The Righteous and the Sinner
Rev. Toh Nee Lim | On 24, Apr 2018
Scripture Reading: Psalms 1
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither; whatever they do prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
I was trying to find a scripture passage on the righteous and the sinner that most fit my message this morning. After all the browsing, I realize the best passage is still Psalms 1. But kindly understand that I am not trying to exposit on Psalms 1 but rather to differentiate a righteous from the sinner. My emphasis this morning is on the righteous and the sinner. So again, I say that I am not expositing on Psalms 1 but I want to concentrate on the characteristics and the outcome of the righteous and the sinner.
The bible distinguishes the righteous and the sinner by way of direction; not sinless perfection. Man can never be a person of sinless perfection. So the righteous and the sinner are differentiated by the path in which they walk. You will not find the Bible drawing distinctions between the righteous and the sinner in terms of a single spiritual experience. We tend to make this mistake of saying a person is righteous because he or she had a powerful encounter with God in the church; with a lot of crying and shouting and even filling of the Holy Spirit. People fake spiritual experiences all the time. Constantly we heard from the previous leadership of the youth church claiming ‘oh, the Holy Spirit came down, and the youth were shouting and screaming and in tears and they had a spiritual encounter with God’. But every time when we ask the youth to give a presentation on the church on Sunday, we look at their face, we can feel they are not born again. And we couldn’t find any leaders in those years. They don’t have the fruit of a righteous person. Please I don’t discount spiritual encounter with God. As a matter of fact we need a power encounter with God. But it is what happens next. David had a power encounter with God. From that day onwards He just loves God, is full of faith in God and goes about fulfilling the purpose of God for him in life. We were discussing about selecting leaders in the youth church in our Cell Group with some of the mentors who were in our Cell Group. What are the criteria for selection? Pastor Lily says, the most important criteria is faithfulness. True but what about skills? Skill will come about when they are anointed. Then they have to become righteous going about the right direction in life with God. We should judge if a person is righteous by the direction of his live marked by the path he walks. The real difference between the sinner and the righteous becomes clear over a period of time, as the righteous person lives a genuine life of faith, repentance, confession of sin, love of brethren, and growth in wisdom.
Characteristics of righteousness
The Hebrew word for righteous is ‘Sadaq’. It occurred fewer than 40 times in biblical Hebrew. The issue of righteousness is more appropriately found in the problem of the suffering of the righteous at the hand of the sinners. The righteous constantly suffers at the hand of sinners. You show me a righteous person in the bible that doesn’t suffer at the hand of sinners. No. None. All righteous persons suffered at the hands of sinners. ‘Sadaq’ is brought out more clearly in the sense of a judicial pronouncement of innocence. ‘Sadaq’ signifies the outcome of a verdict when a man is pronounced ‘just’. We are all charged with upholding righteousness in all areas of life. The word ‘righteousness’ embodies all that God expects of His people; one judges, deals, sacrifices and speaks righteously; and one learns, teaches, and pursues after righteousness.
Jacob uses the word ‘sadaq’ when dealing with Laban. He says, ‘So shall my righteousness answer for me in time to come.’ In the NASB translation the preferred word is ‘honesty’. So righteousness is honesty. Our honesty will answer for us in time to come.
‘Sadaq’ also carries the sense of loyalty demonstrated by a subject or servant to his god. In Phoenician and Old Aramaic it carries the sense of loyalty demonstrated by a king or priest as a servant of his own god. So for us we are righteous when we are loyal to YAHWEH. Robert Parale asked a question? Is King Solomon in heaven or in hell? Well, the fact that King Solomon’s salvation is in doubt is in itself a tragic thing. Definitely King Solomon backslides so badly to a point that he even married beauties that worship idols and he built temples for these idols. To me that was one of the greatest sins a child of God could ever commit against YHWH. The book of Ecclesiastics was written when Solomon was so backslidden and you can see Ecclesiastics is quite a depressive book. A sinner is always in depression. To him life is vanity and everything is vanity. So to answer Robert’s question, I believe King Solomon came back to God because the conclusion of Ecclesiastics 12 shows his repentance. It reads in Ecc 12:13-14 ‘Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.’
The reason I share on King Solomon is he was definitely not loyal to YHWH. I’ve known a Singaporean missionary 32 years ago. He was mistreated by his sending church until finally they sent him home. He became so bitter that he left his wife and married a Muslim girl. I would say he has become a sinner who became disloyal to his God.
