What should the wicked expect?

A worthless person, a wicked man, is he who goes about with a perverse (contrary, wayward) mouth. He winks with his eyes, he speaks by shuffling or tapping with his feet, he makes signs [to mislead and deceive] and teaches with his fingers. Willful and contrary in his heart, he devises trouble, vexation, and evil continually; he lets loose discord and sows it. Therefore upon him shall the crushing weight of calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken, and that without remedy. ~Proverbs 6:12-15 AMP

PrayerDo you know a person who seems to be continually surrounded by strife and dissension? This passage describes someone who continually and purposefully undermines others, spreading false rumors, staying up late at night to plot chaos. They are the definition of trouble to others.

Such a person is worthless and wicked, according to these verses. Severe punishment awaits such a man or woman. It will come suddenly; unexpectedly. There will be no escape from the Lord’s justice when it arrives.

In contrast, consider the fruits of the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22-23:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Are you a person in whom others see the fruit of the Spirit? Or are you more like the one described in Proverbs 6? As a Christian, it would seem wise to consider your thoughts, words, and actions in light of these passages.

Without repentence, wicked people face destruction, without remedy. But in Christ, they, too, can enjoy forgivess and eternal life.

As you seek the Lord in your quiet time today, ask him to let others see in you the fruit of the Spirit — evidence of your redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ. And if you do know someone who fits the description in Proverbs 6, pray for them. God loves them, too, despite their wicked heart and bad behavior.

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Take the long view

Fret not yourself because of evildoers, and be not envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future; the lamp of the wicked will be put out. ~Proverbs 24:19-20 ESV

Prayer SilouhetteHave you ever wondered why immoral, greedy, self-centered, egotistical, law-breaking people who do truly bad things sometimes experience great worldly success? This passage encourages you to stop concerning yourself with what wicked people do and have.

In 2 Timothy 4:7-9 the apostle Paul explains the hope of every Jesus follower:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

A Christian has God’s promise of eternal life. Evildoers have no such hope. There is nothing — nothing — for a believer to envy about wicked people. While they may appear to prosper for a time, in the long run, they will not.

So when this passage assures you that the wicked have no future, that should be all you need to know. Not only is there nothing for them in the future, God himself promises to extinguish the lamps of those who fail to repent of their rebellion against Jesus Christ.

Rather than waste your time today musing about why some bad people have a good life, think about a person you know who does not believe Jesus Christ is God. Pray for their salvation. Ask the Lord to reveal himself in his great mercy to that person. Jesus would do no less.

Think long-term

Do not fret because of evildoers Or be envious of the wicked; For there will be no future for the evil man; The lamp of the wicked will be put out. ~Proverbs 24:19-20 NASB

SchemerGod takes a long view of things. His perspective has no beginning and no end. Unlike our finite minds, which tend to be hampered by linear thinking in the Western world, the Lord sees everything. Psalm 55:8-9 clarifies this:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”

We see only today, barely recall yesterday, and can only dream of tomorrow. The Lord sees all three – and clearly. He assures you here that there is no future for those who are in rebellion against God. Their lamp will be put out – not meaning their existence will cease, but indicating that their existence will be eternally dark.

People can be distracted by “evildoers.” We tend to become unhappy or dissatisfied with things in the world, forgetting that God’s understanding of the situation is eternal. Are you frustrated by the evil you see taking place?

These verses from Proverbs 24 encourage you not to get overly disturbed or consumed with worry about what the wicked are doing. More importantly, it is not for you to be envious of such people. God will surely deal with them, eventually. Leave that in his capable hands.

Does God hear your prayers?

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him. The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but he loves him who pursues righteousness. ~Proverbs 15:8-9 ESV

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but gracious words are pure. ~Proverbs 15:26 ESV

The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. ~Proverbs 15:29 ESV

Activating God's FavorThese four verses in Proverbs 15 form a theme of sorts: God is not on the side of people who think or behave wickedly. What does this mean for you? Let’s ponder each of the thoughts expressed here.

According to Proverbs 15, wicked people:

  • offer sacrifices to God, which are rejected
  • make lifestyle choices that disobey and displease God
  • are filled with habitual thoughts that do not honor God
  • are distant from God, who doesn’t listen to their prayers

By contrast, righteous people:

  • pray to the Lord, who accepts and acts upon their petitions
  • pursue a life guided by godly wisdom, which endears them to God
  • can expect God to listen to their prayers

But who is actually righteous? Who can enjoy these benefits? Romans 3:10 says, “as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one…'”

If you are a Christ-follower, you have been redeemed by the death and blood of Jesus. God no longer sees your own righteousness, which scripture describes as “filthy rags.” The Bible teaches that Christians are seen by the Father as clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

All of us were once considered wicked, as described in these verses. But by the grace of God – undeserved favor – he drew you to himself. When you approached the Lord and sincerely asked for forgiveness, you instantly crossed from being one whose sacrifices were rejected to being a person whose prayers are embraced by the Creator.

