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When Sinners Have the Upper Hand #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
August 1, 2022 8:00 am

When Sinners Have the Upper Hand #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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August 1, 2022 8:00 am

It's been true throughout all the ages- The wicked seem to prosper . . . for a while. Perhaps you've joined with the Psalmist in asking, -Why do you stand far off, O Lord-- But as Pastor Don Green will remind you today on THE TRUTH PULPIT, you need to apply a Biblical perspective to gain understanding. --thetruthpulpit.comClick the icon below to listen.

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Well, where do we go?

What do we do? How should we think when sinners have the upper hand? It's been true throughout all the ages. The wicked seem to prosper for a while. Maybe you've joined with the psalmist in asking, why do you stand far off, O Lord? But as Pastor Don Green will remind you today on the truth pulpit, you need to apply biblical perspective to gain understanding. Hello again, I'm Bill Wright, and Don is presenting part one of a message called When Sinners Have the Upper Hand.

And Don, what can we look forward to in this series? Well, my friend, we're going to go to a lesser-known psalm in God's Word, Psalm 10, to give us help with addressing an age-old problem. How do we respond when a person uses their position of authority or influence and then they turn and harm us with that authority that we're not in a position to challenge? I have suffered that.

I'm sure you have at one time or another. Whether it's on a social level or an individual level, what you're going to find is that God's Word gives us clear direction, clear comfort, and a sense of our security in Christ that can pave the way forward. Thanks, Don. And right now, friend, here is our teacher to continue teaching God's people God's Word in the truth pulpit. Our psalm, Psalm 10, gives us strength and it gives us courage and it gives us the biblical perspective that we need. But if you would look at Psalm 1, verse 6, I just want to remind you of this principle that we've talked about so many times, and I want you to see it again, because as we focus on this, it's going to help you have a perspective about all of the Psalms, about the message of the Psalms, if we remember this interpretive guide that was given to us in the very introductory Psalm, Psalm 1. In verse 6 it says that the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 10 is simply an application of that verse.

It simply takes that universal principle, that dynamic interpretive light to all of life, and it applies it in a particular situation. The Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. What we're going to see in Psalm 10 is a direct application of it. And so turn to Psalm 10, if you're not there already, and we'll begin at that point. The Psalm breaks down basically into two nice sections. The first 11 verses we're going to call the alarm of the godly. The alarm of the godly, where he is stating his concern over the proper conduct of society and he sees it being violated. The alarm of the godly, and then point number two will be the appeal of the godly in verses 12 through 18. And that gives you a sense of the flow of the Psalm in all 18 verses of it. He is alarmed as this Psalm opens, assuming that it's from David. David is alarmed as this Psalm opens, but as he walks through it all, he appeals to God and he ends in a position of trust. And what I want to encourage you with, beloved, is this, is that that is always the process that we can walk through, no matter what it is that is agitating your heart. And I'm not saying that this happens in a moment of time or as a result of a five-minute prayer, but the reality of our Christian position is this, that we have the capacity, we have the knowledge, we have the spiritual power that is necessary so that we do not have to cave in to despair and discouragement and alarm at what we see happening around us.

God has given us all that is necessary for life and godliness. Look, we don't need a politician to intervene on our behalf in order for us to have peace. Is that really clear in everyone's mind? That is not the Christian position to rely on unbelieving or even believing politicians to rescue us from the despair that we find ourselves in. We do not trust in mortal men.

We do not trust in men whose breath is in their nostrils. No matter how much the political ads and religious leaders stimulate us in that direction, we have to understand that for what it is. It is an appeal to put our trust in the flesh rather than to put our trust in the Spirit of God. Now, Psalm 10 teaches us how to do this. Psalm 10 shows us how to work through the difficulties of having wicked people prospering all around us.

I've titled this message, When Sinners Have the Upper Hand, as they are often going to do in this life, what do we do? Well, look, we don't panic. We're not afraid. We don't retreat.

