By definition wickedness refers to anything that is morally bad or evil. This definition, however, has led to much debate. Many insist on interpreting wickedness differently than others. The fact is that God has already defined wickedness. As early as the pre-Flood world, the Bible states: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen.6:5).
Many years later King Solomon wrote: “And moreover I saw under the sun the place of judgment, that wickedness was there; and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there. I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work” (Eccl. 3:16-17). “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:14). So the fundamental question is this: Does anyone other than God have a right to define wickedness? The answer is no! God is the Creator of the universe and of man. He has every right, therefore, to decide what is good and what is evil. He is the Judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25). The Bible is very clear on how God feels about sin. “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:11).
In describing the pre-Flood world, the Apostle Paul had much to say.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. (Rom. 1:21-25)
The lack of morals so prevalent in the world today is the result of man’s own nature. The following verses make this plain.
Paul describes wickedness and its consequences.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools . . . . For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not [becoming]. (Rom. 1:21-22, 26-28)
Paul defined the kind of behavior that is not becoming.
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Rom. 1:29-32)
An important purpose of God’s Law is to define wickedness.
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine. (1 Tim. 1:9-10)
Political correctness today demands tolerance. The view is that all lifestyles, regardless of the type, should be accepted without reservation. It appears the majority opinion, at least in the western world, is to understand and accept every sort of behavior regardless of what men do.
The Source of Wickedness
Some attempt to attribute the cause of wickedness to Satan. While Satan is an important element in the depravity of this world, he could not accomplish it without the evil pull of human nature. Jesus described human nature in Mark 7:21-23. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” In brief, the proclivities listed above are a part of man’s psychological make-up.
This potential for evil was placed in man at the beginning. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, evil began to increase until it reached the point of no return. Had the predisposition to sin not been placed in man, Eve would not have been tempted. Yet, she saw that not only was the fruit good to eat, and pleasant to look at, but desired to make one wise. Eve coveted that which God had forbidden. Coveting was a part of her nature; it is in the nature of all men. Jesus said that men have evil thoughts. “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words” (Prov. 15:26). Why would “thoughts” be associated with “words” in the above text? Jesus said: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34).
Wickedness is contagious, and it is progressive. By the time of the Flood, we read: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Beginning with one act of disobedience in the garden of Eden, sin mushroomed into a worldwide condition. “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (vv. 11-12). “As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked . . . . ” (1 Sam. 24:13). The Apostle Paul warned: ” . . . Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6). Of the people of Israel, God said: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge” (Jer. 4:22). Indeed, wickedness is folly.
Most People Do Not Think They Are Wicked
It does not set well with many people when told they are wicked. Take civil law for example. A growing minority refuse to accept various statutes because of their moral origin. They simply do not want to be regarded as evil, either in the sight of God or in the sight of men. This should come as no surprise. People do not like criticism, and one who is labeled evil generally regards this as an offense. A proverb illustrates this principle. “Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness” (Prov. 30:20). “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush . . . ” (Jer. 6:15). In the politically correct environment of today, too many have been swayed to accept whatever the majority embraces, even if it is damming and detrimental to both themselves and society. Most think what is being done today will not affect them personally. What folly!
Like Israel of Old, thousands, perhaps even millions today, refuse the following admonitions: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jer. 6:16). “Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts? And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered” (Mal. 3:13-15). What is really taking place in the nation? “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them” (Prov. 28:4). Thank God there are those who keep His Law! He told Abraham that He would spare the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah if He could find ten righteous people. Where are they today?
A prophecy that relates to the decadence so prevalent in today’s society can be seen by what was done in ancient times. Human nature has not changed. Our modern culture duplicates what took place at that time.
Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:3-6).
How many people are grieved for the moral toboggan slide in our nation today? Instead, we see hear talk about being “balanced,” or “moderate,” or “middle of the road.” Ideas such as this smack of the notion of “tolerance.” Understand this: God is not tolerant when it comes to wickedness!
But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. (Ps. 50:16-21)
The Righteous Verses the Wicked
God does not view Christians who endeavor to keep His Law in the way He does the wicked. Christians are able to resist the power of Satan; he no longer controls them. This is why the Apostle John wrote: “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14). “We know that whosoever is [begotten] of God [is not sinning]; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18).
Righteous men abhor the conduct of the wicked. They do not hate wicked men, but what wicked men do. “They that forsake the law praise the wicked: but such as keep the law contend with them” (Prov. 28:4). Lot, Abraham’s nephew, lived in the evil city of Sodom. Yet he is called a just man. Why? “For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds” (2 Pet. 2:8). The Psalmist wrote: “Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law” (Ps. 119:53). “My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words” (v. 139). “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word” (v. 158). Christians try to follow the example given in Proverbs 8:7. “For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips” (Prov. 8:7).
The dichotomy between the righteous and the wicked is mutual. The book of Proverbs tells us: “An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked” (Prov. 29:27). Yet as the Apostle Paul expressed, there is sorrow in witnessing the consequences of wickedness. Of his own nation he wrote: “I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy [Spirit], That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:1-3).
They professed to obey God, but Paul told them:
Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you . . . .” (Rom. 2:17-24)
The Fate of the Wicked
David wrote: “Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins” (Ps. 7:9). Wickedness will come to an end, but in the meantime men continue to suffer because of their own wickedness and the wickedness of others. Men are paying the price now for the evil they do. “There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked” (Isa. 57:21). “Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him” (Eccl. 8:6). Not only is there a future punishment coming, but men are now punishing themselves because of their wickedness.
Future punishment is spoken of many times in the Bible.
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. (Mal. 4:1-3)
The wicked are reserved for the Day of Judgment. “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7). But wicked men can always repent and turn to God. As free moral agents we can make the choice to change. We must remember that it is God who determines what wickedness is and who judges it. Wickedness is indeed folly!