“But to the wicked God says, ‘What right do you have to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?'” – Psalm 50:16
There are some things that God especially dislikes. He dislikes them so much that He directly speaks to them in certain places in Scripture. One of those things is when people who do not know him quote the Bible and claim to be Christians when they are not.
In Psalm 50:16, God says directly to any unbeliever, “What right do you have to recite my statutes or take my covenant on your lips?”
According to this Psalm, no unbeliever has the right–
1. To quote the Bible at all – “What right have you to recite my statutes?”
The Lord here says that a wicked person (an unbeliever) does not have the right even to quote the Bible; they don’t believe it or obey it, so according to God Himself, they have no right to even let Scripture come out of their mouth.
How wicked a thing it is, from God’s perspective, for wicked men, women, and children to in any way use the Bible, when all the time they despise in their hearts the very truths it teaches; to use and quote the Bible, for them, is grievous sin; they stand rebuked by God Himself, directly calling them out for this in vs. 16 of Psalm 50; the unbeliever, if they have any reverence for the things of God and true Christianity, ought to be very fearful to talk about the Bible or quote it, as if doing so somehow helps them or gains them something. The only thing it gains them is judgment and divine rebuke. It is as if God is saying, “You wicked person, how dare you take my words and put them in your dirty mouth? Don’t quote Me every again, for you have no right to take my precepts and statutes into your mouth and use them!”
What else does an unbeliever not have the right to do?
2. To profess to be a Christian when they are not a true Christian at all; vs. 16 continues: “To the wicked God says ‘What right have you . . . . . to take my covenant on your lips?'”
To say the same thing today would be, “What right do you have to claim to be a Christian when you are not?” God Himself here is speaking to the unbeliever, who professes the name of Jesus, but does not truly know, love, and obey Christ. It is easy believism that God rebukes here. How dare you name the name of Christ when you are yet wicked and dead in your sins! It is wicked and evil to say, “I know God, I know Jesus”, when your life’s evidence doesn’t match up to your profession.
Every unbeliever who knows they love their sin and knows they do not love Christ ought to renounce any Christian profession at all; just admit what you are– a wicked and unbelieving person; stop taking God’s covenant (true salvation) on your lips; quit claiming to be a Christian when you give no evidence of it at all.
What is true often of such people? The real proof is in their life style. The Psalm tells us:
1. They hate the discipline and correction of God (vs. 17) “For you hate discipline and cast my words behind you.”
Such people do not want God’s words or his correction at all; they profess to know God, but in works they deny him; if asked if they are a Christian, they will say, “Oh, yea, I did that when I was eight years old at a church camp.” But if ask if why they won’t put off their sin now and follow Christ, they will cry, “Oh, that’s just legalistic; I don’t need to obey all your religious rules; I love God in my own way; He and I have a good thing going, and I don’t need all that Bible stuff.” Such a person is exactly who is in view in vss. 16-17.
2. They like sin and approve of it (vs. 18) “If you see a thief, you are pleased with him and you keep company with adulterers.”
This is proof that one doesn’t know God at all; they love what God hates and they affirm what He rejects. You cannot love or like sin and love the Saviour at the same time. Whoever is a friend of this world is an enemy of God.
3. They use their mouth and their words continually, not for the glory of God, but as an instrument of evil. (vs. 19) “You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit; you sit and speak against your brother and slander your own mother’s son.”
How one talks, and how they use their tongue is proof of their true spiritual condition. Anyone who continually uses their words to criticize, slander, deceive and destroy others, is not a person who knows God at all. The fruit of the lips is proof of the root condition of the heart.
4. The final thing God says about such people– “You thought I was one like yourself.”
People claim to be Christians and yet live a wicked life because they think God is no different than them. They believe in their heart He is not much better than them; perhaps a little better, but not much different really; so they use the Bible at times and claim to know God, yet all the while continue in all the detestable things that are an offense to the God they profess to believe in, when in reality, He is not like them at all.
God says, “What right do you have to quote my Bible or claim to be a Christian?” No right at all, unless it is clearly true about you. Only those who know, love, reverence, and obey Jesus have the right to use the Bible or claim the name of Christian.
– Mack Tomlinson