We don't join them. We don't trust in man to deliver us. We walk through the situation according to biblical truth, and we end up in a position where we are trusting God for his ultimate justice, his ultimate righteousness to be displayed. That is supreme in the Christian position. That is supreme in the Christian view of walking in a fallen world, and it's going to become ever more critical for us to think this way and to trust this way, because Paul said in 2 Timothy that evil men are going to go from bad to worse. Well, we can either tremble in fright and hide in a corner over that, or we can run to the battle. We can stand like men and say, no, I'm going to display my trust in God in this. We might as well be Christians who trust God, huh?

That's what I think. Now, Psalm 10, the appeal of the godly is preceded by the alarm of the godly. Point number one, the alarm of the godly. As this Psalm opens up, David is crying out over the Lord's seeming indifference to great wickedness. He is discouraged. He is in despair.

It sounds something like the opening verses of Habakkuk chapter 1, where he says, why do you stand afar off, O Lord? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Here he is agitated as he looks out at the world around him and says, Lord, things are going haywire. Things are not what they should be. Why is it that you haven't intervened? Why are you letting this continue to unfold? Wickedness and sinful men are multiplying, and good innocent people are being afflicted, and there is no one to help them.

Lord, why are you standing by silently as that occurs? And the theme of the afflicted is noticeable in this Psalm. Look at verse 2.

In pride, the wicked hotly pursued, the afflicted. Verse 12, O God, do not forget the afflicted. In verse 17 or verse 18, he says, Lord, you will vindicate the orphan and the oppressed.

And so there is this concern that is not merely a personal concern to David. It's not that he personally is suffering so much, but that he sees others around him who are innocent and yet weak and defenseless, being afflicted by sinful men who are taking advantage of them. His sense of justice is offended, and he has cried out to God, and he says, and after a period of time, he says, Lord, why is it that you're just standing silently by and letting this continue? There is a presupposition in this opening verse that God has the power at any time to intervene and to put a stop to it. And yet, when we see wickedness flourish, when we see sinful men predominate and gain further and further control and influence, it is because God has stood back and has let that happen, and David is wrestling with that saying, God, why and how long? And then he goes on and describes in detail in verses 2 through 11 the nature of these immoral men. Martin Luther is quoted as saying about Psalm 10, quote, there is not, in my judgment, a psalm which describes the mind, the manners, the work, the words, the feelings, and the fate of the ungodly with so much propriety, fullness, and light as this psalm. When we think about the nature of fallen men, we will quickly quote Romans 3 23, that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, that there's none righteous, no not one. And that's an appropriate good cornerstone view of man to have in our minds.

It's a good starting point. What we have in Psalm 10 is an unfolding of the significance of that in the inner and outer man of the wicked. We see how pervasive their depravity is.

We see how deep-rooted their ungodliness is. And this is what is resident in every unredeemed heart. We should not be surprised after we study Psalm 10 to see wickedness coming out of wicked men. There's a reason why their lives overflow with sin and oppression.

It's because that's what dominates their heart. Jesus said that it's out of the heart of man that come all of the wicked things, Mark 7 20 through 22. But when we understand the heart of the wicked, then we start to realize that we can expect certain things to unfold, and the mystery and the confusion that it would otherwise bring starts to dissipate in the light of spiritual perception and discernment to say, I understand the nature of man enough to know why it's acting out this way. And so if we have a mature view of sin, and what the implications of sin are in the human heart, then we're going to have a better set of expectations about what walking through this wicked world is going to be like. What is it about the ungodly?

What can we see? What can we learn about the ungodly, un-Christian man as we read Psalm 10? Well first of all, we were going to see that he's dominated by ungodly thoughts. He's dominated by ungodly thoughts. This is the first notable mark of the wicked is their hostility toward God. Their hostility toward God.

Look at verses 2 through 4 with me. In pride the wicked hotly pursue the afflicted. And as it's translated here in the NASB, it becomes a bit of a prayer that God would deal with them. Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised. It could be translated, they will be caught in the plots which they have devised, but why is it that they feel the freedom? Why is it that they do this?

