The Practical Atheist
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.” (Psalm 10:11 ESV)
Over the last several weeks, there has been a lot of talk about gay marriage because of statements made by our president. It has ignited further debate about what marriage is and about who should be allowed to be married in our country. The other day, I was watching a news program in the host of the program brought on to pastors who claimed to have PhD’s and pastored Baptist churches. The discussion issue was on gay marriage. Both of these pastors were defending the president’s decision to endorse gay marriage saying that it was the only fair and logical position because after all, homosexuals are Americans just like anyone else. I was tempted to turn the television off, but I had to stay and listen to the entire interview to make sure that what I was hearing was correct and it was. I was utterly amazed that two men who claimed to have doctorates and to know the word of God could go on a national news program and defend gay marriage.
A recent poll of Americans showed that 95% believe that there is a God but less than 10% live their life in light of the fact that there’s a God. When we think about the term atheist, we immediately think about someone who fully and completely denies the existence of God. But I believe that there is such a thing as a practical atheist. This is someone who believes that God exists but like the 90% of Americans, live their life as if God did not exist. The verse that I quoted above describes exactly how a practical atheist thinks. He believes that God will forget about his sin and has turned his back so that judgment will never come. Even worse, we live in a society in the world that has so infiltrated our churches with the result that our pews are filled with practical atheists.
This last Wednesday we had the opportunity to continue in our study on the book of Psalms. We looked at Psalm 10, which describes the practical atheist. The Psalmist begins the Psalm by crying out to God about this person and about his acts asking God why there has been no judgment placed upon them. There are several things that I would like to point out about the Psalm because it is very applicable to the day in which we live.
First, he describes this person in great detail. (v.2-11) This portion of the Psalm is filled with eight different characteristics about this evil person who lives as if God does exist. He is arrogant (v.2); boastful (v.3); proud (v.4). All three of these could probably be summed up in the single word, “Proud” for that is the source from which all of those characteristics come. The psalmist continues and surprisingly says that he is prosperous (v.5). This is something that we see over and over in our country today. Prosperous people who have all of their confidence and focus on money and are have a great deal of wealth and the “good life.” The psalmist continues and states that as a result of their prosperity, he now has false security (v.6). Things appear to be perfect and there are no worries. In reality, this person is like the man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 5) and not on a sure foundation (Christ). Nothing that is done in this world has any lasting reward and that financial security is a false security. God does not take bribes and no amount of money will keep a man from suffering the vengeance of the living God! (Hebrews 10:31). The psalmist continues stating that this person speaks evil (v.7) and then seeks to prey on the weak (v.8-10). He ends this description by stating that this person thinks nothing of God (v.11). You see, there is an acknowledgement of God because he says that God won’t do anything about the evil things he is doing. It is as if God is there but is powerless to do anything. This is the ultimate in arrogance and the perfect description of one who is a practical atheist.
Second, he directs a prayer to God (v.12-15) The psalmist rightly turns his attention on God and reminds himself and others that God does indeed see what the wicked do. He asked rhetorically, why the wicked think that God can’t see what they are doing. He then states, “But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless.” (v.14). His request is for judgment. That God would break the arm of the wicked. At times, judgment is needed, and I think judgment is needed in the case of our nation. It may be that people need to be brought to their knees in a humble and real acknowledgment of God.
Third, he declares praise to God for ultimate victory. (v.16-18) The psalm ends with a might praise to God. Though it may seem that this evil and atheistic men can get away with things, God is still on the throne and is to be praised for it! The psalmist writes:
The LORD is king forever and ever; the nations perish from his land. O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted; you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more. (Psalm 10:16-18)
Be encouraged today Christian! Our God is still on the throne and indeed, judgment is coming. People cannot sin and win and our God will have his day of victory!