righteous, as we read in the Book of Jude.
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalms 1:6)
God honors the persons who reveals the tenets of the Law written in his conscience, whether he is a Jew, Christian, Muslim, or of some other persuasion, and watches over him However, there is salvation and eternal life only in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore at some point the individual must be drawn to Christ if he or she is to become an heir of the Kingdom of God.
Seventy “sevens” are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. (Daniel 9:24)
“To finish transgression.”
“To put an end to sin.”
“To bring in everlasting righteousness.”
It is difficult to fight with all our heart when we know defeat is inevitable.
But, according to the unchanging Word of God, there shall come a time when transgression has been finished. There shall come a day when an end has been made to sin.
There shall come an hour when everlasting righteousness is brought into the world.
Satan shall be crushed under the feet of the saints. Victory is ours. Sin and rebellion shall be no more.
This is the vision of the future.
Now we stand on the bank of Jordan, so to speak. The Lord Jesus is moving among His troops, in Heaven and on the earth. He is preparing us to go to war against all wickedness. We shall come against the enemy. We shall prevail. Sin and rebellion shall be no more.
Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. (Joshua 1:2)
But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you, throwing them into great confusion until they are destroyed. He will give their kings into your hand, and you will wipe out their names from under heaven. No one will be able to stand up against you; you will destroy them. (Deuteronomy 7:23,24)
Ask God for courage and a fighting heart. The trumpets are sounding. The drums of El-Shaddai are beating. It is time to prepare for battle. God is ready to drive from His creation all sin, all rebellion, all the cowardly, all the unbelieving, all the vile, all murderers, all the sexually immoral, all who practice magic arts, all idolaters, and all liars.
The light manna soon will cease to fall from Heaven and we will be given the corn and wheat of the land of promise—strong food so we can fight.
The battle begins in our own personality. As soon as the Lord has an army of overcomers, the battle will spread to the rest of the creation.
God is a Man of war. The Lord is His name. He is ready to lead His soldiers in the fight against all wickedness.
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (II Peter 3:13)
(“Righteousness and Wickedness”, 3625-1)