What right have you to tell of My statutes, And to take My covenant in your mouth? For you hate discipline, And you cast My words behind you. When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, And you associate with adulterers. You let your mouth loose in evil, And your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son (Psalm 50:16-20).
Though this psalm is some 2,500 years old, it is a fitting description of the wicked today. They rush headlong into wrongdoing. They celebrate evil and conspire with evil people. They habitually ignore God’s word. They scoff at the Bible.
But when they stumble upon a passage of Scripture that seems to justify their behavior, boy oh boy, will they hasten to quote it!
Scientists chuckle when non-scientists confidently explain Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle but get it totally wrong. Lawyers poke each other in the ribs when clients think they know the law, but butcher it completely. Doctors (even the good ones!) roll their eyes when medical jargon comes tumbling out of the mouths of patients. There is a certain amount of effort in study, a certain quiet respect for the subject, that goes into having the ability to speak authoritatively on such things.
Now, I’m not suggesting knowing the Bible requires college coursework or years of experience. After all, the gospel is designed for everyone to understand (1 Cor. 1:20-28), including the young (Matt. 19:14) and the uneducated (Acts 4:13). But teaching God’s word requires effort in study, and humble respect for the God who inspired it.
It is distasteful to hear unrepentant people make confident assertions about the word of God. Like, “Jesus says you can’t judge me!” (a perversion of Matthew 7:1). “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me!” (often a misuse of Philippians 4:13). “You’re a child of the King, and He wants you to be rich!” (a perversion of the whole gospel). Christians with well-worn Bible pages become impatient when pearls are being trampled.
This is not a call to elitism. It’s a call for each of us to have the right attitude when approaching God and His word. It’s tempting to try to pound a square peg into a round hole, attempting to force the one passage of Scripture you saw calligraphized on Pinterest to justify sinful behavior. The Bible is a big book, and each passage needs to be read in the context of the paragraph, and the letter, and the whole Bible. For Bible study to have God’s intended result, it must be accompanied by submission and prayer.
God is patient with the misuse of His word, but not forever. The psalm continues:
These things you have done, and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you, and state the case in order before your eyes.
The silence of God has led evildoers to conclude that He not only winks at their deeds, but that He is in hearty agreement with their deeds. Or, to state it even more strongly, the silence of God has led evildoers to conclude that God Himself is like them.
This is idolatry, the very definition of crafting a god in man’s own image. God declares, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9). How dare we think that because we can’t seem to be faithful to one wife, that God is a philanderer (or has a wife at all). How dare we think that because we can’t seem to tell the truth that God lies when it is convenient. How dare we think that because we get tired walking around the block that God gets tired. This is the faulty concept the Greeks had regarding their pantheon—gods just as wretched, disloyal, limited, and passionate as they were.
What folly to bring the gods’ standards down to the lowly standards of man. God demands we bring the standard of our lives up to His holy standard!
Let all know for sure, that our God is a holy God. A day is coming very soon when God will break His silence, He will “state His case,” and reveal His wrath and judgment upon mankind. —John Guzzetta