What Fashion Statement Are You Making?

Scripture is clear that there is another voice, that is not the voice of God, that desperately seeks to dominate and control the human heart. There is another aspect of this truth revealed in Ephesians that we must look at to fully understand the devil’s influence over the ear of mankind. Paul calls Satan “the prince of the power of the air,” and indeed the devil has shown himself to be the great broadcaster to the world in the media age:

And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins, in which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of the world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. (Ephesians 2:1–2, AMP)

The New English Bible calls the devil in this verse “the commander of the spiritual powers of the air,” while the Concordat Literal New Testament calls him “chief of the jurisdiction of the air.” Jurisdiction is a legal term that defines the limits or territory where authority may be exercised. The devil exercises his authority and power in the air as well as upon the earth. As a ruler, commander, and chief of this world, he moves with extreme influence and power in the atmosphere.

Air is the common name for the atmospheric gases that surround the earth and are vital to the sustaining of human life. Oxygen enters the blood through the air we breathe and is carried to every part of the body. Without air it is impossible to have physical life.

Air is also the realm through which most communication travels, as air makes both audible and electronic communication possible. Sound is possible because of the vibration that travels through the air as a sound wave. Radio electromagnetic waves are broadcast through the air and received by your radio. Satellites relay television and radio signals around the world, and these communications travel via the air. Cellular phones and wireless networks also send their signals through the air, allowing us to communicate through computers, the Internet, and countless applications of our mobile phones.

We have seen through Emoto’s work that spoken words are vibrations that travel through the air and have the ability to bring life or destroy as evidenced by their effect on crystal formation in water. We have just touched the surface in understanding this type of communication, but we know that the devil utilizes words to his advantage.

The Rebellious Broadcaster Who Never Goes Off the Air

As Prince of the Power of the Air, the devil broadcasts his rebellious attitudes to the world, and air is the medium of his corrupting communication. The devil rules the airwaves, and he compels the human heart to tune into his wavelength. His ungodly words and pictures can now be communicated instantly through the air, and the devil is always broadcasting. Within seconds, the Prince of the Power of the Air can bombard the human heart with his twisted, evil thoughts, ways, and purposes.

Satan’s programming never takes a break. His broadcast has no commercials (or rather, most commercials encourage sinful thoughts and are an important part of the devil’s program schedule). It is uninterrupted broadcasting of rebellion and chaos against God and his truth twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The devil’s agenda is brilliantly wicked and subtly adapts its messages to appeal to the hearts of every man, woman, and child. These messages may subtly or grossly promote rebellion, distrust, indifference, and disgust against God and the truth of His Word, while drowning hearts in lust, jealously, anger, pride, envy, greed, selfishness, ingratitude, disobedience, and impurity.

Just as everywhere you go in this world, there is air that we breathe in, so the influence of the Prince of the Power of the Air is felt in every city, nation, and continent. Paul says that before we were Christians, we walked according to the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:1–2, NKJV). The Greek word translated “walked” means “to order your behavior or conduct your life.” It can be illustrated as a sphere in which a person regulates, conducts, and lives his or her life. The Greek words translated “according to” are indicative of domination and control.

It’s incredible to think that most people live their entire lives regulating their behavior according to and in the sphere set up by the Prince of the Power of the Air. He dominates and controls the unrepentant heart, shaping it to his wicked blueprint by controlling the sphere in which it lives, breathes, and functions.

The Course of This World

In this same passage from Ephesians, Paul also says that the unrepentant walk according to “the course of this world.” Have you ever seen an oval racecourse? Once the race begins, the cars all follow the same course, around and around the racetrack. The course does not take them anywhere, but the drivers just go around in circles as fast as they can in an attempt to win the race. Likewise, the devil has set up a course where people lost in sin wander aimlessly in circles, trapped, moving in a hopeless journey in one direction.

“Course” in this passage is translated from the Greek word aion, which gives us the English word “eon.” But this word is not simply a span or period of time. Rather, aion emphasizes the characteristics, culture, and heartbeat of an age. It refers to the signs, the energy, the essence of the times. “Atmosphere” is a great word to describe it. It’s an entire living, breathing atmosphere that is absorbed into the heart through the eyes, ears, and thoughts. It can overwhelm you, mesmerize you, hypnotize you, and draw you in like a magnet. It can become the essence of your hopes, your dreams, and your aspirations. But in fact the course of this world is a black hole, a swirling abyss that can suck you into its vortex of ungodly ideas, opinions, and fashions.

The course of this world can so easily become a person’s god. It can seize the throne of a heart with great subtlety, but also with great fanfare. Its iron tentacles wrap around the heart and squeeze the very life out of every fiber of a person’s being. It is as big and pervasive as the atmosphere, which surrounds us and is present every place upon the earth. I have seen many Christians swept away by this mighty surging river of the course of the world, destroying their witness for Christ and their God-given calling.

Do not be fooled. This is extremely powerful and influential and must be resisted by the Spirit of God and His Word in our hearts. We must guard against the “course of this world” by remaining vigilant and alert as to what our eyes are beholding, what our ears are hearing, and what our minds are thinking. Whose wavelength are we tuned into? Whose broadcast are we watching and listening to? On which course are we running the race of life?

John Ritenbaugh, in his Forerunner commentary “Communication and Leaving Babylon,” writes that this is what Germans termed zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.[i] The Apostle Paul’s usage of the word “course” comprises the whole mass of elements that encompass the conduct and attitudes of the times, the aion, the zeitgeist. Of course, the zeitgeist would not be the same all over the world, because its expression among different peoples would differ depending upon many factors. However, according to Paul, its elements will invariably be carnal and evil because the spiritual source, Satan, is himself evil.

The Prince of the Power of the Air sets up an atmosphere in every age and culture where people breathe it in and it becomes their life, the essence of their conduct and manner of thinking and speaking. The aion is molded after Satan’s twisted heart and is a reflection of his intense hatred for the things of God. The aionis built on deception and fascination and has a powerful, magnetic influence designed to draw in and capture us. We absorb the Prince of the Power of the Air’s influence through the communication of the beliefs, values, and practices of the culture we are born into. Many of these characteristics and values are instilled within us, meeting little or no resistance because is a course that is burned deep into the culture.

The World System of Evil

The Greek word translated “world” is kosmos and in this verse means “the satanic system of world order with its seductive system of values, priorities, and beliefs that excludes and actively opposes God.” This world system is set up to draw one’s affections away from the one true God and His goodness. It’s interesting that the word kosmos can also refer to an ornament, decoration, or dress.

At its root is a word meaning “to polish, cut, or carve into a perfect arrangement.” The devil’s world system of evil is highly ornate and looks so pleasing to the human eye. This is part of the subtle attraction that deceives people and pulls them into its snare. But if you peel away the layers, this system is dark, empty, and totally devoid of God.

Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament says kosmos is “the sum-total of human life in the ordered world, considered apart from, alienated from, and hostile to God, and of earthly things which seduce from God.[ii]” Kenneth Wuest, in his Word Studies of the Greek New Testament, defines it as follows:

The word kosmosis used to refer to the world system, wicked and alienated from God, yet cultured, educated, powerful, outwardly moral at times, the system of which Satan is the head, the fallen angels and the demons are his servants, and all mankind other than the saved, are his subjects. This includes those people, pursuits, pleasures, purposes, and places where God is not wanted.[iii]

In fact, the world system that frames the spirit of the age can appear cultured, sophisticated, and civilized at one end of the spectrum, while at the same time being lustful, animalistic, and lawless on the other end. But it is driven by one central aim, which is to continually squeeze the heart into its unholy mold of godlessness and selfishness so that people will live and act accordingly.

This world system has infiltrated and dominated the hearts of the great majority of all peoples upon the earth. Unfortunately, this holds true for many Christians. Because God’s people do not put up much of a fight, this kosmos molds the moral character and attitude of the nations and extends its sway into all segments of society, including politics, education, religion, entertainment, and the economy.

Yet not one iota of this world system dwelled in the heart of Jesus Christ. In John 14:30, He called the devil “the prince of this world,” for Jesus knew beyond any shadow of doubt that the devil was the ruler of this kosmos and that God had no part in it. Jesus clearly taught that He is not of the world, that His kingdom is not of the world, and that the fallen world hates Him and everything He stands for (John 15:18). The world always stands in direct opposition to Christ and has relentless hostility for the one God ordained as its Savior and Redeemer. The world absolutely detests the Word of God and its message of truth and sets itself up in opposition to every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

This world system has never known God in any intimate manner, and it is committed to driving hearts away from knowing and experiencing Him. This world system is His sworn enemy, and Christ is considered a forbidden outlaw whose presence is not wanted.

Jesus had absolutely nothing to do with this world system of evil. He did not conform to it. He did not declare a peace treaty with it. He did not soften His teaching so the world would like Him more. He stood against the kosmos in word, action, and character and refused to be contaminated by its pollution. Jesus Christ lived among us as the exact opposite of everything the world worships and adores. The intense bitterness and enmity of Lucifer, the fallen archangel, fuels this world system and its objective to oppose Christ at every level of its operation.

William McDonald in Believer’s Bible Commentary says:

The [kosmos] is the system which man has built up for himself in an effort to satisfy the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. In this system there is no room for God or His Son. It may be the world of art, culture, education, science, or even religion. But it is a sphere in which the name of Christ is unwelcome or even forbidden, except, of course, as an empty formality. It is, in short, the world of mankind outside the sphere of the true church. To be a friend of this system is to be an enemy of God. It was this world that crucified the Lord of life and glory … How unthinkable it is that believers should ever want to walk arm in arm with the world that murdered their Savior! [iv]

We dishonor the Lord when we allow our hearts to become so receptive and open to the communication and atmosphere of the world that they begin to reflect an image of the world. We must make sure our hearts are centered in the sphere of Christ and not the sphere of the world if we are to be spiritually vibrant and of value to the advancement of His kingdom. Oswald Chambers said “Satan’s great aim is to deflect us from the center. He will allow us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus.”

In Love Not the World, Watchman Nee writes:

There is a spiritual force behind this world scene which, by means of “the things in the world,” is seeking to enmesh men in its system. It is not merely against sin therefore that the saints of God need to be on their guard, but against the ruler of this world … When we are faced with alternatives and a choice of ways confronts us, the question is not: Is this good or evil? Is this helpful or hurtful? No, the question we must ask ourselves is: Is it of this world or of God? For since there is only this one conflict in the universe, then whenever two conflicting courses lie open to us, the choice at issue is never a lesser one than: God … or Satan?[v]

Do Not Be Fashioned to the Image of the World

As Christians, we must never allow our hearts to become fashioned in the image of this world. God commands us in Romans 12:2 to resist the mold of the kosmos:

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs]. (AMP)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world. (NLT)

Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. (MSG)

The Greek word rendered in most translations as “conformed” means “to form according to a pattern or mold, to fashion alike, to outwardly conform to something that is not a true representation of what is on the inside, to strike or imitate a pose and an inward assimilation of a mode of conduct.” It means to mold one’s behavior in accordance with a particular pattern or set of standards. The pattern or set of standards referred to here is the one set up by the Prince of the Power of the Air.

Have you ever poured something into a mold, like Jell-O or clay or the “plastigoop” used to make those Creepy Crawlers toys popular in the 1960s and ’70s? Once it’s poured into the mold, the liquid substance adapts exactly to the shape of the mold, solidifies, and emerges as an exact replica of the mold. It carries the design, details, and shape of the mold. We can never allow our hearts to be poured into the mold of this age, where it will set and harden.

The heart ultimately has two alternatives as to the image it will reflect and the mold it will represent. A heart can reflect the image of the world, or it can reflect the image of Christ. Those who are born again have the awesome beauty of Christ inside us, and we must let His splendor shine from our hearts to the world. But if we are not careful to protect and guard our hearts, the beauty of Christ can be veiled and our hearts corrupted and conformed to the image of the world. As the seventeenth-century English clergyman William Gurnall said, “It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.”

The world exerts tremendous pressure, usually through an appealing façade, to just give in and go along with it. But we must be nonconformist when it comes to the world and its way of thinking, for the world has no respect, awe, or adoration of God. Our heart is to be unspotted by the things of this world. For as we drift toward the ways of the world, our love for God begins to wax cold. Our affection for God begins to wane, and the flame of the Holy Spirit in our heart flickers dangerously low to the point of being extinguished. If we love the world, we cannot love God:

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17, NLT)

The heart was designed to love God above all else, and even after the Fall, this blueprint of love is a fundamental characteristic of the heart. The heart yearns to love. But through the influence of sin and the spirit of the age, this desire becomes skewed and directed toward another. Yet we must never give away our hearts to the world. The world must never become more precious to us than God. The world wants our love; the world demands our love; the world wants to be our exclusive lover.

The Greek word translated as “love” in 1 John 2:15 is agapao and means a love that is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize and treasure it. This love springs from an appreciation of the value and worth of an object, its preciousness. It is to love with wonder and admiration, to cherish with reverence. It is a love that compels one to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the one being loved. Are the things of this world so precious to you that you would sacrifice your relationship with God? Do you wonder and admire all the world’s trappings while forgetting the magnificent splendor of our Lord?

Yes, the devil has designed the kosmoswith a great enticement to fall in love with it. It seems so harmless at first as we allow the world to draw our admiring gaze and tickle our ears with sweet nothings. But this infatuation will begin to grow and consume our hearts. The transference of our affections from God to this world may be slow and subtle, but it is a methodical, spreading disease that eventually deadens and hardens the heart. It’s a basic truth that what the heart chases after, what the heart loves, the heart becomes. The warning that echoes down every generation from the heart of God is to not fall into this treacherous trap. We must fight daily to protect ourselves from the molding influence of the world.

A Heart in the Hands of the World

You must never give to the world the agapao love that should only be reserved for God first and foremost. Your heart is either cherishing God or cherishing the world. Which is more precious to you? Where does the treasure of your heart lie? You cannot straddle the fence between God and the world for long. There is no neutral zone in the war for your heart. You cannot pursue the world, lending it your eyes and ears, and remain loyal to God. James 4:4 (PHILLIPS) declares this truth in no uncertain terms:

You are like unfaithful wives, flirting with the glamour of this world, and never realizing that to be the world’s lover means becoming the enemy of God!

Do not give yourself to another like an unfaithful lover. You were created to love and to serve only one master. It is impossible to love the world and love God at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. There is no way to have the best of both worlds. The master of your heart is either God Almighty or this world system orchestrated and manipulated by the Prince of the Power of the Air. Ultimately, you will love one and hate the other. You will choose to serve one and turn your back on the other.

Make no mistake: The world wants you. It wants your attention, your time, your money, and your affection. In return the world promises you satisfaction, fulfillment, riches, and control. But it is all lies. The truth is that world is dying. The world’s days are numbered, and its days of glitter are quickly coming to end. The glory of the world will soon turn to dust.

Nothing in this world lasts for long. Everything is changing, decaying. Indeed, it is an act of spiritual suicide to place your heart in the hands of the world. You must never forget that once you peel all the layers away, the world hates Christ and His devoted followers with an intensity that grows relentlessly with every moment. This hatred is the driving force of the spirit of the age. In his Forerunner commentary “The Christian Fight,”John Ritenbaugh writes:

The spiritual reality is that, as we might say today, “The world stands ready to eat us alive.” It chews Christians up and spits them out. If permitted, it can trash spiritual realities that may once have been cherished hopes and dreams.[vi]

Sometimes the world’s enmity for Christ and His followers is bold, direct, and even violent, as evidenced by the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Far East. Most times, however, the world’s approach is much more subtle. Ritenbaugh says:

Satan’s pitch to mankind is aimed directly at exciting human nature’s self-indulgent cravings. Due to this satanic effort, even though we are converted, we are apt to become misinformed, lackadaisical, disinterested, and discouraged. We must be aware of it and absolutely resist it. … “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NKJV). Friendship with the world corrupts.[vii]

We cannot become lazy or indifferent when it comes to our affections. We must be spiritually aware at all times, for the heart is bombarded with Satan’s pitch and propaganda the moment we turn on a radio or television, log on to the Internet, or walk out the front door. We must become keenly aware of his messages—and resist them—if we are to keep them from taking root. We must always strive, as Scripture says, to keep our hearts from “being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). The world is toxic—a true environmental hazard—and its polluting contaminants can cause the glory and beauty of God to fade from our hearts.

You might find it enlightening to grab a notebook pad and write down just what you spend your day listening to and watching. Note how much time you spend on each activity. Compare this time with how much time you are spending with God each day, praying, reading and meditating on His Word, listening to spiritual songs that glorify God, reading Christian books, listening to godly sermons and teaching, and participating in worship activities with your church. Who is winning the war of time with your heart?

If your daily diet consists of cable television, secular radio, fashion or sports magazines, worldly movies and novels, and self-help books expounding the spirit of the age, your heart is getting “punked” by the world. The noise of this world is shaping your heart to reflect its own image, attitudes, and beliefs. The heart is an image bearer and will always reflect what it is seeing and hearing. We cannot allow our hearts to be consumed by the culture of this age instead of being consumed with God.

In his book Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers, John Eldredge provides some sound advice when it comes to the allure of this world:

We are at war, and the bloody battle is over our hearts. I am astounded how few Christians see this, how little they protect their hearts. We act as if we live in a sleepy little town during peacetime. We don’t. We live in the spiritual equivalent of Bosnia or Beirut. Act like it. Watch over your heart. Don’t let just anything in, don’t let it go just anywhere. “What is this going to do to my heart?” is a question I ask in every situation.[viii]

We must ask this question concerning everything our ears hear and our eyes see. What is this going to do to my heart? As Christians, our hearts are to be living proof that God is far more precious than anything the world has to offer. We must magnify God above the trinkets of the world.

Never Fear: Our God is Greater

The evil of this world is but a grain of dust compared to the power and might of our awesome God. God is infinitely greater in authority, power, influence, and grandeur. Always remember that He is the Creator of the universe and is so magnificent that even the heavens cannot contain Him. God is unlimited and unmatched in His greatness and majesty. The world looks like a cheap toy in His glorious presence. God is a trillion times more powerful and glorious than the entire world system that the devil has set up in the kosmos and the aion of these present times.

God is love (1 John 4:8) and everything He does is motivated by love. The kosmos is evil, and everything this world system does is motivated by evil. God so loved us that He sent His Son into the midst of the kosmos to offer redemption, deliverance, and eternal life to all the peoples of the earth (1 John 4:10). God has given us an overwhelming, crushing victory in Jesus Christ over the devil and all the influence, power, and destruction of this world.

Never fear the world for the limitless, almighty God lives within us and He is our Rock, our Protector, our Refuge, our Warrior, our all in all (1 John 4:16–18). All the anxiety, fears, worries, oppression, and darkness of the world melt in His presence. We must never forget just how awesome our God is. Nothing in the heavens or the earth compares in greatness to Him. Therefore we must rise up with the heart of a lion and the courage of a thousand armies and brilliantly display the beauty and splendor of a son or daughter of God in the midst of this crooked and twisted world:

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4, NKJV)

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.] (John 16:33, AMP)

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4–5, NIV)

And the secret is simply this: Christ in you! Yes, Christ in you bringing with him the hope of all glorious things to come. (Colossians 1:27, PHILLIPS)

No matter how powerful, influential and dominating this kosmosseems, as born-again sons and daughters of God the power and glory of Christ that rests in us is infinitely greater in strength and ability. We have been filled with all the fullness of God. What a power source! What an incredible amount of authority and ability! Do you realize how much power is living within you as a Christian? This is not the power to destroy, hate, condemn, judge, or ridicule. This is the power to live like Jesus did upon the earth, the power to touch and change the hearts of people with the love and compassion of God.

Jesus Christ overcame this world system of evil by His victory on the cross, permanently crushing the power of the enemy, that crafty serpent and deceitful slanderer. Our Lord has set us free indeed (John 8:36), obliterating every yoke of bondage that held us in its grasp (Galatians 5:1). We have been given a new destiny. Sin, death, and the Prince of the Power of the Air no longer have any hold over us, any claim on us, but we must claim this victory in Christ by faith in His finished work and the promises of His Word.

Our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the kingdom of Satan and all the spiritual forces of evil. We must put on the whole armor of God if we are to effectively stand against the powers of this dark world and walk in the sphere of Christ’s magnificent work on the cross (Ephesians 6:11–12). We must never give ground to one ounce of fear when it comes to this kosmos,yet we must be wise as to its enormous influence in our culture and its ability to capture and turn the human heart. We must remember who we are in Christ and, having no fear, do battle against the Goliaths of this world. We breathe in the transforming presence of God, confident of His protection and power, knowing we are more than conquerors through Christ in any circumstance of life (Romans 8:37).

The allure of the kosmos pales in comparison to what pleasures of Jesus Christ. The gaudy winds of the Prince of the Power of the Air are deflated by Jesus Christ, who exposes Satan’s schemes of the kosmos and aion. He has dismantled the devil’s power to hold the heart in bondage for all those who would believe on His name. Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, shaming them publicly by his victory over them on the cross (Colossians 2:15). There is no excuse for allowing the world to mold our hearts into its image any longer. The choice is quite clear.

God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness, and now we must rise above the world and let our lives shine with the glory of God. What will it matter in the end if we gain the whole kosmos and lose our heart and soul? All the wealth, all the glory, all the fame in the kosmos are not worth a fraction of the value of your heart. Is it worth sacrificing your heart to enjoy the pleasures of the kosmos for a season? Is anything worth giving your heart away to the Great Pretender and letting your eyes and ears serve him?

The World Never Satisfies Like God Satisfies

The world will never love you like God loves you. He will never leave or forsake you, and He will always lead you in the path of true righteousness. Isn’t He worthy of owning ALL your heart and not just part of it? Why give away even the smallest part of your heart to the world? The world will never satisfy like God satisfies. It will only betray you in the long run like an unfaithful lover and lead you down a path of destruction.

Has your hearing become so dull, our eyes so blind, that you are giving leftovers of your heart to God? Francis Chan, in Crazy Love, says:

God wants our best, deserves our best, and demands our best … [Yet] God gets a scrap or two only because we feel guilty for giving Him nothing. A mumbled three-minute prayer at the end of the day, when we are already half asleep. Two crumbled-up dollar bills thrown as an afterthought into the church’s fund for the poor … We say to the Creator of all this magnitude and majesty, “Well, I’m not sure You are worth it. You see, I really like my car or my little sin habit or my money, and I am really not sure I want to give them up.” … How can we think for even a second that anything on this puny little earth compares to the Creator and Sustainer and Savior of it all?[ix]

This is the great deception of the kosmos, that God is not worthy of our best love, our first love, our greatest love. We give God only leftover scraps from the table of our hearts and forget His majesty and grandeur and how much how much our hearts need Him. Jesus declares to the church at Ephesus, “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (Revelation 2:4). Everything about the spirit and heartbeat of this age, this kosmos, is designed to deceive us into forsaking our first love. We are told daily that God is not necessary, that He is distant (if He exists at all), and that He does not love us or care about us. The devil wants to divert our attentions, to make us think there are better things to love and treasure.

So many in the church have been tricked into believing this great lie! The beautiful and mighty purpose that God has ordained for our lives turns to dust and is blown away by the breath of the kosmos. The magnificent works and glorious blessings that God had destined for us before the world began have been carelessly tossed aside and fade into the night as we wallow in the garbage of the kosmos.

I am not advocating that we run for the hills and isolate ourselves in some remote cave far removed from civilization. God wants us to shine our light in the world with all the magnificent glory of the Christ. He has commissioned us to reach out to the lost, to break the power of Satan and the kosmos in people’s lives by the mighty demonstration of the love of God. Jesus prayed on the night before His crucifixion:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15–18, NIV)

Jesus has sent us into the world with His words of truth to deliver the message of the gospel to every corner of the earth. But we can never be effective ambassadors of Christ if we allow ourselves to be in love with the world.


[i] John Ritenbaugh, Forerunner: “Communication and Leaving Babylon,” December 2005.

[ii] Marvin Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament, Volume II (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900), 45.

[iii] Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, Volume 1, Ephesians and Colossians (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1961), 61.

[iv] William McDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., 1980), Kindle Edition, 79432.

[v] Watchman Nee, Love Not the World, A Prophetic Call to Holy Living (Fort Washington: CLC Publications 1968), 19.

[vi] John Ritenbaugh: Forerunner: “The Christian Fight” May 2007.

[vii] John Ritenbaugh: Forerunner: “The Christian Fight” May 2007.

[viii] John Eldredge, Desire: The Journey We Must Take to Find the Life God Offers (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000), 209, 210.

[ix] Francis Chan, Crazy Love, Overwhelmed by a Relentless God (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2008), 90, 91, 96, 97.

Chapter 7: The Ears: Music’s Enormous Impact on the Heart

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are the Thoughts of God Foolish to You?

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). Did you know that God is thinking thoughts about you that you have not yet thought about yourself? He has a future and a hope for you that He already won for you 2,000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross for your sins. And when He rose from the dead, the scripture says He took your captivity captive and gave gifts to you—things that only He can do. That means He begins to operate through your life and make you into much more than you could ever hope to be in yourself.

The verse goes on to say, “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12–13). What an incredible promise! God will listen to us, and we will find Him. We will know what He is speaking to us and how He is leading our life.

However, in order to get to this place, we must stop thinking our own thoughts and begin to agree with the thoughts of God. We must get beyond the battle of the mind. That is really where victory or defeat in the Christian life is found. If we never become people of faith, then we will live far beneath what God has for us. We must have a new mind—a new way of thinking.

The apostle Paul made a distinction between spiritual people and natural people. Natural people live within the parameters of their old thinking and therefore remain in a realm far beneath their inheritance in Christ Jesus. Paul told the Corinthian church, “As it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9–10).

Natural people cannot know the things God has prepared for them. But when you came to Christ, God sent His Holy Spirit into your life to lead you into all truth. He gave you the power to live in the promises of God, and your life became everything that God has been thinking about you. Paul warned, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

So here is my question to you: Do the thoughts of God sound foolish to you? Do you push away the things that God is thinking—those whispers that come into your heart every once in a while? Perhaps during your Bible reading one day, He spoke to you about something He has for your life that is far beyond your ideas about yourself. Do these thoughts of God sound like foolishness to you?

A GREAT AND EFFECTIVE DOOR

The apostle Paul once told the Corinthian Christians, “For a great and effective door has opened to me” (1 Corinthians 16:9). Now when we think of a great door, we think of a doorway to a palace, perhaps, or a doorway to power. But Paul did not see it that way. Paul was given eyes of the Spirit, because in the natural, it was a prison door that God was leading him to. Think about this for a moment. In the natural, Paul was going to be taken captive, put on a ship, transported to Rome and other places, and eventually he would spend much of the remainder of his life in prison.

A lot of people lose their vision because of their circumstances. But picture the apostle Paul—led into a prison, chained between guards, with only a pen and paper in his hand. However, he somehow knew in his heart that a great and effectual door had been opened to him. Later, he was able to write to the people that he left behind in his journey, “I believe that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (see Romans 8:28). He was able to write to the Roman church, “I believe that no mountain, no valley, no opposition, no power, no principality—nothing out there—can separate me from the love of God” (see Romans 8:38–39). He believed that the victory was his, that he had been led into this place.

In the natural, Paul was a man who had been beaten and shipwrecked, stoned and taken captive. However, as a spiritual man, he was not living in those places. He was living in a place where he was walking in the thoughts that God was thinking about him. In the realm of the Spirit, he was not just visiting one church in Corinth. In fact, he has been visiting every church for 2,000 years! He is even here today because we are reading his words. He is visiting you today in your living room, your situation, your marriage, your family, your life!

You see, it was as if the apostle Paul saw you in the future. You are what was inside this great and effective door that God was opening to him. He understood that God’s thoughts about him were so much bigger than what the people around him thought or even what he thought about himself. That is why Paul could write to the Corinthians, “To the natural man, the thoughts of God are foolishness. But to the spiritual man, they are life and power for the journey. They are vision to understand something far beyond the natural confines of our lives” (see 1 Corinthians 2:14).

IT ALL BEGAN AT STARBUCKS

Perhaps you are now wondering, “Well, how does this apply to me? I am not the apostle Paul.”

Let me tell you a story. Several years ago, a lady told Pastor Teresa and me how she started to pray, “God, You must have a door for me. You must have something that You want to do in my life that I have not considered yet.” As she prayed, suddenly a strong impression came into her heart: “Go to Starbucks, order a coffee, sit down at a table, and just start reading your Bible.” Those were the thoughts God was thinking about her! Isn’t that amazing?

And so she obeyed God and went to Starbucks. She ordered a coffee, sat down at a table, opened her Bible and began to read. After a little while, a lady who was also there having coffee came over to her table and asked, “What is it that you are reading?” She answered, “I am reading the Bible. It is the Word of God.” The other lady asked, “Would you mind if I joined you?” She sat down, and the lady who had heard from God realized that her new friend was not a believer. She was able to share Christ with her. Finally, the lady asked her, “Do you think we can meet back here again next week?”

The next week the new lady came back accompanied by about six friends. They were all sitting around the table! Eventually, this Christian lady had a discipleship group of brand-new believers in Christ, and every week everybody was bringing somebody else. By the time we talked to her, she was leading a group of between forty to sixty women in a study of the Scriptures! This was just somebody who began to seek God and ask, “What thoughts do You have for me?”

We always want to go from zero to a million people in a conference somewhere and we forget that almost everything we do for God starts with a small beginning. As it says in Zechariah, “Don’t despise the day of small things” (see Zechariah 4:10). I believe God is reminding you today that what He has called you to do will be done. So when He speaks to you, do not think that His thoughts toward you are foolish, even if it seems that way in the natural.

After all, who would have thought this kind of evangelism could happen at Starbucks? Remember, it was not just sixty women finding Christ as their Savior. I am sure that each of those women went on to have an effect on their world. Many of them probably will lead their husbands to Christ. Many of their families will become Christian families. Many of their kids will begin to go to church. A number of them will go on to become great evangelists in the Kingdom of God, winning thousands to Christ. And finally, when this lady who went to Starbucks appears at the throne of heaven one day, there will be a hundred thousand people saying, “Thank you for what you did in Starbucks that day! Thank you for opening your Bible. Thank you for obeying God. Thank you for letting the thoughts of God govern your life. Because of you, we are here!”

Remember, “a great and effective door” may look small in the natural. Imagine the people in Corinth who did not have a spiritual mindset, shaking their heads and saying, “Well, whatever happened to the great door that God was going to open for Paul?” He ended up chained between soldiers, and all he had was a piece of paper and some ink. All he could do was write some letters to some of his friends.

Yes, God’s ways are foolish to those who live in the natural! But I believe it is much better to be counted a fool to the world and live for God. Remember, His thoughts toward you are of peace and not of evil, to give you a hope and a future. And if you are willing to embrace His thoughts rather than counting them foolish, you will see that He is indeed able to do exceedingly abundantly above all you can even ask or think!

