OF THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED
WE BELIEVE THAT THERE IS A RADICAL AND ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED; THAT SUCH ONLY AS THROUGH FAITH ARE JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, AND SANCTIFIED BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD, ARE TRULY RIGHTEOUS IN HIS ESTEEM WHILE ALL SUCH AS CONTINUE IN IMPENITENCE AND UNBELIEF ARE IN HIS SIGHT WICKED, AND UNDER THE CURSE; AND THIS DISTINCTION HOLDS AMONG MEN BOTH IN AND AFTER DEATH.
I think it is good to ask our self this question – Why is this article included in our statement of faith? We already have articles on Total Depravity, Grace in Regeneration, God’s Purpose In Grace, Sanctification and the Perseverance of the Saints. Doesn’t this article simply repeat what has already been stated?
There is some repetition, to be sure. But this article states the Biblical position of the difference in the righteous and the wicked, which the world (and many religious organizations) are trying to eradicate.
This article also emphasizes the fact that with God, there is no middle ground. With men, we see much middle ground or gray area. With God it is all black or white, right or wrong, for him or against him. Joshua made this very clear in Joshua 24:14,15 when he demanded that Israel make a choice to either serve God or not serve God. "Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put a1way the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. 15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Jehu gathered the worshippers of Baal together by declaring his total complete allegiance to this false god. II Kings 10:18 states, "And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much." Of course, Jehu did not intend to worship Baal, but he did intend to kill those that did. Jehu brought the worshippers into the temple of Baal by declaring his total dedication to this false god. The worshippers of Baal were killed. But Jehu was not totally "sold out" to God, as he did no better than the worshippers of Baal, and did not completely dedicate himself to God. The result of his half-heartedness toward God is seen in his family and his failure to believe and live by the promises of God.
Therefore we understand the purpose of the article is to declare there is no middle ground in the service of God. It is very clear – the worshippers of God will worship him and live like they worship him. The worshippers of this world will worship this world and live like they worship this world.
I. "WE BELIEVE THAT THERE IS A RADICAL AND ESSENTIAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED."
A. Just as there is a vast difference between God and man, so it is between that which is right and that which is wrong.
1. There is a vast difference between Satan and God, none will deny.
2. There also will be a vast difference between the righteous and the wicked, as none should deny.
B. Righteousness and wickedness are exact opposites. They should never mix.
1. Isaiah 5:20 – "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
2. The wicked call evil good and call good evil: because they are wicked, while the righteous call evil, evil because they are faithful to God.
3. The mixture of righteousness and wickedness is a terrible abomination to God.
4. In Nehemiah 13:23-27 Nehemiah was so disgusted with the Israelites who inter-married with Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab (the children were speaking half the language of Israel and half the language of these other nations) that he cursed them, smote some of them, and plucked out their hair!
5. Revelation 3:14-22 – The church at Laodicean was lukewarm, a thing God hates.
6. James 3:1-11 – Verse 10-11 – "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?"
C. A reprobate is one who has been rejected because of his own worthlessness.
1. 1 Corinthians 9:27 – "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
a. Paul does not mean that he could become lost.
b. He means that his works show whether he is a true believer or not.
c. There is also a castaway concerning fruitfulness to others.
2. II Corinthians 13:5-7 – "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. 7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates."
3. Reprobates are those who are worthless to God and their works prove their reprobation.
4. Romans 6:16 – "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?"
a. All these passages have to do with works, which we can see.
b. We cannot see the heart, as Jesus could with Judas Iscariot.
D. God’s Word tells us there is a difference and that God makes a distinction between that which is right and that which is wrong.
1. Israel came to the terrible place of not being able to tell what was right or what was wrong.
2. Malachi 3:18 "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."
a. The context of this passage explains that Israel shall one day be able to truly judge those that serve God and those that do not.
b. In the book of Malachi, God continually informs Israel of their sins, and Israel continually declares their innocence of sin.
3. Jeremiah 15:19 – "Therefore thus saith the LORD, If thou return, then will I bring thee again, and thou shalt stand before me: and if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth: let them return unto thee; but return not thou unto them."
a. God desires Israel to return to him, and be able to tell what is good and what is bad – according to God’s word, not according to their own understanding.
