BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“But God says to the wicked: ‘Recite my laws no longer, and don’t pretend that you obey me. For you refuse my discipline and treat my laws like trash. When you see a thief, you help him, and you spend your time with adulterers. Your mouths are filled with wickedness, and your tongues are full of lies. You sit around and slander a brother — your own mother’s son. While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care” (Ps 50:16-21a NLT).
Many times, people who do evil think that because God doesn’t punish them for their wickedness but things are getting better for them, God’s silence means that He does not care what anybody does. They assume that in the face of evil, especially evil that they commit against Christians, the innocent, the weak, etc., if God cares, He would have punished them. In fact, the lack of visible and timely punishment of evil by God is one reason some people believe there is no God!
God says in verse 21a of our focal text, Ps 50, “While you did all this [all the evil], I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care.” God knew their thought because He knows everything – He doesn’t need to find out! When He asks a question, it’s not because He doesn’t know the answer.
Sometimes, God’s people are worried over His silence about the widespread evil in the society, especially against the believers, while the perpetrators are not visited with God’s punishment in the interest of justice and to serve as a deterrent to others.
God’s silence, many believe, further strengthens the hands of the evil ones who, ironically, are prospering despite their wickedness. How long will God remain silent about wars, terrorism, tragedies among humans, claiming innocent lives, especially with the failure of government (s) to arrest the situation and ensure justice?
In Ps 83:3-5, Asaph was concerned that God remained silent while the enemies of Israel – the Edomites, the Ishmaelites, the Moabites, the Hagrites, the Gebalites, the Ammonites, the Amalekites, the Assyrians and the people from Philistia and Tyre – were devising crafty schemes against Israel and laying plans against God’s precious ones to wipe out Israel as a nation and destroy the very memory of her existence. He cried: “O God, don’t sit idly by, silent and inactive! Don’t you hear the tumult of your enemies? Don’t you see what your arrogant enemies are doing?” (Verses 1-2 NLT) Asaph, in his distress call, asked the LORD to destroy these enemies as he did to the enemies of Israel in the past.
In Malachi’s days, God’s silence about the wickedness in their society where those who did evil got rich, and those who dared God to punish them went scot-free, made the people ask if it was of any use serving God, obeying his commands or repenting of their sins (Mal 3:14-15).
In Hab 1:13, Habbakuk asked a question relevant to this message. “You are perfectly just in this. But will you, who cannot allow sin in any form, stand idly by while they swallow us up? Should you be silent while the wicked destroy people who are more righteous than they?” (NLT) Did it mean that because sinners or wicked people were progressing instead of being destroyed God was supportive of their evil deeds?
Why God is silent
No. God hates sin but loves sinners. He loves those who are doing evil but hate their evil deeds. That was why He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for the sin of the world (John 3:16). The silence of God is not indicative of His approval of sinners or the wicked; it is not indifference towards sin or evil. He doesn’t condone it. God will judge sin and sinners but He is delaying His judgment because of His love for those living in sin engaging in evil deeds. He is allowing them time for repentance. He doesn’t want the death of sinners but that sinners should come to repentance. “Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD,’I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Eze 33:11 NKJV)
But time is running out for sinners! God will not withhold his hand of judgment forever. In our focal text, Psalm 50, we read that God saw all the evil things wicked people were doing but remained silent, and they thought he didn’t care. Because God would not keep silent forever over wickedness, He says in verses 21b-22, “But now I will rebuke you, listing all my charges against you. Repent, all of you who ignore me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will help you” (NLT). There must be consequence!
God’s silence shouldn’t be misconstrued as weakness, endorsement of evil or indifference. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent” (NLT). God’s silence, His patience, is to give time for sinners to turn away from their sins but eventually everyone who persists in sin abusing or misusing God’s moratorium will face His judgment. Rom 2:4-9 says, “Don’t you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see how kind he has been in giving you time to turn from your sin? But no, you won’t listen. So you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself because of your stubbornness in refusing to turn from your sin. For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world, will judge all people according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning — for the Jew first and also for the Gentile” (NLT).
Make no mistake; God doesn’t condone evil or sin. He is only being patient for the sinner to repent. Ultimately, God will judge the unrepentant sinners. Even before God’s final judgment, sinners, sometimes reap on earth some consequences of their evil deeds which are just a dress rehearsal for the final punishment in eternity.
In view of the above, the saints should not be discouraged even when or if they suffer from the wickedness of sinners and God seems to do nothing and the civil authorities which God ordains to, among others, punish evil (Rom 13:1-5), somehow fail to punish them. The children of God must keep on with their good deeds; there is reward for them here on earth but the real reward is in eternity.
The believers must avoid being envious of sinners thinking that God doesn’t care – God cares. They shouldn’t be envious of the prosperity of the wicked. Their prosperity is not a sign of God’s approval of their lives. God punishes sin; He doesn’t bless it. The followers of Christ must never say, “If you can’t beat them, you join them.” They must not follow a crowd to do evil (Exo 23:2). They must stand for righteousness in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil 2:15) and equally insist that government should act responsibly to curb and punish crime.