Quoting from Isaiah 49:8, the apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:2:

for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”

There was a time, not long ago, when the Lord did not listen to you. But your contrition and repentance activated God’s favor on your behalf.

Today is the day of salvation, and God stands ready to listen to you and help you. Do you have friends or family members who God considers to be wicked? As you pray for them today, ask the Lord – who is not willing that any should perish – to lead them to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Good versus evil

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. ~Proverbs 17:15 NASB

justiceThis verse is packed with application for the 21st century Christian. We live in a sinful, fallen world. And we find ourselves living in a culture eager to justify the wicked and condemn the righteous.

We hear unending justification for abortion in our culture, despite it being an evil act of killing unborn babies. There are even voices that claim to speak from within God’s church claiming that abortion is not only justifiable, but actually compassionate and kind. Nonsense. Such claims are lies; nothing more than justification of wickedness.

Crooked politicians have their defenders. There are organizations that exist to justify sexual relations between adults and children. And the list goes on.

Isaiah 5:20 warns that your standards of good and evil must align with those used by the Lord himself:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word “abomination” means abhorrence or disgust. So in plain English, God is disgusted when the wicked are defended, or when the righteous are called evil.

In John 15:18 Jesus tells his disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” So if the world condemns you for adhering to the Biblical standards of good and evil, you’re in good company.

Be careful to call good only what God calls good, and call evil only that which God calls evil. Do you know God’s standards well enough to judge fairly and rightly? Only by studying his word will you know the difference.

Give an honest answer

These also are sayings of the wise. Partiality in judging is not good. Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them. Whoever gives an honest answer kisses the lips. ~Proverbs 24:23-26 ESV

After the Nazis were defeated in the second world war, the leading allied nations (France, Great Britain, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the United States) decided the best way to expose their war crimes was to prove them legally guilty and responsible for conspiracy, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The Nuremberg military tribunals of Herman Göring, Rudolph Hess, Albert Speer and 21 other former Nazi leaders lasted a full year. The trials lead to many sentences of death by hanging, a handful of lengthy prison terms, and three acquittals.

What would have happened if the trials had produced no convictions? What if the world had failed to hold accountable these men, who carried out the most horrendous crimes against humanity in all of history? It would have been the equivalent of saying to the guilty, “You are in the right.”

But the Nazis were not in the right.

In contemporary American culture, you are taught that exercising your judgment is a bad thing to do. It’s discriminatory, you are told. It’s hurtful to others, it is claimed. Truth is relative, so everyone and everything is equal, and must be judged to be equal. But God’s word teaches that you should use judgement, wisely. There is evil in the world, and a person who speaks the truth calls evil what it is: evil.

The Lord promises a blessing to those who speak truth. A Christian will always seek to speak truth, tempered with love. How will your words today meet this standard of being an “honest answer?”

Does God hear your prayers?

The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. ~Proverbs 15:29 HCSB

Does God hear your prayers? Does he really listen when you implore him to act?

According to this verse, the Lord is not interested in responding to entreaties from certain people – “the wicked.” But who are those people?

In Ezekiel 8, God makes a case against Israel, showing the prophet Ezekiel various forms of idolatry in which the people and elders of Israel were involved. “Although they shout in my ears, I will not listen to them,” the Lord declared in Ezekiel 8:18. Clearly their worship of idols – even in the temple – was infuriating to a jealous God. He wasn’t about to listen to their prayers.

“The wicked,” for the purposes of this teaching, appear to be those who have distanced themselves from the One True Living God.

John chapter 9 tells the story of a man born blind, whose sight was restored by Jesus. In verses 24-34, John records the reaction of the Pharisees to one of Jesus’ miracles:

A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.” He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

The proud, indignant Pharisees completely missed the fact that this supposedly ignorant beggar understood the scriptures better than they did. In saying, “We know that God does not listen to sinners,” the man was correctly interpreting and applying the meaning of Proverbs 15:29.

Does the Lord hear your prayers? If your relationship with God isn’t good, straighten that out. Confess your sin. Ask him for restoration. Psalm 51:17 promises that God will not turn away from your contrite heart.