ESV - 9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous - you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!
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God is certainly capable of thwarting or frustrating evil, as well as delivering Christians from evil (as we pray in the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:13)), in this present age. Christians also are not to promote evil by their actions (even though they will remain sinners in this life). However, in my opinion, evil will not be completely defeated or ended until the events of Revelation 20 have come to pass, when the influence of Satan (who is described as the prince of this world (John 12:31)) is abolished finally and for all time, and God's eternal rule has been established. This end of evil is something to which all Christians should look forward, as the psalmist was expressing in the verse cited in the question. However, they should use the intervening time (as noted by Peter in 2 Peter 3:9) to save as many of their fellow humans as possible.
The wickedness of the wicked can and will come to an end. There are a few ways theologians work this out, but the best to me is to look at the nature of the final punishment, and the true gift of God in Christ Jesus and His completed work. In Genesis, we read man was made from the dust of the earth, and God breathed into him the spirit of life and man became a living soul. In the garden, they have access to the tree of life, which, once they disobey God and eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God says two interesting things: 1. ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.’ - Gen 3:19 2. ‘Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’ And a little later in Genesis, we find the following statement from God (from the ESV): 1. ‘My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years’ Here we see two things, 1. that since man disobeyed, to dust he shall return. Also that God’s spirit will not remain with man because they are corrupt and I will suggest that this is referring to the life giving type from Genesis 2 and not ‘Christ in us’ type as the NT differentiates the two, and 2. they are excluded access to the tree of life, ‘lest they eat and live forever’ Number one seems a direct conclusion to number two, and number two is the consequence brought on by Adam. Contrary to what is a very ancient historical doctrine (past 1,500 years), we see here the lost will not ‘live forever’ in the lake of fire, for there, there is no access to God who is the source of life and according to the biblical witness, no access to the tree of life, ‘lest they take from the tree of life and eat and live forever’. In Revelation, the saved ‘do’ have access to the tree of life and God’s presence, thus the gospel call ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ - John 3:16. Truly then the Bible speaks ‘For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.’ - Romans 6:23. This view is currently called conditional immortality today in contrast to eternal conscious torment. That is, eternal life is truly only given to the saved. The lost, will be resurrected to face judgement and suffer the second death. That is, after the resurrection, they will stand before a holy God and all the saints of all the ages and be judged. To be unholy and stand before a perfect, holy God... the scripture well speaks ‘Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power’ - 2 Thess 1:9 That is, eternal destruction, or said in a way we may understand, capital punishment, which is never reversed. Although the first death is followed by a resurrection (of both the just and unjust), those who suffer the second death will never rise again, forever. The punishment, is eternal. The scripture almost paints an image of being in a dark room, completely dark, and suddenly a great light is turned on that fills the entire room. Where did the darkness go? It was consumed entirely. It is, no longer found anywhere, for everywhere is filled with light. So, in this model the wickedness of the wicked will truly come to an end. When a jealous God returning for His precious bride comes as an all consuming fire, taking vengeance on His enemies. The wicked will be burned up like chaff in the furnace, reduced to dust and ashes beneath the saint’s feet never to rise again, to perish. After the final living soul suffers the second death, that all remaining will never die, truly and finally the scripture speaks ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’, death is defeated forever. All that remains is God’s complete victory.
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