Carter Conlan

Courtesy of http://sermons.tsc.nyc/thoughts-on-faith-and-prayer-199/newsletter/english/

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Acts: God’s Blueprint for the Church

The Book of Acts is the heart of God for the church. It is a pattern of how the church should be. It is the grand witness of the Body of Christ moving out and in the power of the gift of holy spirit turning the world upside down. It should more appropriately be named not the Acts of the Apostles, but the Acts of the Holy Spirit. God wanted a record of how the gospel should be carried to the world by the Body of Believers. We see hearts aflame for God with a burning desire to carry the message of Jesus Christ to the world. The world was shaken by this group of disciples who were seemly insignificant in the world’s eyes as the history of the world was forever changed by these committed souls. For God’s church to do God’s will it must follow the example of the Book of Acts.

The book of Acts is the action book of the New Testament, and it constitutes therefore one of the most exciting books of the Bible. It is a record of power of God exercised in the midst of persecution; an account of life and health pouring from a living Christ into a sick society through the channel of obscure men and women, very much like you and me. We could never understand the New Testament if we did not have the book of Acts, for it fills the gap that would exist between the Gospels and the book of Romans, which follows.

The book of Acts shows an amazing revolution in society and the hearts of men and women. Before there can be a revolution in society for goodness and deliverance, there must first be a revolution in the church. There must be radical change within the Body of Christ today before we can bring radical change to the world. Are we willing to be a revolutionary for Jesus Christ, completely devoted to Him 100 percent no matter what the cost? The book of Acts shows us men and women that were true revolutionaries for Jesus Christ that even laid down their lives for the furtherance of the gospel. Are we there yet? How strong is our devotion to Jesus Christ? Does our allegiance have a limit or a price where we can be bought or enticed away from our Lord? The Book of Acts is the illustration of the confession of every Christian: Jesus is Lord.

The Church in the book of Acts was not a big building or a denomination. The word “church” in the Greek is ekklesia and means “called out for a specific purpose.” The church is the called out ones for Jesus Christ and are sent to proclaim the good news of His finished work in his death and resurrection; the revolutionary message that sets people free and rescues them from the kingdom of darkness.

The first 11 verses are the foundation for the book of Acts. These verses contain some amazing truths for the Christian and for the church.

Acts 1:1: In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, 

The gospels did not end the teaching and ministry of Jesus Christ. The book of Acts is a continuation of Jesus Christ in the world. Acts is not the acts of Christians, but the continuing acts of Jesus. It is an account of what Jesus continues to do and to teach. In the Gospels He did it in His physical body of flesh. In the book of Acts He is doing it through the bodies of men and women who are indwelt by His life,  men and women, possessed by Jesus Christ, owned by Him and thus manifesting His life That is the secret of authentic Christianity. Anytime you find a Christianity that is not doing that, it is false Christianity. No matter how much it may adapt the garb and language of Christianity, if it is not the activity human beings possessed and indwelt by the life of Jesus Christ it is not authentic Christianity! That is the true power of the Church, as we shall see in this book. The book of Acts therefore is an unfinished book. It has never been ended, but is still being written. The book abruptly closes with an account of Paul in the city of Rome, living in his own hired house. It just ends there as though you might turn over the next page and begin the next adventure. Is God’s Spirit writing the next chapter of the book of Acts in and through my life?

 Jesus is still active and alive on Planet Earth today, and He still has a body. In the Gospels, it was His material, physical body. In the Book of Acts, it is His new body, which is the church. We need to stop doing things for Jesus. We need to start letting Him do something through us. You see, there is only one Person who has ever lived the Christian life. What’s His name? Jesus. No one else has ever lived the Christian life, only Jesus. And if the Christian life is lived where you hang your hat, where you go to work, where you go to school, it will not be you living it; it will be Jesus living it in you.”

Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

God wants to write a twenty-ninth chapter of the Book of Acts, and He wants to write it through” YOU!…Living the Christian life is a miracle. Our life is to be a supernatural life. Now, I want you to remember this: that the Christian life is not your responsibility. It is your response to His ability. Major Ian Thomas said about this, “I can’t—He never said I could; He can—He always said He would.” And so, that’s the first thing we need to do. We need to recognize His presence in us and let His life become our life. He is our life! (Colossians 3:4)

Ian Thomas in The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me:

The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you -your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything – then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! … True Godliness leaves the world convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only explanation for you, is Jesus Christ.

The Apostles memorialized their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ with a Covenant of Salt

Acts 1:2-4: Until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; 

Staying with them: verb root means salt: “While partaking together of salt”

Salt covenant is one of the oldest covenants in the Bible. There was a salt covenant with meals in the Bible in which a person would bind himself to another in utmost loyalty and truthfulness as salt was a symbol of enduring friendship, honesty, and close alliance. It is still common today for people from the Eastern culture to say, “There is salt between us.” An agreement that involves salt symbolizes one that is meant to be perpetual, incorruptible and indissoluble. An agreement that is to endure regardless of circumstances. It is a symbol of an unbreakable alliance and friendship that is to be preserved. It is a bond of commitment where our words cement the relationship.                  

Revelation 3:20: Jesus wants to bind His heart together with yours heart in the closest intimacy of a friend, brother, companion, and provider. He pledges to enter a covenant of utmost loyalty with your heart where there will be an enduring bond of affection, honesty, and unbroken alliance. He wants your heart to be forever knit and linked with His, united and moving forward as one.                                                                                                    

Another great truth is that the birth of the holy spirit within us as God’s gift is the foundation of everything in the Book of Acts. We cannot move as a church, as a body with God in action in us.

Acts 1:5-11: For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Baptized: the main meaning of baptizo  is to be totally identified with something, in this case, the Holy Spirit. The passive voice “be baptized with” indicates that God did the baptizing and that the disciples were to be merely the recipients. This makes sense for the Spirit is God’s gift and our part is simply to receive the gift by grace through faith in Christ. It is a gift and is the source of the power and the witness of the gospel.

I Corinthians 12:13: For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Acts 2:38,39: And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.

The gift of holy spirit is one of the greatest gifts that God has ever given, and we will show from Scripture that each and every Christian has this precious gift sealed within himself. We will also show that because of the indwelling of holy spirit, each and every Christian can manifest the power of God. 

God, by way of the Lord Jesus, gave the gift of holy spirit to equip and enable each Christian to bless the Body of Christ and mankind in general. This gift gives each Christian real spiritual power that he can use day by day. As Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit [holy spirit] comes on you…” (Acts 1:8a). The power that each Christian has is very real, and very helpful. Scripture declares that the power of holy spirit is “for the common good” (1 Cor. 12:7b). It is good for the individual, good for the Body of Christ, and even good for all mankind, because all those in your world are blessed when you walk in God’s power.

God’s Word states a person is filled with holy spirit at the moment he is born again. It is empowering for each Christian to know he can manifest the power of the spirit, and the experience of walking daily with the Lord in one’s own calling makes life meaningful and exciting.

I Corinthians 2:12: Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 

Romans 8:15-17: For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

Ephesians 1;13,14: In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

2 Corinthians 1:21, 22  And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22 and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

The spirit of God is sealed within us at the time of the new birth. It cannot leak out; it cannot disappear; it cannot fade away. We are born of God’s spirit from above and the spirit of God becomes an essential part of our being and identity as a Christian. It is the guarantee, the divine deposit, the pledge of our salvation and our future inheritance in His kingdom.

Most Christians have allowed the spirit of God to be dormant in their life; there hearing is dull; their heart is hardened and the power of God has fizzled out in unbelief. It is imperative as Christians that we learn to walk by the spirit and not the lusts of the flesh. Acts is a record of believers that the spirit of God was alive, it taught them; it enlightened them; it inspired them to action and it empowered their words, conduct and life.

Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The book of Acts is the power of the Holy Spirit in action. It is the only way to be Christ’s witnesses. You receive spiritual power in such a degree that it is mind-boggling when you are born again. You are filled with all the fullness of God and the exceeding greatness of this power explodes into our lives and the world when we believe. Receive is the Greek word “lambano” and means to “receive into manifestation.” Power is the Greek word “dunamis” and means “inherent power; power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature; to be able; inherent ability, not physical ability, but power to accomplish a task.” In Acts 1:8, dunamis is associated with the coming of the gift of holy spirit in a person, giving that person the supernatural power capable of accomplishing the task Jesus assigns. So clearly, in the context of the book of Acts, “Divine dunamis” is the power which is necessary for disciples to be witnesses of the Good News. There can be no witness without the power, the dunamis of the gift of holy spirit living within. Today in the church there are countless attempts to witness with no demonstration of the power received at the new birth.

I Corinthians 2:4,5 (ESV): And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power (dunamis), 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power (dunamis) of God.

Thessalonians 1:5 for our Gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power (dunamis) and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

Now what kind of power? The gift of holy spirit is the power. This is a most wonderful thing! It is resurrection power. It is the power of a risen Lord, resurrection power, a different kind of power. This power is irresistible. There is no way to oppose it, no way to overthrow it, no way to stop it. Every obstacle thrown in its path is but turned into an opportunity to advance. It is a glorious kind of power. It does not need any props, does not require outside help, and does not borrow anything from the world. It does not even need a cup of coffee to get started in the morning! And it works best in a cemetery. It operates most visibly where everything is dull and lifeless, and nothing is happening. Anyone who is operating on holy spirit resurrection power can come in and change the whole scene. Resurrection power changes lives from within and not from without. It does not start on the outside, with the environment, or the circumstances, or the external situation; it starts within, and works out, to change the environment ultimately. And it does not separate or divide; it harmonizes, it heals, it draws together and breaks down “middle walls of partition”(Ephesians 2:14 KJV) that have been standing sometimes for centuries. It batters them down and brings people together, in harmony. It is a totally different kind of power. That is what you receive when you receive the gift of holy spirit.

Major Ian Thomas in The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me states:

God so engineered you and me that His presence is indispensable to our humanity, teaching our minds, controlling our emotions, directing our wills, and governing our behavior. Your new birth put God into action in you…What kind of Christian do you want to be? To choose to be a carnal Christian is spiritual oblivion. But if you decide genuinely that Christ be everything and have everything in your life…then He is ready to lead you into discoveries that can completely revolutionize your whole humanity for time and eternity…Consent, therefore, to die to all that you are which does not derive from all that Christ is and thank Him for His willingness to make it real…The resurrected Christ now lives, to continue His Life in you…You must die to your own natural ability to deal with the flesh, for you cannot crucify yourself. That is God’s business…You realize that it was never God’s purpose to improve the flesh, to educate it or tame it, let alone Christianize it. It has always been God’s purpose that the flesh-condemned, sentenced, an crucified with Jesus Christ-might be left buried in the tomb and replaced by the resurrection Life of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The risen Christ must exercise control in your mind, in your emotions and in your will, expressing Himself through your personality.  

The first 11 verses of the Book of Acts ends with the promise of Christ’s return. This hope is a critical component of the gospel and a vital part of each Christian’s life.

Acts 1:9-11: And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

This same Jesus will come again and no earthly decree, no political game, no religious philosophy can stop it from occurring. This was the anchor of their soul and the motivation to work heartily for the Lord and not for people.

I Corinthians 15:57, 58: But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

2 Corinthians 4:17,18: For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

The Book of Acts sets forth right after about 3000 souls were added to the church, what the Body of Christ needs to do for the Lord to add to the church daily

Acts 2:42-47: And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Devoted themselves: Continually devoted themselves to four specific things or course of conduct (Apostles teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers): The imperfect tense here means this was ongoing, occurring over and over, again and again. Devoted means to be earnest towards, to persevere. It describes a steadfast single-minded fidelity to a certain course of action. It means to persist obstinately in a task, to keep on with devotion, to continue to do something with intense effort, to be steadfastly attentive unto, to give unremitting care to a thing, to continue all the time in a place, to persevere and not to faint, to be constantly diligent, to attend assiduously all the exercises, to adhere closely to, to attend continually! What a picture of the early church! What would happen to the church in America if the genuine believers “were continually devoting themselves” to the teaching of the Word of Truth? This was the foundation element of devotion is to the teaching of truth revealed in the Bible.

Doing God’s work God’s way requires an unwavering commitment to the primacy of biblical preaching and teaching….The early church experienced spiritual vitality, not because of gimmicky techniques, but because it focused on the priority of biblical teaching. Along….The Holy Spirit worked powerfully in this first church by leading the apostles to be prolific in their teaching ministry. Sound doctrine enriched every aspect of this church’s life. Everything flowed from the pure fountain of biblical truth….The apostles’ ministry of preaching and teaching is mentioned more often than any other activity in which they were engaged (Acts 2:423:11–264:1–28–1219–2031335:20–2129–32426:2471113–147:1–53). So overwhelming is this evidence that it can be argued that Acts is primarily a record of apostolic preaching and teaching….No matter where they were, these apostles were preaching. Whether in Solomon’s Portico (Acts 3:11–265:2042), in public gatherings (Acts 4:233), before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:8–125:28–32), or from house to house (Acts 5:42), they boldly taught in the name of Christ. Even in the face of life-threatening dangers, the apostles refused to be silenced, declaring, “We cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). When the demands of ministry grew complex, they would not be diverted from their central task of teaching. They said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the Word of God” (Acts 6:2). Most notably, when the successful expansion of their ministry was described, it was measured in terms of the spreading of “the word of God” (Acts 6:7). Similarly, when those under their teaching—men such as Stephen and Philip—were thrust into ministry, they in turn taught the “word” with extraordinary effectiveness (Acts 7:2–508:5253540). In fact the first disciples filled all Jerusalem with their teaching (Acts 5:28). Unmistakably the apostles’ teaching was most important in the early church…..Biblical preaching must always occupy the leading place of influence in the life of the church. At the core of any healthy congregation is a vibrant exposition of God’s Word. 

I Timothy 2:3,4: This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 

Fellowship koinonia from koinos = that which is in common, belonging to several) describes the experience of having something in common and/or of sharing things in common with others. It describes a close association involving mutual interests and sharing or to have communion (“intimate fellowship”) It denotes the active, joint participation, cooperation and/or sharing in a common interest or activity. A relation between individuals which involves a common interest and a mutual, active participation in that interest and in each other.

Tertullian recounts that when the Roman government became suspicious of the early church, they sent spies into their services. The spies came back and said that the Christians were a peculiar type of folk – they did not have idols, instead they worshiped One by the name of Jesus, who was absent. Then they added, “How those Christians love each other; how they have fellowship (koinonia) one with the other.” That should be the mark of the Christian through all ages.

Acts 4:32a: Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul,

Is this a description of the Body of Christ, the church today? Do our hundreds of denominations bear this out? Division, controversy, disagreement and discontent seem to be the norm. Love has waxed cold among Christians. When you do not devote yourself to the Word of God, you become spiritually anemic and like dominos the other three corners of devotion begin to fail. How important is fellowship with each other today or is it more important to live a separate lives? Is fellowship just an hour on Sunday? Or is it deeper than that? This should be our goal as a church is to become of one heart and one soul.

Breaking of Bread: Communion and fellowship of eating together.

They were continually devoting themselves…to prayer – The Greek word here always refers to prayers to God. What has happened to the old fashioned “prayer meetings?” I think they have gone out of fashion!

Persevering prayer is still the charge to a church rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, (Romans 12:12); Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;(Col. 4:2+) As Phillips phrases it the infant church “was a company marked by the throne. The name of Jesus opened up prayer opportunities never before known, for now we have instant access to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16+). Every aspect of individual life and corporate life can now be related to the throne and to that great High Priest who sits at God’s right hand.”

Prayer (proseuche from pros = toward or immediately before + euchomai = to pray or vow) is the more general word for prayer. The prefix pros would convey the sense of being immediately before God and hence the ideas of adoration, devotion, and worship. The basic idea is to bring something, and in prayer this pertains to bringing up prayer requests.

Verse 47 is a summary and the first great statement: They were praising God and have grace with one another. That is how the Lord grew the church. He is responsible to add to the church not us.

The structure of the Book of Acts is in 8 great sections with each section ending in a great summary and concluding statement. In the original Bible there were no chapters, and even though the book of Acts has 28 chapters, God has divided the book into eight sections with each section emphasized by a concluding, summary verse. Each one of these concluding summaries builds upon each other and is a statement of the spiritual condition of the church at that time in the book of Acts. Each summary statement is an example of the figure of speech, symperasma, which is a conclusion by means of a brief summary, and is the Holy Spirit’s God breathed emphatic conclusion at the end of each section. These are building blocks for the church to measure its current growth and rise and expansion with the Book of Acts. The eight sections in the book of Acts are Acts 1:1:-2:47; Acts 2:1-6:7; Acts 6:8- 9:31; Acts 9:32-11:5; Acts 11:6-12:24; Acts 12:25-16:5; Acts 16:6-19:20 and Acts 19:21-28:31.

We do not have time to delve into detail on each of these great summary statements but let’s look at the conclusion of the 7th section which tells us the peak of the influence of the church in the world.

Acts 19:8-20: And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15 But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16 And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all[d] of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17 And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled.  Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19 And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

The 7th great summary statement is Acts 19:20 (KJV): So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Grew: means to cause to grow or cause to become greater in extent, size, state, or quality.  We see the Word of God in two other great statements Acts 6:7 (the word of God continued to increase); 12:24 ( But the word of God increased and multiplied)  We see the progression until the Word prevailed.. Preach the Word in season and out (2 Ti 4:2) if you want to see your congregation grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). There are no shortcuts. God offers us no “Plan B!”

Mightily– power exerted with an impact. It means strength or might, especially manifested power, exerting itself until it prevails or secures submission (gains mastery, dominates).The Word of God was growing with might! With power! The power of God was being energized through the Word of the living God and it was having a crushing impact on sin, Satan and the world. Power was being exerted with the impact of the captives being set free, the chains of bondage being broken, the oppression of the enemy being lifted and the domain of the kingdom of darkness being obliterated. When the Church reflects the culture, watch out! The methods, practices and principles of the Church are to be devoted to God’s instruction and direction. But too often what seems to work so well in the world is simply adopted by the Church in the name of the Kingdom, and no one dares raise an objection. After all, it’s so successful! The church here was breaking the power of witchcraft that had held people in bondage.

Prevail: is embodied strength that “gets into the fray” (action), i.e. strength that engages the resistance. 

The Word of the Lord was proving itself superior, gaining mastery as Paul and his disciples proclaimed it throughout Asia.  The imperfect tense describes this as it’s effect again and again. Such is the power of the Word of God! Don’t ever underestimate the power of the Word. Someone may pretend that the Word you spoke to them had no effect (e.g., if they reject the Gospel), but rest assured, it did effect them one way or another (same sun that softens the wax, hardens the clay) 

It’s a blessed time in a soul, it’s a blessed time in a family, it’s a blessed time in a congregation, it’s a blessed time in a country when the word of God grows mightily and prevails . “Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?” What have I to do with black arts, or dealing with a lie? Those who first trusted in Christ were willing to forsake all and follow him. The grace of the gospel produces a new taste — it alters everything about us — our friends, our pursuits, our books, etc. — Richard Cecil

Eric Ludy-When the gospel it truly received it costs you everything, your life, your old ways, your old mannerisms, your old self. This is a cost that comes in knowing God and the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot hold on to a scrap of the old you. The problem is us. We have a born disposition that is in rebellion against the most High God. I want my life on my terms. I want the benefit of Jesus Christ and have Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father on my terms. I want a little of the peace, a little of the joy, a little of the power and of course then get out of hell free card. But that is about all I want now because I want to be a Christian on MY terms. You can have all that Jesus Christ is but there is a little caveat: He gets all that you are. Oh the glow, the soul satisfaction, the radiance that comes from giving our all, our entire lives, EVERYTHING to Him. Few want to live Christianity like this. Can you look God square in face and say you made me, you fashioned me for a purpose and a destiny, you gave your Son to set me free, and I now give you my life and will do what you require me to do. I don’t want my way. I want your way.

I Samuel 17:28: 48 And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. Hastened: To move with liquid ferocity like a lion toward its prey. He sprints into the jaws of danger for He knows His God does the impossible.

We take no junk from the enemy. We don’t listen to his voice mocking us. He is defeated. He is powerless to stop us. We need to get the spiritual growl for glory; the heavenly audacity; the firebrand in our soul; and a volcanic eruption in my heart for the living God. We must rise up and be a man; rise up and be a woman! We need to develop that fight, that vigor, that holy zeal in our soul. Grit your teeth and tell the Devil “Not on my watch!” O God make this man; make this woman live like that man, David. God honors the patriot. God honors the good soldier and warrior. Do you understand the nuclear power created in you at the new birth? Do you know what resides in you when the Bible says “It is Christ in You the Hope of Glory?” We are to make war against darkness. We are to break down every stronghold in our life; we demolish them for the glory of God. We subjugate every thought that enters human mind to the obedience of Christ. Are you ready and built for battle with our enemy or are you the great pushover? The Church of Jesus Christ is to bring violence against the kingdom of darkness. Grit your teeth and believe the word of God and don’t back down. If God promised, He will come thru. We do not let go of our God. We are not the cowards of this generation anymore. Let hell tremble because the church is being awakened. We follow in the train of the conqueror. Know your position church of Jesus Christ! This is not playacting! This is life! We do not back down; we don’t quit walking. We continually say in confidence-“Watch what my God will do!” My God wins.

We are princes and princesses representing a kingdom. We walk in this world as citizens of another realm demonstrating in this realm the behavior of our beloved Lord Jesus Christ. We are not of this world and we do not behave like it! This is what it means to be holy. We must have a practical holiness in our lives. God commands us in I Peter to be holy as God is holy. Maybe this is not our favorite verse to decoupage and hang above our sink, but it is a command of the Lord. Everyone should see Jesus in us. God is shaping us into a greater picture of Himself. How exciting is this! That our life becomes a representation of God’s glory.

Never forget we live in hostile territory. We are an enemy of the state when we sided with Jesus Christ. We cannot pander the world for approval and pander God for approval at the same time. No One can serve two masters! You have to choose your side! Is it God or the world? It is our belly or God? We have to choose which way we are going to live and whose approval we are going to seek. Are we a servant of Jesus Christ or a servant of this world? You can’t have it both ways. There is nothing more detestable to any kingdom than someone who attempts to serve both sides. Who are you going to be? A servant of God or a servant of the enemy? Do we look at the pantry of God for our appetite or is our belly raiding every other pantry of the flesh. Is it all about satisfying our needs, our wants, our appetites and our pleasures? If so, this is not how Christianity is supposed to operate.

Ravenhill: God’s goal is not to raise a generation of sandbox Christians. It’s fine for children to play and putter around in the sand, but grown-ups who insist upon remaining at that level of maturity will never enjoy the satisfaction of being used of God. Their lives will be wasted on foolish, fruitless pleasures rather than fulfilling God’s purpose in their generation.

Let God began Acts 29 with you!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Heart: Put God Where He Belongs!

Sadly for so many Christians, God occupies very little of their hearts. And if He is found there, it is only as a visitor given temporary lodgings until something or someone more important comes along. This is why the hearts of so many of us are spiritually anemic, lacking in the vibrancy and life of God Almighty. We have failed to consistently experience God living in our hearts and have never known Him beyond mere acquaintance. God is more like a distant relative we see a few times a year, someone to whom we offer a guest room or an inflatable mattress on the living room floor, but there’s no intimate, cherished, close relationship with One deeply residing within the heart.

Worse, God has been tossed from the throne of these hearts and something else has been exalted as king. Such a heart of rebellion is weak in faith, trust, and strength, because the Lord does not dwell there.

A. W. Tozer, in his classic book The Pursuit of God, writes,

In the deep heart of the man (Adam) was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come. … Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and “things” were allowed to enter. Within the human heart “things” have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne. … That place is His by every right in earth or heaven. While we take to ourselves the place that is His, the whole course of our life is out of joint. Nothing will or can restore order till our hearts make the great decision: God shall be exalted above … The whole course of life is upset by failure to put God where He belongs.[i]

God has every right to sit on the throne of your heart, but you must decide to put Him there. The great battle in life is not only to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength but also to keep Him on the throne of your heart, no matter what the world throws at you.

God is searching the hearts of men and women; He is looking for the heart devoted to Him above all else the world has to offer. He found such a man in David, whom God called “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). As Christians, we need to be relentless in our pursuit of God’s heart and unite our hearts with His in a bond that no power in hell can break.

God is not concerned with what kind of car you drive, how much money you earn, or how many academic degrees you have. He is instead concerned with the much more important questions “Where is your heart?” and “Does your heart belong to Me or to someone or something else?” In 1 Samuel 16:7, we learn that “the Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

In this passage, the Hebrew word translated as “look” means to intently consider, observe, and give attention to. God gives the utmost attention to the condition of our hearts, hoping to find that rare gem of a heart that, like David’s, is in sync and in tune with His own. How touching is it that Scripture says God “found” David (Acts 13:22)? David lived, moved, and breathed in the will of God, determined to do whatever the Lord wanted him to do. How God’s heart must have thrilled when He found a human heart wholly devoted to Him!

God wants us, as Christians, to be committed to Him above all else. We should cry out Solomon’s passionate declaration “I found the one my heart loves. I held him and would not let him go” (Song of Solomon 3:4). Our hearts should cleave unto God, hold Him tightly, never let go, and never allow anything else to take His place all the days of our lives.

The eyes of the Lord still range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Where will He find your heart? What condition is your heart currently in? Will you allow God to mend, heal, and transform you, to give you a mighty heart like David’s?

God wants you to fully experience Him. He yearns for you to know Him. He wants to be your loving Father, your unfailing strength, your abounding joy, your fathomless love, and your limitless peace. He wants the deepest companionship and the most fulfilling fellowship with you in the innermost part of your heart. God wants you to know that when He sits on the throne of your heart, you have everything. You need nothing more.

Living in the Heart of God

A. W. Tozer has said, “Because God made man in His image and redeemed him by the blood of the Lamb, the heart of God Himselfis the true environment for the Christian.”[ii] The heart of God Himself is the true environment for every Christian. We should not only be diligently after God’s own heart, but it should be where we live and conduct our lives. God wants our heart to become His and His heart to become ours.

The heart of God is the sphere of our new life in Christ. A sphere is an atmosphere or element where all the necessary conditions of life exist for development and growth. Every plant and animal exists in a sphere of life with conditions necessary for its subsistence and development. The air is the element of the bird, while water is the element of the fish. The bird has a breathing apparatus designed for the air, and the fish has a breathing apparatus designed for life underwater. Both are wonderfully and uniquely made to live and flourish in their sphere of life. Likewise, God has wonderfully created and uniquely made you and me to live and flourish in the heart of God. Not only can we live life to a far greater quality and degree within this sphere, but it’s the only place where we can fulfill our true destiny as the children of God. Only there will our old passions, habits, bondages, and ways of life be displaced and fade away. In this new sphere we have the capacity and freedom to live fully and unabashedly for God. We should be like King Hezekiah, who cried out, “God, please, I beg you: Remember how I’ve lived my life. I’ve lived faithfully in your presence, lived out of a heart that was totally yours” (Isaiah 38:3, MSG).

This is where God wants you to live your life, for this what you were created for. This is the place where you can glorify Him. Everything about you was made for Him, and as a new Christian you were born again to live in His heart, by His heart, and for His heart. As Augustine so poetically wrote to God in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” The hearts of every man and women on the earth will find no rest, no fulfillment, and no homecoming until they find their way home to Him.

“For I know the plansI have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11–14, NIV)

The loving and magnificent God of the universe has a purpose and a destiny for you. You are part of a plan that will rock Satan’s kingdom to the core and shake up the world for Jesus Christ. No one else has been given your unique mission as it has been ordained by God Almighty. Yet if you are ever to accomplish God’s purpose and destiny for your life, you must set your heart upon seeking Him and giving yourself to Him without reservation, hindrance, or obstruction. If you will live and move and breathe in God as your ultimate reality, your heart will become a sacred place where you rest in Him, enjoying His companionship and intimacy. And in this transformation chamber He will form your heart to be like His, where you cry His tears, feel His compassion, move in His love, and delight in His joy. Your heart will become absorbed in God’s heart, and you will hear His heartbeat and deeply experience His fathomless love and grace.

Living in the heart of God is the most exhilarating and adventurous place to live in the cosmos. For it’s there that you will you get to know the Creator of all things more intimately every day.

Friend, do you know, do you understand that God wants to be loved by you? God wants to be cherished. He wants to be wanted from the depth of your heart. John Eldredge, in his book Wild at Heart, beautifully shares this astounding truth:

I am convinced beyond a shadow of doubt of this: God wants to be loved. He wants to be a priority to someone. How could we have missed this? From cover to cover, from beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart is, “Why won’t you choose Me?” It is amazing to me how humble, how vulnerable God is on this point … He didn’t have to make us, but he wanted us. Though he knows the name of every star and his kingdom spans galaxies, God delights in being part of our lives … His heart is for relationship.[iii]

John Bevere, in Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God, says, “There is a call—no, a cry—coming from the heart of God and with each passing day its intensity increases: ‘Why are you satisfied without My presence; why do you remain distant when you could have intimacy with Me?’”[iv]

Oh, how we have let so many other things take possession of the prize of our hearts! So often we devote our attention to something other than God, which throws the heart into captivity and chaos. Fear, greed, lust, pride, bitterness, and many other foolish things stand as blockades against God ascending to the throne of our hearts. We are masters at erecting barriers against God, posting “Keep Out” signs all around us even as our hearts are drowning in a sea of strife and confusion. All the while, God is patiently waiting, watching and hoping that you will tear down the barriers and allow Him to rescue you.

Do You Hear Him Calling?

God is “passionate about His relationship with you” (Exodus 34:14, NLT). God yearns for you. He desires you. Your heart is the most treasured possession in all the earth to God. He longs to write the true story of your heart in His heavenly language and by His heavenly touch:

God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. (Psalm 18:24, MSG)

Acts 3:15 calls Jesus Christ “the author of life.” Have you opened the book of your heart to Him? Are you willing to let Him write the text of your life with breathtaking words and soul-stirring inspiration? Are you willing to let Him be the director, the producer, and the star of the story of your heart? Or is your heart distant from Him, wallowing in a sea of uncertainty and unbelief, earnestly waiting for a rescuer, a deliverer, and a restorer? Can’t you hear Him passionately calling, “Bring your heart to me and I will restore it, repair it, and rebuild it to be my home where my presence is alive”? No matter where your heart has wandered, no matter the depths to which you may have fallen, He can still rewrite the book of your heart into a beautiful history that glories God.

God is speaking to your heart right now. Do you hear Him? Are you listening? Is your heart like David, a man after God’s own heart, who listened and heard the call of God to his heart (Psalm 27:8)? Is your heart like the young Samuel who said to God “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9)? Is your heart like Elijah who heard the still, soft whisper of God to his heart (1 Kings 19:12)?

God’s heart is always crying out “Come,” and He passionately desires that you respond, “Lord, I am coming!” God pursues your heart because it has enormous value to Him—it is worth more than all the riches in the world! All God ever wanted was your heart. He wants intimacy with you, to have the deepest level of communion with you. He wants nothing to be held back. God wants a relationship with you in which everything is shared and all barriers are broken down so that you can fully experience Him.

