VII.B.2.a Deliverance for the Wicked



Article 2 –  DELIVERANCE

Section (a) – FOR THE WICKED   

By Daniel Irving

i.    God’s Answer for Sin; the Abounding of Grace

ii.   Salvation is for the Wicked

iii.  The Wicked-Penitent Born unto God through His Living Word

iv.  The Effect of God’s Grace Unto the Wicked Likened to Arrows

Indian Archer 01

Section (a) – FOR THE WICKED  

i.  God’s Answer for Sin; the Abounding of Grace

We are familiar with the principle expressed by the apostle Paul:

 But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:          Rom. 5:20

 Knowing the danger involved in misapprehending these words, Paul quickly warns the Church:

 What shall we say then?  Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?  May it never be!  How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”           Rom 6:1-2

In fact, so prone was this concept to abuse, that the apostle Peter alludes to its misapprehension when he writes:

“. . . . just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”                                        II Peter 3:15-16

The truth expressed by Paul that the abounding of sin is answered by the abounding of grace poses something of a knives’ edge on the cusp between the power of God and apostasy.  Yet this truth must necessarily be; for how else is God to save the wicked?  And how else is He to save the desperately wicked and the self-condemned, except by increasing the power of His forgiveness and the evidences of His salvation?  The righteous require no saving.[1]  Therefore Isaiah declares concerning the Gospel of Christ’s death for sinners:

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.                            Is. 55:7

ii.  Salvation is for the Wicked

Isaiah’s call of forgiveness and free pardon for the wicked calls to mind the Lord’s words through the prophet Ezekiel:

But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, & does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live?  All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed for then he will die.             Ez. 18:24

However, and on the other hand:

Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed, & practices justice & righteousness, he will save his life.  Because he considered & turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.   But the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is not right.”  Are My ways not right, O house of Israel?  Is it not your ways that are not right?                                                                                      Ez. 18:27-28

Why would the house of Israel object to these pronouncements of God as not being right?  God declares that the “righteous man” who begins to do evil shall perish, but the “wicked man” who repents and commences to do good shall live.  Why would this be objectionable?   There is irony in Israel’s objection.  For it is the way of the spiritually blind to misapprehend their true estate; and it is the way of the religiously inclined to presumptuously identify with the righteous and forsake their own deliverance from sin’s bondage.  As they do not apprehend themselves wicked, they cannot identify with the man God would pardon and bestow eternal life upon.  Therefore they protest their own hope and argue the unfairness that the wicked man should find mercy in turning from sin while the righteous man who sins does not.

iii.  The Wicked-Penitent Born unto God through His Living Word

The witness of God’s Word serves to pierce the heart. And through this piercing of the heart, children are born into the kingdom of God.  That we are born into the kingdom through the effect of God’s word is made clear by Peter when he writes: 

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible,  by the word of God, which liveth & abideth for ever.                    I Peter 1:23

As products of the Word of God, these have God’s Word abiding in themselves:

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.         I John 2:14

God’s children are born through the same means that pierced their heart; His Word.  And as they progress in their growth, they will increasingly take on the properties of that principle into which they were born and are compared to arrows in the hand of God.  Recall the Psalm which reads: 

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: & the fruit of the womb is his reward.   As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed,   but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.          Ps. 127:3-5 

The arrows of the Lord are a reference to the piercing and penetrating effect of His Word as a witness against us. [3]  However, through faith in Jesus Christ, this is the means through which the new life that is the Spirit of Christ may be born within us.  In a prophecy concerning the Spirit of Christ we read:

And he hath made my mouth like a sharp swordin the shadow of his hand has he hid me, & made me a polished shaft; in his quiver has he hid me;    Is. 49:2

iv.  The Effect of God’s Grace Unto the Wicked Likened to Arrows

In the prophecy of Zechariah we read:Indian Archer 01

For I will bend Judah as My bow, and I will fill the bow with Ephraim.  & I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece;  & I will make you like a warrior’s sword.        Zech 9:13

Prophecy uses the symbol of an arrow in reference to the penetrating power of spoken truth.    Ephraim is compared to an arrow that is shot forth by God.  Prophecy depicts Ephraim as representing a peculiar transgressor having particular cause to be pierced via the Word of God.  Thus Ephraim stands on the frontline of this process.  Once Ephraim repents of his idolatries and transgressions, we read:

They shall come with weeping, & with supplications will I lead them:  I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble:   for I am a father to Israel, & Ephraim is My firstborn.       Jer 31:9

Now is the deliverance from sin!  They are Sons of God!

