Monthly Archives: October 2016

More Wicked People

Last week we looked at several wicked people mentioned in the Bible. We continue this week with a few more examples of wickedness to avoid.

In the lengthy journey from Egypt to the promised land, the children of Israel very often murmured against the Lord and against the leadership of Moses (Num. 14:22). On one occasion, a wicked dissembler named Korah led a rebellion of well-known princes against the authority of God’s chosen (Num. 16:1-3). The baseless contentions of Korah and his cohorts were exposed when God opened the earth and swallowed those leaders of the rebellion, destroyed the princes that followed them by fire from heaven and sent a plague to destroy the people that accepted them. Those that follow the gainsaying of Korah were and are doomed to perish (Jude 11).

Another duo of devilishness that would have to be included in this list is Ahab and Jezebel. We are told that “Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him” (I Kings 16:30). Can you imagine owning such a notorious distinction as being labeled the most evil king? Ahab’s wickedness was bad enough, but what degraded him even further was his allowing his equally evil wife, Jezebel, to corrupt him even more thoroughly. For “there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up” (I Kings 21:25). Be careful whom you chose for a spouse!

Jezebel is a by-word for wickedness. She got her wickedness honestly, however, for her father was Ethbaal, king of Sidon, and priest of Astarte, which position he obtained by murdering his predecessor. Ahab and Jezebel established four-hundred fifty prophets of Baal and four-hundred prophets of the grove, and these ate at Jezebel’s table (I kings 18:19). Not only did they promote and support these false prophets and gods, but they also slew God’s prophets and servants (II Kings 9:7). Even Elijah had to flee for his life because Jezebel vowed to kill him (I Kings 19:1).

In the New Testament Jezebel is offered as an example of wickedness worthy of death. When, through John, the Lord addressed the church of Christ at Thyatira, He chose the notorious name Jezebel to identify the false prophetess troubling that congregation (Rev. 2:20). The leadership of that congregation had not appropriately and completely dealt with her error and were partially responsible for her continued wicked influence. This remains true of any and all elderships that do not confront error. It becomes a leavening influence that corrupts the whole congregation (I Cor. 1:1-5).

When Elijah confronted Ahab and Jezebel and condemned them, he was accused by Ahab as “he that troubleth Israel” (I Kings 18:17). Elijah responded by saying “I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim” (I Kings 18:18). Those that cause trouble are those that forsake the commandments of the Lord and not those that point out and condemn the error (Gal. 4:16).

Though Abimelech was the son of Gideon, the Bible describes him as “wicked.” “Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:” (Judges 9:56 ). Abimelech murdered his seventy brothers, with the exception of Jotham, and persuaded the men of Shechem to make him king (Jud. 9:1-3). With an apparently narcissistic personality, he hired vain men to follow him (Jud. 9:4). Like Diotrophes, he loved to have the preeminence (III John 9). His death was precipitated by a woman who threw a piece of a millstone which broke his skull (Jud. 9:53).

We could also include on this list the wicked king Manasseh, who spent his time building up the high places which his father, Hezekiah, destroyed. He seduced Judah to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel, and wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord (II Kings 21:1-8). The wicked Canaanite tribes could also be included as examples of wickedness that God wanted exterminated. Wicked Haman, who tried to destroy the Jews, has a spot on this list (Est. 7:6). Potiphar’s wife, Delilah and Athaliah would fit well on this list, too. How could we deny the Herods a spot on this infamous list?

But no list of wicked and evil people would be complete without mentioning Judas, the betrayer of our Lord. For a long time theories have been advanced with a hope to find some redeeming character in Judas. But the truth is set forth plain in scripture — he was a thief (John 12:6). Jesus knew from the beginning who really believed in Him and who did not, and who should betray Him (John 6:64, 70). Judas, of his own accord, sought how he might betray the Lord for money (Luke 22:5). The Bible tells us that satan entered into Judas (Luke 22:1-6). Luke recorded that he fell by transgression and went to his own place when (Acts 1:26). No, Judas was not some misunderstood saint. He was wicked, greedy and sold the Lord out for the price of a slave (Ex. 21:32).

There are many wicked people in the world. The examples the Bible gives are for a warning to us: “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (I Corinthians 10:6-12).

Abstain from all appearance of evil (I Thess. 5:17).

Eric L. Padgett

The Most Wicked People In The Bible

We usually think of the Bible as presenting to us examples of good men and women. And it certainly does. There are great men and women of faith held out as examples to us and we ought to emulate them insofar as they present to us a Christ-like life (I Cor. 11:1). But the Bible also presents to us men and women whose examples are to be avoided because they are some of the most vile and wicked people ever to walk the face of the earth (I Cor. 10:6; II Pet. 2). If we were to make a list, a few names would surely be on it.

