Even attempting to catalogue the sin and rebellion rampant in our nation today would be a daunting task. Just a few moments contemplating the breadth of the degeneracy and debauchery that define modern culture can by turns nauseate, infuriate, and enervate anyone with a biblically-derived moral compass. Never have the words Paul wrote to the believers in Rome been more true, namely, that men have become “filled with all unrighteousness” and “inventors of evil” (1:29, 30). We know according to revelation that “evil men and imposters will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13). In other words, the course of this age is following the path that God predicted would occur as men rejected God and the righteousness found only in and through Jesus Christ. Still, it is far too easy under these circumstances to succumb to depression or despair. As believers, our hope is that the transforming grace of God will find and save many. But as believers and students of the Word, we are also realists and know that those who will be saved are always a “remnant.” And while we may be chagrinned or astounded by turns when we view the corruption around us, an anonymous psalm writer provides these reassuring words.
“A senseless man has no knowledge, nor does a stupid man understand this: that when the wicked sprouted up like grass and all who did iniquity flourished, it was only that they might be destroyed forevermore. But You, O Lord, are on high forever. For, behold, Your enemies, O Lord, for, behold Your enemies will perish; all who do iniquity will be scattered” (92:6-9).
God has no kinds words for the “senseless man” or the “stupid man”—phrases that could be translated as the “brute” and the “fool.” Again, God makes clear through Paul’s epistle to the Romans that every man is without excuse; concerning those who persist in rebellion, He declares simply that “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them . . . so that they are without excuse” (1:19, 20). The senseless and stupid are deliberately and willfully in such a state. It is not that they have received no truth and can be forgiven their ignorance but rather that they deliberately and consciously “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (v. 18).
When wickedness appears to prevail, we must understand that God is permitting sinners to demonstrate what rebellious mankind is apart from the wholly unmerited intervention of the grace of God. Given his freedom, man will not create a utopian society but rather a hell on earth. He reveals that like mankind before the destruction of the flood in Noah’s day “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).
Proud and arrogant beyond expression, sinners fail to recognize and fear a holy God. They think they sin with impunity, being willingly ignorant of the reality confronting them: destruction forevermore. The psalmist calls these sinners “Your enemies, O Lord,” and affirms that they “will perish.” Rampant sin may seem to carry the day for a moment, but the battle is the Lord’s. “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19, KJV). The war has been fought and won—by Him. The final chapter has been written. The Lord is on high forever.
So when the wicked flourish, we may still agree with the writer of another psalm. “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory of His name; bring an offering and come into His courts. Worship the Lord in holy attire; tremble before Him, all the earth. Say among the nations, ‘The Lord reigns; indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity’” (96:7-10). We should grieve over sin—both ours and others. Concerning ours, we should repent of and forsake it. But concerning the seeming prevailing of sin in the world around us, we should recognize the mercy and longsuffering of the Lord toward the penitent but the assured judgment of those who persist in rebelling against a gracious God, who offers them salvation.
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