Within every heart is a deep yearning for God and all that He is. Humankind’s great search is to be reunited with our Creator, the only One worthy of our praise. Without God, our hearts remain forever empty, wandering aimlessly, as we search for something to satisfy our hunger. Meanwhile, Jesus Christ is at the door of our hearts and cries out, “Here am I! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

The Salt Covenant of the Heart

The sharing of a meal in Bible times indicated a strong bond of affection and companionship. There was a salt covenant with meals in the Bible in which a person would bind himself to another in utmost loyalty and truthfulness as salt was a symbol of enduring friendship, honesty, and close alliance. It is still common today for people from the Eastern culture to say, “There is salt between us.”

Jesus Christ wants to make a salt covenant with your heart, too. He wants to bind His heart together with yours heart in the closest intimacy of a friend, brother, companion, and provider. He pledges to enter a covenant of utmost loyalty with your heart where there will be an enduring bond of affection, honesty, and unbroken alliance. He wants your heart to be forever knit and linked with His, united and moving forward as one.

Jesus’ promise to come in and eat with those who will open the door to Him is given in the context of His warning against having a lukewarm heart for the Lord. This is the heart that recklessly and arrogantly proclaims it does not need a thing, even as it wallows in its own misery, selfishness, and spiritual blindness. Has your heart been lukewarm, indifferent to His presence and unresponsive to His voice?Is your heart so clogged with other things that Jesus has been crowded out of the picture? Has your heart succumbed to pride and selfishness? If so, Jesus is standing at the door of your heart right now with a firm but loving request: He wants the great treasure of your heart. He doesn’t want a token of it, a good portion of it, or even most of it. He wants all of it. Jesus Christ is longing for all of you. Do you hear him knocking? Do you hear Him gently calling your name?

Revelation 3:20 is a call of intimacy, friendship, and loyalty to our hearts and an invitation to enter into an unbreakable covenant of love. With such a wonderful promise of loyalty and intimacy, why do so many of us let our hearts be captivated by other things that only lead us astray? We chase the illusion. We blindly follow the lure of fascination in the world. At the first hint of success, we become puffed up with pride and begin pushing our own agendas. We let jealously, bitterness, envy and strife consume us. We get burdened down with trivial matters, and all the while Jesus stands just outside the door, offering intimacy, loyalty, and devotion with Almighty God. We should run to Him with all our might, for it is only in Him that we find the true meaning and purpose of life.

What Is the Heart?

You must understand this foundational, biblical truth: Your heart belongs to God. Your heart was formed and fashioned by God to be wholly devoted to Him and to be vibrantly alive with His presence. As Tozer has said, “God gave you a harp and placed it in your own heart. … and He meant that harp to be tuned to Himself.”[v] The human heart is His, and only His, and it was never meant to give devotion or allegiance to anyone else. We must first understand this timeless truth before our spiritual eyes can be truly enlightened to the other great truths in God’s Word concerning the heart.

So what exactly is “the heart” that God pursues relentlessly and the devil tries to capture and keep in bondage? What does the word “heart” mean in Scripture? The heart is not the physical organ that pumps blood to the body, but rather, it’s the innermost part of a person’s being—the seat and center of a human life. Your heart is the essence of who you are. It is the control center for your will, emotions, intellect, desires, understanding, reasoning, reflection, and judgment. How you develop and grow mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is determined by the condition and makeup of your heart.

E. W. Bullinger, in A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, defines the heart as “the seat and center of man’s physical life in which the distinctive character of the human manifests itself.”[vi] The heart is the center of everything that is manifested and comes forth in your life. One of the great principles of the heart is that whatever is in your heart is going to show up in your life, forming your character, your personality, your attitudes, your actions, and your words. The heart is the blueprint of what people see manifested in your life.

The New Bible Dictionary says the heart is “essentially the whole man, with all his attributes, physical, intellectual and psychological … and the heart was conceived of as the governing center for all of these. It is the heart which makes the man … what he is, and governs all his actions.”[vii] It is amazing to think that every word, every thought, every motive, every action comes from this place called the heart. Indeed, your heart is the source of everything you will ever do while you live upon the earth.

Emotions, feelings, and passions represent some of the deep inner movements of the heart that flow out into our lives and demonstrate the quality and composition of our hearts. Does love or strife flow out of your heart? Anger or forgiveness? Tenderness or bitterness? Humility or pride? Every moment you draw breath upon the earth, something is flowing out of your heart. What is coming out of your heart when you are with your family, at your job, with your friends, at your church, or when the sudden challenges of life are thrust upon you?

What flows out of our heart determines the quality of our life and character. It determines the manner and attitude with which you handle life’s major obstacles. It determines the richness of your relationships and the depths of your love. What flows out of the heart even determines the direction and course of your life.

Simply put, the heart is who you are and the essence of your being. As Oswald Chambers put it, “The use of the Bible term ‘heart’ is best understood by simply saying ‘me.’ It is the central citadel of a man’s personality.”[viii] This is why the heart is the key to your mental, social, and spiritual life, just as the physical heart is the key to your physical life. The heart is at the center of it all. And that is why the heart is at the center of all spiritual warfare, for it is the territory that both the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan desire.

John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive:

This is the lastthing the Enemy wants you to know. His plan from the beginning was to assault the heart … Make them so busy, they ignore the heart. Wound them so deeply, they don’t want a heart. Twist their theology, so they despise the heart. Take away their courage. Destroy their creativity. Make intimacy with God impossible for them. Of course your heart would be the object of a great and fierce battle. It is your most precious possession.[ix]

Without your heart, you cannot have love. Without your heart, you cannot have faith. Without your heart, you cannot find the work you were meant to do. In other words, without your heart you cannot have life.

As Christians, we have neglected the importance of maintaining the heart with tireless vigilance. The heart is under assault daily, and we can never be too busy to tend to its care. We must be ever on guard, for the heart can turn or harden quickly, moving us off the path God has set for our lives.

The Wellspring of Your Life

When your heart is properly cared for under the gentle guidance of God, it should be a reflection of the glory of God. Your heart is meant to be full of His light, shattering the darkness of this world and brilliantly displaying the image of the Creator. Your heart was made by God to bear the image of His magnificence and characteristics such as love, mercy, goodness, tenderness, justice, strength, compassion, and peace.

The heart of every Christian is meant to be vibrantly alive as God’s life is poured into the words, motives, and actions of those who have passionately guarded their hearts for God. We must fight for every inch of our hearts against the relentless attack of the devil and his deceptive schemes and plans. We must not let him pollute our hearts with his contaminated words, thoughts, images, and purposes. The treasure of your heart is too valuable to be surrendered to the enemy.

Proverbs 4:23 (NEB) reads, “Guard your heart more than any treasure, for it is the source of life. The New International Version says it like this: “Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” The heart is the wellspring, or fountain, of life. It’s the central reservoir from which all of a person’s words, actions, and motives flow. Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon titled “The Great Reservoir,” said:

You have seen the great reservoirs provided by our water companies, in which the water which is to supply hundreds of streets and thousands of houses is kept. Now, the heart is just the reservoir of man, and our life is allowed to flow in its proper season. That life may flow through different pipes—the mouth, the hand, the eye, but still all the issues of hand, of eye, of lip, derive their source from the great fountain and central reservoir, the heart; and hence there is no difficulty in showing the great necessity that exists for keeping this reservoir, the heart, in a proper state and condition, since otherwise that which flows through the pipe must be touted and corrupt … Mere moralists often forget the heart. … It is as if, when the reservoir was filled with poisonous or polluted fluid, some sage counselor should propose that all the piping had better be taken up, and fresh pipes laid down, so that water may be run through fresh channels; but who does not perceive that it would be all in vain, if the fountain-head were polluted, however good the channels. So in vain the rules by which men hope to fashion their lives; in vain the regimen by which we seek to constrain ourselves to the semblance of goodness. Unless the heart be right, the very best scheme of life shall fall to the ground, and fail to effect its design.[x]

The heart is the mighty reservoir that pumps its contents into our words, our thoughts, our motives, our emotions, our passions and our deeds. If Jesus Christ came and tested the quality of the water in the reservoir of your heart, what would He find? Is your reservoir polluted with the thoughts, ideas, and characteristics of this world? Or is it pure, lovely, and holy, reflecting the glory and heart of its Creator? Is your heart an environmental hazard that is contaminating your Christian walk and witness for Christ and polluting the quality of your intimacy with your heavenly Father? If your heart is polluted, then your life is going to be polluted.

What goes into determining the contents of the reservoir of your heart? Everything you think about, look at, read, listen to, been taught about, and have experienced. Ron Luce, in Guard Your Heart,explains it this way:

[The heart] is a sponge that soaks up every experience, every thought, and everything we have ever been taught. It absorbs everything and then, as we are squeezed, what comes out of that sponge directs our life. Think of all the experiences you have had—good ones, exciting ones, and bad ones that have hurt you. Think of all the things you have seen, read in textbooks, and learned from the school of life. Think of every emotion you have ever had and every dream you have ever dreamed. All of those things have been absorbed into your inner being just as a sponge would soak up water.[xi]

The contents of a contaminated heart can literally poison your words, emotions, attitude, and character, and destroy your life. You cannot sidestep and ignore the condition of your heart and think it won’t have any effect on your life.

The Hebrew word translated “wellspring” in Proverbs 4:23 means “outgoing, to go forth, a starting point, a source, and an end point.” In Old Testament days, this word was used to refer to the borders of a territory or the boundaries of a city. The heart determines the borders of your words and actions and the direction the territory of your life will extend. Out of the heart flows a map that illustrates every detail of the geography, frontiers and outer edges of your emotions, passions, behaviors, attitudes and desires that shapes your daily life. Like a surveyor that stakes out a territory, the heart determines the boundaries of your mental and emotional life and the sphere where you function and conduct your daily activities. These boundaries can be healthy or unhealthy, based on the condition of your heart.

Guarding the Promised Land

The first usage of this word “wellspring” in Scripture is found in the book of Numbers, in which God reveals to Moses the borders of the Promised Land that Israel is to go and possess: “This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side” (Numbers 34:12).

God has set the boundaries of a Promised Land for your life where you can accomplish your God-given destiny and purpose that God has lovingly designed for you. This Promised Land is a place where you can enjoy the blessings of God, the peace of God, the deliverance of God, the protection of God, and the presence of God. The Promised Land is where God is enjoyed, praised, and glorified for His matchless love, grace, and mercy. The Promised Land is the true territory of your heart where you can joyfully display God’s excellence and goodness in all the areas of your life. But your heart can only remain in God’s ordained Promised Land if you diligently guard its borders from infiltration by the enemy.

For the children of Israel, the Promised Land was also a place of warfare where all the enemies of God were to be driven out, where God’s chosen people were to experience great victory from the Lord. There were thirty-one hostile enemy nations in the land Israel was about to enter, and God commanded that all of these enemies of God’s people were to be thrust out of this holy land. Most of Israel’s problems in their history (especially idolatry and turning away from the Lord) stem from their original failure to force these ungodly nations and their false gods out of the Promised Land.

Ours is a battle to keep the heart aligned with God’s heart, an ongoing struggle to remain within the boundaries of the Promised Land of God’s will. Ours is a battle to keep our hearts from becoming conformed to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:2). Ours is a battle to keep the relentless forces of fear, worry, anxiety, disobedience, bitterness, unforgiveness, and hatred from possessing any territory within our hearts.

We must be aware that the enemy is always prowling near the borders of our hearts, subtly trying to gain entrance so he can establish a stronghold in the heart and exercise his control and influence. We must be the constant border patrol of our hearts, watching all the boundaries of our lives so that the enemy does not become an illegal resident of our hearts. We cannot passively allow him to hang out and set up his tent anywhere in this, for he is a master at turning the heart away from God.

In order to enter the Promised Land and keep its borders secure, we must guard our hearts with all diligence, protecting it from the schemes and strategies of Satan, devoting it instead wholeheartedly and passionately to God and His Word. Under the direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can set boundaries that will reflect His love, grace, mercy, compassion, and peace, and in this land we will fulfill God’s calling for our lives.

But the devil has also staked out a territory for your life, and it is called the wilderness. The devil wants to control the contents of your heart, for then he can set the borders of your life within the wilderness where evil, fear, ungodliness, impurity, hatred, and selfishness abound. It’s interesting that one of the Hebrew words for “evil” means to break up all that is good, to destroy or injure by scattering and breaking into pieces, and to destroy, circumvent, and hinder the good purpose or design God has intended for someone or something. Evil is the active opposition of God’s good purpose or design for a person with the intent of destroying, limiting, and hindering it in any way possible.

The devil is called “the evil one” (Matthew 5:37), and if we are careless with our hearts, he will re-position the borders of life so that the destiny God has for you is shattered and broken into pieces. He wants to conform the map of your life to the pattern of this world. In this wilderness, God will be pushed out and obstructed from your heart. Many Christians, though they are born again, live their entire lives in the wilderness where they do little, if anything, to advance God’s kingdom because they have given little thought or care to the condition of their hearts. The heart is the absolute key to our spiritual lives and the key to our success in standing against the attack of our spiritual enemy.

The Exodus of the Heart

The Greek word for “wellspring” in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, means “exodus, departure, or a journey, road, or way out.” An exodus is a departure from one geographical location to another. The most magnificent example in human history is, of course, the exodus of Israel out of the slavery and bondage of Egypt. This event marked the birth of Israel as a nation, as God’s chosen people were called out of captivity to serve Him and live under a covenant relationship with God in which He would vigorously provide, protect, and fight for His children. Hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children departed Egypt on their journey to a new land.

What a picture this gives us of the workings of the heart. There is an exodus of actions, emotions, passions, motives, words, and thoughts that are constantly coming out of your heart. Where is this exodus leading you? Is the exodus from your heart taking you to a land of promise or a land of bondage? Is your life headed toward the territory and land that God has staked out for your life or to a territory the devil has staked out in the wilderness? Every journey you have ever embarked upon in your life has come out of the heart, and the condition of your heart will determine which path you decide to follow. The path you choose will ultimately define and frame your character, personality, behavior, and witness for the Lord.

Jesus taught a valuable lesson to His disciples about the importance of the exodus from the heart:

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, in vain they do worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a person … Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth, passes into the stomach and is expelled. But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. (Matthew 15:8–11; 17–20, ESV, emphasis mine)

Religious leaders in the time of Jesus cared little about the condition of their hearts, and as a result, their hearts became hardened and corrupt, putting stakes down thousands of miles from the heart of God. These leaders were more concerned with the outward appearance of religious ceremony and ritual than they were about devoting their hearts to God. Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament says, “They are regular in their formsof worship. They are strict in their ceremonial observances, and keep the law outwardly; but God requires the heart, and that they have not rendered.”

Isn’t it amazing how religion so often misses the importance of the heart? We have our grand cathedrals, our pompous ceremonies, our rituals, and our strict traditions of faith, but our worship is in vain because it proceeds from a heart in which God has no place. The pious works of the Pharisees and scribes came from hearts that had been corrupted and poisoned with selfishness and pride. Their outward honoring of God was a pretense, a dead and lifeless ceremony because of the defiled condition of their hearts. The Greek word translated “vain,” in describing the Pharisees’ acts of worship, means empty, worthless, invalid, without purpose, devoid of force, futile, and of no lasting value.

True praise and worship of God come from a heart that is radically in love with God and passionately committed to do all things for His glory. Worship from the heart is vital for the Christian life. As A.W. Tozer so eloquently said, “Worship is man’s full reason for existence. Worship is why we are born and why we are born again.”[xii] True worship is internal first and foremost, not external. True worship is a wonderful communion, an intimate interaction and close fellowship of our hearts with the heart of God. If we don’t take care of the condition of our hearts, then this worship that was meant to be beautiful and holy becomes despoiled and a mere shadow of its glorious purpose.

Although the Pharisees and scribes put on quite a show, their hearts betrayed them. Their hearts exposed them as hypocrites who were merely playing the part of God’s servants, but the exodus from their hearts showed them to be frauds and actors going through the motions of rites of no importance to God and worthless for the advancement of His kingdom. The Pharisees and the scribes had not given God full and complete access to their hearts.

In The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, Kenneth Wuest translates part of Matthew 15:8 as, “Their heart holds back at a great distance from me.”[xiii] These religious leaders had made a deliberate decision to hold their hearts back at a great distance from God. They didn’t want God anywhere near their hearts. They instead were concerned with man-made religious decrees and arrogant demonstrations of their self-righteousness. Jesus clearly pointed out that God is not concerned with religious creeds or rules but what is flowing from the heart. The condition of our hearts is of supreme importance to God. Worship and praise to God mean nothing unless He has captured our hearts.

Clean Hearts or Whitewashed Tombs?

The Greek word translated as “defile” in Matthew 15:20 means to make unclean, impure, to desecrate, and to render unhallowed. Jesus Christ was teaching his disciples that what really desecrates a life, making it unclean and impure, is the wretched condition of a heart. It is an absolute principle in life that what is in your heart will pour out like a great exodus into your life, actions, and behaviors. When the heart is impure, your actions, words, thoughts, motives, and deeds will be impure. The desecration of the heart corrupts a person’s entire life.

Look at the exodus from the hearts of the Pharisees and scribes. It’s not a pretty picture. Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, theft, sexual immorality, strife, envy, jealously, hatred, slander, false witness, bitterness, and pride were gushing from their hearts and destroying their character, their witness, their service, and their relationship with God. Outwardly, they looked so devout and sacred, but inside their hearts were dead to God. Jesus exposed them as whitewashed tombs:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs which appear on the outside beautiful, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. In the same way, you appear to be people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:27–28, NIV)

At the time, many families would have a tomb, or sepulcher, cut out of rock or made from a cave, and generations of their family would be buried in it. Barnes’ Notes on The New Testament tells us:

The sepulchers of the Jews were commonly caves, beyond the walls of the cities in which they dwelt; or excavations made in the side of hills, or sometimes in solid rocks. … These tombs were annually whitewashed, to prevent the people from accidentally coming in contact with them as they went up to Jerusalem. The law considered those persons unclean who had touched anything that belonged to the dead (Numbers 19:16). Sepulchers were therefore often whitewashed, that they could be distinctly seen. Thus “whited,” they appeared beautiful; but within they contained the bones and corrupting bodies of the dead.[xiv]

The Jews would cover the outside of the tomb with a powdered lime dust or plaster that made it appear beautiful on the outside, but actually was a warning of the corruption found on the inside. Jesus said these whitewashed tombs “appear on the outside beautiful.” The Greek word translated “appear” means to bring forth into the light, to shine, and to be bright. The Greek word for “beautiful” is horaios, which means to be produced or ripened in the fit season; it means seasonable, as used of ripe fruits because they are most beautiful when they’re ripe. Trench’s Synonyms of the New Testament elaborates on the meaning of this word:

All which is in the world lives submitted to the laws of growth and decay, has its hour … the period, that is, that it makes fairest show of whatever of grace or beauty it may own. This hour, being thus the turning point of its existence, the time when it is at its loveliest and best, yields horaios with the sense first of timely … and then of beautiful.[xv]

The amazing but sad truth is that on the outside there was a beauty to the outward ceremony and religious garb that made it appear the Pharisees and scribes were bringing forth the light of God and shining for His glory, but it was all a mirage. They made it look as though they had reached the pinnacle in their service for God and their lives were full of ripe, godly fruit in its perfect season. But Jesus revealed their true hearts, which He compared to a tomb full of death and rotting decay. Regardless of their beautiful rituals and spiritual-sounding words, their hearts were full of the deepest forms of corruption. Yet these were the men who represented God and the sacred text of His Word to God’s chosen people. These men were supposed to be the teachers and reflections of God’s heart.

What a pompous, fraudulent mess religion so often is! Through the ages, it has placed a greater value on the outward appearance of ceremony and traditions rather than on the condition of the human heart. Religion can never completely mask the true motives and contents of the heart. Religion cannot stop the exodus of the heart, because the contents of the heart will eventually pour out into our deeds and lives. The heart will always betray and expose the hypocrisy of religion with its man-made rules and regulations that have been set above the purposes and will of God. The heart will expose the spiritual condition of those who are infected with selfishness, pride, and all types of evil. Religion and rules never bring life but ultimately only death and destruction, as these push the heart away from God.

Jesus Christ so vividly illustrated that we can never let our hearts fall into this condition if we want to love and serve God and accomplish His destiny for our lives. If we ever want to reach the pinnacle of the beauty and majesty of the call of God on the church, then first and foremost we must take address the condition of our hearts. If we continue to be careless with our hearts, then it doesn’t matter how big the church, how great the choir, and how impressive the service—we will be nothing more than whitewashed tombs.

To the angel of the church in Sardis write: “These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1, NIV)

The Lord was not fooled by the church at Sardis. He knew, with absolute clarity, the condition of their hearts. This looked like a fabulous and glorious church on the outside, and it had an outstanding reputation of being alive for God. But there was only one huge problem: The church was full of people who were dead in their hearts. The members of this church had failed to be watchful and alert over their hearts, and this allowed the enemy to deaden them to the very God they outwardly worshipped. The hearts were so lifeless that as God examined the works coming from their hearts, He could find not one single deed that glorified Him. He found only dead hearts full of a polluted religion that would not allow Him to complete His magnificent calling for their lives.

Unfortunately, this has become the tragedy of modern-day Christianity. Ours is a religion of outward show and ceremony. George Eldon Ladd, in A Commentary on the Revelation of John, defines today’s church as “a picture of nominal Christianity, outwardly prosperous, busy with the externals of religious activity, but devoid of spiritual life and power.”[xvi] We have become a church of the living dead, peopled with hearts in a sick, weak, and diseased condition. We are void of the power, life, and love of the gospel.

Jim Cymbala, in The Church God Blesses, writes:

Although physical heart problems claim many victims each year across our country, there are heart problems of another kind that I want us to consider. The heart is also of critical importance in a spiritual sense. The church, and especially the pulpit that God blesses, has to have a unique kind of heart. I believe the heart factor is the most overlooked aspect of all our searching for keys to living successfully for Jesus Christ.[xvii]

The contemporary church seems to have totally abandoned teaching the importance of the heart in Christian living, judging from the testimony of the hearts of many Christians. It’s a sad commentary on the church, but who so often judges the ways of the world and yet is the most selfish, prideful, bitter, malicious, greedy, vengeful, lustful, hurtful, and unloving? Isn’t it many times the Christian, whose heart condition is little better than a sewer, spewing forth the raw filth of the world? No wonder the witness of Christianity has become so weakened in recent years. People have been deeply hurt, lives have been destroyed, and churches ripped apart because we have allowed our hearts to fall into such a contaminated condition, pouring out their foul contents into the lives of all those around us.

Christianity needs an awakening to the truth that the condition of the heart is vital to the effectiveness of the gospel. The heart of a Christian is to be the citadel of Jesus Christ and reflect the heart of God in every word, deed, and action. The heart should be a pure representation of all the goodness of God and a lighthouse that radiates to the world all the love and character of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Out of the Storehouse of the Heart

The heart is storehouse that brings into one’s life whatever has been stored in the heart. So many of us have stored up in our hearts the traits, characteristics, and images of the world rather than the words and image of the glorious Christ. The inside of the believer’s heart must deeply and purely reflect Christ, or Christianity’s witness to the world crumbles and our lives betray the gospel. Without hearts that are utterly devoted to Him in all purity and faith, the gospel becomes dead in our Christian walk and growth.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Truly, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21), and when your heart is in a healthy spiritual condition, the kingdom comes bursting forth from you to advance under the mighty hand of God:

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. (Luke 6:43–45, NIV)

The Greek word translated here as “stored up” is thesaurus, sometimes rendered as “treasure” in other versions of Scripture, which means “the place in which things are collected and laid up, a storage room, a chamber or chest in which treasure is kept, to gather and layup, to amass or reserve in a storehouse, that which is stored up and saved by human beings as being especially precious.” This Greek word gives us our English word “thesaurus,” which is a treasury or storage place of words.

Your heart is a treasure chest, a storehouse, a place where things are accumulated and stored up. You are constantly storing up thoughts, words, images, ideas, experiences, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions in the treasure chest of your heart. As you begin to amass these things in your heart, your life begins to take on a distinctive flavor based upon what we are storing within. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21). The condition of your heart is determined by the treasure that has been stored in it. From this storehouse of the heart comes all the words, works, attitudes, beliefs and emotions that define your character and frame your life.

How do you react in the midst of difficult circumstances? What comes pouring out of your heart when you are faced with a dilemma? What is your response to temptation when it comes calling? What do you do in word and deed when suddenly confronted with a problem in your marriage, work, church, family, or social life? It all depends upon the treasure you have stored in your heart. The fruit manifested in your life is in direct relationship to what has been stored in your heart. With the exception of random thoughts and instinctive reactions, everything you think about and everything you do is an issue of the heart.

Are you beginning to see how important the condition of your heart is to your Christian walk? The keeping of the heart is the great work of the Christian and the very center of your duty towards God. All the responsibilities of the Christian faith mean very little if you do not take care of the heart. So what are you storing in your heart? What is the treasure you are keeping there? Are you guarding and protecting your heart so that your storehouse remains pure, good, and uncontaminated with the evil junk that thrives in the world?

John Flavel, in Keeping the Heart, writes that the keeping of the heart is “the most important business of a Christian’s life”:

Most certainly, the man who is careless of the frame of his heart, is but a hypocrite in his profession, however eminent he may be in the externals of religion. … And what can be the reason that the discourses and duties of many Christians are become so frothy and unprofitable, their communion both with God and one another becomes as a dry stalk, but this: their hearts are neglected? … Time was, when Christians conducted in such a manner that the world stood gazing at them. Their life and language were of a different strain from those of others. [xviii]

The Christian heart is meant to have such a godly beauty and purity to it that it amazes all those who behold it. Our hearts were meant to shine for the Lord and to be a glorious representation of Him in everything we say and do. Gazing at the Christian heart, one should see the reflection of God.

We must take back our hearts from the clutches of Satan and allow God to heal, restore, and reign from the throne in our hearts. We must be ever so careful to guard every thought, image, perception and word that we allow therein. There is a battle raging in the church, and its intensity and ferocity are increasing by the day. This battle is happening in every home, church, city, country and continent where the name of Jesus Christ is known. The devil has thrown all the muscle and might of his dominion into this all-out war. This battle determines whether we have life or death, salvation or hopelessness, freedom or bondage, Christ or the world, healing or sickness, deliverance or oppression, peace or anxiety, joy or depression. This battle determines daily the effective spread of the gospel around the world and the quality of Christianity’s witness on earth.

We must not let our heart become casualties on the battlefield. God has given us the battle plans and the manual for victory, and this is the Bible, the Spirit-breathed Word of God. This infallible manual instructs us how to take care of our hearts and assures us our hearts can become storehouses of God’s glory. Without this constant reference to this instruction manual, we stand no chance of success or victory in this mighty battle for our hearts.

The human heart must once again become a stronghold for Christ upon the earth. We must once again become warriors for our God and our hearts fortresses of the gospel, undaunted by the relentless attacks of the enemy. Only then will we stand victorious on the battlefield of life, resting upon the shoulders of our commander, Jesus Christ.

You must begin this journey of the heart by spending some quiet time with God and letting Him do a thorough examination of your heart. Only He can show you the true condition of your heart. Let Him show you where the true treasure of your heart lies, and then follow His treatment plan to restore your heart, to make it vibrant, alive, and one with His.

The Spirit of God in Your Heart

There is one last vital ingredient we must discuss before moving on, for without it, true transformation of the heart is impossible. This is the mighty component the heart needs to be made anew and surge with the power and love of God pumping through every part of it. This is the missing link, the master key to unlock the potential of the human heart. We see it in the biblical lives of Peter, Paul, Samson, David, Saul, Moses, and Elisha, just to name just a few. What can have such an effect on the heart? Only the Spirit of the living God:

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. (Ezekiel 36:26–27, NLT)

Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. (1 Samuel 10:6, ESV)

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you constantly and will be in you. (John 14:16-17, AMP)

The Spirit of God is the true guide, helper, encourager, purifier, and discerner of the heart. Without the Spirit of God, the heart will remain enslaved to the impulses and cravings of the flesh. The Spirit of God moving within the heart brings new life, new understanding, and a new relationship with the Creator of the heavens and the earth. The Spirit of God enables Christians to follow God’s decrees, and it is always exerting its influence on the heart to obey God at all times.

As Christians, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit at the time of the new birth, along with a new divine nature, and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise. This does not mean that we instantaneously have perfect hearts that flawlessly reflect the image and pattern of Christ. We must henceforth walk by the Spirit, live by the Spirit, and allow the Spirit to teach us and lead us. We must make the Spirit of God the gatekeeper of our hearts, to help us turn away (and turn away from) anything that would sully the heart. The Spirit of God imparts wisdom, knowledge and discernment to us so we do not fall into the traps of our spiritual enemy.

The Holy Spirit is a blazing light to the heart that dispels darkness and sheds light on the heart’s true spiritual condition. The Spirit of God reveals pockets of idolatry, disobedience, and impurity in our hearts, and He instructs and leads us to repentance and cleansing from the hand of God. The Spirit of God is the fire in our heart that ignites our passion for God and burns up the wicked chaff of unbelief that hinders our faith and trust in Him. The Spirit of God emblazons, with the finger of God, a living love letter from our Lord on our hearts.

You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God—a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart. … By “the Lord” what I mean is the Spirit, and in any heart where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is liberty. Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it. (2 Corinthians 3:3, 17–18, VOICE)

The Spirit of God is the great liberator of the heart. He brings deliverance from every form of spiritual disease and bondage. He clears the way for the heart to reflect the glory of the Lord.

What an amazing thought that our hearts can reflect the glory of the Lord and become a mirror-image of Christ! Only the Spirit of God can cause this type of spiritual transformation and heavenly radiance. Each day as we walk by the Spirit, our hearts will become more and more radiant with His glory, more and more reflective of the image of Christ. However, this mighty work of the Spirit cannot be accomplished if we neglect and fail to keep our hearts in alignment with the heart of our faithful Lord. We must live, breathe, and move in the Spirit of God.

The Heart Is Not Beyond Redemption

We must understand one more important truth concerning the heart, as there has been much confusion about this truth that has caused many Christians to believe that the transformation of the heart is impossible. This often stems from the reading of Jeremiah 17:9 (NKJV), which reads, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” We read this and think the heart must be a lost cause. Not so! Let me explain.

As Christians, we also have a sin nature inherited from Adam, which the Bible calls “the flesh,” “the old man,” “the natural man” and “the carnal mind,” depending on the translation and chapter and verse. This sin nature exerts tremendous influence on the heart to walk in the ways of the flesh, but this sin nature is not the same thing as the heart. These are distinctly separate things.

