Torment of the Righteous Soul
By Hal Lindsey
The Bible gives amazing promises of peace and joy to the followers of Jesus. The Christian life is a life of renewal and refreshment. To be redeemed in Christ is exhilarating and at the same time peaceful. In John 14:27 (NASB), the Lord said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Worldly peace comes and goes according to our circumstances. But the peace Jesus gives is based on Himself, and He never changes.
So, how can anyone who has been made righteous in Jesus, experience torment? 2 Peter 2:8 speaks of Lot and the people of Sodom. It says that living there, Lot “felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds.” The King James Version says the corruption in Sodom “vexed his righteous soul.” The Living Bible says Lot was “sick of the terrible wickedness he saw everywhere around him.”
In our day, it’s easy to understand. We know what it is to be “sick of terrible wickedness” and “vexed” by lawless deeds. Such torment is not about self-righteousness or hate. It is about love. Sin brings pain, bondage, and death. And it vexes the righteous to see it happening.
To a large extent, today’s societal institutions have stopped trying to restrain evil. Instead, those institutions now encourage the worship of wickedness. The damage being done is incalculable — especially to the little ones among us. That’s why caring creates torment.
But remember this. None of us is righteous by nature. Romans 3:23 succinctly describes our condition. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Isaiah 64:6 says, “Our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.” But according to 2 Corinthians 5:21, He grants to us His own perfect righteousness. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature.” Our righteousness comes entirely from Him, and He makes it available to anyone who asks Him.
With that righteousness comes refreshment, peace, and unspeakable joy. But there is also torment. To see things from God’s perspective turns everyone into a loved one. And we hurt to see them on their paths of pain. Luke 19:41 says that as Jesus approached Jerusalem, He “saw the city and wept over it.” The context shows that His righteous soul was tormented by the pain He knew was headed their way because they rejected Him.
You might feel torment when you watch the news and see the increasing brutality of our world. It’s easy to be vexed by the self-destructiveness encouraged by popular entertainment. The ongoing celebration of evil probably makes you feel sick. You’re in good company. The Lord Himself shares your grief.
Vexation comes with caring. But don’t let it overwhelm you. Live in the peace and joy of the Lord. Remember Nehemiah 8:10 — “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” You will not overcome evil by allowing it to depress you. Romans 12:21 says, “Overcome evil with good.” And it is good to walk in “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).