If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:18, NKJV)
Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jno. 16:33). As they preached the gospel, Paul and Barnabas were “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). Peter said, “do not think it strange” when fiery trials happen to you because of your faith (1 Pet. 4:12). These statements do not suggest we earn our way to heaven. They explain being a faithful Christian brings you face to face with challenges and turmoil that require the effort and conviction of a faith to endure and prevail when they come. “Scarcely” is from a Greek word that means “with difficulty.” Luke used it in Acts 27:16 of securing the skiff with difficulty during a storm. He also used it in Acts 14:18 of the difficulty of restraining the mob from sacrificing to Paul and Barnabas. The righteous are saved, but not without difficulties that test our faith. Trials purge the dross from their faith and identify them as being unashamed to live for Christ (1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:16-17). On the other hand, the “ungodly and the sinner” will not appear in glory due to their lack of faith. They are unwilling to endure tribulations to enter the kingdom of God, preferring not to obey the gospel of God (1 Pet. 4:17).
1 Vindicate me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation; Oh, deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man! 2 For You are the God of my strength; Why do You cast me off? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? (Psalm 43:1–2, NKJV)
The psalmist’s heart was tempted by doubt as he faced evil pressures from an ungodly nation. He pleaded to God for deliverance from the deceit and injustices that surrounded him, and that were directed at him. If David is the author of this psalm, we recall his son Absalom’s treason, and the betrayal of Ahithophel, David’s once trusted adviser, as illustrations of overwhelming moments of temptation for David (2 Sam. 14-18). Had God cast him aside? No, by no means! As we live in a nation that increasingly denies God and refuses to be ruled by godly principles, we must remember that “God is my strength” (v. 2). We must keep our hope and trust in Almighty God, who “rules in the kingdoms of men,” vindicating the upright and punishing evil (Dan. 4:25-26, 34-35; Rom. 12:17-19). Instead of mourning the oppressive tactics of the enemies of truth and goodness, let us keep faith in God. His will is that we are not overcome by evil, but that we “overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:20-21).
17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17–18, NKJV)
Judgment from God comes to the Christian as well as to the unbeliever. This passage affirms the house of God (the church) obeys the gospel of God and is composed of “the righteous” who are saved. By contrast, the result of the ungodly and sinner, who does not obey the gospel of God, is being lost. Each of us choose whether our judgment will bring us salvation in Christ or condemnation due to our sin. To be “scarcely saved” requires the strenuous activity of obeying the gospel. Jesus said the way that leads to life is difficult (confined or straight, Matthew 7:14). The way that leads to death is broad and has many travelers (Matthew 7:13). It is time to see clearly which road you are on. One leads to eternal life and the other leads to eternal death. Choose wisely by obeying the gospel of God.
14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 14–15, NKJV)
Enoch’s prophecy against those who abandon God’s truth makes it undeniable that God will convict and execute judgment against sinners. A clear description of God’s judgment against the impious, irreverent person is set before us here. The character of the ungodly is condemned because they “are ungodly” (v. 15; Hebrews 4:13). The ungodly are convicted are condemned for their deeds. “All their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way” will be judged by God (v. 15; Romans 2:6-11). And, the words of the ungodly will be judged by God. All the “harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” will be exposed to divine wrath on the day of God’s judgment (Matthew 12:37). Truly, God’s judgment against the ungodly will be comprehensive. The character, deeds and words of the ungodly do not escape God’s notice and will not escape God’s judgment. May we strive to live “soberly, righteously and godly” to receive the hope of glory and not the certainty of wrath on the great day of God’s judgment (Titus 2:11-13).
6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8, NKJV)
Without strength. Ungodly. Sinners. Such was our spiritual condition when Christ died for us. We are impotent to save ourselves from our sins. Ungodliness is powerless to cleanse the ungodly. Sinners are incapable of freeing themselves from the bondage of sin. We were neither righteous nor good when Christ died for us. That Christ died for us cannot be attributed to our own righteousness or goodness. It can only be ascribed to the great and matchless love of God. The defining trait of God’s love is that He sent His Son to die for us when we were His unloving, unlovable enemies (Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10). The depth of God’s love for us compels us to love one another, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11). Love is not merely stated, it is demonstrated. God has shown us true love. Now, let us go and love as He has loved us.
4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” (Psalm 1:4–6, NKJV)
We live in a time when we are told we should not, cannot, must not judge anyone. We agree with Jesus that we must not “judge according to appearance.” We also accept His teaching to “judge with righteous judgment” (Jno. 7:24). The “judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether” (Psa. 19:9). Therefore, when we use God’s word to speak His judgments, we judge righteously and do not judge from our own heart. Today’s verse shows God’s judgment against the ungodly – those who live without God in their lives, lacking piety toward Him and obedience to Him. Here, the word of God says the ungodly shall not be vindicated in the judgment or have a place among the gathering of the righteous. God knows the way of the righteous, and He announces His judgment that “the ungodly shall perish.” Still, God offers us escape from sin’s death in His Son, Jesus (Rom. 6:23). Let us turn our hearts heavenward and live unto God, not unto self, sin, and eternal death.
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1–2, NKJV)
Happy and fortunate is the person who positively decides to avoid the influences of sin and sinners, whether they be subtle or blatant. This person knows the ungodly have their counsel, the sinners have their path and the scornful have their seat. Let us learn from this wise one and not follow the counsel of those who are unconcerned about following God. Sinners find many ways to sin, and every path they take must be refused. Loitering in the way with sinners brings you into sin’s presence and even greater temptations. The scornful are those who mock at sin and at God. They are settled in their impiety and must be avoided. Take joy in God’s law and its righteous rule. Always have God’s law on your mind and let it direct you away from spiritual dangers. By doing so you can find contentment, peace and the blessing of God’s favor.