Don’t be envious of the wicked
Any unrepentant sinner is living on borrowed time. Soon, they’ll begin to go on downward spiral. There’ll be reversal of their future, and even if there isn’t before they die, they’ll spend their life after death (eternity) in hell. “Don’t worry about the wicked. Don’t envy those who do wrong. For like grass, they soon fade away. Like springtime flowers, they soon wither” (Ps 37:1-2 NLT).
In Ps 73:2-10, Asaph also addresses the tragedy of sinners and their end. He had been envious of the proud who prospered despite their wickedness but remarked, “So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper. But what a difficult task it is! Then one day I went into your sanctuary, O God, and I thought about the destiny of the wicked. Truly, you put them on a slippery path and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction. In an instant they are destroyed, swept away by terrors. Their present life is only a dream that is gone when they awake. When you arise, O Lord, you will make them vanish from this life” (Ps 73:16-20 NLT).
Asaph concludes the chapter, no longer feeling envious of the wicked, but declared that their end is destruction while appreciating his close relationship with the LORD. Indeed, the prosperity of the wicked is temporary here on earth; the future reward of the righteous is eternity with God (Job 20:5).
The sinners, who are relishing their prosperity and continuing in their wickedness, only have a short time to do this. They’ll reap on earth the harvest of their wickedness, but more importantly, they’ll face eternal punishment. Asaph, after his discouraging observation in Ps 73 on the wicked enjoying and the righteous suffering, scolded himself and renewed his faith in God (verses 21-28). God will ultimately vindicate the righteous and reward them, and no blessing received from God on earth is comparable to eternal reward.
In every age, God has never spared the unrepentant sinners. From the angels who sinned to Noah’s generation to the time of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah and to the time of the Israelites, He didn’t spare the unrepentant sinners. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:4-9).
No generation, including the present generation, can escape the justice of God. He’ll reward righteousness and punish wickedness. “Far be it from God to do wickedness, and from the Almighty to commit iniquity. For He repays man according to his work, and makes man to find a reward according to his way” (Job 34:10-11NKJV).
Prov 11:21 says, “You can be sure that evil people will be punished, but the children of the godly will go free” (NLT). God told Edom by the mouth of Jeremiah, “Behold, those whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunk. And are you the one who will altogether go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, but you shall surely drink of it” (Jer 49:12 NKJV). Nobody who continues in sin will escape eternal punishment. The soul who sins shall die; the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Eze 18:4, 20). The sinner should not be deceived that because he has escaped human punishment, he will also escape eternal punishment. Neither should the righteous, those who have trusted in Jesus for their salvation, and may be victims of the evils of unremorseful sinners, think that the justice system of God is like that of man.
1. God is not the author of evil. Evil occurs as a result of man’s choices, and God shouldn’t be blamed for that (Deut 30:19).
2. God’s silence over man’s evil does not mean weakness, indifference, endorsement or lack of consequence. It is to allow many people to repent and be saved. If He had judged people instantly, many who have repented wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do so.
3. No sinner shall go unpunished; there is final judgment (Prov 11:21, 16:5; Heb 9:27), but government should be made to curb and punish crime.
4. The wages of sin is death – eternity in hell fire is the reward for a godless life on earth (Rom 6:23; Rev 20:14-15).
5. Jesus Christ is the solution to man’s sin (Matt 1:21; Rom 3:23-25; Heb 2:27; 1 John 2:2, 4:10).
6. Before death, there is still room for sinners to repent and trust Jesus for their salvation (Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30, 26:20). There is no repentance in the grave. Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:1b).
7. Those who have put their trust in Jesus should never be discouraged by the prosperity of the wicked or escape from punishment. Everything doesn’t end here on earth. There is eternal reward waiting for them (Rev 22:12, 2:10, 3:11; 2 Tim 4:8; James 1:12).
Conclusion: Nobody should misconstrue God’s silence. Your sins are not hidden from God; they are plain before Him. “You spread out our sins before you — our secret sins — and you see them all” (Ps 90:8 NLT). In view of this, there is no need to cover up. Anyone who covers his sins shall not prosper (Prov 28:13).
Anyone who has not accepted Jesus as his Savior is a candidate for hell no matter how nice he may be. All his self righteousness is like filthy rags (Isa 64:6). It is the same end that awaits such a person and those who’re engaging in evil activities or sins. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). If you claim you’ve not sinned, you’re calling God a liar and it shows that His word is not in you (1 John 1:10).
Everyone should repent before it’s too late and place his faith in Jesus Christ for his salvation. There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). God’s silence about people’s wickedness does not mean God’s approval.
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible -teaching church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent and confess my sins. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you will be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I’ll be glad to hear from you. May the Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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