The scriptures teach, “He that justifies the wicked, and he that condemns the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord” ( Prov. 17:15).
God tries righteousness but condemns wickedness. The Psalmist David wrote, “The Lord tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup” (Psa 11:5-6). Some men have the reverse attitude. They defend wickedness and find fault with righteousness.
Justifying the Wicked
The wicked are often acquitted and go unpunished. When the prophet Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel. However, they “walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment” (1 Sam. 8:1-3). Any wicked person with enough money could have bought his way out of trouble with these judges.
The law of Moses warned the judges and officers, “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous“ (Deut. 16:19). This warning often went unheeded. During many periods of Israel’s history, the magistrates and rulers set the wicked free in exchange for a “gift.”
Today, people who violate the law often escape punishment by bribes and by hiring smart attorneys who can find loopholes in the law or get a client set free on some legal technicality. There is no honor in the exoneration of criminals and lawbreakers. It is even worse when leaders of a country break the law and escape justice because of their great wealth and power for they cause a nation to follow after their evil and misdeeds. Such was the case of David who had an illicit relationship with Bathsheba, Urias’ wife. As King of Israel, he caused evil men to blaspheme the name of the Lord. “For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun. . . However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme” (2 Sam 12:12,14).
Wickedness coverups their evil as if it were never committed. Sometimes when sin is committed, attempts are made to justify the wicked by acting as if no wrong has been done. These are they who commit a crime in high places and then try to say that their crime is not punishable by law. To them, the truth is not the truth. They cover up their crimes with lies and with bribes. In other words, they claim they are above the law. A person in an important position is found to be immoral, or one of high rank is proved to be guilty of gross misconduct, but in “Watergate” style the whole mess is quickly and quietly swept under the rug. Any statements issued are vague and meaningless, and it is understood that no one is supposed to challenge their authority. If there are investigations, they will render them useless by defaming their accusers or fire anyone who gets too close to their crime.
The scribes and Pharisees were so accustomed to whitewashing their sins that Jesus compared them to “whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27).
In the present generation, numerous groups are loudly endorsing homosexuality, adultery, fornication, abortion, gambling, drinking, prostitution, etc. There is a widespread clamor for liberalized laws. Some in high governmental circles of influence have spoken in justification of practices explicitly condemned in the Bible. Courts are freeing the smut peddlers and prostitutes. Crime and immorality increase rapidly because wickedness is justified.
Condemning the Just
The righteous are afflicted. In Isaiah’s time, the leaders of Israel were “companions of thieves”; they loved gifts and acted for reward rather than in the interest of justice, therefore “they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them” (Isa. 1:23). Amos made a similar charge. He said the leaders “afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right” (Amos 5:12). “Her heads judge for a bribe, her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the Lord, and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No harm can come upon us” (Mic 3:11).
The righteous are falsely accused. Jesus our Lord did no sin but was accused and condemned to die. Although perfectly just, He was accused of “perverting the nation,” forbidding tribute to Caesar, and trying to set Himself up as king (Lk. 23:1,2). Paul, the righteous apostle to the Gentiles, was accused of being “a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes,” and one who had tried to profane the temple (Acts 24:1-6).
Jesus said of the righteous, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). Among Stephen’s last words were concerning the persecuted righteous. “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52).
Conclusion: Consider the words of Isaiah: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him” (Isa. 5:20-23). Solomon said, “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them” (Prov 28:4). Let it never be once named among us those who justify the wicked and condemns the just!