Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | December 11, 2016

“The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous.” – The Reformed Principle of the Antithesis.

Today’s devotion comes from Proverbs 15:18-33.

“18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife,
But the slow to anger calms a dispute.
19 The way of the lazy is as a hedge of thorns,
But the path of the upright is a highway.
20 A wise son makes a father glad,
But a foolish man despises his mother.
21 Folly is joy to him who lacks sense,
But a man of understanding walks straight.
22 Without consultation, plans are frustrated,
But with many counselors they succeed.
23 A man has joy in an apt answer,
And how delightful is a timely word!
24 The path of life leads upward for the wise
That he may keep away from Sheol below.
25 The Lord will tear down the house of the proud,
But He will establish the boundary of the widow.
26 Evil plans are an abomination to the Lord,
But pleasant words are pure.
27 He who profits illicitly troubles his own house,
But he who hates bribes will live.
28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer,
But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
29 The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.
30 Bright eyes gladden the heart;
Good news puts fat on the bones.
31 He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof
Will dwell among the wise.
32 He who neglects discipline despises himself,
But he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom,
And before honor comes humility.”  Proverbs 15:18-33.

—————————

“The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.”  Verse 29.

“18 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
20 The Lord keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.”  Psalm 145:18-20.

We see again the sharp contrast between how the LORD regards the wicked and how He regards the righteous.
 
Yet, other doctrine is content to be in the same pool of their imagined “God loves everybody!”
 
But, Reformed Doctrine diligently seeks to be separate from the wicked and seeks to be in the midst of the righteous.

“He who walks with wise men will be wise,
But the companion of fools will suffer harm.”  Proverbs 13:20.

“I am a companion of all those who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.”  Proverbs 119:63.

“So you will walk in the way of good men
And keep to the paths of the righteous.”  Proverbs 2:20.

“As for the saints who are in the earth,
They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.”  Psalm 16:3.

“6 My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
7 He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
8 Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the Lord all those who do iniquity.”  Psalm 101:6-8.

And so, being in Christ, being in church, and being in communion with the saints are important to us.
 
Although we peacefully live in a world with unbelievers, we are not bound together with unbelievers. 

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?  Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?  Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God;  just as God said,

“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17 “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
“And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
18 “And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty.”  2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

These Scriptures lead us to the Reformed Principle of the Antithesis.

Here is a quote from Speech #1 titled “Living Antithetically in a Technological Age” by Rev. Daniel Kleyn of the Protestant Reformed Churches.  I have added a highlight in bold italic font in the center to a portion of this quote.  I also added a parenthetical comment clearly attributed to me.

The Idea of the Antithesis

As already stated, the word “antithesis” is not one that all are familiar with.  Perhaps some have not heard it before.  As far as the English word itself is concerned it is made up of two words, “anti” and “thesis.”  The word anti means “against.”  The word “thesis” is often used in reference to a position paper that a student must write.  In that paper, the student presents a certain position or viewpoint on a subject.  Thus the word “antithesis” literally means to be against a certain position, or a certain viewpoint.

What helps further in understanding this term is to realize that it comes from a Greek word that means literally, “to set or to place against.”  And thus the antithesis can be defined, as far as the word itself is concerned, as something that is the direct opposite of something else, a person or a thing that stands in contrast, or in opposition to something else.

The Scriptures themselves, however, are most helpful in explaining what exactly is meant by this term.  And in seeking to know what the Scriptures teach concerning it, we must look first of all at the passage in God’s Word where the whole idea and thought of the antithesis is first mentioned.  That passage is Genesis 3:15.   In that verse, God is speaking to the devil after man has fallen into sin.  God says to the devil, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

That verse is the antithesis in a nutshell.  That verse gives us the definition of the antithesis.  God says to the devil, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed.”  Enmity between the seed of Satan and the seed of Christ.  Enmity between the children of the devil and the children of God, between the ungodly and the righteous, between the church and the world.  That is the antithesis.

There are a few important points that must be noted from Genesis 3:15.   First of all, as we have already said, enmity is at the heart of it.  Enmity as you know is hatred, war, hostility, conflict.  And God says, “That is what exists between Satan and Christ, and that is what exists between their seeds.”  Not friendship, not fellowship, not love (under any circumstances), but enmity.  There are these two seeds in the world: the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent.  And because of the antithesis that God puts in place, these two seeds do not get on together, and may not get on together.  They are radically different – radically different spiritually.  There must therefore be separation between them.  Notice, secondly, that this enmity is put in place by God.  God says, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed.”  It is not you and I that create this enmity.  It is not you and I who decide that we must be the enemies of the devil and the wicked world.  It is not you and I that decide that there should be separation between the godly and the ungodly.  God puts it there.  It is God Who puts in place enmity, hatred, opposition, and warfare between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.

God does that in three very significant ways.  First of all, God does that in the decree of predestination in eternity, in the decree of election and reprobation.  God determined in eternity, before He even created man, and before man fell into sin, and before God spoke these words to the devil, that the human race would be made up of two completely different people, the elect and the reprobate.  That is where the antithesis originates – in God’s decree of predestination.

In the second place, God puts the enmity between the two seeds in place and makes it a reality through the work of Christ on the cross.  On the cross the Lord Jesus Christ died, shed His blood, and laid down His life to redeem.  But He did not redeem everyone.  His sacrifice on the cross was not universal.  (As a side comment from Bill, this is “Limited Atonement”, the “L” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.)  But Christ died on the cross for His sheep, for His people.  And that, you realize, was a death of Christ and a work of Christ in order to redeem the people of God from him who was their natural father, the devil.  And by being redeemed from the devil they now belong to Christ, and to God.  The fact that Christ died only for some makes the antithesis a reality.  If the Lord Jesus Christ had died to save all men, then the antithesis would not exist.

In the third place, God sees to it that this enmity exists through the work of the Holy Spirit.  This is accomplished through the Spirit’s work of regenerating those for whom Christ died.  This work radically changes us, making us very different from the ungodly.  And thus it is a work that results in enmity and conflict existing between us and the ungodly.  Thus the Spirit’s work of regeneration is a means by which God sees to it that the antithesis exists in the world.”

——–

I (Bill) will close this devotion with a magnificent declaration from Scripture.

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God;  you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  1 Peter 2:9-18.


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