As Christians, we have two natures, but the heart is neither. Under the control and influence of the sin nature, the heart can be very deceitful, wicked, and corrupt, but this does not mean the heart is the same thing as our sin nature or that the heart cannot change. A. W. Pink explains this important point in Practical Christianity:

People say, “I was born with an evil heart, and I cannot help it.” It would be more correct to say, “I was born with an evil nature, which I am responsible to subdue.” The Christian needs clearly to recognize that in addition to his two “natures”—the flesh and the spirit—he has a heart which God requires him to “keep.” I cannot change or better my “nature,” but I may and must my “heart.” It is the devil who seeks to persuade people that they are not responsible for the state of their hearts, and may no more change them than they can the stars in their courses. … The duty of keeping the heart with the utmost diligence is binding all the Christian at all times; there is no period or condition of life in which he may be excused from this work.[xix]

If the heart is truly a lost cause, hopelessly wicked, why would God instruct us to set our hearts upon Him (2 Chronicles 20:33); to set our hearts to seek the Lord (2 Chronicles 11:16); to guard the heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23); to purify our hearts (James 4:8); to love the Lord with all our heart (Matthew 22:37); to not harden our hearts (Hebrews 3:8); to gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12); to let the peace of God rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15); to strengthen our hearts so that we will be blameless before God (1 Thessalonians 3:13); to sanctify the Lord God in our hearts (1 Peter 3:15); to believe in our hearts (Romans 10:10); to have noble and good hearts (Luke 8:15); and to walk with perfect hearts (Psalm 101:2)? Why would God bother to search our hearts if it were a futile mission?

You see, we have confused the heart with the sin nature, but this is not what Scripture teaches. The heart can change. The heart can be transformed. And we are ultimately responsible for the condition of our hearts.

There is a war going on within us as our two natures are in constant conflict and struggle against each other to dominate our hearts. Our sin nature and our new nature in Christ wage a battle for our hearts, and this is the inward conflict and challenge we face every day: What nature will have the greatest influence over our hearts? The apostle Paul offers this advice:

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (Galatians 5:16–17, NIV)

The Greek word translated “contrary” here means to lie opposite to, to be lined up against, and to be adverse to. The Greek word is used here in the present tense, which indicates a continual conflict or war between our new divine nature in Christ and our old sin nature, with no truce in sight.

In Wuest’s Word Studies in the Greek New Testament,he writes:

The word “contrary” speaks of a permanent attitude of opposition toward each other on the part of both the flesh and the Spirit. The picture in the Greek word is that of two opposing armies, each digging a system of trenches for the purpose of holding the land they have and conducting a trench warfare. They have dug themselves in for a long drawn-out contest. This contest is going on all the time in the heart of every child of God.[xx]

Do you remember the old war movies when armed forces tried to hold their positions in a trench while waging war against an enemy in the trench across an open battlefield? This is the kind of combat the heart faces daily. The flesh and the spirit are at odds and enmity and have been at war since the beginning. The stakes are high in this spiritual conflict, as this fierce warfare is for the control and supremacy of the human heart. This is a battle for the quality and character of the Christian, and whether his or her life will be transformed into the beauty and likeness of Christ, or be conformed to the evil and wickedness of their sin nature and the ungodly schemes of this world. This is a battle for what works and fruit will adorn the Christian’s life and define his witness and testimony for Jesus Christ. This mother of all battles rages every moment we draw breath upon the earth.

If the condition of our heart is to be bursting forth with the life and love of Christ, we must live, breath, walk, and stand firmly by the Spirit of God and mortify the desires, lusts, and the influence of the flesh. We must open the door of our hearts in every way to Christ and close the door to the deceitful enticements of sin and the flesh. We are the guardians of our hearts, and we decide whether our heart is conformed to the world or to Christ.

Do people see Jesus when they see your heart? Or is your heart just as wicked, angry, and bitter as the world around you? Are you a light to the world or lost in the darkness of this world? Does your heart clearly stand apart from all the chaos and deceit we see in the world? Open your spiritual eyes and look at your heart in the mirror of God’s Word. What do you see there? Is it a blessing or disturbing? Is your heart healthy or sick? What do people see when they look at your life? Does it lead them to the heart of God or drive them away from Him? Are the commanding forces of the Spirit or the flesh winning the battle for your heart?

It is time for us, the church, to stir from our spiritual stupor and begin at once to act concerning the condition of our hearts. Time is of the essence. We cannot wait! We must press into action and gain the victory and then guard this prized possession for the Lord with vigilance and unshakable determination.


[i] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (New York: Start Publishing LLC, 2012, originally published in 1948), 22, Kindle.

[ii] A.W. Tozer, Tozer Speaks: 128 Compelling and Authoritative Teachings of A.W. Tozer, Volume 1, compiled by Gerald B. Smith (Camp Hill: Wingspread Publishers, 2010).

[iii] John Eldridge, Wild at Heart: Discovering a Secret of a Man’s Soul, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2001), 36.

[iv] John Bevere, Drawing Near: A Life of Intimacy with God (Nashville: Thomas Nelson 2004), 1.

[v] A. W. Tozer The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (Ada: Bethany House Publishers 2009), 27.

[vi] E.W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975) 362.

[vii] J.D. Douglas, New Bible Dictionary (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 1982).

[viii] Oswald Chambers, The Moral Foundation of Life: A Series of Talks on the Ethical Principles of the Christian Life (Oswald Chambers: 1962).

[ix] John Eldredge, Waking the Dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 51, 52.

[x] Charles Spurgeon, The Great Reservoir, Sermon 179, delivered on February 21, 1858, at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Garden.

[xi] Ron Luce, Guarding Your Heart (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 28, 29.

[xii] A.W. Tozer, The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worship (Ada: Bethany House Publishers 2009), 29.

[xiii] Kenneth Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company 1961).

[xiv] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications 1962), 110, 111.

[xv] Richard Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company 1953), 388, 389.

[xvi] George Eldon Ladd, A Commentary on the Revelation of John (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1972), 611, Kindle.

[xvii] Jim Cymbala, The Church God Blesses (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 108.

[xviii] John Flavel, Keeping the Heart, 9, Kindle.

[xix] A.W. Pink, Practical Christianity, 2435, 2436 Kindle.

[xx] Kenneth Wuest, Word Studies in the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B Eerdmans Publishing Company 1961),19, 20.

Chapter 2: Guarding the Heart: The Christian’s Sacred Duty

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blessed are the Peacemakers: How are we Peacemakers in a Troubled World?

Peace is word that is often on lips of so many in our world. It is on the lips of politicians, college professors, and social justice protestors. It is at the center of nation’s treaties, manifestos and rhetoric. It is at the heart of many religions, philosophies and value systems.

So this begs the question what is peace? Is it just the absence of war? Is it to tolerate everyone and to try to co-exist in harmony? Does it mean to have no animosity, conflict or strife? Does it mean to simply not disagree and only discuss what we agree on? Does it mean to not ruffle any feathers, but to water down the truth so it is more palatable to all? Is it to get everyone together and get rid of what divides us? Is it just to be easy-going and not to make any issues? No these actions are not Biblical peace. We cannot be peacemakers, if we shrink back in fear and are afraid to speak the truth because it may offend someone.

If we want to me a peacemaker, we first need to know what Jesus meant when he used the word peace and also what is the source of peace. Where do we go for this definition of peace? College books? The news media? Our favorite national icon? Church traditions? Cultural imperatives? As Christians we must go to the only source of the truth, the God-breathed Word of God, to get the true definition and meaning of peace.

The first thing we must realize is that Jesus Christ clearly taught that there are two types of peace:

John 14:27: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 

There is true peace that only comes through Jesus Christ and a counterfeit peace offered by the world. The church cannot be deceived into embracing the peace of this world as a substitute for the true peace of God that is always centered in the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot be a peacemaker molded in the world’s image or blindly follow the world’s weak attempt at peace.

We will see from Scripture that God put a high priority on peace and peacemakers. It is vastly different than what the world embraces. God did not give the job of peacemaking to politicians, or ambassadors, or lawyers, or diplomats, or presidents or judges or kings or Nobel Peace Prize winners or the United Nations or the World Council of Churches. He gave it as a duty and responsibility of each Christian believer. The world’s peacemakers fail miserably in their attempt to make peace. In fact, the Bible reveals that in the future a world leader will proclaim himself as the great peacemaker and for a short time he will seem to be successful, but his rule ends in the worse conflict the world has ever experienced. He is known as the antichrist. So do not be fooled at the world’s superficial attempts at peace, but are a counterfeit peace that always ends in chaos.

Peace is an important attribute of God and an essential part of His character. He is called Yahweh Shalom, the Lord of peace. He is called the God of peace (2 Corinthians 13:11, Hebrews 13:20; Philippians 4:9; Romans 15:33) and Jesus Christ is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Ephesians 2:14 declares that Jesus Christ is our peace. God is the origin of peace, not human-made decrees. God is the source of peace, and God is the author of peace. It comes from nowhere else. Peace belongs to God and cannot be reproduced, manufactured or duplicated by any organization or government.

In Hebrew, the word for peace, shalom, means: wholeness, completeness and soundness; it’s a harmony and unity of heart and soul because of a restored relationship with God, our Father; it is an inward and outward tranquility, a quiet assurance and a complete well-being where nothing is lacking or broken. Peace is the symphony and harmony of life, in which you enjoy all that is good because of your right relationship with God. It is the opposite of discord, strife, and anxiety. It is the absence of inward conflict, condemnation, and torment, but rather a state of rest, calmness, and quiet confidence. It is to be at ease and calmly unaffected by circumstance. Peace is the highest measure of contentment, joyfulness, happiness, and satisfaction in life. There is absolute security, safety, and victory at the center of peace.

The entire Bible is about the journey of peace. It begins with peace in the Garden and ends with peace in the new heavens and earth for all eternity. Peace for Adam and Eve was totally disrupted due to their disobedience to God and the entry of sin into the human race. Men and women became separated and at an enmity with the God of peace. In essence they were at war with God and this war produces no peace. The world that is built by the human race is a world without peace; a world of trouble, chaos, wickedness, shattered hope and brokenness. The human race is in desperate need of peace and peacemakers as there is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 57:21). They cannot know the way of peace because they are under the penalty of sin (Romans 3:9,17).

The God of peace so loved the world that He gave His only Son as the ultimate sacrifice on the cross to make true peace available once again to all those who believe. Peace was made by the blood of the cross which opened the door for the sinner to be reconciled to God (Colossians 1:20,22). Peace can never be made at any other place than the cross.

Romans 4:25,5:1,11:

Who (Jesus Christ) was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have  peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 5:1 (Amplified):

Therefore, since we are justified (acquitted, declared righteous, and given a right standing with God) through faith, let us [grasp the fact that we] have [the peace of reconciliation to hold and to enjoy] peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

True peace comes with justification through the blood of the cross. Justification is a legal term that means to be freed from the penalty of sin. There is no peace without justification. If sin is pushed aside, ignored and not dealt with, there will never be peace. Sin is the enemy of peace, and it must be crushed, cleansed, and atoned for or peace is an illusion. There is also no peace without reconciliation. Reconciliation means to bring back together that which has been separated. We are brought from a relationship of hostility and enmity to a relationship of peace through the finished work of Jesus Christ. We now have true peace which is a complete unity with our awesome God where we can enjoy Him and have an intimate relationship of love and peace. The broken relationship has been repaired and peace has flowed like a river into our hearts. No person can ever have the peace of God without a vibrant, living relationship with God through what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. There is no other way to peace as all other roads to peace lead to complete disappointment and failure. We cannot buy peace, we cannot medicate peace, and we cannot manufacture peace. It is only through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can experience the peace of God daily because we have been justified by faith and reconciled back to God. What rejoicing this should bring to our hearts that through God’s immeasurable gift of grace, we have now have magnificent peace that binds us to our Heavenly Father.

Ephesians 2:13:17:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off  have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 

15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 

16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 

17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.

Jesus killed on the cross every hostility and broke down every wall to peace. By his blood we were reconciled to God in one new body through the cross. He abolished the distinctions of Jew or Gentile, black and white, male or female or any other racial prejudice for we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). He and He alone is our peace. He is the true peacemaker. He restored the peace that Adam and Eve lost in the garden and one day He will establish His kingdom of peace that will have no end. He is the critical component, the necessary key, and the only way to peace once again reigning in the hearts of men and women. No other religion, no other human philosophy, no other political mandate,  and no other mental gymnastic exercise can ever bring peace to this world.

There also is no peace without righteousness. Jesus Christ became sin that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). This perfect righteousness that is wrapped in grace that leads to eternal life is only through the Lord Jesus Christ. Righteousness is a critical component of God’s salvation where righteousness and peace kiss and become interwoven together in an unbreakable bond (Psalm 85:9,10). Righteousness is to be legally brought into a right relationship and standing with God restoring fellowship, companionship and intimacy. Righteousness is the God-given ability to stand in the presence of God without any sense of guilt, condemnation, shame, or unworthiness and to stand in the presence of Satan without any sense of inferiority, weakness, fear, or cowardice. Righteousness stands firmly on the finished work of Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection. The important Biblical truth is that righteousness must come first before there is peace. The effect of this heavenly righteousness is peace.

So now we begin to see what is God’s definition of a peacemaker in this troubled world? A peacemaker brings the peace of God into a restless and lost world. A peacemaker is justified, reconciled, and declared righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ and restored to a relationship of peace with Almighty God. A peacemaker has been fully redeemed from the power and penalty of sin, and now has a wholeness and completeness that replaces the torment and condemnation of sin. We have been birthed as sons and daughters of God in the family of God and are citizens in His kingdom of peace. We have been given authority with the ministry and word of reconciliation to proclaim that the restoration of peace is available to all through our Lord Jesus Christ. There can be no peacemaking in the world without justification, righteousness and reconciliation at the foot of the cross. This is the foundation of all peacemaking. This the true gospel of peace. Jesus Christ is the way to peace and this is the essential message of the true peacemaker. God has called us to be His spiritual peace corps and offer a peace to the human race that is far beyond anything they could ever imagine. We have been sent by God to open people’s eyes to this magnificent gospel of peace, to turn them from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to the power of God, to obliterate the penalty of their sins at the cross and to bring them to a relationship of peace with their Creator.

A peacemaker will encounter resistance, persecution and conflict from the darkness of this world as they proclaim this message of true peace. The devil marshals his kingdom to blind people from seeing and experiencing the gospel of peace. He produces a counterfeit peace that has no justification, no reconciliation and no righteousness. This false peace is built upon the lie that unity of peace can only be accomplished by compromising the truth of the gospel, ignoring the problem of sin and watering down our message so it does not offend anyone. The peace of God is offensive to the systems of this world. Jesus Christ is referred to as the Rock of offense and the gospel of peace will offend, insult and upset many people around the world. This does not change the mission of the peacemaker. The Devil hates this true message of the peace of God because it spells his ultimate destruction. So it is not surprising that the gospel of peace stirs up the legions of hell, and they oppose its truth at every opportunity. So the church cannot be deceived into thinking that peace can be produced by the world’s institutions or by the world’s collaborative efforts without the Prince of Peace Jesus Christ. They will never accomplish true peace on any level.  

As the Body of Christ, we must shine as the lights of this world when it comes to the peace of God. Not only should there be this external witness of the gospel of peace that we proclaim to all humanity, but there should be an internal witness of peace in the church itself. We must also be peacemakers in the Body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:3 declares: Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The Greek word for “endeavoring” means an intense effort and determination. It is to be conscientious, zealous and earnest in discharging an obligation It is an all-out diligent effort to do one’s best with unrelenting energy and conviction. It carries with it an element of haste and urgency. The Greek word for “keep” means to preserve, guard and watch over with careful attention. Both words “endeavoring and “keep” are in the present tense meaning it should be our continual habit and way of life to make an intense effort as Christians to guard the unity of the Spirit. Notice it is the unity of the Spirit, not the unity of a denomination, or a church federation or the unity of a political party or the unity of a human philosophy. It is the spiritual unity of the Body of Christ forged at the cross. We do not make the unity or join the unity as God has already accomplished that, we just guard the unity that binds us in an intimate union with peace. The peace of God is the foundational thread of the unity of the Spirit for without the peace of God there is no unity.

Peacemakers are guardians of the unity of the Spirit and this cannot be done if they are tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine (verse 14), but a peacemaker must speak the truth in love (verse 15). A peacemaker in the Body of Christ does not abandon truth, and they do not abandon doctrine. True peace is always a child of the truth. A peacemaker manifests the love of God in words, in actions, in kindness, in humility, in gentleness and in confidence, but never compromises truth in doing so. A peacemaker reflects the character and heart of Christ and helps to bind together that which has been broke or divided through love, kindness and forgiveness. This promotes growth and unity in the Body of Christ and allows the church to shine as light in the darkness of this world. A peacemaker walks by the spirit and produces the fruit of peace. A peacemaker lives according to the wisdom from above and sows peace in both the world and the church and reaps a harvest of righteousness (James 3:18)

God has called each Christian believer to be a peacemaker both to the world and in the church. What an awesome privilege to carry the message of the gospel of peace to the world and to pursue peace in the Body of Christ. The peace of God is revolutionary, it is transformative and as peacemakers, we are the true ambassadors of His peace.

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John 13: An Amazing Example of Love, Humility and Betrayal

As we draw closer to Resurrection Sunday, I want to look at an amazing record in Scripture of the last week of Jesus Christ’s life before his death. John 13 sets forth the heart of our Savior as he approaches the immense suffering and death of the crucifixion. It sets forth a tremendous example of how we should approach life even in the darkest circumstances.

John 13:1: Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Amplified: He loved them to the last and to the highest degree.

End-telos: Not just the end of his life, but for all eternity. Figuratively he love them to the uttermost.

Agapao is the Greek word for “love” in this passage. It means a love that is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize and treasure it. This love springs from an appreciation of the value and worth of an object, its preciousness. It is to love with wonder and admiration, to cherish with reverence. It is a love that compels one to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the one being loved.

What an amazing love Jesus had for his disciples. He prized and treasured their worth. They were precious to him. He knew they had tremendous value even though their actions did not always reflect it.

F.B. Meyer: These last words have been thought to refer to the end of life, but it surely were superfluous to tell us that the strong waters of death could not quench the love of the Son of Man. When once He loves, He loves always. It is needless to tell us that the Divine heart which has enshrined a soul will not forsake it; that the name of the beloved is never erased from the palms of the hands; that the covenant is not forgotten though eternity elapse.. We do not need to be assured that the Immortal Lover, who has once taken us into union with Himself, can never loose his hold. Therefore it is better to adopt the alternative suggested by the margin of the Revised Version, “He loved them to the uttermost.” There was nothing to be desired. Nothing was needed to fill out the ideal of perfect love. Not a stitch was required for the needle-work of wrought gold; not a touch demanded for the perfectly achieved picture; not a throb added to the strong pulse of affection with which He regarded his own.

It is very wonderful that He should have loved such men like this. As we pass them under review at this time of their life, they seem a collection of nobodies. But they were his own, there was a special relationship between Him and them. They had belonged to the Father, and He had given them to the Son as his special perquisite and belonging. “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me.”

Remember for a moment the actions of these men. They bickered over who would be the greatest; they so often had so little faith; they had limited spiritual vision; they were petty; they lacked understanding; one would betray him, one would disown him, one would deny him but He still loved them. Remember the song “Jesus loves me, this I know!” Do you know it? Do you believe it?

John 13:2-5: During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 

The Greek word for “put” is ballo in Greek. The devil threw or cast into the heart of Judas the plan to betray Jesus. It was in his heart which is the deep personal and emotional seat of who he was. It took some time for the slanderer to get Judas to the point of betrayal. Judas had already met with the chief priests and temple commanders on how he could deliver Jesus to them. They promised him money and he began to look for an opportunity to deliver Jesus to them in the absence of a crowd. It is interesting to note that “ballo” is part of the word that makes up the word devil in the Greek (diabalos-one who throws or casts slander and accusations). The slander and accuser cast his lies into the heart of Judas where they took root. The Bible talks about the “fiery darts of the wicked one” in reference to the whole armor of God. Ephesians 6:16. Judas’s shield of faith was down and the fiery darts of the wicked one took direct aim at his heart.

There is more in the background of this passage than even John tells us. If we turn to Luke’s account of the last meal together, we find the tragic sentence: “A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as greatest” (Luke 22:24). Even within sight of the Cross, the disciples were still selfishly arguing about matters of precedence and prestige. Pride was consuming them, and Jesus Christ addressed it by example later in this record.

The roads of Palestine were unsurfaced and uncleaned. In dry weather they were inches deep in dust and in wet they were liquid mud. The shoes ordinary people wore were sandals, which were simply soles held on to the foot by a few straps. They gave little protection against the dust or the mud of the roads.

Washing someone’s feet was considered an important part of hospitality and was usually done by a person’s slave or servant. It was considered the lowest of jobs to wash the feet. The feet would be dirty and tired. It would never be dreamed of that a Rabbi would do this. Jesus went against all cultural norms to show the ultimate example of humility.

Barclay: Jesus knew all things had been given into his hands. He knew that his hour of humiliation was near, but he knew that his hour of glory was also near. Such a consciousness might well have filled him with pride; and yet, with the knowledge of the power and the glory that were his, he washed his disciples’ feet. At that moment when he might have had supreme pride, he had supreme humility. Love is always like that. When, for example, someone falls ill, the person who loves him will perform the most menial services and delight to do them, because love is like that. Sometimes men feel that they are too distinguished to do the humble things, too important to do some menial task. Jesus was not so. He knew that he was Lord of all, and yet he washed his disciples’ feet.

Philippians 2:7a: But [Jesus] emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,

“Empty” means to means to completely eliminate elements of high status or rank by eliminating all privileges or prerogatives associated with such status or rank. This was the Son of God, the Messiah, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, yet he emptied himself and took the form of a servant.

We are supposed to exhibit this same type of humility: Philippians 2:5: Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. HAVE HABITUALLY AS YOUR LIFESTYLE THIS ATTITUDE IN YOURSELVES WHICH WAS ALSO IN CHRIST JESUS.

It is said the branch most full of fruit bends the lowest. We are to empty ourselves of pride, entitlement, self-gratification, self-exaltation, self-importance and become a servant to Jesus and one another.

In the court of the Temple there were two objects that arrested the eye of the entering worshipper–the brazen altar, and the laver. The latter was kept always full of pure, fresh water, for the constant washings enjoined by the Levitical code. Before the priests were consecrated for their holy work, and attired in the robes of the sacred office, they washed there (Ex. 29:4). Could this passage also show that Jesus was consecrating his disciples for the holy work of the gospel after his death and resurrection?

Did you know that Judas was present here and Jesus washed his feet? Look at the immense love of Jesus, perhaps giving Judas a chance to repent. I believe he was giving Judas one last chance to turn away from his wicked plans and come back to Jesus. This is the heart of a true King. Once Satan enters the heart, it blinds you to the love of Christ.

Barclay: Jesus knew this also. He was well aware that he was about to be betrayed. Such knowledge might so easily have turned him to bitterness and hatred; but it made his heart run out in greater love than ever. The astounding thing was that the more men hurt him, the more Jesus loved them. It is so easy and so natural to resent wrong and to grow bitter under insult and injury; but Jesus met the greatest injury and the supreme disloyalty, with the greatest humility and the supreme love.

John 13:6-11: He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

Up until the life of Jesus, rulers and leads and powerful people did not think of themselves as genuinely serving the people under them. Humility was considered a weakness, not a strength. Washing his disciples feet was so against common custom that the disciples could not even mentally grasp what he was doing, but afterwards they would fully understand and experience what it meant to be a leader was being a servant to others. Christ changed humility from being a weakness to a virtue.

John 13:12-20: When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19 I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.”

“You also ought to wash one another’s feet.” It is deeper than just this physical act but is the ultimate example of humility, love and service. It shows a marvelous love, a marvelous deed and a marvelous obligation. If our Lord and Master can be this humble and serve like this, we need to follow his example.

The Greek word for “servant” is doulos that is translated slave. It has a bad connotation in our culture, but in the Eastern culture illustrates the total commitment to service. Other verses in the New Testament expound upon a lifetime of service to others.

I Corinthians 10:24: Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

Romans 15;2,3a: Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself…

Mark 9:35: And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Galatians 5:13: For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 

The world is upside down. The world teaches us to please ourselves first, to look out for number one (ourselves), to seek our own good first and use our flesh to feed our appetites. It is a culture of selfishness. However the Bible teaches that the true meaning of life and the essence of Christianity is service born out of love rather than self-exaltation.

John 13:21-30: After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. 23 One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus’ side, 24 so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25 So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29 Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or that he should give something to the poor. 30 So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

In the East, the dipping of the morsel of bread was given to the most honored guest at the table. Jesus gave it to Judas. In an Eastern custom that is still in practice, a “sop” is offered to the most honored guest. The sop is the tastiest morsel of food tucked into a bit of bread, or a piece of bread dipped in the most delicious pool of lamb juices in the communal bowl. It was token of intimacy. Token of a special friendship. Mark of honor. It was Jesus’s last appeal to Judas. It was meant to touch his heart. But this incredible act of love and tenderness did not move Judas.

Psalm 41:9: Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

Within hours Judas would lead a mob to have Jesus arrested.

Judas was a close friend of Jesus,  a part of his inner circle of disciples; he saw countless miracles, he heard life-changing teachings by Jesus; he cast out demons and healed the sick in the power of Jesus’s name; he traveled with Jesus and saw the Heavenly Father at work in Jesus, yet Satan still influenced him to betray him. It is a sobering reminder of the frailty of the human heart and how soon it can turn on Jesus.

Judas left the presence of Jesus and it was night. It is always night without the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the dark night of the soul.

John 13:31-35: 31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Judas wanted Jesus to be crowned the King to establish his rule now. He wanted to force Jesus’s hand and cause him to defy Rome and set up his kingdom. He did not want to wait. Judas also was deceived by money and loved it more than he loved Jesus.

In the midst of all this turmoil and hours before he would be seized to be crucified, Jesus gave a farewell commandment of love. To be a disciple of Jesus we must be marked by his love. The Greek word for “new” means new in quality. This was a new quality of love, a special love and this commandment of love was directed toward his disciples, his followers. The new mark, the insignia, the brand of a Christian, a disciple of Jesus was this new quality of love which was first directed to each other, to love one another (those who had committed to follow Jesus). Christ was introducing a new, more elevated, more intense, more selfless love than what was clear in the Law. He said, “Just as I have loved you, you are to love one another.” It is very essential for Christian unity and our personal wholeness that we love our fellow Christians. This important commandment is repeated 13 times in the New Testament.

Other verses in the New Testament expound upon the importance of loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I John 2:10,11:  Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

If we do not walk in love with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we walk in darkness, we stumble and grope around aimlessly without true direction or purpose.

I John 4:20,21: If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

We cannot love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and hate our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our testimony and witness for Christ becomes a fabrication if we do not walk in love.

Love is to be the organizing principle that guides everything we do. All genuine love starts in God and follows His ways. God is love and His purposes and will are wrapped in love. We are to be imitators of Him and if do not walk in love, we are not acting as God would act.

Why don’t we love one another? Why don’t we act in love? Why has the history of Christianity been such a poor witness of love?

We often are selfish, we often feed the wrong appetites. Many do not know the Bible and do not know how God would act, or don’t have courage to act in a truly loving manner. There is both kind love and tough love. But today in Christianity around the globe the love of so many has waxed cold. Love has been replaced by envy, distrust, division, jealously and hatred. We dishonor Jesus when we act in such a manner in the Body of Christ.

Christianity is to be the ultimate example of love, humility, and service yet it has been replaced by denominations, factions, divisions, and hatred. Christians are to have a special love for each other, a special bond and affection. My how we have fallen short of Jesus’s Commandment to love one another.

John 13:36-38:  Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!

Peter did not disown Jesus once or twice, but three times!

Look at the drama and the intensity of this moment after the third denial.

Luke 22:60: Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

All of Peter’s promises vanished in the pressure of the moment. Now it is so easy to get down on Peter. “Oh that Peter, what a shallow fellow he is, oh how he failed Jesus!” But what would you do if you were in his shoes?

The Greek word for “deny’ means “reject, disown, and to desert his cause.”

How will you react when the pressure is on? What would we do in a life or death decision? Do we really mean He is Lord of our lives or will we disown him when the pressure turns white hot?

Would you stand for Jesus or disown him? Would you water Jesus down to make him less controversial. Would you desert his cause when confronted about Jesus? Would you lose everything for him? Would you lose your life for his sake? Or would you disown him? Jesus is ok in the privacy of my home, but I do not want to make waves in the world because I publicly follow Jesus. Jesus is called the Rock of Offense in Scripture for a reason. You either love him or are offended in Him. The world hates Jesus. The world despises everything that he stands for. The world wants to wipe out Jesus from the face of humanity. Will you stand for Jesus despite this intense opposition form the world? Is our love for him superficial? Does our love for Jesus wax and wane with the circumstances of life? How deep is our love for Jesus? How rooted are you in Him. How precious is Jesus to you? Are your possessions, relationships, reputation more important than Jesus? He died for you. He suffered immensely for you. He gave his life for you. What are you going to do in response?

Would you lose your home, or lose your job, be thrown in jail, cancelled, or ostracized if you stand with Jesus or when push comes to shove would you deny him? What would you do? Think about these things and we won’t be so quick to condemn Peter.

John 13 is a remarkable record of love, humility, service and sacrifice as well as a sad record of the human heart when it comes to Jesus. Will we betray him, deny him or desert his cause? Or will we follow his example and be marked by his love? How easy this record shows us that we can turn from Jesus when we are pressured or persecuted.

This is the season of Lent, a time of reflection, a time to ponder our love and commitment to Jesus. Think about how much he loved you. Think about what he did for you. Ask yourself if Christ so loved me that he died for me, isn’t he worthy to give your life in service to him?

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Timeless Truths of Psalms 1:1-3: Sit, Walk, Stand or Delight

Psalm 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wickednor stand in the path of sinnersnor sit in the seat of scoffers! (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and has not stood in the way of sinners, and has not sat in the seat of evil men.

Amplified: BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

KJV: Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

NET: How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand in the pathway with sinners, or sit in the assembly of scoffers! (NET Bible)

NJB: How blessed is anyone who rejects the advice of the wicked and does not take a stand in the path that sinners tread, nor a seat in company with cynics, (NJB)

Young’s Literal: O the happiness of that one, who Hath not walked in the counsel of the wicked. And in the way of sinners hath not stood, And in the seat of scorners hath not sat;

BLESSING
IN THE PSALMS

Blessing (bless, blessed) is a common theme in the Psalms (108 times in 98 verses – with approximately 47 referring to blessing the LORD and about 57 God blessing men, with the remainder difficult to classify – as an aside this makes for an interesting study, especially to see who it is that God blesses and how this blessing is manifested. See all uses in “Wisdom” Literature – Job, Psalms, Proverbs)…

Donne – How abundantly is that word Blessed multiplied in the Book of Psalms! The book seems to be made out of that word, and the foundation raised upon that Word, for it is the first word of the book. But in all the book there is not one Woe.

Play this beautiful song…then, enabled by the Holy Spirit, put the blessed truth of Psalm 1 into practice…you will never regret it beloved!

  • Planted By the Waters

    Note: In this song the words “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD…” are from the parallel passage in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” (HALLELUJAH!)

Let us take a moment to scan over some of the uses of bless, blessed and blessing in the Psalms as we prepare to study key to the blessed life in Christ…

Ps 2:12 Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge (put their trust) in Him!

Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith may be slender as a spider’s thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles: — “Lord, increase our faith.” (Spurgeon)

Psalm 5:12 For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O LORD, Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield.

