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INTERNATIONAL S.S. LESSONS
SUGGESTIVE THOUGHTS DESIGNED TO ASSIST THOSE OF OUR READERS WHO ATTEND BIBLE CLASSES, WHERE THESE LESSONS ARE USED; THAT THEY MAY BE ENABLED TO LEAD OTHERS INTO THE FULNESS OF THE GOSPEL. PUBLISHED IN ADVANCE, AT THE REQUEST OF FOREIGN READERS.
„THE WAY OF THE RIGHTEOUS”
LESSON I., APRIL 3, PSALM 1:1-6
Golden Text—”Blessed is the man that walketh not in counsel of the wicked, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”—Psa. 1:1
The first three verses of this lesson picture the perfect man, the man whose heart is perfected in holiness, the pure in heart. Hence the picture is pre-eminently that of the perfect man, Christ Jesus, and secondarily that of those imperfect men and women who, being justified by faith in Christ, are, as new creatures, walking in their Master’s footsteps, and hence right at heart, even though sometimes imperfect through the weaknesses of their earthen vessels.
The first verse shows three steps, (1) the ungodly—literally, the wicked, (2) sinners or transgressors, and (3) scorners or the conceited and unteachable.
The proper course is to have no fellowship (sympathy and common interest) with people of any of these classes. This, of course, does not mean that we are to treat them unkindly or discourteously, nor that we are never to be seen walking, standing or sitting with such; but it does imply that our company should, as far as possible, be select, and of those who reverence our God, and that other fellowships should not be encouraged.
A greater number, perhaps, are in danger of getting into fellowship with the scorners or unteachable than with the others: yet fellowship with such leads to the same spirit; and that leads gradually to violation of the covenant with God; and that leads to open wickedness and wilful sin. The safe way is to have no fellowship with darkness: it is never profitable.
But this advice will apply also in another way. In all the nominal churches there are many who have a form of godliness, but who are really ungodly—far from being in harmony with God and his plan. In the nominal churches are also many sinners, living in known violation of their covenant with God. And there, too, may be found, alas! sometimes even in the pulpits, those who are of an unteachable, haughty spirit, who even scoff at God’s Word and make it void through their traditions. Come out from among them; and neither sit, nor stand, nor walk in fellowship with such. (Rev. 18:4; Isa. 52:11.) Stand with God, even if that should seem to imply standing alone. The Lord knoweth them that are his, and he has yet more than seven thousand who bow not to the idol of sectarianism.
Verse 2. Some might suppose that one thus isolated would have an unhappy lot; but no, he is truly said to have a delightful experience. He delights day and night in meditating upon God’s will and plan. In this he finds a joy and a peace which the world and a worldly church can neither give nor take away. One thus consecrated and full of the spirit of the Lord finds that God’s laws of righteousness are not restraints which he would fain be freed from; but, like the Master, he can say, „I delight to do thy will, O my God: thy law is engraven in my heart.”
Verse 3. Such children of God as have reached this degree of development do not wither away and become dead and barren, but, since the root of their new life is fed by the river of God’s grace and truth, they are always fresh and joyous and fruitful—adding to faith virtue, brotherly kindness, love, and so are not unfruitful in either the knowledge or the wisdom which surely comes to all who have communion and fellowship with God.
Whatsoever such do shall prosper. They have no plans of their own: they desire that God’s will shall be done. And since God’s plan shall prosper (Isa. 55:11), their plan shall prosper; for his is theirs.
Verses 4 and 5 describe the reward of the wicked. In God’s plan no provision is made for the wicked; and, as the chaff dust blown by the tornado can never again be found, so the wicked shall have no place after the Lord has thoroughly cleansed the world and swept them into oblivion.
But a distinction should be made between wrong-doers and wicked people. The wicked are those who wilfully prefer sin to righteousness, while many violators of God’s law now are deceived by the great enemy, Satan, (2 Cor. 4:4), and entrapped by depraved appetites, etc. Thank God that Satan soon shall be bound and shall deceive the nations no more; and then a clear knowledge of God and of righteousness shall be granted to all. We may reasonably hope that the wilfully wicked will thus ultimately be proved to be a much smaller number than at present might appear.
But the description here given of the way of the wicked does not relate to their present life.
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In the present life they, more often than the righteous, flourish and prosper, as is shown by the same writer elsewhere.—Psa. 73:3,12; 37:10,16,35; 145:20.
Verse 5. The wicked, therefore, shall not be able to stand [shall not continue to stand—shall fall, pass away as the chaff] in the judgment [of the Millennial age]; nor shall sinners [those disobedient to their covenant] longer be found in the congregation of the just.
The judgment which is to determine who are the lovers of righteousness, and who are deliberately, wilfully wicked, is here stated to be future, which accords with our Lord’s words uttered ten centuries later—”I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47.) That the world has not yet been judged is evident; for the wicked are not yet overthrown and carried away as the chaff. But though our Lord’s mission, at the first advent, was not to judge, but to redeem the world, the testimony is unmistakable that, at his second advent, he will judge the world, and that his saints now being selected from among men will be associate judges, kings and priests with him in that thousand-year-day of judgment. (Acts 10:42; John 5:22; Acts 17:31; 1 Cor. 6:2,3.) The character of these judges and the object of the judgment give assurance that it will thoroughly and righteously separate those for whom God in Christ has provided the gift of grace—everlasting life—from those who, he declares, will be „cut off from among his people,” in the second death.
Then sinners [violators of their covenant of consecration] will no longer have a place among the faithful who are completing their covenant of self-sacrifice. (Psa. 50:5.) This division of the faithful and wise servants from the unfaithful and foolish servants is already beginning. The judgment of the world will follow. See „The Work of Harvest” in Millennial Dawn, Vol. III., Chap. vi.
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Verse 6. „The Lord knoweth [or approveth of] the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leadeth to destruction.”
— March 15, 1892 —