“I will not allow deceivers to serve in my house,
and liars will not stay in my presence.
My daily task will be to ferret out the wicked
and free the city of the Lord from their grip.”
Psalms 101:7-8 NLT
Removing the wicked from amongst us is a wonderful idea. After all, we would all like to live in a Godly and sin-free environment. We would all like to eliminate anti-social behaviour in our communities. Or drugs, or drunkenness, or ….. But how do we do that? The statute book in our societies lists what we should and shouldn’t do. Misdemeanours are treated according to their severity, and some miscreants end up without their liberty. Police forces do their best to uphold the law of the land. But who are the wicked the Psalmist was writing about? If we read through this Psalm, we find words describing people, including “vile”, “vulgar”, “perverse”, “evil”, “slander”, “conceit”, “pride”, “deceivers”, “liars” and “wicked”. Hang on a minute, though, I can’t somehow see a policeman arresting someone with any of these qualities. They need to be translated into something tangible that the person can be arrested for. Some crime defined by our laws. But here’s the thing – only God can see the thoughts in a person’s mind and so only he knows how to “ferret out the wicked“. Only He has that right.
Jesus taught about wheat and weeds in a parable in which the farmer planted good seed but the enemy, the devil, came along and scattered weeds. When the wheat and weeds started growing, the farm workers suggested to the farmer that they go into the field and pull up the weeds, leaving the wheat. But the farmer stopped them, because of the potential for damaging the growing wheat. We then read in Matthew 13 that Jesus said, “Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” In other words Jesus was saying that there will come a time of judgement one day and the qualities of the “wicked”, the “weeds” in the parable, will be exposed and consequently dealt with then.
Back in Psalm 101, the Psalmist’s intentions of achieving purity among the inhabitants of God’s city was a noble one. One that at least superficially sounds like a good idea. But then the thought crosses our minds – do we suffer from any of the qualities of the wicked? Have we never had a proud thought? Have we never gossiped about a neighbour? Have we never …? And before we know it, the application of the Psalmist’s “daily task” would soon result in no-one left in God’s city. We wouldn’t be eligible for citizenship in God’s city either.
But there’s a tremendous section of Scripture in Romans 3. We read, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. So there we have it. Although none of us can meet God’s standard of righteousness, we can nevertheless have the right to live in God’s presence, in His city, through the blood of Jesus. Through His grace and mercy. Too good to be true? Too good not to be true.