And he said, “Open the window eastward. & he opened it.    Then Elisha said, “Shoot”.   & he shot.  & he said,  “The arrow of the LORD’S deliverance, & the arrow of deliverance from Syria:  for thou shalt smite the Syrians in Aphek, till thou have consumed them.                           II Kings 3:17

The prophecy of Zechariah reads:

For I will bend Judah as My bow, & I will fill the bow with Ephraim.        Zech. 9:13

When we obey God by keeping silent before our accusers and bearing a faithful witness of Christ, we are putting into effect that grace God has placed within us to endure the stresses as His “bow”.  This allows Him to render judgment, to advance His purposes in Christ’s sacrifice, and to make maximum benefit of His mercy.

This principle is strikingly present in the relationship between the apostle Paul and Stephen, the first martyr of the Jerusalem church.  The first mention of the future apostle occurs at the same time Stephen, a man “full of faith and the Holy Spirit”,[4] was taken before the Council and interrogated.  Stephen is described as having presented such a strong witness to the Council that they saw “his face like the face of an angel”.  The world’s spirit within them caused them to cry out, cover their ears, and to “rush upon him with one impulse”.  The first ever mention of the apostle Paul in Scripture comes in the following verse:

& when they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him, & the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.         Acts 7:58

We find later that having participated in the execution and imprisonment of Christians, and after having found grace in Christ, Paul’s prior conduct bore upon his mind throughout his life.  The forgiveness Paul received for so great a transgression was compensated mightily by the grace of God ministered to him.  While seeing a vision of Christ speaking to him, what did Paul refer to, but that  martyrdom of Stephen which he himself a part in:

“And when the blood of Thy witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, & watching out for the cloaks of those who were slaying him.”                                                                                      Acts 22:20

There seems little doubt but that Paul’s persecution of the Jerusalem church and his part in the death of Stephen is part of the basis for his words to Timothy:

…according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.   I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer & a persecutor, & a violent aggressor.  & yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; & the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith & love which are found in Christ Jesus.  It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, That Jsus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.                                                                                      I Tim. 1:11-15

The intensive grace poured out upon the Jerusalem church, and their faithful endurance, led to an intensive and powerful apostolic witness going forth in the ministry given Paul. God poured down His Spirit and mercies wherever Paul traveled; throughout Asia and the islands, but particularly into the regions of Macedonia and Greece!   This allegory presents the spiritual principle of the effect of God’s grace redounding against the principle of patient obedience, all to the glory of God.  In other words, if Judah will stand in the gap and endure the stresses of trial and persecution, God may reach Ephraim and therefore send salvation abroad to the world. Thus the abounding of grace in the wake of an abounding of sin was a spiritual principle which Paul knew very well when he wrote:

But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:                                                                                     Rom. 5:20

[1] Matthew 9:13, Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32

[2] H5800  ‛âzab  aw-zab’  A primitive root; to loosen, that is, relinquish, permit, etc.: – commit self, fail, forsake, fortify, help, leave (destitute, off), refuse, surely.

[3] See commentary on Isaiah 49:2

[4] Acts 6:5


About Lamp-Stand

I was converted to the faith of Jesus Christ in 1982 at which time I received water baptism and Spirit baptism. In the Spring of 2008 I was led of the Spirit through a process of repentance upon which I had an encounter with Christ that worked a profound change upon my inner being. I became aware that I had been forgiven a great debt of sin. I soon felt the Lord's direction that I close my office that my energies not be divided from the study of doctrine.
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