This is a promise of infinite length, of unbounded breadth, and of unutterable preciousness. (Spurgeon)

Psalm 24:5 (Context for who “he” is) He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. So that the saints need salvation; they receive righteousness, and the blessing is a boon from God their Saviour. They do not ascend the hill of the Lord as givers but as receivers, and they do not wear their own merits, but a righteousness which they have received. Holy living ensures a blessing as its reward from the thrice Holy God, but it is itself a blessing of the New Covenant and a delightful fruit of the Spirit. God first gives us good works, and then rewards us for them. Grace is not obscured by God’s demand for holiness, but is highly exalted as we see it decking the saint with jewels, and clothing him in fair white linen; all this sumptuous array being a free gift of mercy. (Spurgeon)

Ps 32:1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!

Blessed. Like the Sermon on the Mount (see notes Matthew 5:1ff), this Psalm begins with beatitudes. This is the second Psalm of benediction. The first Psalm (see notes Psalm 1) describes the result of holy blessedness, the thirty-second details the cause of it. The first pictures the tree in full growth, this depicts it in its first planting and watering. He who in the first Psalm is a reader of God’s book, is here a suppliant at God’s throne accepted and heard.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. He is now blessed and ever shall be. Be he ever so poor, or sick, or sorrowful, he is blessed in very deed. Pardoning mercy is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only and sure way to happiness. To hear from God’s own Spirit the words, “absolvo te” is joy unspeakable. Blessedness is not in this case ascribed to the man who has been a diligent law keeper, for then it would never come to us, but rather to a lawbreaker, who by grace most rich and free has been forgiven. Self righteous Pharisees have no portion in this blessedness. Over the returning prodigal, the word of welcome is here pronounced, and the music and dancing begin.

A full, instantaneous, irreversible pardon of transgression turns the poor sinner’s hell into heaven, and makes the heir of wrath a partaker in blessing. The word rendered forgiven is in the original taken off or taken away, as a burden is lifted or a barrier removed. What a lift is here! It cost our Saviour a sweat of blood to bear our load, yea, it cost Him His life to bear it quite away. Samson carried the gates of Gaza, but what was that to the weight which Jesus bore on our behalf?

Whose sin is covered. Covered by God, as the ark was covered by the mercyseat, as Noah was covered from the flood, as the Egyptians were covered by the depths of the sea. What a cover must that be which hides away forever from the sight of the all seeing God all the filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit! He who has once seen sin in its horrible deformity, will appreciate the happiness of seeing it no more for ever. Christ’s atonement is the propitiation, the covering, the making an end of sin; where this is seen and trusted in, the soul knows itself to be now accepted in the Beloved, and therefore enjoys a conscious blessedness which is the antepast (a foretaste) of heaven. It is clear from the text that a man may know that he is pardoned: where would be the blessedness of an unknown forgiveness? Clearly it is a matter of knowledge, for it is the ground of comfort.

Verse 2. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. The word blessed is in the plural, oh, the blessednesses! the double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight! Note the three words so often used to denote our disobedience: transgression, sin, and iniquity, are the three headed dog at the gates of hell, but our glorious Lord has silenced his barkings for ever against his own believing ones. The trinity of sin is overcome by the Trinity of heaven. Non imputation is of the very essence of pardon: the believer sins, but his sin is not reckoned, not accounted to him. Certain divines froth at the mouth with rage against imputed righteousness, be it ours to see our sin not imputed, and to us may there be as Paul words it, “Righteousness imputed without works.” He is blessed indeed who has a substitute to stand for him to whose account all his debts may be set down. And in whose spirit there is no guile. He who is pardoned, has in every case been taught to deal honestly with himself, his sin, and his God. Forgiveness is no sham, and the peace which it brings is not caused by playing tricks with conscience. Self deception and hypocrisy bring no blessedness, they may drug the soul into hell with pleasant dreams, but into the heaven of true peace they cannot conduct their victim. Free from guilt, free from guile. Those who are justified from fault are sanctified from falsehood. A liar is not a forgiven soul. Treachery, double dealing, chicanery, dissimulation, are lineaments of the devil’s children, but he who is washed from sin is truthful, honest, simple, and childlike. There can be no blessedness to tricksters with their plans, and tricks, and shuffling, and pretending: they are too much afraid of discovery to be at ease; their house is built on the volcano’s brink, and eternal destruction must be their portion. Observe the three words to describe sin, and the three words to represent pardon, weigh them well, and note their meaning. (Spurgeon)

Ps 34:8 O taste (imperative = not a suggestion but a command) and see (another imperative) that the LORD is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge (places his trust) in Him!

O taste and see. Make a trial, an inward, experimental trial of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for yourself; but if you taste you shall see, for this, like Jonathan’s honey, enlightens the eyes. That the Lord is good. You can only know this really and personally by experience. There is the banquet with its oxen and fatlings; its fat things full of marrow, and wine on the lees well refined; but their sweetness will be all unknown to you except you make the blessings of grace your own, by a living, inward, vital participation in them.

Blessed is the man that trusts in Him. Faith is the soul’s taste; they who test the Lord by their confidence always find Him good, and they become themselves blessed. The second clause of the verse, is the argument in support of the exhortation contained in the first sentence. (Spurgeon)

Ps 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

Blessed. This is an exclamation similar to that of the first Psalm, “Oh, the happiness of the man.” God’s blessings are emphatic, “I wot ( know) that he whom Thou blesses is blessed,” indeed and in very truth. Is that man that maketh the Lord his trust. Faith obtains promises. A simple single eyed confidence in God is the sure mark of blessedness. A man may be as poor as Lazarus, as hated as Mordecai, as sick as Hezekiah, as lonely as Elijah, but while his hand of faith can keep its hold on God, none of his outward afflictions can prevent his being numbered among the blessed; but the wealthiest and most prosperous man who has no faith is accursed, be he who he may. (Spurgeon)

Ps 84:12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!

Here is the key of the Psalm. The worship is that of faith, and the blessedness is peculiar to believers. No formal worshipper can enter into this secret. A man must know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true rejoicing in the Lord’s worship, his house, his Son, or his ways. Dear reader, how fares it with thy soul? (Spurgeon)

What is the blessing associated with or “effected” by in this Psalm? Trust (cp Jer 17:78). Faith. Believing (see word study on verb pisteuo). For example, do you really believe God has granted you “everything (how much? Greek word pas = all without exception!) necessary for life (zoe = not just breathing, but life abundant which is Jesus’ desire for us, Jn 10:10) and godliness through (preposition “dia” = the conduit through which “life and godliness” flow, so to speak) the true knowledge of Him (thus the vital importance of daily “eating” His pure, unadulterated Word of Truth and Life – 1Pe 2:2noteMt 4:4Dt 8:2316Php 2:16note) who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2Pe 1:3note)? Remember that trusting is not a passive mindset, but a reflects an active, volitional, submissive change in our thinking, which results in a change in our doing. If you truly believe, you will behave according to how, what and Who you believe. A disconnect in this dynamic is the essence of Pharisaical hypocrisy. Do not be deceived, beloved brethren (Jas 1:22noteJas 1:25note; see related discussion re the NT phrase the obedience of faith)

Ps 94:12 Blessed is the man (Hebrew = geber = Hebrew root commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful warrior; relates to the male at the height of his powers) whom You chasten, O LORD, and whom You teach out of Your law;

Blessed is the man whom Thou chastens, O LORD. The psalmist’s mind is growing quiet. He no longer complains to God or argues with men, but tunes his harp to softer melodies, for his faith perceives that with the most afflicted believer all is well. Though he may not feel blessed while smarting under the rod of chastisement, yet blessed he is; he is precious in God’s sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him, and right happy will the results of his correction be (see notes Hebrews 12:567891011). The psalmist calls the chastened one a “man” in the best sense, using the Hebrew word which implies strength. He is a man, indeed, who is under the teaching and training of the Lord. (Spurgeon)

Ps 106:3 How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!

Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Multiplied are the blessings which must descend upon the whole company of the keepers of the way of justice, and especially upon that one rare man who at all times follows that which is right. Holiness is happinessThe way of right is the way of peace. Yet men leave this road, and prefer the paths of the destroyer. Hence the story which follows is in sad contrast with the happiness here depicted, because the way of Israel was not that of judgment and righteousness, but that of folly and iniquity. The Psalmist, while contemplating the perfections of God, was impressed with the feeling that the servants of such a being must be happy, and when he looked around and saw how the tribes of old prospered when they obeyed, and suffered when they sinned, he was still more fully assured of the truth of his conclusion. O could we but be free of sin we should be rid of sorrow! We would not only be just, but “keep judgment”; we would not be content with occasionally acting rightly, but would “do justice at all times.” (Spurgeon)

Ps 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments.

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord. According to the last verse of Psalm 111, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; this man, therefore, has begun to be wise, and wisdom has brought him present happiness, and secured him eternal felicity. Jehovah is so great that He is to be feared and had in reverence of all them that are round about Him, and He is at the same time so infinitely good that the fear is sweetened into filial love, and becomes a delightful emotion, by no means engendering bondage. There is a slavish fear which is accursed; but that godly fear which leads to delight in the service of God is infinitely blessed. Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in consequence thereof. We ought to bless God for blessing any man, and especially for setting the seal of his approbation upon the godly. His favour towards the God fearing displays His character and encourages gracious feelings in others, therefore let Him be praised.

That delighteth greatly in His commandments. The man not only studies the divine precepts and endeavours to observe them, but rejoices to do so:

Holiness is his happiness,
Devotion is his delight,
Truth is his treasure
.

He rejoices in the precepts of godliness, yea, and delights greatly in them. We have known hypocrites rejoice in the doctrines, but never in the commandments. Ungodly men may in some measure obey the commandments out of fear, but only a gracious man will observe them with delight.

Cheerful obedience
is the only acceptable obedience

He who obeys reluctantly is disobedient at heart, but he who takes pleasure in the command is truly loyal. If through divine grace we find ourselves described in these two sentences, let us give all the praise to God, for He hath wrought all our works in us, and the dispositions out of which they spring. Let self righteous men praise themselves, but he who has been made righteous by grace renders all the praise to the Lord.

Ps 119:1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.

Blessed. The psalmist is so enraptured with the Word of God that he regards it as the highest ideal of blessedness to be conformed to it. He has gazed on the beauties of the perfect law, and, as if this verse were the sum and outcome of all his emotions, he exclaims,

Blessed is the man whose life is the practical transcript of the will of God.

True religion is not cold and dry; it has its exclamations and raptures. We not only judge the keeping of God’s law to be a wise and proper thing, but we are warmly enamored of its holiness, and cry out in adoring wonder, “Blessed are the undefiled!”—meaning thereby that we eagerly desire to become such ourselves, and wish for no greater happiness than to be perfectly holy.

This first verse is not only a preface to the whole psalm, but it may also be regarded as the text upon which the rest is a discourse. It is similar to the benediction of Psalm 1, which is set in the forefront of the entire book: there is a likeness between this Psalm 119 and the Psalter, and this is one point of it, that it begins with a benediction. In this, too, we see some foreshadowings of the Son of David, who began His great sermon as David (Ed: the author of Ps 119 is not stated but could be David. Some think Ezra the Scribe) began His great psalm. When we cannot bestow blessings, we can show the way of obtaining them, and even if we do not yet possess them ourselves, it may be profitable to contemplate them, that our desires may be excited, and our souls moved to seek after them.

As David thus begins his psalm, so should young men begin their lives, so should new converts commence their life of faith, so should all Christians begin every day. Holiness is happiness, and it is our wisdom first to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Mankind began with being blessed in innocence, and if our fallen race is ever to be blessed again, it must find it where it lost it at the beginning, in conformity to the command of the Lord.

Ps 119:2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies. What! A second blessing? Yes, they are doubly blessed whose outward life is supported by an inward zeal for God’s glory. In the first verse we had an undefiled way, and it was taken for granted that the purity in the way was not mere surface work, but was attended by the inward truth and life which comes of divine grace. Here that which was implied is expressed.

Blessedness is ascribed to those who treasure up the testimonies of the Lord: in which is implied that they search the Scriptures, that they come to an understanding of them, that they love them, and then that they continue in the practice of them.

We must first get a thing before we can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it: we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced by the affections.

God’s word is His witness or testimony to grand and important truths which concern Himself and our relation to Him: this we should desire to know; knowing it, we should believe it; believing it, we should love it; and loving it, we should hold it fast against all comers.

There is a doctrinal keeping of the word when we are ready to die for its defence, and a practical keeping of it when we actually live under its power.

Revealed truth is precious as diamonds, and should be kept or treasured up in the memory and in the heart as jewels in a casket, or as the law was kept in the ark; this however is not enough, for it is meant for practical use, and therefore it must be kept or followed, as men keep to a path, or to a line of business.

If we keep God’s testimonies
They will keep us

They will keep us right in opinion, comfortable in spirit, holy in conversation, and hopeful in expectation. If they were ever worth having, and no thoughtful person will question that, then they are worth keeping; their designed effect does not come through a temporary seizure of them, but by a persevering keeping of them: “in keeping of them there is great reward.”

We are bound to keep with all care the word of God, because it is his testimonies. He gave them to us, but they are still his own. We are to keep them as a watchman guards his master’s house, as a steward husbands his lord’s goods, as a shepherd keeps his employer’s flock. We shall have to give an account, for we are put in trust with the gospel, and woe to us if we be found unfaithful. We cannot fight a good fight, nor finish our course, unless we keep the faith. To this end the Lord must keep us: only those who are kept by the power of God unto salvation will ever be able to keep his testimonies. What a blessedness is therefore evidenced and testified by a careful belief in God’s word, and a continual obedience thereunto. God has blessed them, is blessing them, and will bless them for ever. That blessedness which David saw in others he realized for himself, for in Psalms 119:168 he says, “I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies,” and in Ps 119:54-56 he traces his joyful songs and happy memories to this same keeping of the law, and he confesses, “This I had because I kept thy precepts.” Doctrines which we teach to others we should experience for ourselves.

And that seek him with the whole heart. Those who keep the Lord’s testimonies are sure to seek after Himself. If His word is precious we may be sure that He Himself is still more so. Personal dealing with a personal God is the longing of all those who have allowed the word of the Lord to have its full effect upon them. If we once really know the power of the gospel we must seek the God of the gospel.

“O that I knew where I might find HIM,”
will be our wholehearted cry.

See the growth which these sentences indicate: first, in the way, then walking in it, then finding and keeping the treasure of truth, and to crown all, seeking after the Lord of the way Himself. Note also that the further a soul advances in grace the more spiritual and divine are its longings: an outward walk does not content the gracious soul, nor even the treasured testimonies; it reaches out in due time after God Himself, and when it in a measure finds Him, still yearns for more of Him, and seeks Him still.

Seeking after God signifies a desire to commune with Him more closely, to follow Him more fully, to enter into more perfect union with His mind and will, to promote His glory, and to realize completely all that He is to holy hearts. The blessed man has God already, and for this reason he seeks him. This may seem a contradiction: it is only a paradox.

God is not truly sought by the cold researches of the brain:
We must seek him with the heart
.

Love reveals itself to love: God manifests His heart to the heart of His people. It is in vain that we endeavour to comprehend Him by reason; we must apprehend Him by affection. But the heart must not be divided with many objects if the Lord is to be sought by us (see Matthew 6:24note; cp one thing I do – see Philippians 3:13note). God is one, and we shall not know Him till our heart is one. A broken heart need not be distressed at this, for no heart is so whole in its seeking after God as a heart which is broken, whereof every fragment sighs and cries after the great Father’s face. It is the divided heart which the doctrine of the text censures, and strange to say, in scriptural phraseology,

a heart may be divided and not brokenand it may be broken but not dividedand yet again it may be broken and be whole, and it never can be whole until it is broken.

When our whole heart seeks the holy God in Christ Jesus it has come to Him of Whom it is written, “as many as touched Him were made perfectly whole.”

That which the Psalmist admires in this verse he claims in the tenth, where he says, “With my whole heart have I sought thee.” It is well when admiration of a virtue leads to the attainment of it. Those who do not believe in the blessedness of seeking the Lord will not be likely to arouse their hearts to the pursuit, but he who calls another blessed because of the grace which he sees in him is on the way to gaining the same grace for himself.

If those who seek the Lord are blessed, what shall be said of those who actually dwell with Him and know that He is theirs?

“To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus — what it is,
None but His loved ones know.”

Ps 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help. Heaped up is his happiness. He has happiness indeed: the true and the real delight is with him. The God of Jacob is the God of the covenant, the God of wrestling prayer, the God of the tried believer; he is the only living and true God. The God of Jacob is Jehovah, who appeared unto Moses, and led the tribes of Jacob out of Egypt, and through the wilderness. Those are happy who trust him, for they shall never be ashamed or confounded. The Lord never dies, neither do his thoughts perish: his purpose of mercy, like himself, endures throughout all generations. Hallelujah!

Whose hope is in the LORD his God. He is happy in help for the present and in hope for the future, who has placed all his confidence in Jehovah, who is his God by a covenant of salt (See Trumbull’s Covenant of Salt). Happy is he when others are despairing! Happiest shall he be in that very hour when others are discovering the depths of agony. We have here a statement which we have personally tried and proved: resting in the Lord, we know a happiness which is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond conception. O how blessed a thing it is to know that God is our present help, and our eternal hope. Full assurance is more than heaven in the bud, the flower has begun to open. We would not exchange with Caesar; his sceptre is a bauble, but our bliss is true treasure.

In each of the two titles here given, namely, “the God of Jacob”, and “Jehovah his God”, there is a peculiar sweetness. Either one of them has a fountain of joy in it; but the first will not cheer us without the second. Unless Jehovah be his God no man can find confidence in the fact that he was Jacob’s God. But when by faith we know the Lord to be ours, then we are “rich to all the intents of bliss.”

HOW BLESSED IS THE MAN:

How blessed – This phrase appears 23x in 22v in the Psalms – This makes an interesting devotional or Sunday School study – What does God say about “how blessed”? – see Ps 1:12:1232:1234:840:441:165:484:451289:15106:3112:1119:12127:5128:1137:89144:15146:5. (And for “extra credit see the remainder of the 31v that use the phrase “how blessed” 2Ki 10:82Chr 9:7Pr 3:1320:728:14Isa 30:1832:2056:2Da 12:12)

BLESSED, BLESSED
THE ONE WHO
READS & HEEDS PSALM 1

Lk 11:28 (Jesus said) Blessed (makarios) are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.

Jn 13:17 (Jesus said) If you know these things, you are blessed (makarios) if you do them.

James 1:22 (note) Prove (present imperative = as your lifestyle or regular practice) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers (akroates – like those who audit a course for non-credit!) who delude (paralogizomai = literally to reason alongside; present tense = continually in a state of spiritual delusion) themselves

1 Samuel 15:22 (Samuel to disobedient King Saul from whom the “blessing” would be removed) Has the LORD as much delight (same Hebrew word chephets as in Psalm 1:2) in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

At the outset note that the promise of blessing in Psalm 1 is not for the one who simply reads these beautiful words but who hides and heeds the words in his or her heart. As Jesus’ Words emphasize in Luke 11:28 obedience is the key to blessing in both the Old and New Testament. God desires to bless His children because they are as it were, His trophies of redemption, His re-creations in Christ, and as such He desires the lost world to see His glory through believing, obedient children. So as you read and meditate on this great psalm, ask God to open your heart to receive the Word implanted which is able to save your soul, not just the first time but every day as His Spirit takes the Word and sets us progressively more and more apart from the world and unto God. As we read and ponder these precious words let us have tender, even trembling hearts, that we might begin to experience, not just life, which all believers have in Christ, but even abundant life in Christ, the life which is blessed, blessed.

Observe in Psalm 1 we encounter two men, two ways and two destinies. This contrast is especially dramatic when one observes words penned at the beginning (blessed) and the end (perish)! Take your choice!

In verse 1 we observe the practice of the godly man, in verse 2 the passion and in verse 3 his “permanence”. This beatitude psalm describes the “be attitude” man, the one who is spiritually satisfied regardless of the circumstances!

You may have read in Spurgeon’s comments above on the blessed state in Psalm 32:1-2 (Spurgeon on v1Verse 2) where he notes that there is an association with the blessednesses in Psalm 1. And indeed there is for Psalm 32 speaks of blessings which are a result of God’s forgiveness of sins. It is on such a firm foundation of God’s imputation (reckoning, placing on one’s account) of confessing sinners as forgiven sinners (who are saints!), that makes possible the accomplishment the obedience and practical righteousness called for in Psalm 1, especially Psalm 1:1. Forgiven people are blessed people and are in the position (in Christ) to experience even greater blessednesses from our gracious, giving Lord! Amazing grace indeed that not only does He save us but that His desire is then to even blessed us over and above the blessing of salvation!

Psalm 1 contrasts the two life styles set out in the wisdom literature and reminds the readers of the choices of life or death, of blessing or curse (cf. Deut 30:11-20).

Steele (1674) speaks of the value of the different components of the OT wisdom literature noting that…

He that would be wise, let him read the Proverbs
He that would be holy, let him read the Psalms.

Spurgeon offer this overview of Psalm 1…

This Psalm may be regarded as the preface psalm, having in it a notification of the contents of the entire Book. It is the psalmists’ desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This, then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon. This Psalm consists of two parts: in the first (Psalms 1:1-3) David (Ed: the author is actually not stated) sets out wherein the felicity and blessedness of a godly man consist, what his exercises are, and what blessings he shall receive from the Lord. In the second part (Psalms 1:4-6) he contrasts the state and character of the ungodly, reveals the future, and describes, in telling language, his ultimate doom.

Warren Wiersbe rightly states that…

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.

BLESSED IN DUPLICATE!
BLESSED, BLESSED

Blessed (0835) (‘esher/’eser related to the verb ‘ashar = to go or be straight, to go on, to advance, to be right) and always refers to people but never to God. Vine writes that “Basically, this word connotes the state of “prosperity” or “happiness” that comes when a superior bestows his favor (blessing) on one. In most passages, the one bestowing favor is God Himself = Dt. 33:29. The state that the blessed one enjoys does not always appear to be “happy” = (Job 5:17-18). Eliphaz was not describing Job’s condition as a happy one; it was “blessed,” however, inasmuch as God was concerned about him. Because it was a blessed state and the outcome would be good, Job was expected to laugh at his adversity (Job 5:22). God is not always the one who makes one “blessed.” = 1Ki 10:8.”

Esher speaks of the inner contentment in the life of the man or woman who is right or “straight” with God. The man who practices righteousness will be a blessed man. ‘Esher describes “a person’s state of bliss (Ed: Webster = complete happiness. yjr highest degree of happiness; especially heavenly joys)” (Baker)

In Psalm 1:1, the Hebrew literally reads “blessed, blessed”, the Hebraic way of indicating superfluity, a truth that we might attempt to translate as “blessednesses”. The word blessed (‘esher) conveys a deep sense of well-being.

‘Esher – 42 OT uses (See notes above for more exposition of some of the Psalms that use ‘esher) – Deut. 33:291 Ki. 10:82 Chr. 9:7Job 5:17Ps. 1:12:1232:1f33:1234:840:441:165:484:4f1289:1594:12106:3112:1119:1f127:5128:1f137:8f144:15146:5Pr. 3:138:323414:2116:2020:728:1429:18Eccl. 10:17Isa. 30:1832:2056:2Dan. 12:12NAS Usage: blessed(41), happy(4).

One person has written “The word happy is a good rendition of blessed (‘esher), provided one keeps in mind that the condition of “bliss” is not merely a feeling. Even when the righteous do not feel happy, they are still considered “blessed” from God’s perspective. He bestows this gift on them. Neither negative feelings nor adverse conditions can take his blessing away.”

A number of the translations render ‘esher with the English word “happy“, but I prefer the word blessed. In modern use happy speaks more of a feeling. And in general feelings depend on our circumstances or on what happens! I’m happy if what happens is good. I’m not happy if what happens is bad. However that is not the promise of Psalm 1, which speaks more of one’s state or condition rather than one’s feeling. To be sure, the blessed person can certainly feel happy. The distinction is that when the blessed person of Psalm 1 encounters adverse circumstances, he or she still experiences a state or condition of blessedness. In other words, as the Psalmist promises, the blessed man of Psalm 1 will be like a tree firmly planted, sturdy, and steady and not like a tumble weed tossed about by every wind of circumstance. It is as if the blessed person has an inner strength, a supernatural source of strength, a state of blessedness regardless of the circumstances that one encounters.

As Spurgeon so eloquently expresses blessed in the plural “Oh, the blessednesses! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight!”

John Piper adds that the Hebrew word ‘esher “means happy in the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and physical well being.”

The other Hebrew word for bless is the verb barak which is the verb used of man blessing God and of God blessing man. In contrast, the verb ‘ashar used only of God blessing man. Thus it is fitting that in Psalm 1:1, the noun chosen is ‘esher, speaking of the blessing from the Most High God to mankind.

In the Septuagint (Lxx), the Greek word for blessed is makarios (see word study) and can be summed up as describing the man who is fully satisfied (especially in the spiritual sense), independent of or regardless of circumstances. And so even though the winds and waves of affliction, testing and trial come against the “blessed man” (or “blessed woman”), fortified by the grace from Jehovah, he remains strongstedfast and satisfied in the Lord. The blessed man knows that he is safe in “the Ark” of Jehovah, the One Who declares I Am… I Am anything and everything you will ever need (not want but need! cp Php 4:19Ps 23:1Ps 84:11Mt 6:33Lk 12:303132Ro 8:322Co 9:8He 13:56 2Sa 22:7 Da 3:286:22 Ps116:4– ; Ps 120:1)

Adam Clarke – The word ashrey, which we translate blessed, is properly in the plural form, blessednesses; or may be considered as an exclamation produced by contemplating the state of the man who has taken God for his portion; O the blessedness of the man! And the word haish, is emphatic: THAT man; that one among a thousand who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which God created him. 1. God made man for happiness. 2. Every man feels a desire to be happy. 3. All human beings abhor misery. 4. Happiness is the grand object of pursuit among all men. 5. But so perverted is the human heart, that it seeks happiness where it cannot be found; and in things which are naturally and morally unfit to communicate it. 6. The true way of obtaining it is here laid down.

In context, the psalmist expands the meaning of blessed in Psalm 1, explaining in picture language that the blessed man is like a tree by water, a striking image in an arid land where water is sparse and greatly valued. And thus planted by the precious water (and not a stagnant pool but a stream of flowing water!). And too the blessing is pictured as like a tree that is fruitful in season with an unwithering leaf. And such a one prospers in all he does. He is blessed indeed! And finally the psalmist goes on to explain the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of being known by Jehovah and the privilege of standing in the assembly of the righteous of all the ages. The blessed man is stabilized in the storms by these truths regarding his present and his future.

Martin Luther comments that “”blessed” is a plural noun, ashrey (blessednesses), that is, all blessednesses are the portion of that man who has not gone away, etc.; as though it were said, “All things are well with that man who,” etc. Why do you hold any dispute? Why draw vain conclusions? If a man has found that pearl of great price, to love the law of God and to be separate from the ungodly, all blessednesses belong to that man; but, if he does not find this jewel, he will seek for all blessednesses but will never find one!”

COUNT YOUR
BLESSINGS!

Spurgeon

Those that trust in Him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality. Again, those that trust in Him have not only a real blessedness, but they oftentimes have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted, and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it. It is their joy to know that God’s blessing is come to them not in word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.

“They would not change their blest estate
For all the world calls good and great.”

Then, further, they are not only really blessed, and consciously blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eyeballs; they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and, best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness,—the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

John Trapp – The psalmist saith more to the point about true happiness in this short Psalm than any one of the philosophers, or all of them put together; they did but beat the bush, God hath here put the bird into our hand.

Richard Baker – Where the word blessed is hung out as a sign, we may be sure that we shall find a godly man within.

Ray Pritchard – In biblical terms to be blessed means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and you experience deep personal satisfaction. It’s important to know that this sort of happiness is not related to our circumstances. And it doesn’t come simply by seeking for it. You find happiness not by seeking it but by doing certain things (and not doing other things). The blessing comes as a side benefit of the choices we make. A wise man said that happiness is like a cat. Seek it and it will run from you. But go about your business steadily day by day and soon it comes and curls up at your feet. How true. The most miserable people on New Year’s Eve are those who seek happiness by hopping from one party to another and from one bar to another. True happiness and lasting contentment simply cannot be found that way. (Psalm 1: Trees Planted by the Water)

WATCH THE
FIRST STEP!

God delights to bless His children, but we must be “blessable.” We must have discernment (discerning good and evil) which works itself out in avoiding the steps that lead to sin — considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch your first step if you want to be blessed!

Spurgeon calls us to observe “how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! (see notes beginning with Matthew 5:3) The word translated blessed is a very expressive one. The original word is plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall rest upon the man whom God hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall enjoy. We might read it, “Oh, the blessednesses!” and we may well regard it (as Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man’s felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!

And so this “Beatitude Psalm” opens with a blessing for the reader who heeds the truths therein, but closes with a “curse” (perish) for those who fail to heed these truths. Please do not misunderstand. All men in both the Old and New Testaments are saved by grace through faith in the Messiah, so the psalmist is not teaching salvation by works. But he is teaching blessing by obedience. In other words to hear and not to heed is to deceive one’s self and to miss God’s blessing. James warned his readers “prove (present imperative) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers who delude (see paralogizomai) themselves. (James 1:22note)

The Greek word for hearers in James 1:22 is akroates which was used to describe one who sat passively and listened to a singer or speaker. This is a description applicable to one who audits a college course, but not for credit, with the result that little effort (usually) is expended on the course material. Such hearers or auditors of college courses are not held accountable for what they hear, which is where the analogy breaks down, for all who read Psalm 1 will be held accountable for the profound, eternal truths it lays out in straightforward fashion.

John MacArthur – Tragically, most churches have many “auditors,” members who willingly expose themselves to the teaching and preaching of the Word but have no desire for that knowledge to alter their day-by-day lives. They take advantage of the privilege of hearing God’s Word but have no desire for obeying it. When followed consistently, that attitude gives evidence that they are not Christians at all, but only pretenders. Such people, who are merely hearers and not also doers, think they belong to God, when, in reality, they do not. Proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word are never ends in themselves but are means to an end, namely, the genuine acceptance of divine truth for what it is and the faithful application of it.

Alexander Maclaren – Its theme, the blessedness of keeping the law, is enforced by the juxtaposition of two sharply contrasted pictures, one in bright light, another in deep shadow, and each heightening the other. Ebal and Gerizim face one another.

Wiersbe emphasizes that “First, we must be separated from the world (Ps 1:1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He (Ed: Describes Peter – and note what resulted = denial of Jesus – Lk 22:56-58. Sin is valuing anything as more glorious than Jesus!) is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees (Ed: Illustration = frog in the kettle, slowly increasing the cooking temperature!). We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world (contrast James 1:27); we love the world (1Jn 2:15-17James 4:4), become conformed to it (Ro 12:2) and end up condemned with it. Lot is an example of someone who became worldly. He looked toward Sodom, pitched his tent toward Sodom, lived there, lost everything and ended in sin (Ed: But he was a believer so he was not condemned (Ro 8:1) but he surely did suffer loss of reward (1Cor 3:10-15). When we seek earthly rewards, we often forfeit heavenly, eternal rewards! Mt 6:19-21 Be careful how you walk! Eph 5:15, cp 2Peter 2:6-9).

