The Distinction Between the Righteous and the Wicked

Malachi 3:13-15 ESV

“Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’”

If our idea of faith in Jesus Christ is merely that a confession of him as Savior and Lord now secures for us forgiveness of sins for all time, escape from hell, and heaven guaranteed us at our death, but that how we live will not impact our eternal security, then we have the wrong concept of God’s grace and of his salvation. For if we think that is all there is to it, and that nothing else is required of us, then sadly we are mistaken.

For the message that we give to our Lord when we adopt a diluted and altered gospel, and then when we consider ourselves saved for eternity while we have no fear of God before our eyes, is that it is vain to serve God. And when we reject our Lord’s commandments (New Covenant) in favor of an altered gospel message which does not confront us in our sins, and which makes no requirements for holy living, is that humility and repentance and obedience to our Lord are of no profit to us.

And sadly, this is what the bulk of people in America are being taught today, that they can make a one-time confession (or profession) of Christ as Savior and Lord, and now all their sins are forgiven (past, present, and future), and now heaven is secured for them for eternity regardless of how they live their lives on this earth. And so the arrogant are indeed being called blessed if they make such a profession of faith in Christ. And evildoers are definitely putting God to the test, but they will not escape in the end.

And I know this quoted passage above comes from the Old Testament, so I will share with you some Scriptures from the New Testament, under New Covenant teaching, which back up what I just shared with you. And I will paraphrase them because I am also teaching what they teach.

For Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For if we hold on to our old lives of living in sin and for self, we will lose them for eternity. But if for the sake of the name of Jesus we die with him to sin that we might live to him and to his righteousness, then we have eternal life with God (see Luke 9:23-26; cf. Romans 6:1-23; Ephesians 4:17-24).

And Jesus also said that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one DOING the will of God the Father who is in heaven. For many will stand before the Lord on the day of judgment, and they will call Jesus, “Lord,” and they will make claims to all the things they had convinced themselves that they were doing in the name of Jesus, but he will respond to them with, “I never knew you. Depart from me you workers of lawlessness,” for they refused to obey the Lord (see Matthew 7:21-23; cf. Romans 6:16; 1 John 2:3-6; Romans 2:6-8).

And then there are multiple passages of Scripture which teach us that if sin is our practice, if it is what we obey, if this is what we walk in, but we do not walk in holiness and in righteousness, and in walks of faithful obedience to our Lord, in practice, that we will die in our sins, that salvation is not ours, and that we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Heaven is not our eternal destiny, but hell is if we choose habitual sin over obedience to our Lord.

[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; 1 Jn 1:5-10; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:23-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

Malachi 3:16-18 ESV

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. ‘They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.’”

To fear the Lord is to take him and his word (which includes the gospel of Christ) seriously and to apply the teachings of Christ and of the New Testament apostles to our daily lives. And where Old Covenant teachings are repeated for us in the New Testament, under the New Covenant, then we should apply them to our lives, as well, where they agree with New Covenant teachings. For much of what was taught us in the Old Testament, if it is God’s moral teaching, is repeated for us under the New Covenant.

To fear the Lord is also to treat God with honor and respect, which requires that we honor him with our obedience and with our surrender to his will. It is to humble ourselves before him, to deny self, to repent of (turn from) our sins, and then to follow him in obedience in walks of holiness and righteousness. And it is to worship him by giving our lives to him as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, and for us to no longer be conformed to the sinful patterns of this world but to be transformed in heart and mind of the Spirit of God away from sin to now walking by faith in Jesus Christ.

For the distinction between the wicked and the righteous is not that the wicked make no profession of faith in Christ and that the righteous do. For we are not righteous before God based merely on a profession of faith in Christ. But it is those who practice righteousness as God is righteous who are considered righteous in the eyes of God (1 John 3:4-10). So, it all comes down to what we live, not just what we profess. If we make sin our practice, then we are among the wicked. But if righteousness is our practice, we are among the righteous.

“Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

I Take Refuge

An Original Work / September 1, 2018
Based off Psalm 71

O, Lord, I take refuge in You,
For You are my God.
Turn Your ear now to me.

Be my Rock and Fortress
To which I do go.
Deliver me, God. You’re my hope.

My lips now give praise to You, God.
I always have hope,
Since You saved me from sin.

My enemies speak evil
‘gainst me, O God.
Oh, help me, O Lord, rescue me.

The path of my life has been hard.
For, I have had troubles
Too many to bear.

But, You will increase honor,
Restore again.
Your faithfulness, Lord, comforts me.

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