The amount of unbiblical thinking most Christians are engaged in is really quite appalling. One suspects that large swathes of the Christian community have never even opened the book they claim is so vital to their faith. And if they do crack the covers of the Bible, it might be to do some selective skim-reading of a Psalm or a bit of the Gospels.
So few believers nowadays actually read their Scriptures cover to cover that much of the church is filled with those who are biblically illiterate. They know little or nothing about what their own Bible says, yet will latch on to all the latest trendy, secular mush.
So when you quote Scripture to them, or share with them some biblical truths, many of them will actually take offence and get angry with you. Go figure! They are so unaware of what their own Holy Book teaches, that they will often lash out when someone dares to tell them what is contained therein.
I get this happening to me all the time. I expect non-believers to treat me this way of course. But the real shocker is when so many who claim to be believers treat me this way. But this is not true just of me. Jesus of course had the same problem.
Remember what he said to the Sadducees in Matthew 22:29: “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” It seems like we have a lot of Sadducees in our churches today. As an example, I am often rebuked for pointing out sinful activities or clearly evil people doing clearly evil things.
I am told I must not judge and I dare not look down on anyone or anything. These people would likely get mad at you if you dared to suggest that someone like Hitler was a real nasty piece of work. They think we are never to challenge any sin, or any sinner.
Well, Scripture takes a different approach to these matters. The Bible is never shy about calling a spade a spade, and it is happy to call evil, evil, and refer to evil people as evil people. It even will often take a derisive approach to such people. Really.
Let me focus on just one text, which plenty of believers today probably think is not in the Bible – or should not be. I refer to Psalm 37:13: “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He knows their day is coming.” What, God laughs at the wicked?
But that can’t be. God is a God of love and he would never do such a thing. Sorry, but I will side with Scripture here, rather than humanistic, sentimental mush which so characterises the thinking of so many Christians today. James Montgomery Boice rightly comments:
“We do not often think of the Lord laughing, especially at wickedness, and it is right we do not since to us laughter usually means that someone is taking a matter lightly. The laughter in v. 13 is like that of Psalm 2, which says that the Lord ‘scoffs’ at those who think they are able to overthrow him and thus determine their own rebellious destinies. God laughs at the wicked scornfully, because he knows their appointed ends. He knows they will be brought low and be judged by him.”
And if this is how God looks at the wicked rebels who refuse to bow the knee, there is nothing amiss in us taking the same view as well. Indeed, I just read something John Stott said in his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount which is most appropriate here.
He writes, “The truth is that evil men should be the object simultaneously of our ‘love’ and of our ‘hatred’, as they are simultaneously the objects of God’s (although his ‘hatred’ is expressed as his ‘wrath’). To ‘love’ them is ardently to desire that they will repent and believe, and so be saved. To ‘hate’ them is to desire with equal ardour that, if they stubbornly refuse to repent and believe, they will incur God’s judgment.
“Have you never prayed for the salvation of wicked men (e.g., who blaspheme God or exploit their fellow humans for profit as if they were animals), and gone on to pray that if they refuse God’s salvation, then God’s judgment will fall upon them? I have. It is a natural expression of our belief in God, that he is the God both of salvation and of judgment, and that we desire his perfect will to be done.”
The truth is, there are people who are God’s enemies. They should be, in a sense, our enemies as well. The imprecatory psalms for example deal with this quite often in the Psalter. As Stott remarks, “So there is such a thing as perfect hatred, just as there is such a thing as righteous anger. But it is a hatred for God’s enemies, not our own enemies. It is entirely free of all spite, rancour and vindictiveness, and is fired only by love for God’s honour and glory.
“It finds expression now in the prayer of the martyrs who have been killed for the word of God and for their witness (Rev. 6:10). And it will be expressed on the last day by the whole company of God’s redeemed people who, seeing God’s judgment come upon the wicked, will concur in its perfect justice and will say in unison, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just…Amen. Hallelujah!” (Rev. 19:1,3,4).
A year ago Dan Delzell wrote an interesting piece on the psalm we are looking at. He is worth citing here: “He does what? Are you saying God laughs at people who are choosing the path which leads to eternity in hell? In some cases, yes. Those who choose to live in opposition to God’s requirements will one day find themselves in a horrible place. God reaches out to them here on earth to rescue their souls….but because they shamelessly laugh at His goodness and salvation, God then begins laughing at them.
“It’s not an image most of us tend to think of when we consider God’s attitude toward sinners. There is no doubt that God has tremendous compassion for lost people. God did more than we could ever hope for when Jesus suffered and died on the cross for the sins of the world. However, if a man is going to be so brazen as to not only reject God’s offer of salvation, but also to laugh at the very One who is reaching out to save him….then yes, God laughs at that man….for the Lord knows his day is coming.
“God was not laughing when Christ was suffering for our salvation on the cross. God does not laugh when most people suffer. There are some people, however, who inspire God’s laughter by their defiant opposition to God’s Word. In those cases, God always gets the last laugh.
“It might sound ‘unloving’ to say God laughs at the wicked. Well, is it any more ‘unloving’ than sending the wicked to hell? God’s love is offered to all….and received only by some. God’s justice is handed down to those who reject the Lord’s love and grace. If God wants to laugh at those who oppose Him, who are we to question the Almighty?
“God will do whatever He wishes….whenever He wishes to do so. ‘Woe to him who quarrels with His Maker.’ (Isaiah 45:9) Remember what the Lord said to Job. ‘Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? Let him who accuses God answer Him!’ (Job 40:1) How will the mockers answer for themselves on Judgment Day? Their laughter will quickly turn to astonishment….and then to hopeless despair when their eternal sentence is handed down.”
He concludes, “If you ever sense that God is laughing at you, it would be a good time to reflect on where you stand with Him. You can laugh at God all day long if you wish….but He will always, and I mean always….get the last laugh. That is a sobering thought for anyone who has even an ounce of spiritual sensitivity and biblical discernment. At the end of the day my friend, your acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is no laughing matter.”
Absolutely. So we are called to think God’s thoughts after him, and share in that which is on his heart. He loves and seeks out the sinner. So should we. But he will not tolerate rank rebellion and opposition to himself. Neither should we.
The true Christian is the one who rejoices in what God rejoices in, and grieves over what he grieves over. How can it be any other way?