Lot was righteous and thus saved but he missed the blessing of Psalm 1 because he failed to be separated and instead “assimilated” with the world! Dear believer, could it be that we are missing the blessing of Psalm 1 because we are not willing to separate from the world and/or the passing pleasures of sin?

Alan Carr – THE PATH OF THE SUCCESSFUL BELIEVER

A. The Successful believer is separated in his walk of life.

1. He doesn’t Believe like the wicked – (Ill. He doesn’t listen to their counsel and invitations to evil) His hearing is turned a little higher!

2. He doesn’t Behave like the wicked – 2 Cor. 5:17 – (Ill. The old man has been put forever away!)

3. He doesn’t Belong with the wicked – 2 Cor. 6:17 0 (Ill. He feels out of place when surrounded by the devil’s crowd.

B. Ill. The downward progress – Walk, Stand, Sit. (Ill. This is the path Lot took – Gen. 19. It eventually led to his total downfall!)

C. The successful believer realizes that there is a vast difference between himself and the world he was saved out of, and he lives accordingly! (Sermons and Outlines)

WHO DOES NOT WALK IN THE COUNSEL OF THE WICKED:

Does not walk (01980)(halak) is a common OT verb (1340 verses) which literally denotes physical locomotion meaning to go (426x), going (30x), goes (22x), walk (142x), act (5x), came (13x), come (82x), depart(14x), departed (55x), went (309x), flow(6x), led (14x), march (4)x, travel (3x). The basic idea of halak is that of movement of something – flowing of a river = Ge. 2:14, descending flood = Ge 8:3, crawling beasts = Lev 11:27, slithering snake = Lev 11:42, blowing wind = Eccl 1:6, tossing sea = Jonah 1:13.

Halak is often used (as in Psalm 1:1) as a metaphor to picture one’s behavior or conduct. How one walks (eg, walking in sins 2Ki 13:11, follow the example – 2Chr 17:3) is how one lives his or her life (1Sa 8:3Dt 28:9).

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. (give me an undivided heart is the idea, cp Mt 6:24James 1:6-7) (Ps 86:11)

The first use of halak is actually to describe the motion of a river (Ge 2:14), but the second use describes God walking in the Garden after Sin came into the world (Ge 3:8). The third use describes the curse to the Serpent (Satan) = “on your belly you will go (halak) and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” (Ge 3:14). In the next use (Ge 5:22) we see halak with its metaphorical meaning (as it is used here in Psalm 1), where is speaks of one’s conduct. For example, the phrase walking with or before God speaks of a close relationship to God (e.g., this positive use describes such men as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, David, all of whom were pleasing to God and all of whom experienced the blessednesses of Jehovah. Cp Ge 5:22246:917:124:4048:15, Ps, 26:3, 56:13, 116:9 )

Vine – God is said to “walk” or “go in three senses. First, there are certain cases where He assumed some kind of physical form. For example, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God “walking” to and fro in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). He “walks” on the clouds (Ps. 104:3) or in the heavens (Job 22:14); these are probably anthropomorphisms (God is spoken of as if He had bodily parts). Even more often God is said to accompany His people (Ex. 33:14), to go to redeem (deliver) them from Egypt (2Sa 7:23), and to come to save them (Ps. 80:2). The idea of God’s “going” (“walking”) before His people in the pillars of fire and cloud (Ex. 13:21) leads to the idea that His people must “walk” behind Him (Dt. 13:5). Quite often the people are said to have “walked” or to be warned against “walking behind” foreign gods (Dt. 4:3). Thus, the rather concrete idea of following God through the wilderness moves to “walking behind” Him spiritually. Some scholars suggest that “walking behind” pagan gods (or even the true God) arose from the pagan worship where the god was carried before the people as they entered the sanctuary. Men may also “walk…after the imagination of their evil heart,” or act stubbornly (Jer. 3:17). The pious followed or practiced God’s commands; they “walked” in righteousness (Isa. 33:15), in humility (Mic. 6:8), and in integrity (Ps. 15:2). They also “walk with God” (Ge 5:22), and they live in His presence, and “walk before” Him (Gen. 17:1), in the sense of living responsibly before Him. (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words)

In Hebrew the verb walk is in qal perfect where perfect depicts one’s walk or conduct as a whole, without necessarily any reflection on the duration of that conduct. The perfect can also speak of behavior that was started in the past and has continued into the present or which is started in the present and continues into the future. The point is “Don’t take the first step into the seductive cesspool of the world’s wisdom”! James paints a striking contrast between the world’s counsel (wisdom) and godly counsel (wisdom)…

This wisdom (worldly) is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:15-18)

To be a blessed person means that on one hand we do not do something and the other hand we do something. And so these wise words teach us how little by little we can step out of the place of blessedness and into the place of misery and cursing with devastating consequences. This first step begins when we begin to listen to and agree with the worldview of the wicked. Are believers at risk? Indeed, they are at great risk of taking this first misstep.

Solomon in the so called wisdom literature repeatedly warns against wrong associations…

Pr 1:15 My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,

Pr 4:14-15 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it. Turn away from it and pass on. (Read that verse again – count the admonitions! Those of us who are older know full well why such repeated warnings are necessary!)

Pr 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Dwight Edwards gives the following suggestions to help us chose our traveling companions in our life journey…

Is this person’s goal in life holiness or just happiness? Are they living for the things that will count for eternity, or for the decaying delicacies of this fading world? How serious is this person’s commitment to the cause of Christ? Many believers give mental assent to the goal of Christ-likeness, but relatively few pursue it with a burning passion. The purpose of true fellowship is to “stimulate (lit. “create a fever for”) one another to love and good works” (see Hebrews 10:24noteHeb 10:24note); not to huddle around worldly topics with other believers, under the guise of “Christian fellowship.” One of the most moving illustrations of godly companionship is found in the relationship cultivated between David and Jonathan. Perhaps the best summation of their relationship is found in 1Samuel 23:16, “So Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods, and strengthened his hand in God.” Who do we have to help us “strengthen our hand in God”? To whom do we do the same? (2 Timothy Call to Completion)

LOT’S EXAMPLE OF
HOW NOT TO BE BLESSED

First note God’s assessment of Lot in 2 Peter…

He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds) (See notes 2 Peter 2:72:8)

What’s the “key word” in these passages? Clearly it is the word righteous. Peter is emphasizing that Lot was an authentic believer, one who genuinely believed in the Messiah (as much as was revealed of His Person and work at the time). Had Peter not recorded this truth we would have all seriously questioned his salvation (and thus the repetition of the description righteous). As an aside one of the best OT passages (one used by Paul also in Romans 4:3,9) that explains how Lot was saved is the description of Uncle Abraham’s salvation, Moses recording that…

Then (see when or what “then” refers to by reading the preceding context –Genesis 15:12345) he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it (imputed it – placed it on his “spiritual” bank account) to him as righteousness. (Ge 15:6)

With this background read Moses’ description of Lot in Genesis 13, keeping in mind the conditions of Psalm 1:1 which are to be fulfilled in order to experience blessing from the LORD…

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere — this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled (Hebrew = yashab = to sit, a word that emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. Lot had settled down in Sodom) in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. (Ge 13:10-12)

Ge 13:10 – Lot Looks

Ge 13:11 – Lot Chooses

Ge 13:12 – Lot Sits

Lot looked toward Sodom, then choose to go to Sodom, and finally settled in Sodom. Notice the parallel with Psalm 1:1 where the blessed man is careful about where he walksstands, or sits. Needless to say Lot was the example to be avoided, the epitome of the righteous man who fails to enjoy the blessing of the Lord. In fact far from being blessed, Lot ended greatly vexed (2Pe 2:7note) and tormented (see 2 Peter 2:8note). Look out! Yes, as Jesus said “Remember Lot’s wife” (Lu 17:32 – her disobedience was a reflection of her unbelief), but also remember Lot’s choice! Lot choose to enter Sodom, and eventually enough of Sodom entered him that he even found it difficult to depart from the wicked…sinners…scoffers so that the angels had to physically extract him from Sodom! Lot though a genuine believer (righteous) was hardly a blessed man! Sadly there is a lot of Lot in a lot of believers today for they like Lot are choosing to walk in the counsel of the wicked (Sodom) when they could be basking in blessing upon blessing from Jehovah, the great I Am (I Am whatever you need, not whatever you want).

Does not walk – Does not go along with.

Pr 1:10 “If sinners entice you, do not give in to them.”

Ps 119:115 Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.

Counsel of the wicked – (Ps 64:2Ge 49:62Ch 22:3Job 10:321:16Lk 23:51)

Counsel (06098) (esah) means counsel (52x), advice (11x), viewpoint or way of thinking, as when one thinks about a course of action (often including consultation with an advisor). It is a state of mind that affects the decisions that we make. Esah speaks of God’s counsel (the best but not always followed) in Ps 73:24106:13107:11119:24Pr 1:25308:14

Counsel is advice; opinion, or instruction, given upon request or otherwise, for directing the judgment or conduct of another; opinion given upon deliberation or consultation. It is the act of telling someone what they should do based on a plan or scheme (2Sa 15:34)

Advice is an opinion recommended, or offered, as worthy to be followed.

Psalm 1:1 instructs us to not listen to their advice especially in the moral/ethical realm, telling you how you should conduct your life. The first way to avoid evil is to refuse to be influenced by the ungodly.

WHO influences you? Are you letting the world’s way of thinking influence you?

NAS Usage: advice(11), consultation(2), counsel (52), counselor*(1), counselors*(1), counsels(1), designs(1), plan(8), plans(2), purpose(6), scheme(1), schemes(1), strategy(1).

Esah – 85v –

Dt 32:28Jdg 20:72Sa 15:313416:202317:714231Kgs 1:1212:813f2Kgs 18:201Chr 12:192Chr 10:813f22:525:16Ezra 4:510:38Neh 4:15Job 5:1310:312:1318:721:1622:1829:2138:242:3Ps 1:113:214:620:433:10f73:24106:1343107:11119:24Pr 1:25308:1412:1519:20f20:51821:3027:9Isa 5:198:1011:214:2616:319:3111725:128:2929:1530:136:540:1344:2646:10f47:13Jer 18:182319:732:1949:7203050:45Ezek 7:2611:2Hos 10:6Mic 4:12Zech 6:13

Wicked (07563)(rasha’) is an adjective meaning unrighteous, unjust, an evil person, wrong wicked, guilty (legally not innocent of a violation of the law – Ex 23:1Ps 109:7), in the wrong, criminal, transgressor. Rasha‘ often describes unbelievers, who hate God and are habitually hostile toward Him. The wicked/ungodly conduct their lives as if God does not exist and with no regard for Him. Rasha‘ describes someone as evil with a focus on their being guilty or in the wrong (2Sa 4:11). Rasha‘ is the opposite of righteous (06662).

Rasha‘ is found 249 times translated evil(1), evil man(1), evil men(1), guilty(3), man(1), offender(1), ungodly(1), wicked(228), wicked man(21), wicked men(2), wicked one(1), wicked ones(3).

The majority of the uses of Rasha‘ occur in the Psalms (4x in Psalm 1) and Proverbs (see below), which would make an interesting study, which would give you a “descriptive” definition of one who is wicked or what characterizes their behavior (this would help us avoid such people!)

Vine writes that “Rasha‘ generally connotes a turbulence and restlessness (cf. Isa. 57:21) or something disjointed or ill-regulated. Thus Robert B. Girdlestone suggests that it refers to the tossing and confusion in which the wicked live, and to the perpetual agitation they came to others.”

The Greek translates rasha‘ in Psalm 1:1 with asebes which means ungodly (765) (asebes from a = w/o + sébomai = worship, venerate) and describes one who expresses a lack of interest in the things of God and a behavior and lifestyle consistent with such an irreverent attitude. Click in depth study of the related word ungodliness (asebeia). Ungodly pertains to violating norms for a proper relation to deity, and in short means irreverent (lacking proper respect of God) or impious.

Rasha’ – 249v –

Ge 18:2325Ex 2:139:2723:17Nu 16:2635:31Dt 25:1f1Sa 2:924:132Sa 4:111Kgs 8:322Chr 6:2319:2Job 3:178:229:222410:311:2015:2016:1118:520:52921:716f2822:1824:627:71334:182636:61738:131540:12Psalm 1:14563:77:99:516f10:2ff131511:25f12:817:91326:528:331:1732:1034:2136:11137:10121416f20f283234f384039:150:1655:358:31068:271:473:31275:481082:2491:892:794:31397:10101:8104:35106:18109:26f112:10119:536195110119155129:4139:19140:48141:10145:20146:9147:6Pr 2:223:25334:14195:229:710:36f11162024f27f303211:57f10f18233112:5ff1012212613:59172514:11193215:68f28f16:417:152318:3519:2820:2621:47101218272924:15f19f2425:52628:1412152829:27121627Eccl 3:177:158:1013f9:2Isa 3:115:2311:413:1114:526:1048:2253:955:757:20fJer 5:2612:123:1925:3130:23Ezek 3:18f7:2113:2218:20f23f2721:3f252933:8f11f14f19Dan 12:10Mic 6:10Hab 1:4133:13Zeph 1:3Mal 3:184:3

Guzik – The righteous man knows where to find completely godly counsel: Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. (Psalm 119:24) (See Spurgeon’s note) God’s Word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s Word to help someone who wants counseling.

William Heslop – “Walketh, standeth, sitteth,” reveals a growth in evil just as “ungodly, sinners, and scornful,” shows a fearful downward trend.

From thinking like the world we begin to act like the world.

The righteous (by grace through faith as was Abraham in Genesis 15:6) are to be in the world but not of the world. This subtle but critical distinction can be illustrated by considering a submarine which functions in the water but not of the water. If it is on the ground (out of the water) it is of no purpose and it is unable to fulfill its purpose. But when it is in the water it must be insulated (not isolated) from the water. If the water gets into the submarine then there is cause for alarm and emergency. The godly man who seeks God’s blessing must first be sure that his life choices are such that while not isolated from the world, he remains insulated from its seductive, destructive, evil influences, beginning with its evil counsel or advice.

Gill – “not to walk” herein is not to hearken to their counsel, to give into it, agree with it, pursue it, and act according to it; and happy is the man, who, though he may fall in the way of it, and may have bad counsel given him by ungodly men, yet does not consent to it, take it, and act upon it.

Pastor Steven Cole offers five guidelines for discerning the counsel of the wicked versus the wisdom of God…

(1) The counsel of the wicked denies the sufficiency of Scripture for dealing with the problems of the soul. The Bible claims to be adequate to equip the believer for every good work (see 2Ti 3:16note2Ti 3:17note) and to produce in us true happiness by dealing with the problems of the soul (Psalm 1). It provides answers for problems of guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, and relational conflicts. “Christian” psychology brings the world’s wisdom to bear on these problems, thus implying that the Bible is not sufficient and often stating “solutions” opposed to what the Bible prescribes.

(2) The counsel of the wicked exalts the pride of man and takes away from the glory of God. The Bible humbles the pride of man and exalts the glory of God (Isaiah 42:81Cor 1:31). The world’s wisdom builds the self and minimizes the need for absolute trust in God, whether for salvation or for daily living.

(3) The counsel of the wicked denies or minimizes the need for the cross of Christ by asserting either the basic goodness of man or by downplaying the extent and impact of the fall. The Bible teaches that we are all utterly wicked and self-seeking. None of us could or would seek God if left to ourselves (see notes Romans 3:10-18). The cross humbles human pride and wisdom and exalts Christ alone (1Cor 1:18192021222324252627282930312:12345).

(4) The counsel of the wicked denies God’s moral absolutes and substitutes relative human “goodness.” God is absolutely righteous and His standards of holiness as revealed in His Word are absolute (see 1Peter 1:16note). Worldly wisdom rationalizes away God’s absolutes as being too “idealistic” or “harsh” and substitutes some human standard, such as “love.” In other words, human wisdom makes a god in its own likeness, rather than submitting to the true God.

(5) The counsel of the wicked focuses on pleasing self rather than on pleasing God and others. The world’s wisdom does not promote self-denial and love for God and others as of first importance (Mark 8:3412:293031). Often the world’s wisdom provides “help” for a person (relief from the symptoms of his problem) without leading him to confess sin, depend on God, and live in obedience to God. The world’s wisdom counsels you to live first of all for yourself. In “Christian” form, it tells you that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love God and others. (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )

From Grace Gems

BEWARE OF THE COMPANY OF THE UNGODLY. Of course, I would not dissuade you from necessary dealings with the ungodly, nor from helping them, and certainly not from endeavoring to draw them to God when you have opportunity. It is the unnecessary fellowship with the ungodly from which I would dissuade you. Chiefly to be avoided are the profane, the swearer, the drunkard, and the enemies of godliness. But they are not the only ones who will prove harmful companions to us. Too frequent fellowship with people whose conversation is empty, will also divert our thoughts from heaven. We need all the help we can get in living the heavenly life on earth.

A stone is as fit to rise and fly in the air, as our hearts are by nature to move towards heaven. You need not hinder the rocks from flying up to the sky. It is sufficient that you do not help them. Just as surely, if our spirits have not great assistance, they may easily be kept from soaring upwards even without great hindrances.

Consider this in the choice of your company. What help will it be to your spiritual life to hear about the weather or the latest news? This is the conversation of earthlings. How will it help to raise your heart to God, to hear about an excellent book, or an able minister, or of some petty controversy? This is mainly the best conversation you are likely to hear from the formal, dead-hearted church member. Can you have your hearts in heaven while among your roaring companions in a bar, or when you work with those whose common language is profanity, filthiness, foolishness, and dirty jokes? No, the plain fact is, fellowship will be a part of our happiness in heaven; and it is now either a help or hindrance in living a heavenly life on earth. (Grace Gems)

NOR STAND IN THE PATH OF SINNERS:

Paul gives believers a similar warning in the NT…

Do not be deceived (present imperative + negative = command to stop being led astray): “Bad company corrupts (Note that use of the Present tense = continually! The verb phtheiro means to cause good morals to “decay,” to “waste away”) good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)

Comment: Stop believing their falsehoods such as “you only go around once, grab all the gusto you can get!!!” – lies such as this will lead to rottenness in one’s life.

Stand (05975in the path (01870)- This means to avoid being in the places where sinners congregate to do their thing. If you are serious about keeping yourself morally/ethically pure and holy, don’t put yourself in a path that will surely bring temptation.

Sinners (02400) (chatta’/hatta’) is an archery term which meant “to fall short, miss the mark.” (cp Judges 20:16note).The mark is the will and plan of God as revealed in Scripture. Sin is the transgression of His will as He has revealed it. Sin is whatever misses the will of God for man doctrinally or morally. We are all sinners. We all miss the mark, and none of us are perfect nor will we ever be perfect in this life. This is why Christ had to die for our sin so we might have His righteousness.

David Guzik – Sinners have a path where they stand, and the righteous man knows he does not belong on that pathPath speaks of a way, a road, a direction, and the righteous man is not traveling in the same direction as sinners. The righteous man is not afraid to take a less-traveled road, because he knows it leads to blessing, happiness, and eternal life. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” (see Matthew 7:13note) The righteous can have the confidence of Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (See Spurgeon’s note). God has a path, and it is a good road to take.

Steven Cole – The path of sinners refers to their way of life or behavior. To stand in the path of sinners means involvement with sinners in their sinful behavior. The word “sinners” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to miss the mark. It refers to deviating from the standard of God as revealed in His Word… If we run with worldly people in their godless way of life, we will be wrongly influenced by them. That is why a new Christian needs to cut off close relationships with many former friends: They will draw you back into the old way of life. You may not think so, but, “Do not be deceived”! On the other hand, we are not supposed to cut ourselves off completely from sinners (unless they make claim of being Christians). Otherwise, you would have to go out of the world (1Cor. 5:91011). Rather, your objective changes. Whereas before you associated with sinners as one of them to join in their evil deeds, now you associate with them as a sinner saved by grace to seek to bring them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (Psalm 1- How To Live Happily Ever After)

Observe the progression in which patterns are forming and becoming entrenched. In other words we begin the downgrade by listening to the world’s wisdom especially in the moral/ethical sphere (“It’s okay to sleep together if you are engaged and soon to be married.” = “counsel of the wicked”!). And from listening to their counsel we begin to think like the world and soon we act like the world, because what a man believes will always determine how he behaves. Sin’s natural direction spiritually speaking is a sequential, seductive, downward drag. Words like regression, deterioration, degeneration, destruction come to mind. The writer of Hebrews warned that we should…

encourage (present imperative = command to make this your habit – Why? we are in continual need for we are bombarded by discouraging circumstances and news of this fallen world) one another (which implies [1] we need each other and [2] we need to be in contact, i.e., fellowship daily! No “lone ranger” Christians if you want to stay encouraged and be an encourager!) day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness (see study of apate) of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (Sin is deceitful [Latin = decipio = to take aside, to ensnare] – cunning, stealthy, misleading, untruthful, beguiling, cheating, counterfeit, deceptive, dishonest, disingenuous, ensnaring, trickish, duplicitous, illusory, deliberately causing one to believe something that is not true, deliberately misrepresentative) See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin

So the effect of sin is to bring about a gradual “build up of plaque” (using a medical analogy) producing spiritual “arteriosclerosis” or hardening of one’s heart and this can happen to believers, especially to those believers who think “That could never happen to me!” (“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed [present imperative = command for continual vigilance against pride for we are continually vulnerable to its subtle nature] lest he fall.” 1Cor 10:12) As an aside, an instructive “warning” study are several of the Biblical examples of overconfidence – Haman in Esther 3-5, Sennacherib and the angel of the Lord in Isaiah 37:363738; Peter in Luke 22:3334545556575859606162, the churches at Sardis, Laodicea — Revelation 3:13:23:33:17 see notes Revelation 3:13:23:33:17.

NOR SIT AT THE SEAT OF SCOFFERS:

Sit (03427) (yashab) has sense of to sit, dwell, remain, abide and emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. One has settled down and is comfortable and content with the world with its patterns. In the present context this verb pictures the idea of becoming comfortable with sin and of progression from casual influence of ungodly people to collusion with them in their scorn.

In Numbers we see an instructive use of yashab, Moses recording the tragic story of Israel…

While Israel remained (yashab) at Shittim (the last stop before Israel crossed the Jordan) the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. (Numbers 25:1-3)

Comment: Sit (Yashab) here in Numbers 25 is not the same word as ‘camp‘ which is what they should have been doing! See Nu 35:19 where camped (chanah) means to pitch a tent, which is quiet a different action than from abiding or tarrying in the seat of scoffers (Idol worshipers in this case) and they forfeited the blessednesses of Jehovah! (Read the full story in Numbers 25)

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote over 1000 years later…

Now these things (referring to Numbers 25) happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved…11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Seat (04186) (moshab from yashab = to sit, remain, dwell) means a seat (1Sa 20:1825), assembly, dwelling place, dwelling (a settlement, a place to live – Ge 10:30), dwellers, a site, a session; an abode (the place or the time). The idea is not only ‘seat’ or ‘place of sitting down’ but also ‘session’ or ‘assembly.’” Zion is called the dwelling place of Yahweh (Ps 132:13). houses are sometimes called dwellings (Lev 25:29Exo 12:20) and the people in them were called inhabitants, or dwellers (2Sa 9:12). In sum, moshab means a place where a thing (in this case a person) is settled or established.

NAS Usage – Usage: dwelling(3), dwelling place(1), dwelling places(5), dwellings(9), habitation(1), habitations(2), inhabited(3), inhabited places(1), lived(1), seat(8), seating(2), settlement(1), settlements(3), situation(1), time(1), where they lived(1), where you are to live(1).

Moshab – 43v – Ge 10:3027:3936:43Ex 10:2312:204035:3Lev 3:177:2613:4623:31417213125:29Nu 15:224:2131:1035:291Sa 20:18252Sa 9:121Kgs 10:52Kgs 2:191Chr 4:336:547:282Chr 9:4Job 29:7Ps 1:1107:473236132:13Ezek 6:6148:328:234:1337:2348:15

Scoffers (03887) (lis/luwts) means to mock, to deride, to speak in a scornfully derisive or to boast so as to express utter contempt. The activity of the scornful is condemned as an abomination to people. The scoffer is one who shows contempt by mocking, sneering, or scorning. This verb frequently means to deride or boast in such a way as to express contempt (Pr. 9:7813:120:1). “By extension the word is used to signify ambassadors (2Chr 32:31);, interpreters (Ge 42:23); and spokesmen (Isa 43:27).” (Baker) “To talk big, i.e., speak words which show no respect for the object, and make fun of the object, with a possible focus of speaking in the situation with confidence and authority.” (Swanson)

Walter Kaiser – Fools scorn and mock at sin (Pr 14:9) and judgment (Pr 19:28). The scorner (Qal participial form) himself may be described as proud and haughty (Pr 21:24), incorrigible (Pr 9:7), resistant to all reproof (Pr 9:815:12), and hating any rebuke (Pr 13:1). Wisdom and knowledge easily elude him (Pr 14:6). So despicable is the scorner that he may be labelled as odious to all men (Pr 24:9). Therefore he must be avoided (Ps 1:1) by all who would live godly lives. Further, he should be punished by hitting so that the easily pursuaded naive fool may benefit from the lesson (Pr 19:2521:11). One good way to remove contention from a group is to eject the scorner, and then “strife and reproach will cease” (Pr 22:10). A prepared judgment awaits all such scorners (Pr 19:29), for their trademark of life has been “to delight” in their scorning (Pr 1:22). They shall be brought to nothing and consumed (Isa 29:20). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

Scoff = To treat with insolent ridicule, mockery or contumelious language; to manifest contempt by derision; with at. To scoff at religion and sacred things is evidence of extreme weakness and folly, as well as of wickedness. To show contempt by derisive acts or language; stresses insolence, disrespect, or incredulity as motivating the derision

Scorn = open dislike and disrespect or derision often mixed with indignation; reject or dismiss as contemptible or unworthy; show disdain or derision; to regard as unworthy of one’s notice or consideration & implies a ready or indignant contempt.

Lis/luwts– 26 v – Usage: carry on as scoffers(1), deride(1), envoys(1), interpreter(1), makes a mockery(1), mediator(1), mock(1), mocker(1), scoff(1), scoffer(10), scoffers(5), scoffs at the scoffers(1), scorner(1), spokesmen(1). Below are some representative uses…

Ge 42:232Chr 32:31Job 16:2033:23 (lis/luwts = intercessor, mediator, i.e., one who helps parties to come to an agreement); Ps 1:1Ps 119:51Pr 1:223:34Pr 9:7,81213:114:6915:1219:2528f20:121:112422:1024:9Isa 28:2229:2043:27

Ge 42:23 They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them.

2Chr 32:31 And even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

Comment: envoy, spokesman, go-between, i.e., a person who relates messages between parties, including language interpreting or a focus on the message’s content (see also Isa 43:27)

Pr 1:22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?

Pr 3:34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

Comment: Lxx translates scoffer with antitasso (in present tense = their habitual attitude/action) which means to resist, to oppose, to be hostile toward. Antitasso was a military term found in the papyri meaning “to range in battle against” and pictured an army arrayed against the enemy forces. It means to oppose someone, involving a psychological attitude and also corresponding behavior. It means to “to be an enemy of” or “to resist with assembled forces.”

Ps 119:51 The arrogant (Lxx = huperephanos) utterly deride me, Yet I do not turn aside from Thy law.

Comment: Note the implication – the arrogant have no desire for God’s Law, His Word of Truth.

Isa 29:20 For the ruthless (Lxx = anomos = lawless, behaving contrary to the law) will come to an end, and the scorner (Lxx = huperephanos) will be finished (Lxx = exolothreuo = utterly destroyed, completely cut off from God’s presence – cf 2Th 1:6-9) Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off. (More literally in Hebrew this last phrase is “and all the watchers of wrong will be cut off.” )

Unlike the good man, who walks the path of wisdom, the scoffer is a wicked man who follows the path of folly, refusing to listen to the wisdom of others.

Whenever possible, avoid associating yourself with those who are antagonistic to God and His teachings.

Solomon records of God that

Surely he scoffs at the scoffer: but he gives grace to the lowly” (Pr 3:34).

God is opposed to the scornful, and He will scorn them. That’s a frightful picture.

Guzik writes that…

The scornful love to sit and criticize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man will not sit in that seat! When others are putting down Christians, it is easy to sit with them and criticize them. It is easy because there are many things to criticize among Christians. But it is wrong, because we are then sitting in the seat of the scornful. Instead, we should be proud to follow Jesus Christ.

“Be out-and-out for Him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me… but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, – “I love Christ.”’” (Spurgeon)

Walk…stand…sit pictures a process of spiritual “retrogression” which is the ever present danger if we are not growing in grace by taking in God’s Word. The point is that believers never stand still in their Christian walk and the psalmist portrays the potential spiritual declension by three degrees of degeneration, describing our habit or conduct (walk, stand, sit) and three degrees of evil influence (counsel of the wicked, path of sinners, seat of scoffers). In short, the psalmist warns us how we are prone to wander as the hymn writer says, turning aside little by little, even imperceptibly becoming increasingly entangled in the web of sin. We need to remember that the writer Hebrews warns of the deadliness of sin…

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin)

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

He is easily influenced by the way of the world in its attitudes and actions, for actions follow attitudes.

Scott Grant – In Psalm 1, the blessing first of all is on the one who does not engage in certain activities. A progression is in view from two levels. First, three types of offenders are mentioned, with each group being more severe than the previous. Second, the words used to convey association with the offenders convey the potential for increasing involvement with them. The wicked are those who would be guilty in a court of law, even for one offense. The word sinners implies a repetition of evil deeds. Scoffers not only engage in illicit activities but also ridicule those who don’t. (Delighting in the Word)

Paul gives an apt description of scoffers in Romans that…

although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice (as their lifestyle) such things are worthy of death, they not only do (habitual practice) the same, but also give (continually) hearty approval to those who practice (continually) them. (see note Romans 1:32)

Piper – So, instead of finding his pleasures in the words or the ways or the fellowship of the wicked, the one who is truly happy finds pleasure in meditating on the Word and the ways of God.

The description of the godly begins with the negative which prepares his heart for the positive teaching in verse 2. As Wiersbe so aptly puts it, the “blessee” must first be separated and then saturated. He must be separated from the world (the root idea of holy) and saturated with the Word. The more we delight in the Word, the less we will desire the world.

Solomon gives us good advice for avoiding the 3 step declension in Psalm 1:1 exhorting us to…

Watch (An imperative – it is imperative that we continually guard our heart from “intruders”) over your heart with all diligence, (why?) for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23) (NLT conveys the point “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”)

O child of God, guard well your eyes
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind–
Your Father wants you set apart. –Fasick

John Flavel very wisely observed that,

The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.