While Adam and Eve were not wicked per se, they were responsible for bringing sin, and consequently disease, disaster and death, into the world (Rom. 5:12). While they had everything they could possibly need for this life in the garden, they were not satisfied. They wanted that which fulfilled the lusts of the flesh and of the mind (Eph. 2:1-3) and gave in to the lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:15-17). Though they tried to cover their sins, they could not hide from Him who sees all (Heb. 4:13). We can be sure our sins will find us out (Num. 32:23).

Cain deserves to be on this list because he is described as being of “that wicked one” (I John 3:12). Cain slew Abel, his brother, and was the first to do so in Bible history, all because his own works were unrighteous and his brother’s works righteous. His works were unrighteous because he did not obey the Lord’s commands regarding worship, for his offering was not “by faith” (Heb. 11:4). Since faith comes by hearing the word of God, we may correctly infer that Abel offered his sacrifice according to God’s revealed will, while Cain would not submit to such instruction (Rom. 10:17). God desires that we worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

Next on the list is not merely one or two, but a whole world full of degenerate and wicked people. During the days of Noah, the Bible describes that the “wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). The only redeeming feature of this time was Noah, who was a just man and perfect in his generations (Gen. 6:9). Can you imagine a time when every thought of man was only evil, continually? Can you imagine a world so wicked that God regretted that He had made man (Gen. 6:6)?

Such were the days of Noah. So wicked that only eight souls were counted worthy by God of being saved. We do not know how many were in the world at that time, but eight out of all others was surely a small ratio (I Pet. 1:20). Jesus said this ratio will hold true on judgement day, as well. He said few will find the strait and narrow path just as few found salvation from that wicked antediluvian realm (Matt. 7:13,14).

Another group that makes this list are the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19). When the two angelic visitors entered Lot’s home, the men of this wicked place wanted them to be brought out that they might “know” them (cf. Gen. 4:1). This vile corruption has been characteristic of many cultures in the past. Paul declared that these glorified not God, even though they knew Him, but burned in their unclean lusts one toward another, women burned in their lusts one toward another, and the men leaving the natural use of the woman, men with men, working that which is unseemly (Rom. 1:21-27).

How disgusting and wicked! God gave them their just reward and Sodom was destroyed from the face of the earth (Rom. 1:27). All that was left was a smoldering cinder (Gen. 19:28). Can any nation long endure which not only abides this wickedness but revels in it? Knowing the judgement of God, not only are they which commit such things worthy of death but also those who have pleasure in them (Rom. 1:32). Certainly those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9,10).

Next week we will continue our examination of the most wicked people in the Bible.

Eric L. Padgett

The Great Physician

Jesus said, “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Matt. 9:12).

Thank God for doctors! I could never be one, but I am glad that we have them. They work long hours, see some of life’s worst moments, and many times get sued out of business. Maybe some of them deserve that but, on the whole, they do great things, things like restoring health and saving lives. We generally only go to them when we are sick and really only need them then. Yes, doctors do great things for our physical health. But thank God we have a Great Physician Who heals our sin-sick souls, as well.

Jesus explained what He meant by this statement above when He said further, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9:13). Just as the healthy don’t need a doctor, the righteous don’t need a saviour. Perhaps Jesus meant here the “self-righteous” because there are none righteous, no not one (Rom. 3:10). Jesus did not come to this world to help those who did want His help, but those who recognized that they needed His help.

Our physical health is a delicate matter, just as is our spiritual health. We may feel healthy now, but a moment later we may feel sick. Generally, the cause of our physical sickness precedes the symptoms by some period of time. When we catch the flu, it is usually some time before we start seeing the symptoms. The same is true spiritually. Our absence from the services, our disobedience, our lack of involvement in the work of the Lord, our disinterest, our spiritual apathy is usually preceded some time by the actual sickness. The symptoms are merely a manifestation of a deeper problem.

At least two ingredients are involved in maintaining our physical health: proper diet and good exercise. Physical exercise strengthens our bodies and, along with a proper diet, gives us the energy and nutrients to grow.

Spiritually, we need the same ingredients. We must have nourishment for the soul as well as the body. Peter admonished us as new born babes to desire the sincere milk of the world that we may grow thereby (I Pet. 2:2). As we grow more mature we need stronger food (Heb. 5:13,14). We also need to have our senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5:14). In the long run, bodily exercise profits little, only in the here and now, but godliness is profitable in all things, benefitting us for eternity (I Tim. 4:8). But even exercise and a proper diet is sometimes not enough to keep us from getting sick.