It's because they have a sense that they can get away with it. Look at verse 3. For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire, and the greedy man curses and spurns the Lord. The wickedness in the haughtiness of his countenance does not seek him. All his thoughts are there is no God. As he is plotting and scheming to pursue the afflicted, to take advantage of them, to hurt them, to prosper off of their misfortune, he is spurning God.

He's turned away. He's saying that there is not a God that can hold me accountable. There will be no eternal consequence to what I am doing. There will be no earthly retribution.

I can get away with this. And so he exploits and crushes the weak because he has no biblical perspective to redirect his intentions, to create fear in his heart that would otherwise restrain him from pursuing this wicked course. We're accustomed to hearing, at least in the world's mind, that all men are basically good.

That some kind of outward morality will make up for a genuine conversion. But that's not true. That's not true. We need to understand the depth of the depravity of the human heart. When men cast aside the true God, when men reject the gospel of Christ, don't be surprised when eventually in their life they crush others to get what they want, or they destroy those who keep them from getting what they want. And so we just need to realize that this is what's resident in the hearts of men.

It's true of men. It's true of nations. Because what are nations except populations of basically unredeemed men?

And so when we see this kind of oppression, we trace it back. We have the spiritual discernment to trace it back in all the way back and say, ah, this is the fruit of an unredeemed heart. This is the fruit of a heart that does not fear God, that sees no consequence to its actions, and therefore acts to accomplish what it wants no matter who is crushed in the process. They are emboldened because they have convinced themselves that there is no consequence for their sin. And so when unbelievers think that God is powerless, that God doesn't exist, or that He is indifferent to stop them, they will act wickedly to get what they want in ways that would shock us.

In any other setting. They're ungodly. He doesn't seek God. He spurns the Lord. And that's why he can hotly pursue the afflicted. It's because his thoughts are, there is no God.

Why would I do it any other way? It's kind of frightening. It's sobering. And it's just so superficial to attribute it to guns and other things like that.

When you do that, you're diverting your attention away from what the real issue is. The real issue is the wickedness of the human heart. Now secondly, what else can we say about the ungodly? Well, here in Psalm 10, they're marked by their ungodly trust.

Their ungodly trust. Look at verses 5 and 6. Rather than trusting the Lord with the humble, the ungodly is confident that his prosperity will protect him from harm. Look at verse 5.

David is assessing them. He is giving a spirit-inspired analysis of the inner man of the wicked. It says, his ways prosper at all times. Your judgments are on high, out of his sight. As for all his adversaries, he snorts at them.

There's an arrogance about it. There is a lack of fear. He says to himself, I will not be moved. Throughout all generations, I will not be in adversity. In one manner or another, he is in a position of strength. There is no adversity. There is no opposition. He's not struggling with difficulties at this point in his existence.

And his mindset is, I am always going to be like this. I am strong. I am capable of persevering in this.

I can maintain this position. And as he goes on and continues to prosper in it, there's no reason for him to think differently outside of the gospel of Christ. Think of the successful executive who crushes people beneath his feet and then drives home to his mansion in his luxury car.

That's kind of the picture of what's being said here. Everything about his life suggests that his way is the path to success. There are no immediate consequences to slow him down. There is no one with the authority or influence to answer him, to silence him.

He says, I will not be moved. Throughout all generations, I will not be in adversity. Only as you come to the Scripture do you find the answer to that, that they will eventually find their confidence was misplaced. But for the moment they enjoy the fruit of their sin, and it emboldens them.

It makes them, it hardens them all the more. Charles Spurgeon said in a word of warning, be humble, O man, for you are mortal and your success will evaporate. End quote. So he's trusting in his own power. He's got a godless heart that says there is no God, and his plans and his plots are not hindered by any such trivialities.

You know the picture of the man, and you also know by your own experience in the world how futile and how easily dismissed it would be for a humble believer to come and speak to him about Christ, to speak to him about the consequences of wickedness, his haughtiness, his pride, and the dismissal of God in his heart causes him to dismiss the warnings of the humble as well, to mock and curse them. Well look, beloved, we've just got to be of a mindset to understand that and to be undaunted in the face of it. We understand where this is coming from.