Pritchard calls us to…

Consider the progression involved: Walk … Stand … Sit. First, the man is walking down the road. Then he stops to hang out with the sinners. Eventually they prove to be such good company that he sits down and has intimate fellowship with them. What started as casual contact in the end becomes a declaration of personal allegiance.

The “counsel of the wicked” means the advice of the morally unstable. It’s a general term that describes the worldview of those who do not know the Lord. The “way of sinners” involves a series of lifestyle choices. The “seat of mockers” means to have close, intimate, long-term fellowship with those who openly reject the Lord. The progression goes like this:

Thinking … Behaving … Belonging.

Worldly wisdom leads to
Worldly action, which results in
Worldly fellowship.

Let us be clear on this point. Blessings come not only from what we do, but also from what we don’t do. Blessed people avoid certain things. And they avoid certain people and certain situations. They don’t hang out just anywhere and they don’t quickly buy into every line of thinking. And they are very careful not to join themselves to the company of those who do not love the Lord…

Sin never stands still. It always moves to control us. What starts as casual contact leads on to increasing closeness and permanence of association. Eventually, there is increasing boldness of evil accompanied by a lowering of our own inhibitions. We laugh at jokes that once would have seemed crude to us. We compromise our values in ways we never would have thought possible. We consent to things that would have greatly troubled us in the past. (Ibid)

Adam Clarke sees Psalm 1:1 as a picture of the seen in this a progression of sin commenting that…

The great lesson to be learned from the whole is, sin is progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to another. He who acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who abandons himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy from God.

Steven Cole comments…

Scoffers have rejected God and His Word. They now seek to justify themselves by openly deriding that which they’ve rejected. Scoffers think they know more than God. They’re too smart to believe in the Bible. Many scoffers come from church backgrounds, but they’ve cast it off as too “repressive.” Although they almost always hide under an intellectual smoke screen, invariably scoffers have cast off the Bible because they want to be their own god so that they can follow their own lusts. They don’t want God interfering in their sinful lifestyles.

The seat of scoffers refers to the assembly or place where such men gather to reinforce their godless philosophy. Birds of a feather flock together. Those who scoff at God love to get together to reinforce their prejudices. To sit in their seat means to belong to such a crowd. Take note: How truly happy is the person who does not sit in the seat of scoffers!

Before we leave verse 1, please note the downward progression in the life of sin. Satan doesn’t cause a person to fall away and spurn the faith all at once.

There are degrees of departure from God, as implied in three sets of three words:

(1) Walk > Stand > Sit. First, you walk–you’re still moving, but now in the wrong direction. Then, you stand–you’re lingering in sin. Finally, you sit–you’re at ease in the company of scoffers.

(2) Wicked > Sinners > Scoffers. First, you’re with the wicked–those who hang loose about God. Then you’re with sinners–those who openly violate God’s commands by missing the mark. Then you’re with scoffers–those who openly reject the truth.

(3) Counsel > Path > Seat. First, you listen to counsel–you begin thinking wrong thoughts. Then, you stand in the path–you engage in wrong behavior. Finally, you sit in the seat–you belong to the wrong crowd and have adopted the fatal attitude of the scoffer. And Satan’s got you!

Two lessons:

(1) Guard your mind! Satan begins there, as he did with Eve (“Has God said …?”). Wrong thoughts lead to wrong behavior which leads to rejection of God and His truth. Guarding your mind doesn’t mean that you become a non-thinker. It means that you critique everything by the unchanging standard of God’s Word of truth.

(2) Guard your friends! Those whom you choose as close friends should be committed to the things of God. “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2Co 6:14). Bad company will corrupt good morals. In my fourth year at Dallas Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “The two factors which will most influence where you will be ten years from now are the books you read and the friends you make.” Guard your mind! Guard your friends! (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )

Thomas Brooks has an interesting Biblical analysis of wicked men

Always look upon wicked men, under those names and notions which the Scripture describes them, such as: lions for their fierceness, bears for their cruelty, dragons for their hideousness, dogs for their filthiness, wolves for their subtleness, scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars, thistles,

brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, scum.

You may know well enough what is within them,
by the apt names which the Holy Spirit has given them.

By looking upon them under those names and notions that the Scripture sets them out by, may preserve the soul from frequenting their company and delighting in their society. Such monsters are wicked men–which should render their company to all who have tasted of the sweetness of divine love, a burden and not a delight.

Wiersbe writes…

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.

First, we must be separated from the world (v. 1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees. We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world; we love the world, become confirmed to it and end up condemned with it…

Second, we must be saturated with the Word (v. 2). Whatever delights us directs us. We saturate ourselves with the Word by meditating on it. Meditation is to the spirit what digestion is to the body. When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within us to “digest” the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us.

Enjoy the blessings God has for you and allow Him to make you a blessing to others. (A third condition, being situated by the waters, is the topic of our next devotional.)

God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in the Word, we may expect God’s blessings. Resolve to meditate on the Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others. (see Matthew 5:3notet)

Alexander Maclaren explains the order of negative preceding positive…

It is usually taken as an exclamation, but may equally well be a simple affirmation, and declares a universal truth even more strongly, if so regarded. The characteristics which thus bring blessedness are first described negatively, and that order is significant. As long as there is so much evil in the world, and society is what it is, godliness must be largely negative, and its possessors “a people whose laws are different from all people that be on earth.” Live fish swim against the stream; dead ones go with it.

The tender graces of the devout soul will not flourish unless there be a wall of close-knit and unparticipating opposition round them, to keep off nipping blasts. The negative clauses present a climax, notwithstanding the unquestionable correctness of one of the grounds on which that has been denied — namely, the practical equivalence of “wicked” and “sinner.”

Increasing closeness and permanence of association are obvious in the progress from walking to standing and from standing to sitting.

Increasing boldness in evil is marked by the progress from counsel to way, or course of life, and thence to scoffing. Evil purposes come out in deeds, and deeds are formularised at last in bitter speech. Some men scoff because they have already sinned. The tongue is blackened and made sore by poison in the system. Therefore goodness will avoid the smallest conformity with evil, as knowing that if the hem of the dress or the tips of the hair be caught in the cruel wheels, the whole body will be drawn in. But these negative characteristics are valuable mainly for their efficacy in contributing to the positive, as the wall round a young plantation is there for the sake of what grows behind it.

Maclaren goes on to make a very important point, lest the reader think that holiness is manifest first and foremost by what one avoids or from that which one abstains. He writes that…

these positive characteristics (in verse 2), and eminently that chief one of a higher love, are the only basis for useful abstinence. Mere conventional, negative virtue is of little power or worth unless it flow from a strong set of the soul in another direction. (Amen. And I would add lest it become legalism which is powerless against the powerful pull of the world, the flesh and the devil.)

Spurgeon writes that…

He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. He finds no rest in the atheist’s scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God’s presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:

He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,

Nor standeth in the way of sinners,

Nor SITTETH in the SEAT of SCORNFUL.

When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God — the evil is rather practical than habitual — but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.

Adam Clarke writes…

Mark certain circumstances of their differing characters and conduct.

  1. The ungodly man has his counsel.
  2. The sinner has his way; and
  3. The scorner has his seat.

The ungodly man is unconcerned about religion; he is neither zealous for his own salvation nor for that of others; and he counsels and advises those with whom he converses to adopt his plan, and not trouble themselves about praying, reading, repentance, etc., etc.; “there is no need for such things; live an honest life, make no fuss about religion, and you will fare well enough at last.” Now “blessed is the man who walks not in this man’s counsel,” who does not come into his measures, nor act according to his plan.

The sinner has his particular way of transgressing; one is a drunkard, another dishonest, another unclean. Few are given to every species of vice. There are many covetous men who abhor drunkenness, many drunkards who abhor covetousness; and so of others. Each has his easily besetting sin; therefore, says the prophet, “Let the wicked forsake HIS WAY.” (Isaiah 55:7) Now, blessed is he who stands not is such a man’s WAY.

The scorner has brought, in reference to himself, all religion and moral feeling to an end. He has sat down — is utterly confirmed in impiety, and makes a mock at sin. His conscience is seared, and he is a believer in all unbelief. Now, blessed is the man who sits not down in his SEAT.

Thomas Adams wrote of the scoffers that…

when a wicked man comes to the depth and worst of sin, he despiseth. Then the Hebrew will despise Moses (Exodus 2:14), “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” Then Ahab will quarrel with Micaiah (1Kings 22:18), because he doth not prophecy good unto him. Every child in Bethel will mock Elisha (2Kings 2:23), and be bold to call him “bald pate.” Here is an original drop of venom swollen to a main ocean of poison: as one drop of some serpents’ poison, lighting on the hand, gets into the veins, and so spreads itself over all the body till it hath stifled the vital spirits. God shall “laugh you to scorn,” (Psalms 2:4), for laughing Him to scorn; and at last despise you that have despised him in us. That which a man spits against heaven, shall fall back on his own face. Your indignities done to your spiritual physicians shall sleep in the dust with your ashes, but stand up against your souls in judgment.

ARE YOU
BLESSABLE?

Warren Wiersbe sums up Psalm 1:1 noting that…

God enjoys blessing your life, but you must be “blessable.” That means having discernment (v. 1), avoiding the steps that lead to sin: considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), being comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch that first step! (Wiersbe, W: With the Word: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook. Nelson)

The happy man (Lachlan MacKenzie, “The Happy Man”)

The happy man was born in the city of Regeneration in the parish of Repentance unto Life. He has a large estate in the county of Christian Contentment.

He was educated at the School of Obedience —and often does jobs of Self-denial.

He wears the garment of Humility, and has another suit to put on when he goes to Court, called the Robe of Christ’s Righteousness.

He is necessitated to travel through the world on his way to heaven—but he walks through it as fast as he can. All his business along the way—is to make himself and others happy. He often walks in the valley of Self-Abasement, and sometimes climbs the mountains of Heavenly-mindedness.

He breakfasts every morning on Spiritual Prayer, and sups every evening on the same. He has food to eat, which the world knows nothing of—and his drink is the sincere milk of the Word of God.

Thus happy he lives—and happy he dies.

Happy is he who has . . .

Gospel submission in his will,

the love of God in his affections,

true peace in his conscience,

sincere Divinity in his breast,

the Redeemer’s yoke on his neck,

the vain world under his feet, and

a crown of glory over his head!

Happy is the life of that man who . . .

believes firmly,

prays fervently,

walks patiently,

labors abundantly,

lives holily,

dies daily,

watches his heart,

guards his senses,

redeems his time,

loves Christ, and

longs for glory!

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): But his pleasure is in the law of the Lord; and in his law will he meditate day and night.

Amplified: But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

KJV: But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

NET: Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands; he meditates on his commands day and night. (NET Bible)

NJB: but who delights in the law of Yahweh and murmurs his law day and night. (NJB)

Young’s Literal: But–in the law of Jehovah is his delight, And in His law he doth meditate by day and by night:

BUT HIS DELIGHT IS IN THE LAW OF THE LORD:

A W Pink summarizes Psalm 1:1-3 with three words that speak of the godly man or woman’s…

  1. Separation (Ps 1:1)
  2. Occupation (Ps 1:2)
  3. Fertilization (Ps 1:3)

Ray Pritchard notes that “Now we come to the positive side of the ledger. Having refused to walk in the way of evildoers, we instead focus on knowing God’s Word. We do this because the true way to float rubbish out is to pour water in. You can’t get rid of the garbage in your life simply by mental effort. You must replace the negative with something positive. (Ed: Compare “the washing of water with the word” Ep 5:26note, cp Php 4:8notePhp 4:9note = think upon truth & then obey truth! = God of peace will be with you. Compare also “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” — ) (Trees Planted by the Water)

Play this beautiful song…then, enabled by the Holy Spirit, put the blessed truth of Psalm 1 into practice…you will never regret it beloved!

  • Planted By the Waters

    Note: In this song the words “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD…” are from the parallel passage in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” (HALLELUJAH!)

But – Whenever you encounter this term of contrastpause and ponder the text, asking questions like what is being contrasted, etc, which will usually force you to re-read the preceding passages (context = “king” in accurate interpretation), which is always a good “exercise.” Think of “BUT” as a hinge on a door, that opens into another room different from the attached room. Here the psalmist “changes direction” from the broad way leading to destruction (Mt 7:13note), to the narrow way that leads to eternal life (Mt 7:14note, cp the highway of holiness, Isa 35:8, the ancient paths Jer 6:1618:15!). Now he presents the marked contrast that accrues to those who choose to avoid the ways of the wicked, sinners and scoffers. As we have made a conscious, volitional, choice to (Spirit enabled – Php 2:13note, see Php 2:12note) “flee” from the evil, now we are by the same means called to “pursue” the good. This spiritual dynamic is similar to Paul’s charge to young Timothy regarding being a vessel of honor (cp “tree firmly planted...”)…

if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor (cp “like a tree planted… “), sanctified (set apart), useful to the Master, prepared for every good work (cp “bear fruit in season… “). Now flee (present imperative = command to make it your habit to do so – flee the 3 “P’s” = pleasure, power, possessions) from youthful lusts, and (note that true Biblical separation is balanced – if not we become “isolated” not “separated”) pursue (present imperative = command to make it your habit to do so) righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2Ti 2:2122-see notes 2Ti 2:2122) (cp a similar injunction to all followers of Christ in 1Ti 6:11, cp the same spiritual dynamic = avoid then discipline yourself in 1Ti 4:7 – note; the “reward” in 1Ti 4:8note)

CommentWhy must we as believers continually flee? Because our fallen flesh is intractably wicked and evil [[ = our fallen flesh nature {Jas 1:14note} inherited from Adam {Ro 5:12noteRo 5:1415noteRo 5:1617noteRo 5:1819note} although made ineffective in believers by the Cross {Ro 6:6note “done away with”} still inhabits our mortal bodies, ever crouching at the door of our heart {cp Pr 4:23note} ready to spring into action {cp Ge 4:567} if by the enabling power of the Spirit {Ro 8:13noteGal 5:16noteGal 5:1718noteGal 5:25note} we do not mortify it’s strong desires {Col 3:5KJV – note}]], the devil (diabolos) is a continually roaming and roaring lion (1Pe 5:8note1Pet 5:9note), and the world system (1Jn 2:15note1Jn 2:16note1Jn 2:17noteJas 4:4note, contrast Gal 6:14) cries out to satisfy your desire (witness the Nike commercial “Just Do It!”) with the passing pleasures of sin (Heb 11:25note). Compare 1Pe 2:11note.

DELIGHT

What is it? What does delight look like? How does one obtain “delight” or begin to delight? How is delight maintained, nursed and nourished?

Delight (02656) (hepes/chepes/chephets) is a masculine noun which means to take pleasure or find enjoyment in something. To feel great favor towards something. To experience emotional delight (referring either to men as here in Ps 1:2 or to God – 1Sa 15:22Ps 16:3Isa 44:2846:1048:1453:10)

See also Delight Yourself in the Lord

Hepes/chepes/chephets pictures that which is bent toward and thus is a beautiful figure of the godly man or woman who is ever leaning toward the law of Jehovah, not referring to the the “ten commandments” but to the law as representative of God’s Word. And given that God’s word is His “love letter” to fallen, rebellious mankind, the blessed man seeks this letter as a young man or woman would devour a love letter from they one they are courting or being courted by. Sentence by sentence. Phrase by phrase. Word by word. Reading through the letter without interruption, even unaware of surrounding distractions. Reading and re-reading. Such a picture is one of sheer delight of the beloved at having received a love letter from God Who is the essence of love. And so the blessed man or woman inclines toward the word.

Delight – a high degree of gratification or satisfaction of mind; extreme satisfaction; something that gives great pleasure. Webster’s 1828 says in English “delight is a more permanent pleasure than joy, and not dependent on sudden excitement.”

Delightful – Highly pleasing. Affording great pleasure and satisfaction.

The Septuagint (Lxx) translates hepes/chepes/chephets in Ps 1:2 with with the noun thelema which is “generally, as the result of what one has decided will; (1) objectively will, design, purpose, what is willed.” (Friberg) Thelema is what one wishes to happen or the act of desiring.

Hapes/chapes – 38 verses – Usage: care(1), delight(8), delightful(2), delights(1), desirable things(1), desire(10), desired(2), event(1), good pleasure(3), matter(1), pleased(1), pleasure(3), precious(1), sight(1), undesirable*(2), what you desire(1).

1Sa 15:2218:252Sa 23:51Kgs 5:8ff9:1110:132Chr 9:12Job 21:2122:331:16Ps 1:216:3107:30Pr 3:158:1131:13Eccl 3:1175:488:6Eccl 12:110Isa 44:2846:1048:14Isa 53:1054:1258:31362:4Jer 22:2848:38Hos 8:8Mal 1:103:12

1Sam 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight (Lxx = theletos = wished for, desired, also used in Mal 3:2) in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Ps 16:3note As for the saints who are in the earth, they are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight. (Lxx = thelema)

Spurgeon – The true aristocracy are believers in Jesus. They are the only Right Honorables. Stars and garters are poor distinctions compared with the graces of the Spirit. He who knows them best says of them, “in whom is all my delight.” They are his Hephzibah and his land Beulah, and before all worlds His delights were with these chosen sons of men. Their own opinion of themselves is far other than their Beloved’s opinion of them; they count themselves to be less than nothing, yet He makes much of them, and sets his heart towards them. What wonders the eyes of Divine Love can see where the Hands of Infinite Power have been graciously at work. It was this quick sighted affection which led Jesus to see in us a recompense for all His agony, and sustained Him under all His sufferings by the joy of redeeming us from going down into the pit.

Pr 3:15 She (wisdom) is more precious than jewels; And nothing you desire (Lxx = timios = “absolutely no precious thing”) compares with her.

Pr 8:11 “For wisdom is better than jewels; And all desirable things (Lxx = timios = “absolutely no precious thing is of equal worth”) can not compare with her.

Eccl 12:1 Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”;

Eccl 12:10 The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.

Isa 53:10 But the LORD was pleased (chaphets – desired, delighted! Lxx = boulomai) To crush (Lxx = katharizo = purify, purge) Him (Messiah), putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure (Lxx = boulomai = of one desiring something – wish, desire) of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

This soul delight is beautifully captured in one of the first vocals by Fernando Ortega in a Maranatha song entitled “Blessed”…

Blessed
I will delight in the law of the LORD
I will meditate day and night

But what if His Word is not your delight (remembering that delight in His Word is another way of saying “delight in the LORD” because His Word is about Him)? You can always pray knowing that our Father’s will is for His children to delight in His Name and His character. You can know He will answer according to His good, and acceptable and perfect will (cp 1John 5:14,15). Another resource you might consider to stimulate you to discipline yourself for godliness is to download the Pdf of Dr John Piper’s book When I Don’t Desire God – How to Fight for Joy.

Thomas Watson in his Excellent Article on Meditation writes that…

Grace breeds delight in God, and delight breeds meditationMeditation is a duty wherein consists the essentials of religion, and which nourishes the very life-blood of it. That the Psalmist may show how much the godly man is habituated to this blessed work of meditation, he subjoins, “In his law does he meditate day and night;” not but that there may be sometimes intermission: God allows time for our calling, he grants some relaxation; but when it is said, the godly man meditates day and night, the meaning is, frequently—he is much conversant in the duty.

It is a command of God to pray without ceasing, 1Th 5:17 (note). The meaning is—not that we should be always praying—but that we should every day set some time apart for prayer. We read in the Old law it was called the continual sacrifice, Nu 28:24, not that the people of Israel did nothing else but sacrifice—but because they had their stated hours, every morning and evening they offered, therefore it was called the continual sacrifice. Thus the godly man is said to meditate day and night, that is, he is often at this work, he is no stranger to meditation.

Doctrine. The proposition that results out of the text is this—that a godly Christian is a meditating Christian, Ps 119:15note. “I will meditate in your precepts.” 1Ti 4:15, “Meditate upon these things.” Meditation is the chewing upon the truths we have heard. The beasts in the old law which did not chew the cud, were unclean; the professor who does not by meditation chew the cud, is to be accounted unclean. Meditation is like the watering of the seed, it makes the fruits of grace to flourish.

Delight is an attitude that leads to an action (meditate). Delight is a good attitude and James says that every good thing and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights in Whom there is no variation or shifting of shadow (James 1:17note). Before we were saved by grace through faith, we were hostile toward God and His Word. Clearly, salvation is necessary for one to delight and ultimately that delight is planted in our heart by the Father of lights. But this good gift like all gifts can be squandered and abused to the point that it begins to fade into only a dim memory of times when we truly delighted in the Word like a newborn babe (see 1Pe 2:1note1Peter 2:2note). Time and the effects of sin have a way of slowly eroding one’s delight if we are not vigilant to watch over our heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23). If you find yourself in the “slough of despond” as Bunyan puts it, what are you to do that you might once again delight in His Word and in Him? Although it may sound simple and/or trite, I think the answer, as it is to all “sloughs”, is prayer. Pray to your heavenly Father, pleading for the restoration of the good gift of delight, so that delight replaces a sense of drudgery or duty. God promises to hear and answer prayer in accord with His will and His will is that we be in His Word and His Word in us, renewing our mind and transforming us into the image of His Son. Perhaps you need to confess and repent of some secret (not to God) sin that has been nipping away at and eroding your sense of delight. Ask God to search your heart and see if there is any hurtful way in you, and if He reveals it, then ask Him to lead you in the everlasting way (Ps 139:23,24).

As the apostle John said God’s “commandments are not burdensome.” (1John 5:3) and David adds “Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned (and) in keeping them there is great reward.” (Ps 19:11)

Once you have this good gift of delight and are acting upon it, seeking God in His Word, how do you maintain this attitude? I think Jeremiah gives us a clue as to the dynamic that begins to occur when we delight and devour divine truth. In the midst of a difficult time (which also speaks to where all saints should go when they feel overwhelmed) the “weeping prophet” Jeremiah wrote…

Thy words were found and I ate them (figuratively speaking), and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart for I have been called by Thy name, O LORD God (Elohim) of hosts (cp Jehovah Sabaoth). (Jeremiah 15:16) (cp Job 23:12-note)

A W Pink asks: What is meant by “ate them“? Appropriation, assimilation. Meditation stands to reading—as digestion does to eating. It is as God’s Word is pondered by the mind, turned over and over in the thoughts, and mixed with faith—that we assimilate it. That which most occupies the mind and most constantly engages our thoughts—is what we most “delight” in.

When we are truly eating God’s Word we find it stimulates even greater delight for His Word. Jesus gives a parallel thought in Matthew 5 in His Sermon on the Mount…

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (see note Matthew 5:6)

Taking in the Word not only satisfies but stimulates a delight and desire for more of the pure milk of God’s Word of Truth and Life. There is one additional condition that needs to be fulfilled in order for these principles to be “energized” for Jesus also said…

Blessed are those who hear the word of God, and observe (present tense = as your habitual practice, your lifestyle) it. (Luke 11:28)

If you know these things, you are blessed if you do (present tense = as your habitual practice, your lifestyle) them. (John 13:17 )

GOD’S WORD:
DELIGHTING
DEVOURING
DOING

Clearly delighting and devouring must be followed up with doing. Obedience does not save us but it is the key to the blessed life. If you are not experiencing the good hand of the Lord upon you (see Ezra 7:910) as described in Psalm 1:3, perhaps you have deluded yourself that by simply reading God’s Word (eg, reading through the Bible in a year) you are growing in grace and Christlikeness. Wrong! You must apply the Word in order to experience blessing…

But prove (present imperative = commands habitual practice or lifestyle) yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. (see note James 1:22)

Comment: Don’t misinterpret James’ charge to be a “doer” as if he is commanding legalistic obedience (“Obey or else!”). The truth is that without God’s indwelling, enabling Spirit, we cannot truly obey (at least in a God pleasing way — see Php 2:13NLTnote for “how” believers now are given the supernatural desire and power to obey God’s Word.)

It is not enough to read the Bible as a duty–we must come to it with delight. If you are having trouble with delight (and have separated from the world as instructed in Psalm 1:1), I would suggest requesting the Lord to give you such an appetite.

F B Meyer – It is not enough to read the Bible as a duty – we must come to it with delight. This is possible if you eschew light and foolish literature which cloys the appetite. Read the Book in happy fellowship with its Author; meditate until it is assimilated.

Ray Pritchard – Now we come to the positive side of the ledger. Having refused to walk in the way of evildoers, we instead focus on knowing God’s Word. We do this because the true way to float rubbish out is to pour water in. You can’t get rid of the garbage in your life simply by mental effort. You must replace the negative with something positive. The psalmist tells us that the godly person “delights” in the law of the Lord. That means he loves the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures, the Bible. The word “delight” means to take great pleasure in. It has the idea of a consuming passion that controls your life. Everyone “delights” in something. Some people delight in food. Others delight in a job or a hobby or a career. Some delight in a particular friendship. Many people delight in money or the things money can buy. And many delight in evil pleasures and wrong desires. Mark this well. Your “delight” determines your direction. What do you delight in? What gets your motor running? What gets you excited in the morning and keeps you awake at night? What do you daydream about? Tell me the answers to those questions and I’ll tell you something crucial about who you are. To delight is to be so excited about something that you just can’t wait. Watch a young couple in love and you’ll know what “delight” means. Or take a young man who has fallen in love for the first time. Ask his friends and they’ll say, “He’s not the same guy he used to be.” They mean he has radically changed. He doesn’t want to hang around with them anymore. All he does is talk about “that girl.” Just look at him. He’s got this goofy grin on his face. He’s in love. Now apply that principle to the Word of God. We are to delight in God’s Word as a lover delights in a letter from his beloved. (Ibid) (Comment: And we are to delight in God Himself in the same way! Ps 37:4 – See “Delight Yourself in the Lord)

THE LAW OF
THE LORD

Law of the Lord – This phrase describes God’s entire word, not just the “10 Commandments” or the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible). The righteous man delights in (not just “on” but “in” picturing a more intimate involvement with) the word of God!

In the great Psalm 119 (virtually every verse of which deals with some aspect of God’s Word) the psalmist gives us a beautiful picture of what it means to delight writing…

Psalm 119:131 I opened (LXX = anoigo – see Rev 3:20note) my mouth wide and panted, (Why did he “pant”?) for I longed for Thy commandments.

The English rendering of the Greek Septuagint (LXX) translation is…

Psalm 119:131 I opened my mouth, and drew breath: for I earnestly longed (see study of epipotheo; the verb tense is imperfect = pictures the psalmist over and over longing) after Thy commandments.

Beloved, does this describe your Christian walk? If not perhaps you might dare to pray this prayer to God, asking Him to give you a desire that pants for and cannot live without His Word of truth and life. When we pray boldly in God’s will, we can be assured that He hears us and that He will give us the requests that are in accord with His good and acceptable and perfect will – see 1Jn 5:14,15.

Matthew Henry comments on Ps 119:131

When he was under a forced absence from God’s ordinances he longed to be restored to them again; when he enjoyed ordinances he greedily sucked in the word of God, as new-born babes desire the milk. When Christ is formed in the soul there are gracious longings, unaccountable to one that is a stranger to the work.

The degree of that desire appearing in the expressions of it: I opened my mouth and panted, as one overcome with hear, or almost stifled, pants for a mouthful of fresh air. Thus strong, thus earnest, should our desires be towards God and the remembrance of his name, Ps. 42:12Lk. 12:50.

C H Spurgeon comments on Ps 119:131

So animated was his desire that he looked into the animal world to find a picture of it. He was filled with an intense longing, and was not ashamed to describe it by a most expressive, natural, and yet singular symbol. Like a stag that has been hunted in the chase, and is hard pressed, and therefore pants for breath, so did the Psalmist pant for the entrance of God’s word into his soul. Nothing else could content him. All that the world could yield him left him still panting with open mouth.

For I longed for thy commandments. Longed to know them, longed to obey them, longed to be conformed to their spirit, longed to teach them to others (cp Ezra 7:10note). He was a servant of God, and his industrious mind longed to receive orders; he was a learner in the school of grace, and his eager spirit longed to be taught of the Lord.

Panting for holiness. A rare hunger; the evidence of much grace, and the pledge of glory.

Puritan Thomas Manton writes on Ps 119:131

I opened my mouth, and panted. A metaphor taken from men scorched and sweltered with heat, or from those that have run themselves out of breath in following the thing which they would overtake. The former metaphor expressed the vehemency of his love; the other the earnestness of his pursuit: he was like a man gasping for breath, and sucking in the cool air.

I longed for thy commandments. This is a desire which God will satisfy. “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it”: Ps 81:10.

William Cowper comments on Psalm 119:131

I opened my mouth, and panted. By this manner of speech, David expresses, as Basil thinks, animi propensionem, that the inclination of his soul was after God’s word. For, this opened mouth, Ambrose thinks, is os interioris hominis, the mouth of the inward man, which in effect is his heart; and the, speech notes vehementem animi intensionem, a vehement intension of his spirit, saith Euthymius. Yet shall it not be amiss to consider here how the mind of the godly earnestly affected moves the body also. The speech may be drawn from travellers, who being very desirous to attain to their proposed ends, enforce their strength thereunto; and finding a weakness in their body to answer their will, they pant and open their mouth, seeking refreshment from the air to renew their strength: or as Vatablus thinks, from men exceeding hungry and thirsty, who open their mouth as if they would draw in the whole air, and then pant and sigh within themselves when they find no full refreshment by it. So he expresses it: “My heart burns with so ardent a longing for thy commandments, that I am forced ever and anon to gasp by reason of my painful breathing.”

However it be, it lets us see how the hearing, reading, or meditating of God’s word wakened in David (Ed note: Some think Psalm 119 was written by the scribe Ezra) a most earnest affection to have the light, joy, grace, and comfort thereof communicated to his own heart. For in the godly, knowledge of good increases desires; and it cannot be expressed how vehemently their souls long to feel that power and comfort which they know is in the word; and how sore they are grieved and troubled when they find it not.

And happy were we, if we could meet the Lord with this like affection; that when he opens his mouth, we could also open our heart to hear, as David here doth… For it is His promise to us all — “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (see Ps 81:10 – Spurgeon’s note) Let us turn it into a prayer, that the Lord, who opened the heart of Lydia (see Acts 16:14note), would open our heart to receive grace when He offers by His word to give it.

Henry Melvill writes on Ps 119:131

There are two ways in which these words may be understood. They may be considered as expressing the very earnest longing of the Psalmist for greater acquaintance with God in spiritual things; and then in saying, “I opened my mouth, and panted,” he merely asserts the vehemence of his desire.

Or you may separate the clauses: you may regard the first as the utterance of a man utterly dissatisfied with the earth and earthly things, and the second as the expression of a consciousness that God, and God only, could meet the longings of his soul. “I opened my mouth, and panted.” Out of breath, with chasing shadows, and hunting after baubles, I sit down exhausted, as far off as ever from the happiness which has been earnestly but fruitlessly sought. Whither, then, shall I turn? Thy commandments, O Lord, and these alone, can satisfy the desires of an immortal being like myself; and on these, therefore, henceforward shall my longings be turned. (Amen)

His delight – Not his obligation. Not his job. Not his duty. (Although there is some truth in each of these descriptions). Not his drudgery. But his delight! His great pleasure. His emotional delight.

