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With Whom One Runs

I Peter 4:4-5 — “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you; who shall give account to Hint that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.”

 

In a race there are a number of partic­ipants who seek the same goal. They run over a set course towards one definite end.

The wicked of this age have their race. They have a goal — and a course over which to run to attain that goal. That goal is not the glory of God — as He requires. Rather, man seeks himself in all that he does. His goal is his own happiness, that is, a happiness as man himself will define this. What man does daily will be directed towards that goal. He will run a specific course towards that end.

Scripture, however, does not speak favor­ably concerning man’s goal nor the course he follows. In I Peter the apostle speaks of their “excess of riot.” “Excess” refers to that which fills to the brim — and then overflows. “Riot” might better be translated: “rottenness.” The way of the wicked is a way of overflowing rottenness. Did you ever stand at the terminus of a sewer? Out of the pipe flows all manner of corruptions, it would seem that there is no possibility of stopping the flow. It is a continually flowing rottenness. That is a picture of the course of natural man.

To discern that such is true is not difficult. One must just behold the amuse­ments of man. In the movie whether on television or in the theatre, man is enter­tained by that which will play the trans­gressions of Cod’s law: murder, adultery, robbery, covetousness, mockery of God and His Names, etc. Or man seeks the com­forts of the earth: eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Possibly he desires power: or the honor of men. There is simply no apparent end of this overflowing corruption of man.

And these wicked men want you to run with them. They are not content merely in wallowing in their corruptions. These want you to join them. Evil men prompt you to seek what they seek; to enjoy what they enjoy.

This you cannot and may not do. Chil­dren of the light do not run with children of darkness.

But then you arc the butt of their mockery and scorn. Natural man will mince no words in expressing what he thinks of you. This scorn will show itself at work as well as at play. Man speaks evil of you. This speak­ing is often followed by action too. You will be imprisoned and even put to death if you run not with natural man. This has fre­quently happened in the history of the church. It will happen again, especially in the last days.

Why should any be concerned when we refuse to run with them? Fact is, first, that wicked man cannot understand; and what he cannot understand, he hates. He con­siders it strange that you cannot run with him. Of course, that suggests that man considers you “odd.” It appears unusual that there should be a little flock in the world that does not run with the world in all its corruptions. But also, man is con­vinced that to run in a way other than that in which he runs, is not normal. Man says that it is not normal to seek the kingdom of heaven. It is not normal to have one’s heart set on other than earthly treasure. Man cannot comprehend that wonder of new birth and conversion by which we are changed from this overflowing rottenness to holiness and purity.

But it is also true that when you run not with the world, you are hated because you stand as a living testimony against them. When you rebuke those who take God’s name in vain, you are hated for it. When you reprimand man for his vile lusts, he will speak evilly against you for it. When you refuse to join him in his godless or­ganizations, and tell him why you may not join, he seeks to hurt you for it.

Yet even though you speak not a word, your action testifies against the wicked. Natural man readily observes that you do not use the same corrupt communications; that you do not find pleasure in the same evil entertainment; that your heart is not set on the same earthly things. And often it is true that the wicked ca not bear to be near such an one and will seek to destroy him.

The presence of the child of God in the world is also a constant reminder of the judgment of God to come. How does not man want to blind himself to the fact that at the end of his course there is the sure judgment of God! He pretends that the grave is the end; that there is no punish­ment of the sinner in hell. But the presence of the Christian who believes and teaches otherwise, is a constant reminder to the wicked. Therefore they would speak evilly of you.

But run not with them. We are pilgrims and strangers on the earth. A place of glory is prepared for us in the heavens for Jesus’ sake. Therefore we run not with them.

Their day of judgment soon comes. Peter speaks of One Who is ready to judge. God stands over-against them to condemn them. His readiness to judge suggests that the judgment is at hand. So also Scripture de­clares in other places. Judgment is at hand. It is the last hour. And though al­most two thousand years have passed by since these words were written, God’s Word is not mistaken. It is the last hour on the time-clock of God. The next great event is the return of Christ on the clouds of heaven. Nothing will prevent that; rather, all things work together that He may quickly come and judge.

The judgment will be a righteous judg­ment. The wicked will be required to give an account. All their opposition to the church, all their persecution of the saints, as well as all their sinful deeds will be exposed in that last judgment. They will be re­quired to give full account. No excuses will be allowed. Not one sin shall they be able to hide. They cannot escape. Their judg­ment will be sure and swift. These wicked shall be cast into eternal damnation because of their sin.

This ought to be of comfort to you. So often in this day one might begin to think that the wicked simply “get away with” their corruptions. The Psalmist at first thought that too. In the 73rd Psalm he ex­plains how that the wicked have more than the heart could desire: their eyes stick out with fatness. At the same time the righteous suffer and are afflicted all the day long. But all things that now take place work toward that point when Christ returns in judgment. Their end is destruction. Be not envious, then, of the wicked. Run not with them. Nor be intimidated by their mockery and scorn. The end of the righteous is joy and peace in Christ in heaven. The end of the wicked is eternal death. Knowing this, pilgrims can run that narrow way without fear of what man may do unto them.