We understand why men are like this because of their earthbound perspective. When we understand, then we are no longer subject to such intimidation from them. Our alarm starts to dissipate as we turn our own trust back to the Lord. But David's not at that point in the Psalm yet. He's talked about their ungodliness in the sense of their ungodly trust, their ungodly thoughts, and now in verse 7 we're going to see their ungodly tongue. The ungodly tongue of the wicked, verse 7, says that his mouth is full of curses and deceit and oppression. Under his tongue is mischief and wickedness. David says their speech is abusive, intimidating.

It is untrustworthy. And the question is, the question that's underlying his alarm here is, God, why do you allow this? Why do you, as a God of truth and justice, allow this to perpetuate? Why do you allow this man to grow in his prominence? Why do you allow him the freedom to afflict those who are weaker than he is? Why is this, Lord? Why do you hide yourself? Why don't you act?

Why aren't you doing anything? And as we said when we began the whole series on the Psalms, my hope is is that some of you who are in that kind of situation find strength by finding your innermost frustrations and fears being expressed and identified in the language of Holy Scripture. You have to love the nature of the Psalms, don't you?

That are so transparent. The Psalms are so unlike the nature of religious environment all around us, where everyone puts on their plastic smile on Sunday and everything's great and fine. And we play this charade, I'm not saying here in truth, I'm speaking more generally because I don't believe our church is like this, but they play this charade that everything's fine and, you know, and there's no trouble and you go out but inside people are dying. Well, the Psalms don't play the charade.

I love the fact that the Bible doesn't go along with that game. There is a transparency in the Scriptures. There is a transparency in the Psalms where these thoughts that at one time or another have agitated us all find their expression. And if you identify with the spirit of this Psalm because someone has power over you and is abusing it, Psalm 10 is your best friend. Well, it moves from ungodly thoughts to ungodly trust and ungodly tongues and into ungodly traps, we could say in verses 8 through 10. In a final flourish, David describes the cunning violence of this wicked man.

They're like animals stalking after their prey. If you've ever watched a cat going after a bird or watched a bigger animal getting ready to jump on its Sunday meal, you have a sense of what's being described in these next three verses. David says in verse 8, he sits in the lurking places of the villages. In the hiding places, he kills the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the unfortunate. He lurks in a hiding place as a lion in his lair. He lurks to catch the afflicted. He catches the afflicted when he draws him into his net. He crouches.

He bows down and the unfortunate fall by his mighty ones. You have the picture of this man plotting and scheming in secret. And, you know, one of the things that I thought about, the kind of a modern illustration of this. There's so many of them. The scam artists that will cheat elderly people out of their life savings. Smart, suave, smooth speakers who go after people whose middle capacity is a little diminished. They isolate them and they have them take advantage and sign over documents. I was hearing about something not too long ago where a widow had signed over her savings to such a man as this. That's the idea of this wickedness.

Lurking, getting people off to the side and then attacking them to take advantage of them. And what we see is in Scripture is that Scripture is not silent. God is not indifferent to that kind of criminal activity. These men hide themselves to hurt unsuspecting people. They use false pretenses to receive donations after a natural disaster.

You've all seen this. A hurricane hits, a tsunami is overseas, and all of a sudden there are a multiplicity of new organizations designed to provide relief funds. Just send us the check.

And the money never gets there. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with part one of his message, When Sinners Have the Upper Hand. Don will have the conclusion for you on our next broadcast. Be sure to join us then here on the Truth Pulpit. Meanwhile, we invite you to visit our website, thetruthpulpit.com. There you can download free podcasts or find out how to receive free CD copies of Don's series. And if you want to go even more in depth, you'll also find the link, Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing we need for radio broadcasts. By the way, if you're in the Cincinnati area, check out the service times for Truth Community Church, also on our website. And plan a visit, because we'd love to welcome you. Again, that's all at thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you to join us again next time, as Don Green continues teaching God's people, God's Word, here in the Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-18 00:51:35 / 2023-03-18 01:00:29 / 9

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