The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 17:11-20 A rebellious man seeks only evil, So a cruel messenger will be sent against him. Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly. He who returns evil for good, Evil will not depart from his house. The beginning of strife is like letting out water, So abandon the quarrel before it breaks out. He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, When he has no sense? A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity. A man lacking in sense pledges And becomes guarantor in the presence of his neighbor. He who loves transgression loves strife; He who raises his door seeks destruction. He who has a crooked mind finds no good, And he who is perverted in his language falls into evil.
The scenes unfolding right before our eyes in Louisville, Ky and in other cities across the country right now have roots which will take social scientists a lifetime to untangle and identify. Some of the more visible, easily identifiable, and widely repeated reasons for this round of uprisings are: police brutality, racism, injustice, and oppression. On the street level what you see are a mixture of frustrated youth, professional demonstrators, virtue signalling white people, thieves, and thugs, with a small contingent of folks looking for genuine peace and justice. I watched an elderly black woman being interviewed by the news in Atlanta night before last speak about why she was protesting. As cars burned behind her, she gave an emotional plea for justice in the case of her son who had his arm broken by police officers a year early.
As Christians, we know that the heart of man is deceitful and wicked above all else, that the machinations of man’s heart is evil continually, and that in general, man’s hatred of God is the very foundation upon which all rebellion sits upon. However, it may be helpful for us to recognize with a little more specificity what tendril of rebellion is at work in our land right now.
He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord.
Calling evil good, and good evil, giving a wink and a nod to sin, while mocking and scoffing at virtue, justice, and righteousness is at the heart of the rebellion we see on display in the streets, courthouses, and state houses in America. It is a muddy, murky scene wrapped up in moral relativism and feelings which makes it difficult to pinpoint where the truth lies. Nowhere in history do we see a clearer picture of this than in the Gospel account of Jesus before Pilate. Pilate, seeking to appease the crowd, presents to them Barabbas, a notorious criminal, and Jesus, whom Pilate had recognized as being innocent of any wrongdoing.
So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Crucify Him!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!” When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” (Matthew 27:17-24)
The problem with the crowd in Jesus’ day, is the same problem the mob in the streets of Louisville has, and is the same problem you and I have when we do not love our neighbor as ourselves: we have a massive plank in our eye that blinds us from seeing the sin in our own hearts. This plank blinds us to our own sin, so everyone we see, whether a police officer kneeling on a neck, a looter carrying a tv, or scheming politicians not letting a crisis go to waste, become people that we are confident are not as righteous as us, and since we are holier than thou, we now get to stand in judgement and take things into our own hands.
On this Proverb Matthew Henry has said:
“This shows what an offence it is to God,
1. When those that are entrusted with the administration of public justice, judges, juries, witnesses, prosecutors, counsel, do either acquit the guilty or condemn those that are not guilty, or in the least contribute to either; this defeats the end of government, which is to protect the good and punish the bad, Rom. 13:3, 4. It is equally provoking to God to justify the wicked, though it be in pity and in favorem vitae-to safe life, as to condemn the just.
2. When any private persons plead for sin and sinners, palliate and excuse wickedness, or argue against virtue and piety, and so pervert the right ways of the Lord and confound the eternal distinctions between good and evil.”
Jesus has commanded us in scripture to judge with right judgement (John 7:24). We are told to open our mouths and judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy (Prov 31:9). However, when we watch this dumpster fire unfold before our eyes in the streets of America right now, we do not see judgment being delivered in a righteous manner. Truth is distorted. Facts are ignored. Innocent people are having their livelihoods and homes destroyed, in the name of protecting the innocent. This happens because the protestors have huge logs in their eyes which they need Christ to remove so that they may see clearly and judge righteously.
This happens in our lives when we fail to recognize the abominable nature of our sin and believe ourselves to be more inherently righteous than another, like the pharisee who declared “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector." (Luke 18:11).
Brothers and sisters, we should look at things unfolding before our eyes and rightly declare “wicked!”, but first we ought to recognize the sin in our hearts, and cry out to God as the tax collector “God, be merciful towards me, the sinner!” (Luke 18:13).
If you are able, please kneel as we confess our sins before God, Who is a righteous judge, angry with the wicked everyday.
Heavenly Father, We are but worms before You, grovelling in the dirt, yet because of the sin which so often blinds our eyes, we fail to recognize that we are in need of deliverance.
We hear the Words of Jesus that we are to judge with right judgement, so we elevate ourselves above our fellow man as if it is our righteousness which is the standard.
Because we frequently love our sin, we excuse it away and simultaneously condemn others who we perceive as worse sinners than us, and in doing so justify ourselves in our own minds.
Father, please be merciful towards us sinners. Help us to recognize our arrogance and our pride, that we may see clearly to take the speck out of our brothers eye and judge righteously.
In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.
Please stand and listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
One will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.- Romans 5:7-9
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 05/31/2020 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)