There is no individual that has the remedy for man’s spiritual ills (Jer. 46:12). Jesus came and said He was anointed of God to “heal” the brokenhearted and to give sight to the blind and set at liberty them that are bruised (Luke 4:17-19). The prophet said “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:4-5). Jesus is our Great Physician that can heal the sin-sick soul.

Some doctors that deal with the flesh have very poor bedside manners. It is almost as if they do not care about the patient. Most doctors do care and express that concern for the patients, but some do not. However, Jesus not only knows how to heal He also cares. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The word “touched” in this verse is translated from the word “sumpatheo,” or our word “sympathy.” As the song states, “My Jesus knows, because He cares.”

So, yes, thank God for doctors. But thank God for Jesus Christ, the Great Physician, Who alone possess and knows how to use the balm of Gilead which can heal our hurt (Jer. 8:22)!

Eric L. Padgett

Johnny Gospel

Let me introduce you to an old friend of mine. His name is Johnny Gospel. In the eyes of the world, Johnny is just an ordinary fellow, maybe even a little odd, but in the eyes of all faithful Christians, he is a fine, outstanding example of what it means to be a Christian. You might even know Johnny. He could well be a member of the congregation where you attend. Well, let me just describe him for you.

One thing is sure, Johnny knows his Bible (II Tim. 2:15). If you ask a Bible question, Johnny can tell you where to find the answer (II Pet. 3:21). He studies his Bible daily so he is very familiar with it (Acts 17:11). No, formally he is not a scholar–he doesn’t hold a theological degree–but he has learned so much from his daily studies, that you might sometimes mistake him for one. Of course, he doesn’t know everything there is to know but he knows enough that he could tell you whether the gist of some statement is scriptural or not.

Naturally, Johnny loves the word of God (Psalm 119:97). It really upsets him when he hears the word of God distorted or misapplied (Acts 17:16). Recently, in Bible class, he heard another member of the Lord’s church advance a view in favor of some unscriptural action. He politely waited for someone else to correct the man, but no one did. So, he took it upon himself to stand up for the truth (I Cor. 16:13). When he did, others joined with him. It is not that Johnny is argumentative, he is simply jealous of the truth and concerned about the souls of men.

Johnny is constantly engaging people in discussions about the word of God (Matt. 28:18-20). Because he carries a New Testament with him wherever he goes and because he often pulls it out and reads it, many ask him about it (Acts 17:11). Most often, at work, on breaks, Johnny will have co-workers come and ask him about the Bible. People always come to Johnny Gospel when they have questions about the Bible or Christianity because they know he is a dedicated and knowledgeable, New Testament Christian. When ever he gets the opportunity, he holds Bible studies with people who are interested (Acts 8:4). Quite a number of people have obeyed the gospel because Johnny Gospel was there on the spot.

Johnny also has unimpeachable character (I Pet. 1:15,16). He is an example to all who get to know him. His speech, whether in private or in public, is always exemplary (Col. 4:6). He pays his bills on time and, if the cashier at the local store gives more change than he deserves, he returns the money just as soon as he knows about it (I Pet. 2:12). He is always polite and kind and tenderhearted and forgiving (Eph. 4:32). Johnny is also known as a man of prayer (I Thess. 5:17). The one thing you know about Johnny Gospel is that whether he is in public or in private, he always is a follower of the Lord (Rev. 2:10).

Johnny’s wife and children are exemplary, as well (Eph. 6:1-3). His children go to Bible class eagerly, have their work ready and participate in the class heartily. Even outside the church building, in school or with their friends, Johnny’s children always do him proud. They dress modestly, they speak respectfully, they refuse to do things that might bring shame either on him or the Lord’s church. They are known in the community as good and decent children and because of that they are trusted.

His wife is also faithful to the Lord (Prov. 31:10-31). She is just as concerned about the truth and the condition of the Lord’s church as is he. She participates in the work of the church, helps those who are in need, encourages her husband as a Christian, teaches her children by word and by example and is well respected in the community and in the church (Tit. 2:3-5). She rises early to begin the chores and help her husband. She does not seek her own pleasure first but that of her husband and children, just as they do hers.

There is so much more that can and should be said about Johnny Gospel, but one thing we know: we need more like him in the church. If more people were like Johnny Gospel, the world, and especially the church, would be in much better and a safer condition.

Eric L. Padgett