4. In Malachi, God reveals that Israel shall return (in the future), but in Jeremiah (which takes place before Malachi), God is still dealing with Israel to return.
5. God’s people should always be able to tell what is right and what is wrong, as Abraham was able.
a. Genesis 18:23 – "And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?"
b. Abraham knew God did not "classify" the wicked with the just, and would not judge them the same, nor treat them the same.
c. Just as God makes a difference between the righteous and the wicked, so should we.
d. We cannot tell whether a person is saved or not, but we can tell if their works are what God expects or not.
E. Other scriptures that teach this to be true are:
1. Proverbs 12:26 – "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour: but the way of the wicked seduceth them."
a. The righteous is more excellent (in the eyes of God) than the wicked.
b. The righteous also needs to understand that the way (the manner of living) of the wicked is appealing to the flesh, but destruction to the soul.
2. Acts 10:34-35 – "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
a. In every nation, there are those that are righteous before God and there are those that are reprobate.
b. The only way we can tell the difference is through the word of God, whether his word is accepted or excuses made.
II. "THAT SUCH ONLY AS THROUGH FAITH ARE JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, AND SANCTIFIED BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD, ARE TRULY RIGHTEOUS IN HIS ESTEEM."
A. Those who are righteous in God’s sight are those who have been set apart and dealt with by the Spirit of God in such a way that they willingly repent of their sins and put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
B. Romans 1:17, "The just shall live by faith."
1. The words, "just", "justified", "right", "righteous", and "righteousness" are all translations from the same Greek root word.
2. To be justified the winner must be declared righteous by God (the judge).
3. The article of faith concerning "justification" should be read at this time for additional help.
4. Those who trust in Jesus Christ and Him alone for that righteousness enjoy the blessing of righteousness.
C. God is righteous and all those who are saved are declared to be righteous and they will act as a righteous person will act. I John 2:29, "If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth (practices) righteousness is (has been) born of (out of God as a source) Him."
D. Other scriptures that teach this truth:
1. Romans 1:17 – "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
2. Romans 7:6 – "But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter."
3. I John 2:29 – "If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him."
4. I John 3:7 – "Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous."
5. Romans 6:18 – "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness."
6. Romans 6:22 – "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life."
7. I Corinthians 11:32 – "But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world."
8. Proverbs 11:31 – "Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner."
9. I Peter 4:17-18 – "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
III. "WHILE ALL SUCH AS CONTINUE IN IMPENITENCE AND UNBELIEF ARE IN HIS SIGHT WICKED, AND UNDER THE CURSE;
A. 1 John 5:19 – "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness."
B. Galatians 3:10 – "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."
C. John 3:36 – "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
D. Isaiah 57:21 – "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked."
E. Psalm 10:4 - "The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts."
F. Isaiah 55:6-7 – "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
IV. AND THIS DISTINCTION HOLDS AMONG MEN BOTH IN AND AFTER DEATH.
A. Exhortations to be true in this life because we have internal righteousness, granted to us by God. What we do, we do before God, because we have his righteousness, not in order to gain his righteousness.
1. Luke 12:4-5 – "And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."
2. Luke 9:23-26- "And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels."
3. John 12:25-26 – "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour."
4. Ecclesiastes 3:17 – "I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work."
5. Proverbs 10:24 – "The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted."
B. Examples of the righteous and the wicked; both in this life and the life to come.
1. John 8:21-24 – "Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. 22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. 23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."
2. Jesus makes it very clear in these verses there is a vast difference between the righteous and the wicked.
3. The wicked are from beneath, Jesus (and all his children) are from above.
4. The two are together on this earth, but they are never mixed together.
5. Gasoline and water will not mix; neither will the righteous and the wicked mix.
C. More examples of the righteous and the wicked; both in this life and the life to come.
1. Proverbs 14:32 – "The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death. The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death."
2. Luke 16:25 – "But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented."
3. Matthew 7:13-14 – "Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. 14 And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand:"