Melchizedek is the King of righteousness which signifies truthfulness, alms giving and demonstrations of mercy. Melchizedek, a type of our LORD Jesus Christ; a king of righteousness, truthfulness, constant dispenser of alms giving and demonstration of mercy. The character of God is righteousness.
Researchers conclude that the relationship of a man to his God can be described as ‘sedeq’ supposing the parties are faithful to each other. So you are righteous when you are faithful to God and God is righteous when He is faithful to man.
Who are these righteous? From the period of their birth (born again) they have not been covetous of all earthly riches, but have regarded themselves as just passing pilgrims. They understood that their lives are just like a breath. YHWH has tried them and found them pure. They love heaven and look forward to heaven with an everlasting aspiration. They have been trodden down by wicked man, they have heard from them reviling and blasphemies, and have been ignominiously treated (humiliated, treated with contempt), yet they bless God.
These are all the characteristics of the righteous man.
Characteristics of the sinner
The term sinner is applied to those who are preeminently sinful, to those stained with definite vices or crimes. As righteousness is associated with loyalty to God, sinner is in a broken state of relationship with God. The easy English bible dictionary defines a sinner in fourfold.
A person who breaks God’s rules
A person who does not obey God
A person who does bad things against God and other people
A person who breaks God’s commands
What does God has to say about the righteous and the sinner
1. For the righteous, in heaven the angels record your goodness before the Most High
We live in a society where the righteous are considered weak and are ridiculed. The righteous may have been disgraced by sinners; evil people and afflicted by wicked people but God promised that they will shine as luminaries (stars) of heaven. Contrary to this world, the righteous shall be seen (acknowledged, approved) and the gates of heaven shall be opened to the righteous.
2. The cries of the righteous shall be remembered
When the court system failed, which it does in today’s judicial court because of corruption, the sinners or wicked were falsely justified and the poor were robbed of justice because of a trumped up charges. This is never so in the court of God and all wrongs will be righted one day.
The righteous’ cries have been cries for judgment and it had been remembered. An account of all your sufferings shall be required from the sinners and from anyone who has assisted these plunderers. I like this statement: the sinner who is the plunderer and all those who assisted this plunderer will be required by YHWH one day. The sinners have always been the plunderers of the righteous. It is very interesting that Genesis 4:10 records that after Cain kill his brother he decides to play dumb like most sinners do today. They will make the famous statement, ‘What did I do?’ Unfortunately for Cain YHWH finds out about the crime, and confronts him during their little post-murder interrogation. ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.’ Abel’s blood becomes his spirit and it literally cries out to heaven, the abode of YHWH and the angels who hear the cries bring them to YHWH. It does not merely cry out in lamentation though, but appeals, intercedes, or make suit. And Abel is not alone who also appeal to heaven but the book of Revelation vetted this truth. Revelation 6:9-11 says, ‘When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”
It is so clear from Revelation that the souls of those who are dead cried out and complain even to the gate of heaven.
Recently we are extremely saddened by the news of the passing away of Susan, the wife of Sunny, ex-missionary to Iloilo City. She served God for 10 years here. On the 10th year she was diagnosed with cancer of the breast. It was fourth stage cancer, around the year 2010. She was doing so well with the school and it was profitable. But jealousy sets in. When she went back for cancer treatment, the ex church secretly flew over to Iloilo City, took over the school and put a security guard with clear instruction that Sunny and Susan were not allowed to enter the compound of Harvester Church. In Singapore she was shouted at in a board meeting when she was in her fourth stage cancer condition, accusing her of mismanagement of fund; asking her where a 200,000 pesos receipt is. She was in such pain because of cancer that she couldn’t remember where she put the receipt. Finally she found the receipt but they ignored her and chased her out of the house they rented for her for furlough. She was sacked and bad mouthed to the entire congregation. Of course she felt very unjustified and survived for 8 years in spite of the 4th stage cancer. Initially we thought that she is cured. But one day, her vision blurred and the cancer spread and finally she dies. Pastor Lily cried when she passed away at the beginning of this year. Pastor Lily felt it was so unjustified. I just want to tell you something. The cries of the righteous that has been to appeal for justice, interceding for judgment against sinners who plundered them will be remembered. You can think all you like, that she is already dead; the plunderer has won and all who assisted the plundering has won. If I know my bible well, the cries of the righteous will be remembered. Abel’s blood and spirit continually makes accusation against Cain until the posterity of Cain perishes from the face of the earth and Cain’s posterity is obliterated from the posterity of men. I know that Pastor Lily is teaching on curses. I want to tell you it is real.
