15 ¶ It is joy to the just to do judgment: but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.
A few verses ago, back in verse 7, the wicked refused to do judgment. Here, the just take joy in doing judgment. To discern between good and evil, to chose righteousness over sin, to help those weaker than oneself, to love one’s brothers and sisters in Christ, to have compassion for the lost, to obey God’s words in His Book, and to do those things which draw one closer in a relationship with Christ each and every day are a joy to the just. Literally, this verse would have been to the Hebrew under the Law which, while revealing God’s standard of righteousness doesn’t bind us because we are justified by Christ by faith, and not by observing ritual practices, ordinances, regulations, and the memorials of the Jews.
The workers of iniquity face destruction in Hell and the Lake of Fire. But, there is something interesting about that phrase. Initially, we think it would be a reference to those who have turned their backs on God, who reject Christ. But, in addition to that, notice who is called a worker of iniquity in another reference. Here, Jesus is talking to religious people, still under the Law, mind you, as He has not been crucified and resurrected and the Holy Spirit doesn’t indwell the believer yet.
Matthew 7:21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Now, it would seem that religious people engaged in what they imagine is working for the Lord can work iniquity instead. Remember the warning that Jesus gave His disciples?
John 16:2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.
It is possible to do works that you believe are for God and from God and to actually be a worker of iniquity. How so, you ask? Well, if a preacher gets in front of a congregation and calls the women in the congregation whores if they wear women’s slacks at home or have shorter hair than he prefers he is certainly working iniquity. God has given no man a calling to demand anything other than modesty in dress AND demeanor from women. If you want to follow the Bible literally in regard to dress then we’d all be wearing robes. In any event, the breeches talked about in Exodus 28:42; 29:48; Leviticus 6:10, 16:4; & Ezekiel 44:18 are underwear for the priest sons of Aaron. (I’ve already discussed the short versus long hair by way of the head covering, no head covering issue.) If you have a conviction I will respect it. I will not respect you placing your conviction on someone else as a condition for their salvation.
A preacher who gets up in front of his congregation and tells women they are wicked if they have to work outside of the home and are anything but housewives is working iniquity by placing an economic burden on a family that God never placed on them. To some, they have a conviction that they should not work outside the home. That is good. There are some sound reasons for having that conviction. However, it may be necessary to meet basic obligations for both husband and wife to work outside the home. Just because you have been blessed with a well paying job and can afford that conviction, you should praise God rather than condemn families who have not been blessed with such.
The much abused phrase that some say means “housewife”, “keeper at home” in Titus 2:5 “To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed”, can easily be cross referenced to;
Habakkuk 2:5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
...and compared to the problem young widows presented in the early church;
1 Timothy 5:13 And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.
A person who doesn’t keep at home is a gadabout, out and about looking for trouble and causing trouble; a drunkard or a gossip. If you want a verse that directs women to be responsible for the home it is wiser to use the next verse;
1Timothy 5:14 I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.
So, while your conviction and your wife’s conviction that she is to stay home and guide the house and that should be her employment is a good one and well justified to get up in front of the church body and condemn those women who are struggling in this economy to help keep the family alive outside of the home, as some do, is evil.
There are many workers of iniquity in churches who will knowingly give a church leader a pass when he abuses either physically or sexually a member of the congregation, even blaming the victim completely, and continue to extoll the virtue and merits of the offender all the while calling the victim, even a child, “a Jezebel” or a “temptress”. There are actually workers of iniquity who lay the blame for all of men’s sexual sins on a woman when we all know we own our own sin; whether it be the woman who flirts or dresses provocatively or the man who acts on his lust. We choose to do it. We have access to the grace to not do it and they are apparently ignorant of;
1Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
There are those who believe in a form of Nicolaitanism where the preacher is a special class high above the laity and cannot be questioned and lives under a different set of rules than the rest of us, which he does, but they view his standard as lower than the one that applies to the rest of us, apparently. They will angrily denounce you if you question “the man o’ God”, who is, after all, a man, and not some anointed Hebrew priest or possessing of any more of the Spirit of God than the humblest congregant. The bishop, pastor, or elder is held to a higher standard morally than the rest of the congregation because of his position. Calling a member of the congregation evil because they privately and respectfully questioned the basis for something the Pastor has said is just wrong but I hear of it all the time in churches around the country.
If these judgmental, Bible twisting Pharisees I’ve been talking about, and I haven’t even scratched the surface, are even saved and won’t hear “depart from me” they will at least be ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ where all Christians will be judged for what they have done in the body. When you hear anyone in front of the congregation spewing hate toward the brethren who don’t share their convictions and twisting scripture to justify their hate then you have one worker of iniquity, among many.
Let me give you an example. I believe that a woman, a wife, in order to have her work blessed by God must only work under the authority of her own husband; say in a family business or activity. I think and am convicted that it is confusion for her to work under the authority of another man. That’s my belief. I think it’s Biblically based and sound. If I were to tell you that if you don’t agree with me and don’t quit your job at the school or the factory that you are wicked, crushing your spirit, laying a guilt trip on you, etc. etc. then I have engaged in a wrong action. That’s totally different than showing you from God’s word that God condemns adultery or profanity or commands for us that are clear as a bell. One’s a conviction; an interpretation, while the other is as obvious as the nose on your face.
Worker’s of iniquity have destroyed so many Christians’ faith and relationship with the risen Saviour by shutting them off to God’s truth in His word and laying burdens on them that God never intended that its sickening. It is a joy to the just to do judgment, a righteous, Biblical, and Godly judgment but destruction is what’s coming to the workers of iniquity.