Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.
Crime does not pay! Sin will not succeed! Wickedness cannot profit, no matter how much wealth you temporarily pile up. You cannot buy God off from judgment in this life or the next. Righteousness is the key to a successful life, and it will deliver you from several deaths. Are you committed to righteousness, even if it means earthly poverty?
Wicked men may prosper for a while. Do not envy them. It is an illusion – terrible judgment is coming soon (Pr 3:31-32; 23:17-18; Ps 37:1-3; 73:1-20). Do not copy them. Sin will not work, and you will lose (Pr 11:4; Ps 49:6-14; Luke 12:15-21; Jas 5:1-3). The rich man fared sumptuously every day, but he could not prolong his life or buy his way into heaven. He could not even buy a drop of water for his tongue (Luke 16:19-21).
Ahab and Jezebel murdered Naboth to steal his vineyard, but the wine it produced could not cheer the heart of a holy God or comfort the sinners He condemned. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord. This wicked couple appeared to be gaining in real estate holdings by their wicked conspiracy against Naboth, but a chance arrow killed Ahab, and dogs licked his blood from his chariot and ate Jezebel (I Kgs 21:1-16; 22:37-38; II Kgs 9:30-37).
If you get ahead by wickedness, it is only for a moment. Judas’s pleasure at thirty pieces of silver did not last long, as his scattered bowels have testified for two millennia (Acts 1:18-19). Achan’s family rued the day he took of Jericho’s riches (Josh 7:19-26). Gehazi could not trade his theft for the cure of leprosy (II Kgs 5:20-27). Ananias and Sapphira held back some money by deceit, but they did not take any of it with them (Acts 5:1-11).
The King of Assyria, whom God sovereignly used to punish Israel, heaped up treasures of wickedness by his greedy, conquering heart (Is 10:5-14), but the same God tore him and his army to shreds when his usefulness was over (Is 10:15-19). The harlot church of Babylon – Roman Catholicism and Protestant daughters – has taken treasures by wickedness, but Jesus Christ is coming to grind her to powder (Rev 17:1-6; 18:1-24).
Crime does not pay. Sin will not succeed. Hear God’s word. “The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. The robbery of the wicked shall destroy them; because they refuse to do judgment” (Pr 21:6-7). “As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool” (Jer 17:11).
“But righteousness delivereth from death,” Solomon wrote. The righteousness of Jesus Christ will deliver His elect from the second death – eternity in the lake of fire – by the book of life (Rev 20:11-15; Rom 5:19; II Cor 5:21). But it is by personal righteousness you avoid death of your fellowship with God (Jas 5:19-20; Rev 3:1), bodily death by chastening (I Cor 11:28-34), and lay hold of eternal life (Ps 15:1-5; I Tim 6:11-12).
While many do not understand the importance of personal righteousness, it is the certain emphasis of God’s word. The modern invention of a mere decision determining your eternal destiny is heresy. Believing and calling on the name of Jesus Christ are nothing without obedience to His commandments (Matt 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; John 5:29; Acts 10:34-35; Phil 3:8-14; I Tim 6:17-19; Heb 5:9; James 2:14-16; II Pet 1:5-11).
Do you envy the treasures of the wicked? Do you wish for their pleasures, riches, and comforts? The exchange is not nearly worth it. Solomon judged, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right” (Pr 16:8). And Jesus confirmed it by teaching, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26).