“Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong.”
Several months ago, the Lord taught me something that has been helpful. Perhaps it’s just for me, but hopefully someone else can benefit as well. If nothing else, it may demystify a puzzling passage.
Jesus took me to Revelation 22:11 –
Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.”(Rev. 22:11) NASB
This is part of the final instruction to John by the angel of the Lord in the last chapter of the Bible. The angel apparently instructs John (& us) not to evangelize. But how is this consistent with “The Great Commission”? And why then has Christ given evangelists to the church (Eph. 4).
Please note also that a few verses further in this last chapter the angel says:
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. (Rev 22:17) NASB
So how does this all work together?
In answer, the Lord showed me what Paul did in Athens at Mars Hill:
“16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)
22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
(Acts 17:16-34) NASB
See what happened in verse 32? When some began to sneer, Paul got up and left them. However, others “had ears to hear” followed him and believed.
The Holy Spirit gave Paul a specific and unique message for these people. His “Come” message wasn’t a Bible tract or memorized verses through “The Roman Road” formula of evangelism. His message of “Come” was authored and anointed by the Holy Spirit for that encounter. He was clearly saying “Come”, and when they sneered, he discerned that they had not “ears to hear” and he walked away. But others heard, received the message, followed, and believed.
Then the Lord also reminded me of the “rich young ruler” in Matt 19:16-27. Having explained the cost for that man to have eternal life, Jesus said to him, “Come, follow me”. The man walked sadly away. Jesus didn’t try to stop him and persuade him with more appealing arguments. Having presented the truth, having said “Come”, He let him go.
Today, we are to focus on what the Lord is doing. We are not to get embroiled in disputes. We are not to get distracted by what others are doing or not doing. We must be faithful to what we need to be doing. If the Lord gives us a message or task and it’s not received, do not contend. If there are not “ears that hear”, if they are not open to what the Spirit is saying and doing, move on. Our responsibility is to say “Come”.
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”
And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
In these last and wicked days, we must stay focused on Jesus, what He is doing and saying, and what our part is in it. Having done what Jesus has said, we then
Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.
Come Lord Jesus!
Blessings in Christ,
January 23, 2021