Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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The Boasts of the Wicked

Image When discussing the existence of God, a question is inevitably asked, “If God exists, why does he allow evil to prosper?” The answer to the question is a simple one. God has given us the wonderful gift of free will. The unfortunate byproduct of that gift is that some will choose to do evil. The very fact that the ungodly do not “play fair” makes it sometimes seem that they hold the upper hand.

It is unfair, and we desire God’s intervention. When we do not see His hand in what we deem a timely manner, we sometimes ask as the Psalmist, “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” (10:1).

Psalm 10 is actually a wonderful passage to read for answers to this conundrum. Consider the following:

The Wicked Boasts of His Heart’s Desire

  • He persecutes the poor (2)
  • He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord (3)
  • God is in none of his thoughts (4)
  • He prospers, and sneers at his enemies (5)
  • He rages confidently, “I shall never be in adversity” (6)
  • He curses and lies (7)
  • He murders and oppresses the innocent and helpless (8-10).
  • He confidently states, “God has forgotten; He hides His face; He will never see.” (11)
  • He says that God “will not require an account” (13)

The Lord Hears the Petitions of the Innocent

Though it may not always be obvious, the Lord actually is aware of the oppression of the innocent, and the affairs of the wicked. He knows, and in time we are assured He will act upon that knowledge. In the Psalm, appeals are made, “Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised” (2). “Arise, O Lord! O God, lift up Your hand! Do not forget the humble” (12). “Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man; seek out his wickedness until You find none” (15).

Such petitions are understandable and appropriate. We need not think they will go unrequited. The Psalmist knew this, and acknowledged, “But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, to repay it by Your hand. The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless” (14). And so, the Psalm ends with these words of assurance:

“The Lord is King forever and ever; the nations have perished out of His land. Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; you will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more” (16-18).

When Will God Act Against the Wicked?

The obvious question as we suffer from the acts of wicked men is when ? When will God right the wrongs? When will justice come?

While the question is obvious, the answer is more nuanced. We note that God has always dealt with nations, and still does (cf. Acts 17:26). However, generations may pass before His judgment is felt by an ungodly people. The northern kingdom of Israel, for example, lasted about 210 years before falling to Assyria, despite persisting in idolatrous practices through the entirety of her existence. Too, due to the nature of God’s providential work, many may not even recognize the part He plays in the downfall of a nation.

Evil individuals often suffer as a result of their sin. “…the way of the unfaithful is hard” (Proverbs 13:15). Civil disobedience brings the disapproval of the government (cf. Romans 13:2). Immorality leads to dissolution and damaged reputations, relationships and lives (cf. Ephesians 5:18). However, it again must be noted that there are times when the ungodly boast, and seem to escape the consequences of their sin.

All Accounts Will Be Settled

Typically, our problem is that we are preoccupied with temporal justice. In fact, God has never promised the triumph of good over evil on the earth! Paul warned, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (1 Timothy 3:12). Jesus Himself was killed, and tradition holds that all of His disciples (save John) were as well. The victory of the godly is found in the resurrection of the just to life! “‘O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

God is righteous. He has promised “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” for those who “do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3-12).

In fact, Peter reveals the end of the ungodly. They may persecute, ridicule, and think you strange for not engaging in the sin of which they boast. But, as each one of us, “They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).