Abel does not directly haunt Cain or his descendants, however, but rather cries a cry that is heard in the heavens. So evil-doers can be encouraged: you have no need to worry about being haunted by ghosts, you’ll be quite fine until the Day of Judgment. This tradition of the souls of the murdered crying out for justice continued to be developed in Jewish and Christian literature and even in pagan world. We Chinese have this tradition that is if a Chinese woman is murdered unjustly, her spirit will remain on the earth until justice is served. I do not know whether the Filipino has such tradition and belief. I am not saying they are right or true but the principle is there; the cries of the righteous will be remembered. Cain’s legacy was to be a restless wanderer on the earth. According to the Conflict of Adam and Even with Satan and other books like Life of Adam and Eve, the descendants of Cain lived completely isolated from the descendants of Seth. It was the descendants of Cain who were sinners, wicked and God wiped them from the earth by the flood, saving only the descendants of Seth, who were only eight people when the flood happened. The descendants of Cain were numerous because unlike the descendant of Seth, they were very active sexually and reproduced rapidly, resulting in large population. Abel’s blood and spirit continually makes accusation against Cain until the posterity of Cain perishes from the face of the earth and Cain’s posterity is obliterated from the posterity of men. And this is still not the end; at the Great Judgment, the spirit of Cain and all the spirit of his posterity will be brought before God and cast into the Great Furnace.
3. All your transgressions will be recorded daily.
The sinners say, ‘all our transgressions shall not be taken account of. All our crimes will not be recorded. But YHWH says all your transgressions shall be recorded daily. The Holy Ghost will say, ‘I assure you that in the light or in the darkness, in the day or in the night, I behold all your transgressions. Do not be impious in your thoughts; do not speak lies against the word of the righteous. Lie not against the Word of the Holy and Almighty God. All your glory in your idols, in your lying and in your impiety is not for righteousness but for crime. Don’t harm another person with lies. They are crimes. God has taught me through experience never to destroy another minister’s life. And God is teaching me recently never to destroy another Christian’s faith. Never do anything to cause someone to lose his or her faith in God.
There is a scripture that showed that even the righteous has the same thought. Many of us complained like the people in Malachi 2:17 which says, ‘You have wearied the LORD with your words. “How have we wearied him?” you ask. By saying, “All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them” or “Where is the God of justice?”
One complaint is found in verse 15: “Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.” Another complaint is made in Malachi 2:17. “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.” Their complaints are that the irreligious are the ones who prosper in this life. This is not an insignificant complaint. The “arrogant” are those whose pride is “exaggerated to include defiance and rebelliousness.” These are the irreligious, the kind of people who blatantly stand against the authority of God, shaking their fist at him and challenging him to show them up. And while we’ve all heard stories about such people and how God supposedly had vengeance on them, the truth is that many people like this do appear to “prosper” and do appear to escape the test of his wrath. On the other hand, the people also complain that “It is vain to serve God” (v. 14). They have not seen any profit from their religious devotion. And so they have concluded that “the arrogant” are “blessed”. We dare not speak out in our mind but such thoughts are in our heart.
We must not be troubled and be fearful when we see sinners flourishing and prosperous in their ways. There is a mystery. God marked the proceedings of the sinner. God watched as an object of suspicion or vengeance the series of activities or events; a record of the doings of sinners
Many sinners shall turn and transgress against the word of the righteous. They shall speak evil things; they shall utter falsehood; execute great undertakings (seemingly prospering). They shall say or write words, books or statements correctly in their explanation but YHWH knows all and all their transgression will be recorded daily. The evil doers will be consumed, and the power of the guilty will be annihilated. Sin will finally pass away one day and for the sinners, their names shall be blotted out of the holy books; their seeds (descendants) will be destroyed and their spirit slain. They shall cry out and lament in the bottomless fire and shall burn. There will be a cloud that will prevent them from seeing heaven and they will stay there forever.
