And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
"Both of Them Alike"
Proverbs 17:15, “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to Jehovah” (ASV, my emph, sw).
“The proverb corrects the popular misconception that it is better to set free ten guilty persons than to condemn one innocent person. Both are an abomination to the Lord” (B. Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, II, 55, my underlining, sw). We rebel against God when we turn from following His ways to the right hand or to the left (Deut. 5:32; 17:11).
Regarding the warning in our proverb it happened that “both of them alike” were practiced in Israel. Isaiah wrote: “Woe unto them … that justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him” (5:22,23)! This took place in spite of God’s warning. “If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, and the judges judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked” (Deut. 25:1). The Lord had warned against both of these sins.
How might such a situation as that of which Isaiah wrote come about? Justifying the wicked can appear to be mercy to those emotionally attached to the wicked, which may be a reason for the Lord warning judges not to show pity to the guilty (Deut. 19:18-21). There were two stated purposes for punishing the wicked in the afore cited text, “…(1) So shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee. And (2) those that remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil in the midst of thee” (Deut. 19:19,20). Justifying the wicked would thwart both. When evil is tolerated, rather than condemned, defenders of evil may find it necessary to resist or even condemn the righteous whose voices protest against evil (cf. Jer. 26:20-23; Mat. 23:34; Mk. 6:17,18). Both of these alike are an abomination before God.
Also, not only judges might be guilty of these sins. Witnesses (and, in our day, lawyers and juries) often contribute when justice is perverted (1 Kgs. 21:9-13; Matt. 26:59). Indeed, witnesses were also warned against allowing pity to cause them to pervert justice (Deut. 13:8-10). Isaiah would later pronounce a “woe” against all “that call evil good, and good evil” (5:20). Both of them alike are wrong for all and in all cases, not just in court rooms.
As we have noted, pity is an emotion that might lead one to justify the wicked. Other things behind falsely justifying or wrongly condemning are passions and emotions such as anger (Acts 19:23-34), envy (Matt. 27:18), prejudice (Acts 16:20-23), partiality (1 Tim. 5:21), party spirit (Jno. 7:45-49), and the like. However, matters of sin and righteousness are not to be decided on the basis of mere human feelings. As Hubbard wrote,
“Justice, at bottom, is not just a matter of custom or culture, of law or regulation, of power or authority. It is an expression of God’s will to be done on earth as in heaven. Failure to maintain it—whether in ancient Israel or modern America—is to profane the heavenly Father’s hallowed name.” (The Preacher’s Commentary - Volume 15: Proverbs, via googlebooks; Justice is also not a matter of what has happened in the Restoration Movement, sw)
Our proverb is in harmony with a God who loves righteousness and hates iniquity (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9). Therefore, in their everyday lives, Christians must accept that both of the things warned against in this proverb are alike and not let their allegiances or emotions cause them to sin in either way. When sin is condemned it is not a question of who is being condemned but of what is being condemned. Brethren should be careful to not let their emotions cause them to take the side of the one in error and condemn those who withstand his/her error. This has happened with regards to institutional error, error on MDR, error which justifies those who teach error on MDR as being worthy of fellowship, etc. Regarding the opposite extremes in our proverb both of them alike are an abomination before God! Such conduct is also completely out of harmony with the “righteous judgment” to which our Lord Jesus Christ has called all of us (Jno. 7:24).
The words of this proverb are easy to understand. Let us all do our best to never let anything of an earthly origin cloud our understanding or application of them in any situation.
The Way of Truth and Life, V:22, June 1, 2014
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:18-25
Father calls sinners to salvation in Christ, Acts 2:39; The Son invites us
to come to Him, Matt. 11:28; The Spirit says “come” and take the water of
life, Rev. 22:17.
I. WE WERE CALLED TO SALVATION, 2 Ths. 2:13-14.
A. Out of Darkness into Marvelous Light, 1 Pet. 2:9-10; Gal. 1:6; Acts 2:38-39; 26:18; 1 Ths. 5:5-11.
II. WE WERE CALLED INTO GOD’S KINGDOM AND GLORY, 1 Ths. 2:10-12.
A. Peace of
God, Col. 3:15.
III. WE WERE CALLED INTO THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SON, 1 Cor. 1:9.
Saints, 1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; 1 Ths. 4:3-7.
IV. WE WERE CALLED TO PATIENTLY SUFFER FOR CHRIST, 1 Pet. 2:18-25.
A. To Bless Others Instead of Curse them, 1 Pet. 3:9-12 (2:23); Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 3:13-17; 1 Pet. 3:9.
Scripture Reading:Matthew 18:1-5
1. Our task
in the kingdom is to live worthy of our calling, Eph. 4:1; Phil. 1:27.
I. HUMILITY, Matt. 18:4.
the Sight of God, Jas. 4:7-10.
II. DEPENDENCY AND TRUST.
Dependency: We need Help in this Life to Reach Heaven, Jer. 10:23; Prov.
III. PURITY, Matt. 5:8; 1 Pet. 2:1-2.
Must be Pure.
A. Integrity toward Others and God; Matt. 5:20; 23:27-28; 1 Ths. 4:11-12; Tit. 2:7-8.
V. EAGERNESS (cf. things children want).
Children are Eager to Learn and Grow, Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:2.
LOVE, Rom. 13:8-10.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Casting off Restraint
Bellingham High School drama teacher Teri Grimes apologized for the vulgar behavior at an awards ceremony earlier this week after the parent of a 17-year-old student “complained about the teacher's use of profanity during the ceremony. She said Grimes repeatedly used inappropriate words and told a distasteful joke” (komonews.com).
This is another example of the moral disintegration we have been witnessing in our country for a very long time. This event again reminds us that parents, grandparents and concerned citizens must vigilantly safeguard the moral integrity of our children, one God's most precious gifts.
Moral boundaries must be recognized and enforced by those in authority. When they fail to do so people plunge deeper and deeper into moral chaos. Solomon said it well: “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law” (Prov. 29:18). Teachers are in positions of authority and they do set examples for children. To their shame, many are setting examples of faithlessness, depravity and immorality. Profanity is commonplace in classrooms. Faith is regularly discounted or even derided by teachers and professors. Ungodliness forms the basis of what teachers influence children with every day. I know this is not something new. But, we must not only acknowledge it is happening, we must also resist it. We ignore it at great risk to our children. (There are still godly Christians doing a wonderful job as teachers. Let us encourage them; we know their work is not easy!)
But there is more. Friday, June 6 was the sixth annual Bellingham Naked Bike Ride, where nude and semi-nude bike-riders cruise the downtown streets on a designated route. Body painting was offered, with a street dance following the clothing optional bike ride. This is another outrageous example of casting off the restraints of decency.
As people in our city call "evil good and good evil", God-fearing people must rise up and object (Isa. 5:20). Let us all be the salt of the earth and with conviction influence our generation for righteousness (Matt. 5:13).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/08/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA