The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Monday, November 19, 2012

Creation and The Counsel of The Wicked


By: Thomas C. Booher




Psalms 1:1, 2 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

The Christian lives in a world of sin. Paul describes this age as the ‘present evil age,’ Gal 1:5. This age is inherently, intrinsically evil. It was not that way from the beginning as we know from Genesis, for God made everything good (Gen 1), and that man himself, the pinnacle of creation (Ps 8:4, 5), evoked the pronouncement of very good (Gen 1:31).

There are two ways in which Edenic man was good. In the first place, Adam was good because he bore the image (Gen 1:26, 27) of One in whom goodness pervades every facet and attribute of his being. Secondly, Adam was good because of his role as subduer of the earth. He was good by virtue of his calling to discover and cultivate the potential of creation, to develop science, culture, and technology for good purposes and for the glory of God.

Man was good in nature and vocation.

As the man who mirrored God’s image, Adam was to think and act in ways that conformed to the pleasures of God; such thinking and acting were a measure of Adam’s goodness for God’s pleasures are always in accord with his good nature. God never delights in anything that is contrary to who or what he is. For example, God never delights in a false witness, but delights in a true witness (Deut 5:20; Prov 6:16-19), and he does so because he is a God of truth and faithfulness – God cannot lie (Rom 3:4; 2 Cor 1:18; Titus 1:2; Heb 6:18). Having been made in God’s image, Adam reflected God’s pleasures in all of his thinking and behavior. He was obedient and God-fearing, conforming to those divine pleasures. He did not have to work at it; by virtue of his image-bearing nature, he obeyed and worshipped gladly and easily.

As the vicegerent who administered under God’s authority (Gen 1:28), Adam was placed by God in Eden, an environment that pleased the eye and sustained the body (Gen 2:9). Man was to tend and keep it. This assumes that part of man’s goodness was his intelligence and ability to investigate, analyze, experiment, and over time to become a skilled laborer. Eden was a microcosm of the world and the first advances in technology and science were to begin there as evidenced in Adam’s naming the animals, Gen 2:19.

This two-fold goodness of man offers some perspective on the counsel of ungodly men which Psalm 1:1 refers to. In his original state, man was wise in that he feared the Lord and obeyed him naturally. He was also wise as to how to utilize the creation for his own good and, more importantly, for God’s glory. This wisdom came in the form of know-how as well as the skills that equipped him for his labor.

Then Adam ate the forbidden fruit, and he changed as well as the cosmos with him (Gen 3:17-19; Rom 8:22). We know that since the Fall, men are born into this world no longer good but evil. The change is so drastic that the Psalmist writes (Ps 14:1, 3; 53:1, 3) and Paul quotes (Rom 3:12), They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. No man born since Adam’s ejection from the garden (Gen 3:22-24) discerns the things of God, let alone cares for them, But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned, 1 Cor 2:14. Sinful man’s wisdom is not from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic, James 3:15. Their heart is foolish and dark (Rom 1:21; Eph 4:18) exchanging the truth of God for a lie and worshipping and serving the creation rather than the Creator. Professing to be wise, they become fools, Rom 1:22, 23.

Evil man pursues a bankrupt and empty wisdom that suppresses the knowledge of God. That wisdom interprets all of reality atheistically, analyzing the problem of the human condition and proposing solutions apart from God. It is true that many of these solutions benefit mankind as a whole, yet the pursuit of them solely for the purpose of alleviating misery or simply to make life a little more pleasant amounts to idolatry and the aggrandizement of humanity. It is devoid of any true ethic because it is devoid of God’s law.

The ungodly counsel of the sinner and the scoffer inevitably will lead one away from truly wise counsel, which comes from the law of the Lord. This does not refer merely to those whose lives are wayward even by societal and cultural standards. Obviously, no one who loves their children knowingly takes advice for their care by a child molester.

For the godly, the counsel of the ungodly is always suspect, Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked. The counsel that the blessed man avoids is tainted with wisdom that is wicked and contrary to whatever the law of the Lord offers. It is counsel that advises the sinful way rather than the godly way.

It would be wrong, however, to suggest that Psalm 1 never permits a time in which the godly man may listen to the counsel of the ungodly. It is permissible so long as the advice given does not pertain to ethics. As we saw, man’s goodness extended to his vocational purposes. Though man is a sinner, he still plays the role of subduer of the earth, and his pursuit of science and technology, his analysis of history and politics, his penchant for building and creating, and his skill in the arts make any man with the appropriate expertise a plausible counselor. That is why Christians can without guilt take their place side by side with the ungodly in this world in a vast variety of professions; not only can they learn with them, but they can also learn from them. In a certain manner, seeking the non-Christian’s expert advice and instruction is a fulfilling of the Christian’s divine call to subdue and have dominion over the earth.

-- Thomas Clayton Booher and his wife, Kaye, live in Sanford, NC. He is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (1979, M.Div, ) and is a ruling elder at Countryside Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Cameron, NC. He served in the US Air Force (1972-1976) and the US Army (1983-1990). He taught at Sandhills Community College, Pinehurst, NC for nearly three years, and is currently a computer programmer. He enjoys writing and is working on the rewrite of his Christian fantasy for young teens to adults, The Oerken Leaves (2007), book one of the trilogy, The Whole Creation Groans.

You can visit his blog at oerkenleaves.blogspot.com

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