4. The end of the righteous and the sinner
For the righteous, their residence will be under the wing of YHWH. They will sing before him, and in appearance like blaze of fire. Their mouth will be full of blessings, and their lips glorifying the name of the LORD. And the righteousness will incessantly dwell before YHWH. Great joy shall be the heritage of the righteous. One of the characteristics of angels in heaven is that they have great joy. Likewise the righteous will experience great joy. In the earth the righteous experience tremendous sorrow and sadness but YHWH will compensate you with great joy. It is said that in the one thousand year millennium, when the righteous survive the great tribulation and all sinners are destroyed, Jesus will come down and tabernacle among us and the righteous will eat of a fruit from a tree and they will live long lives like the day of Adam and Eve and give birth to a thousand children. I want to encourage us to conduct ourselves in righteousness. Live right and you will not be ignored in the Day of the Great Judgment. You shall not be found like the sinners; and eternal damnation shall be far from you, so long as the world exists. Do not be troubled and fearful when you see sinners flourishing and prosperous in their ways.
For the righteous, those who have suffered in their bodies and injuriously treated by wicked men, yet who still loved God, will be rewarded by God
For the sinner while here on earth, you will be a restless wanderer. God said to Cain, ‘You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” And I believe this is where many of us find ourselves. If you have this symptom of a restless wanderer, you really need help. You have the symptom of a sinner. A very common modern occurrence found among human today is there is a large number of people that have been diagnosed as being ADD or ADHD. These people are restless and wandering. I personally believe it is a sign of the human character of today. In Singapore, there is a school, call the Pathlight School and there have over a thousand students that are autistic and having characteristics of ADD or ADHD. Today many of us have this restlessness. Like Cain, that first restless wanderer, we’re always searching but never finding, interested in everything but never fulfilled. Inwardly we’re always wound up (hurting inside) and though we may try to find rest for our bodies it’s as if we can never find rest for our souls. And so, we live day in and day out tense, anxious, and worried. It’s as if our minds just don’t know how to shut down and even when we try to rest at night, internally our souls cannot find rest.
As a matter of fact, Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes describe this restlessness. Solomon asked this question in Ecclesiastes chapter 2:22-23 says, “What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest…” I wonder how many of you find yourself in that place, where you’re so wound up on the inside that you can’t calm down. How many of you would say that’s you? You’ve got a restless soul, you’re a restless wanderer and you can’t find rest?
But the end of the restless wanderer is worse than the beginning. Sinners will be judged for their crimes and will be troubled. Their names shall be blotted out of the holy books; their seeds shall be destroyed. Their posterity will be obliterated. It would be better that they never have been born. The sinner will be judged in the presence of the righteous and the impious will be afflicted. Those that has no respect or reverence for God will be badly affected and miserable. The sinners who are the kings, princes and the wealthy who possess earth will cease to be powerful and exalted. They will not be able capable of beholding the countenance of the righteous. For the light of the countenance of the righteous will shine like luminaries and the sinner will not be able to behold them. The mighty king will be destroyed and delivered into the hand of the righteous.
They shall lament in an invisible waste, and in the bottomless fire shall they burn. There will be a cloud which could not be seen through for from the depth of this bottomless pit you are unable to see heaven. Instead a flame of fire will blaze as it were glittering mountains whirled around and sinners agitated side by side. When the bible says, ‘you will be cast into outer darkness’, it is still it is a lake of fire in a disc, when the angel took this disc of lake of fire and twirl into outer darkness. They say that the people in hell will never be able to see heaven because their eyes are always hung down. That is the place sinner and blasphemers will be thrust into; all who do evil and all who pervert all which God has spoken by the mouth of the prophet
5. He came for sinners
In case some of you get this picture that God is excited to get at sinners, I just want to tell you that the best thing that has ever happen to you is God. He is the most fair God and would do all he can to prevent your destruction. Luke 5:32 says it so clearly, ‘I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. God is not only a God of terrible holiness and wrath; he is also a God rich in mercy. All children of wrath may become children of the Father through Jesus Christ. It is a wonder of His grace, to call sinner to assure them of pardon if there is repentance. God has borne patiently the contradiction of sinners against himself and against the righteous. His ultimate purpose is you repent. In the Day of the LORD or the Day of Judgment, evil shall be heaped up upon sinners, but the righteous shall triumph in the name of the Lord of Spirit.
God will teach or even bring experiences to you so you will be made to see that you must repent, and forsake the works of your hands that has been sinning that by His name you will be saved. The Lord will have compassion for great is His mercy but righteousness is His judgment. In his Judgment iniquity shall not stand. And He who repents not before him shall perish