Delight reflects one’s attitude, an attitude that precedes an action (meditates day and night).

Men understand the emotion of delight for the Bible uses it to describe Shechem’s “delight” in Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Ge 34:19), a delight that indeed led to an action but not a God honoring action as in Psalm 1:2! We see a similar picture of delight in the Persian court of King Ahasuerus where young ladies from his harem would be paraded before the king…

She would not again go in to the king unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name. (Esther 2:12b)

You can mark it down – Whatever delights your heart will end up directing your heart. If you delight in the Word, you will eat it (memorize) and chew it (meditate).

Note also that delight in the Word of God leads to eating of it and eating leads to increasing delight in the Word, and so the circle continues.

Adam Clarke – his will, desire, affection, every motive in his heart, and every moving principle in his soul, are on the side of God and his truth. He takes up the law of the Lord as the rule of his life; he brings all his actions and affections to this holy standard.

F B Meyer – It is not enough to read the Bible as a duty – we must come to it with delight. This is possible if you eschew light and foolish literature which cloys the appetite. Read the Book in happy fellowship with its Author; meditate until it is assimilated (Jas 1:25note) Better one verse digested than a whole chapter bolted.

Jeremiah in the context of a difficult time of ministry to rebellious Judah said…

Thou Who knowest, O LORD, Remember me, take notice of me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. Do not, in view of Thy patience, take me away. Know that for Thy sake I endure reproach. Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I have been called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:15,16note)

Note Jeremiah’s ministry mindset which called for a (the) cure. Specifically note that the effect of eating (cp meditating or “chewing the cud”, digesting, assimilating) the Word was an to enhance his sense of “taste”. God’s Words actually stimulated delight, delight being the psalmist’s “starting point” in Psalm 1.

And so as we choose to separate from the profane and seek to delight in God (something He places in our heart for no man seeks after God on his own) and savor (meditate) His Word, His Spirit transforms our hearts (according to Jeremiah 15:16), stimulating even greater delight, so that the cycle begins anew with ever deepening intimacy and fellowship with the infinite, holy God. It is easy to see how such a man or woman who is being progressively transformed by the Word and the Spirit (see John 6:63), begins to grow into an oak of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified (Isa 61:3Ps 1:3)

Oh, how the body of Christ needs to delight to get into the Word of God today that thereby the Word gets into us. We don’t need just a little surface learning of a few rules (not “on” the Word but “in” the Word!), or just a little guideline with a few steps to take to make us “feel better”. We need to delight and digest God’s living and abiding Word (Heb 4:12note1Pe 1:23note) , so that it becomes part of our being and gives life to our soul (cp John 6:63Dt 32:4647).

Steven Cole asks…

What does it mean to delight in God’s Word. The word is used in the Old Testament (Ge 34:19Esther 2:14) of a man delighting in a woman. Ah! That tells us something! Have you noticed that when a young man delights in a woman, he rearranges his priorities so that suddenly he has plenty of time to spend with her? And he doesn’t do it because he has to; he wants to! Nothing interferes with his time with the object of his delight!

Now let me ask: Do you delight in God’s Word in that sense? Do you make time to spend in the Word because you delight in it? Or has it become a duty? It’s easy to fall into the duty mentality toward the Word: “A chapter a day keeps the devil away!” Besides, it alleviates your guilt to read it. So you grind through a chapter and check it off on your list, but you didn’t commune with the living God or apply His Word to where you need to change.

The Bible is God’s love letter to you. You’re reading the counsel of a loving, all-wise Heavenly Father as to how you should live. His commandments are for your blessing and good. It should be no more of a duty to spend time in God’s Word than it is for a young man to spend time with an attractive woman. The way to true happiness is to delight in God’s Word. (Ibid)

Do you delight in God’s Word? If not, beseech Him to “whet your appetite” with the hors d’oeuvre or appetizer (food or drink usually served before a meal to stimulate appetite) of delight, which will stimulate intake of the pure milk of His Word and in turn will stimulate even greater delight. As an aside, what of value do we really have to say to anyone (edifying, equipping, encouraging, etc) unless we first eat God’s Holy Word and He speaks through us (unction) as vessels of honor, sanctified, useful to the Master for every good work?!

William Heslop writes that…

He is blessed because his delight is in the law of the Lord.

– He not only reads the Bible, he delights in it.

– He not only studies the holy word, he enjoys it.

– He not only reviews truth, he relishes and revels in it.


Richard De Haan gives us an illustration of how delight can be dulled and end up as drudgery…

The first morning I heard the mockingbird practicing his bagful of imitations outside my window, I was thrilled by the beauty of his songs. Gradually, however, I began to take this early morning songster for granted. One day as I awoke, it dawned on me that I no longer appreciated my regular visitor. It wasn’t the mockingbird’s fault. He was still there. His beautiful song hadn’t changed, but I was no longer listening for it.

As believers in Christ, we may have a similar experience hearing God speak to us in His Word. When we are first saved, the Scriptures, with their soul-stirring instruction and vital spiritual food, are deeply satisfying. As time goes on, however, we routinely read those same portions over and over in a manner that no longer speaks to us. Our spiritual senses grow dull and lethargic, and God’s exhilarating Word becomes commonplace to us. But then, what joy we feel when a passage reveals an exciting truth, and once again we “hear” the Lord!

Are you reading the Scriptures out of a tired sense of duty? Or do you still possess the delight and fresh expectancy you had when you first believed? Today, when you read God’s Word, listen closely for His voice. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Then let me love my Bible more
And take a fresh delight
By day to read these wonders o’er
And meditate by night.
— Isaac Watts


John Piper writes that…

The deepest mark of this happy person in Psalm 1 is that he delights in the Word of God. Bible reading and Bible memory (see Memorizing God’s Word) and meditation (see Primer of Biblical Meditation) are not a burden to him, but a pleasure. This is what we want. What a sadness when Bible reading is just a drudgery. Something is wrong.

What shall we do?… We struggle with Bible reading and memory and meditation because we don’t find pleasure in it. We have other things we want to get to more. TV or breakfast or work or newspaper or computer. Our hearts incline to other things and do not incline to the Word. And so it is not a delight.

Did the psalmists ever struggle with this? Yes they did. Take heart. We all do. How shall this be changed? This is Prayer Week, and so the answer we will stress is that it is changed through prayer. This is what I will focus on next week. We must pray for God’s enabling to help us delight in his Word. (Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night)

I scanned the Scriptures thoughtlessly–
My haste had closed my ear;
Then prayerfully I read once more–
This time my heart could hear.

–Gustafson

AND IN HIS LAW HE MEDITATES DAY AND NIGHT:

As we continually meditate on God’s Holy Word (you are meditating aren’t you and not simply passively reading the text?) and by the Spirit obey what He illuminates, we continually are transformed from glory to glory by the same Spirit, growing in grace and Christ-like holiness, even as a tree grows and thrives and flourishes in a well fertilized and well watered soil.

How do you know whether you delight in God’s Word? From the context the Psalmist would say you demonstrate your delight by meditating on it day and night! Using this as your benchmark, would you say you “delight” in His Word?

MEDITATION:
SCRIPTURE SATURATED SAINTS

As Thomas a Kempis quaintly put it

I have no rest, but in a nook, with the Book.

Talk with the Word and the God of the Word and they will speak to you…

Proverbs 6:20 (Commentary) My son, observe the commandment of your father, And do not forsake the teaching of your mother; 21 Bind them continually on your heart. Tie them around your neck. (sounds like meditation!) 22 When you walk about, they will guide you. When you sleep, they will watch over you. And when you awake, they will talk to you. 23 For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life.

In His law – By the use of the preposition “in” one gets the picture of not just a “surface scanning” but immersing one’s self in the pure milk of His Word (1Pet 2:2note). Get “in” His Law, so that His Law can get “in” you and carry out it’s transforming work. When you truly delight in the Word, you will have a desire to spend time in it and to meditate on it.

His Law (08451) – John Piper describes law or Torah as “”instruction: God’s Words about God’s ways.”

Someone has written “The Bible is bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions.”

God feeds the birds, but He doesn’t throw the food into their nests.

The Bible is like a table, laden with nourishing food we need every day: promises, instruction, wisdom, comfort, and encouragement. Like any good host, God tells us, “Come and get it!” But we often fail to do this. We depend on everything but Him and wonder why our faith is feeble. But if like our feathered friends (God feeds the sparrows) we’ll come and feast daily, expectantly, and actively, our divine Host will provide for all our needs. Depend on it!

See related resources on Biblical Meditation

Meditates (01897) (hagah – see word study) strictly speaking means to utter a sound and hence it is employed of inward utterance, of the words a man speaks to himself; and also of giving open and loud expression to the thoughts. And so in Hebrew thought, to meditate upon the Scriptures is to quietly repeat them in a soft, droning sound, while utterly abandoning outside distractions.

Meditation has the idea of digesting something thoroughly, of ruminating (going over in the mind repeatedly, slowly) on it, of chewing the cud (of God’s Word of Truth), of considering a verse by pondering it from various angles.

The Septuagint (Lxx) frequently translates hagah with the verb meletao (Ps 1:22:135:28, 38:12, 63:6, 71:24, 77:12, 143:5, Pr 8:715:2824:2Isa 16:7Isa 59:3Isa 59:13)

As stated, the original Hebrew idea is to mumble under one’s breath. I get the picture of one “brooding” over God’s Word, almost like a mother hen sitting on her eggs until they hatch! Have you ever been to the “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem and seen the men facing the wall rocking back and forth muttering or chanting. That’s a picture of meditating, but only a partial picture because without the Holy Spirit our Teacher, such mumbling becomes a rote, mechanical exercise.

Hagah – 24 verses – Usage: declare(1), devise(2), devising(1), growls(1), make a sound(1), meditate(5), meditates(1), moan(3), moan sadly(1), mutter(2), mutters(1), ponders(1), utter(2), uttering(1), utters(1).

Joshua 1:8 “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.

Job 27:4 My lips certainly will not speak unjustly, Nor will my tongue mutter deceit.

Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

Psalm 2:1 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?

Psalm 35:28 And my tongue shall declare Your righteousness And Your praise all day long.

Psalm 37:30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, And his tongue speaks justice.

Psalm 38:12 Those who seek my life lay snares for me; And those who seek to injure me have threatened destruction, And they devise treachery all day long.

Psalm 63:6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches,

Psalm 71:24 My tongue also will utter Your righteousness all day long; For they are ashamed, for they are humiliated who seek my hurt.

Psalm 77:12 I will meditate on all Your work And muse on Your deeds.

Psalm 115:7 They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat.

Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands.

Proverbs 8:7 “For my mouth will utter truth; And wickedness is an abomination to my lips.

Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.

Proverbs 24:2 For their minds devise violence, And their lips talk of trouble.

Isaiah 8:19 When they say to you, “Consult the mediums and the spiritists who whisper and mutter,” should not a people consult their God? Should they consult the dead on behalf of the living?

Isaiah 16:7 Therefore Moab will wail; everyone of Moab will wail. You will moan for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth As those who are utterly stricken.

Isaiah 31:4 For thus says the LORD to me, “As the lion or the young lion growls over his prey, Against which a band of shepherds is called out, And he will not be terrified at their voice nor disturbed at their noise, So will the LORD of hosts come down to wage war on Mount Zion and on its hill.”

Isaiah 33:18 Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is he who counts? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?”

Isaiah 38:14 “Like a swallow, like a crane, so I twitter; I moan like a dove; My eyes look wistfully to the heights; O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.

Isaiah 59:3 For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness.

11 All of us growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it is far from us.

Isaiah 59:13 Transgressing and denying the LORD, And turning away from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words.

Jeremiah 48:31 “Therefore I will wail for Moab, Even for all Moab will I cry out; I will moan for the men of Kir-heres.

While James does not use the word meditate, the idea is certainly alluded to in his description of the blessed man…

But one who looks intently (parakupto) = stoop down amd look into in order to see something exactly ) at the perfect law, the law of liberty (eleutheria – Freedom in Christ is not the right to do as one pleases but the Spirit enabled power to please God by doing what is right!), and abides (tarries, remains) by it, not having become a forgetful hearer (James 1:23-24note) but an effectual doer (speaks of obeying the Word – not legalistically but controlled and empowered by the Spirit), this man shall be blessed in what he does (Notice the promise is “conditioned” on looking intently and obeying unhesitatingly!). (James 1:25note)

Comment: Notice that this passage begins with “but” which is a term of contrast. which signifies a “change of direction” and always begs the question “What is the author contrasting?, Why?, Who is involved?, etc” As you query the text with the 5W/H’S., you will find yourself re-reading the passage as well as the preceding passages. In effect you are “meditating” on James 1:25. You are “looking intently” at the Word. Notice the other benefits – You are forced to slow down. You are establishing the context (which is always key to accurate interpretation). You are re-reading the passage and you are much more likely to retain the truth in this passage then if you were “speed reading” in order to make sure you get through your daily Bible reading so that you don’t fall behind on your “through the Bible in a year” reading program! You may go through the assigned chapters for the day, but the real question is how much of the truth of those passages “went through” your heart and mind and soul and spirit. It is better to chew one verse well, then to read through one chapter and not even recall what you read by the end of the day! As F B Meyer said “Read the Book in happy fellowship with its Author; meditate until it is assimilated… Better one verse digested than a whole chapter bolted (“swallowed” hastily without chewing!).”

Matthew Henry – To meditate in God’s word is to discourse concerning the great things contained in it, with a close application of mind, a fixedness of thought, till we be suitably affected with those things and experience the savour and power of them in our hearts.

J. Vernon McGee writes that…

Meditate is a very figurative word. It pictures a cow chewing her cud. I’m told that the cow has several compartments in her tummy. She can go out in the morning, graze on the grass when the dew is on it in the cool of the day. Then when it gets hot in the middle of the day, she lies down under a tree and begins to chew the cud. She moves the grass she had in the morning back up and now she masticates it, she goes over it again. That is what we do when we meditate. We go over what we have read. Way back in 1688 Bartholomew Ashwood said, “Meditation chews the cud.” My, how that is needed today in the lives of believers. Remember that James spoke of the man who beholds his natural face in a mirror, then “… immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” (Jas 1:24note).

We are to meditate on the Word of God (which is God’s mirror that shows us what we really are). We are to allow the Word to shape our lives. My friend, God has no plan or program by which you are to grow and develop as a believer apart from His Word. You can become as busy as a termite in your church (and possibly with the same effect as a termite), but you won’t grow by means of activity. You will grow by meditating upon the Word of God—that is, by going over it again and again in your thinking until it becomes a part of your life. This is the practice of the happy (blessed) man. (Ps 1:12). (McGee, J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Martin Luther said that…

Prayer, meditation, and temptation make a minister.

Meditation is to our inner person what digestion is to our body and thus if you make the Word a part of your life (hearing and heeding it) you will grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (see 2Pe 3:18note)

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
–Author Unknown

Wiersbe – We saturate ourselves with the Word by meditating on it… When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within us to “digest” the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us.

Ray Pritchard – If we are serious about this, we will find the time to meditate. And we will have some sort of regular reading program. Perhaps we’ll read through the Bible in a year. Or perhaps we’ll use one of the many Bible study guides that are available. And certainly we will try to memorize Scripture. This has become something of a lost art today. In an earlier generation, it was commonplace for Christians to emphasize Scripture memory. Today we have more or less relegated that practice to the Awana program. That’s a pity because when we hide the Word of God in our hearts, we are protected from sin and given strength to obey God. I know that many people, men especially, like to say, “I just can’t memorize. I’m too busy. My brain’s too fried. I can barely remember my phone number.” Women seem to do better at this, but we men have a thousand excuses. The truth is, we lack motivation. Suppose that Bill Gates came into the sanctuary with a 50-gallon drum filled with crisp, clean $100 bills. And suppose he offered $100 for each verse anyone memorized by next Sunday. That would change things, wouldn’t it? I’m sure we’ve got men who would figure out a way to memorize 100 verses by next Sunday because they need the money. But God’s Word is more precious than gold or silver. If we delight in the Word, we will find a way to read it, to meditate on it, and even to memorize it.

In the following verses from Psalm 119, observe the association between delight and meditation.

15 I will meditate on Thy precepts, and regard Thy ways. (note)

16 I shall delight in Thy statutes; I shall not forget Thy word. (note)

23 Even though princes sit and talk against me, Thy servant meditates on Thy statutes. (note)

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight; They are my counselors. (note)

47 And I shall delight in Thy commandments, Which I love. (note)

48 And I shall lift up my hands to Thy commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Thy statutes. (note)

77 May Thy compassion come to me that I may live, For Thy law is my delight. (note)

78 May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie; but I shall meditate on Thy precepts. (note)

If God’s Word is not the delight and desire of your heart, beseech Him without ceasing to cultivate in your soul an appetite for the pure milk of His Word. If you pray this with clean hands and a pure heart, you can be assured God will answer it affirmatively for it is in accordance with His good and perfect will. Will you take the challenge to pray this prayer?

A. T. Pierson says that…

Meditation is simply thought prolonged and directed to a single object. Your mystic chambers where thoughts abide are the secret workshop of an unseen Sculptor chiseling living forms for a deathless future. Personality and influence are modeled here. Hence, the biblical injunction: ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life’

J. I. Packer says that meditation is the practice of turning each truth we learn about God into matter for reflection before God, leading to prayer and praise to God.

Meditation is the activity of calling to mind, and thinking over, and dwelling on, and applying to oneself, the various things that one knows about the works and ways and purposes and promises of God… It is an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communion with God. (Packer, J I: Knowing God)

Saturation with the Scriptures is the…
Secret to Satisfaction in your Soul

Muse (used twice in OT Ps 39:3143:5, once in NT in KJV of Lk 3:15) describes giving deep thought, close attention or contemplation which abstracts the mind from passing scenes. Muse was the name given to ancient Greek deities (nine goddesses who presided over the arts and sciences) who spent much time in solitude and thinking. The statue of “The Thinker” is the artistic concept of deep concentration and absorption. Add an “a” to the beginning of “muse” and you have: “amuse” — sports, games, television and a score of other tools used by the enemy to keep God’s men from concentrating on man’s God.

Beware of getting alone with your own thoughts. Get alone with God’s thoughts. There is danger in rummaging through waste and barren desert-thoughts that can be labeled — daydreaming or worse. Don’t meditate upon yourself but dwell upon Him — seek God in your inner thought life. There is always danger in meditating upon problems. Develop the habit of reflection upon the Word of God and therein find the answers to your problems.

My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: When I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches” (Psalm 63:5-6). (See Spurgeon’s notes verse 5verse 6)

TRANSFORMATION
Ro 12:2note)

The crown fruit of meditation is the changed life. Without the transformed life, meditation is useless. This was the problem Jesus had with the Pharisees of His day. They knew the facts and were experts in doctrine. They were conscientious, sincere and dedicated men. But the Lord called them sons of Satan — “Ye are of your father the devil.” Why this stinging indictment? All their study of the Old Testament didn’t change their lives. There was no heart application. They still oppressed the poor, defrauded the widows and pursued doubtful business practices.

Beware of meditation that ends in just pious words (cf Jas 1:22note). True meditation ends in moral action. A changed attitude toward God and fellow man is the result. A changed work habit. A changed relationship to your family. In short — a changed life! Anything less is not enough.

O how I love Thy law: it is my meditation all the day (Ps 119:97note)

Regarding the phrase it is my meditation all the day Spurgeon wrote that…

This was both the effect of his love and the cause of it. He meditated in God’s word because he loved it, and then loved it the more because he meditated in it. He could not have enough of it, so ardently did he love it: all the day was not too long for his converse with it. His main prayer, his noonday thought, his evensong were all out of Holy Writ; yea, in his worldly business he still kept his mind saturated with the law of the Lord. It is said of some men that the more you know them the less you admire them; but the reverse is true of God’s word. Familiarity with the word of God breeds affection, and affection seeks yet greater familiarity. When “thy law,” and “my meditation” are together all the day, the day grows holy, devout, and happy, and the heart lives with God.

Bring the fruit of your meditation and offer it to the Lord for His blessing. Ask the Holy Spirit to apply the Word to your heart and enable you to live today in conformity to it.

Let the words of my mouth,
And the meditation of my heart,
Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord,
My strength, and my Redeemer
Psalm 19:14note

Spurgeon commenting on Psalm 19:14 said that this verse is “A sweet prayer, and so spiritual that it is almost as commonly used in Christian worship as the apostolic benediction. Words of the mouth are mockery if the heart does not meditate; the shell is nothing without the kernel; but both together are useless unless accepted; and even if accepted by man, it is all vanity if not acceptable in the sight of God. We must in prayer view Jehovah as our strength enabling, and our Redeemer saving, or we shall not pray aright, and it is well to feel our personal interest so as to use the word my, or our prayers will be hindered. Our near Kinsman’s name, our Goel or Redeemer, makes a blessed ending to the Psalm; it began with the heavens, but it ends with him whose glory fills heaven and earth. Blessed Kinsman, give us now to meditate acceptably upon thy most sweet love and tenderness.

Hampton Keathley, III in his excellent summary writes that…

Meditation means “the act of focusing one’s thoughts: to ponder, think on, muse.” Meditation consists of reflective thinking or contemplation, usually on a specific subject to discern its meaning or significance or a plan of action. ” (click for entire article BIBLICAL MEDITATION – highly recommended)

Warren Wiersbe rightly said that…

Meditation is to your inner person what digestion is to your body: you make the Word a part of your life and you grow.


Ongoing Meditation – Meditation on God’s Word doesn’t have to end when your devotional time is over. You can continue the blessing by taking Scripture with you throughout the day.

Some people memorize a passage or write it on a card so they can have it available to read when they get a few moments. An engineer uses his coffee breaks to continue his reflection on God’s Word. Homemakers attach verses to the refrigerator or bathroom mirror. Truckers put portions of the Bible on their dashboard.

Leslie B. Flynn tells of a brilliant college student who volunteered to work at a church camp and ended up as the designated potato peeler. A friend who admired her intelligence said, “It’s too bad you had to end up peeling potatoes.” She replied, “I don’t have to think about potatoes while I’m peeling them. So I think about my Bible verse for the day.”

The psalmist indicated that he didn’t read God’s Word and then forget it. He meditated on it all day (Ps 119:97). Likewise, the “blessed man” of Psalm 1 reflected on God’s Word “day and night” (Ps 1:2). And when the Word of God is in our minds from morning to night, we’ll be more likely to obey it and far less likely to violate it. That’s the value of ongoing meditation.— by David C. Egner

We must read Scripture every day
And meditate on what God said
To fight temptation from the world
And live a life that’s Spirit led.
—Sper

Reading the Bible without meditating on it
is like eating without chewing.


Think About It – According to one little boy, “Thinking is when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking to itself.”

The way our head talks to itself tells a lot about how we are doing morally and spiritually. To guard our mind and to keep out the influences that will hinder our walk with God is to use our mind in the way He desires.

The Bible gives us clear guidelines—spelling out the kinds of things we should think about. For example, Psalm 1:2 and Psalm 119:97 tell us to meditate on God’s Word day and night. That should be our first priority in the thinking department.

But we have a life to live, and we can’t spend all of our waking moments meditating on Scripture. Yet even when we are thinking about the mundane aspects of life, we need guidance. Paul told us that we should think about things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). In our daily activities, those words should govern what is on our mind.

When our head “talks to itself,” it needs to say, “Keep the impure and ungodly thoughts out of here!” When we’re thinking that way, we’ll know what to do, how to behave, where to go, and what to say.— by Dave Branon

Let us think about what’s good—
What’s right and pure and true;
May God’s Word control our thoughts
In everything we do.
—Fitzhugh

Right thinking leads to right living.


Day and night – Our continual practice. Not our occasional or spasmodic practice! Anytime (every time!) is a good time to meditate on God’s Word! If one takes the text literally, it might suggest a good practice would be to begin and end each day by meditating on the Word of God, for a good beginning and ending to each day! Such a practice might take some Spirit enabled discipline but Oh the benefits thereof! Paul calls on Timothy and all believers to…

Discipline (Gumnazo [Eng = Gym, gymnastics!] in the present imperative calls for this to be our lifestyle and would include the discipline of meditation) yourself for the purpose of godliness for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1Ti 4:78note)

TO FACILITATE MEDITATION…
RELENTLESSLY
QUERY THE TEXT

In Paul’s last letter before he died, while not using the word meditate, he did command Timothy to…

Consider (Think about, carefully consider continually – present imperative) what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2Ti 2:7note)

One of the best ways to “think over” the Biblical passage is to interrogate with the 5W/H using questions. As John Piper commented Paul gives Timothy (and saints of all ages) “a command and a promise. Paul commanded, “Think over what I say.” And then he promised, “God will give you understanding in everything.” Some people see tension between cogitation and illumination. Not Paul. He commands cogitation. And he promises illumination. How do the command and promise fit together? The little connecting word for gives the answer. “Think … because God will reward you with understanding.” We must form the habit of being systematically disturbed by things that at first glance don’t make sense. Or to put it a different way, we must relentlessly query the text. One of the greatest honors I received while teaching Biblical studies at Bethel College in St. Paul, Minnesota, was when the teaching assistants in the Bible department gave me a T-shirt which had the initials of Jonathan Edwards on the front and on the back the words: “Asking questions is the key to understanding.” (From “Brothers We Are Not Professionals”)

I think Piper is spot on, for one of the crying needs for the SAINTS is to SLOW down and SAVOR the SPLENDOR of the SAVIOUR, the Living Word. As Piper says in another place…

You can learn more from a book if you stop and ask it questions than if you just read it passively. That includes the Bible too. One of the great problems in Bible reading is that we move our eyes over the words and come to the end of a column and don’t know what we’ve read; we don’t feel our minds or spirits expanded because we saw nothing fresh. It was purely mechanical. There was no discovery, no life, no breakthroughs to new insight.

One of the best ways to change that is to
train yourself to ask questions of the text.

(Ed: Amen! Hallelujah!) Often the posing of the question itself will already carry its answer with it and will open your mind to new things. This fairly prosaic, historical text in Luke 3:21–38 gives me an opportunity to show you what I mean. I’ll simply take you with me through this text, pointing out the questions I asked and the answers I came up with. My guess is that as you follow me, questions of your own will arise. Good questions usually beget other questions, and that’s how insight grows and grows. (From his sermon intro – The Baptism and the Genealogy of Jesus)

Wesley describes “night and day” as…

Not seldom and slightly, but diligently, and constantly.

Steven Cole explains the value of meditation in the context of Psalm 1 noting that…

As we saw in verse 1, the mind is the first bastion we must defend. Whatever shapes your thinking will shape your life. The only way for a person to reject the counsel of the ungodly which bombards him from every side is to be continually meditating on, thinking about, chewing on in his mind, the Word of God and how it applies to life.

That’s our responsibility: to delight in and meditate on the Word of God. Do you do it? Matthew Henry wisely comments,

“We may judge of our spiritual state by asking, “What is the law of God to us? What account do we make of it? What place has it in us?” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary [Revell], 3:23 9).

To the extent that you build your life on God and His Word, you will have true happiness. (Ibid)

A W Tozer had this to say about the value of meditating on God’s Word…

Read it much, read it often, brood over it, think over it, meditate over it—meditate on the Word of God day and night. When you are awake at night, think of a helpful verse. When you get up in the morning, no matter how you feel, think of a verse and make the Word of God the important element in your day. The Holy Ghost wrote the Word, and if you make much of the Word, He will make much of you. It is through the Word that He reveals Himself. Between those covers is a living Book. God wrote it and it is still vital and effective and alive. God is in this Book…and if you want to find Him, go into this Book.

><>><>><>

(Tozer) Let the old saints be our example. They came to the Word of God and meditated. They laid the Bible on the old-fashioned, handmade chair, got down on the old, scrubbed, board floor and meditated on the Word. As they waited, faith mounted. The Spirit and faith illuminated. They had only a Bible with fine print, narrow margins and poor paper, but they knew their Bible better than some of us do with all of our helps.

Let’s practice the art of Bible meditation… Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it.

I do challenge you to meditate, quietly, reverently, prayerfully, for a month. Put away questions and answers and the filling in of the blank lines in the portions you haven’t been able to understand. Put all of the cheap trash away and take the Bible, get on your knees, and in faith, say, “Father, here I am. Begin to teach me!” (from The Counselor)

John Piper writes that…

meditation in Hebrew means basically to speak or to mutter. When this is done in the heart it is called musing or meditation. Here is where I plead with you to get involved in the Fighter Verse memory program or some other pattern of Bible memorization. Unless you memorize Scripture you will not meditate on it day and night. But O the benefits and delights of knowing communion with God hour by hour in his Word. If you have ever wondered, What is hour-by-hour walking in fellowship with the living God? the answer is: it is his speaking to you by his Word through your memory and meditation and illumination and application and your speaking to him words of thanks and praise and admiration and desire and seeking for help and guidance and understanding. The Word is the basis for your hearing him and for his hearing you. The depth and solidity and certainty of your walk with God and your communion with God will rise and fall with whether God’s own written Word is the warp and woof of the fabric of your fellowship… So I urge you to memorize Scripture, and meditate on it day and night. It will change your life in many good ways. (Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night)

In A Godward Life (Book 2) John Piper emphasizes the important relation between the Word and our faith or trust in God (in His Word, in His promises, etc.)…

Faith feeds on the Word of God. Without a steady diet it gets weaker and weaker. If you are dissatisfied with your Christian courage and joy and purity of heart, check the way you are feeding your faith.

Compare the way you eat. Suppose that you start the day with a glass of orange juice. It’s good, and good for you. It takes you maybe five minutes to drink it if you read the newspaper at the same time. Then you go off to work or school. You don’t eat anything else until the next morning. And you have another glass of juice. And so you go on drinking one glass of juice a day until you drop.

That’s the way a lot of Christians try to survive as believers. They feed their faith with five minutes of food in the morning, or evening, and then don’t eat again until twenty-four hours later. Some even skip one or two mornings and don’t give their faith anything to eat for days.

Now the effect of starving your faith is that faith starves. Not hard to understand. And when faith is starving, it is getting weaker and not able to do much. It has a hard time trusting God and worshiping and rejoicing and resisting sin. It gasps and stumbles.

Henry Blackaby gives a somewhat more “mystical” definition of meditation writing that…

Meditation means “to think deeply and continuously about something.” For a Christian, this means remaining in the presence of God and pondering each truth He reveals about Himself until it becomes real and personal in your life. This takes time. (Experiencing God Day by Day)

The Man Is Ever Blessed
By: Isaac Watts
The man is ever blessed
Who shuns the sinners’ ways,
Among their counsels never stands,
Nor takes the scorners’ place.

But makes the Law of God
His study and delight
Amid the labors of the day
And watches of the night.

He like a tree shall thrive,
With waters near the root;
Fresh as the leaf his name shall live,
His works are heavenly fruit.

Not so the wicked race,
They no such blessings find;
Their hopes shall flee like empty chaff
Before the driving wind.

How will they bear to stand
Before the judgment seat
Where all the saints at Christ’s right hand
In full assembly meet?

He knows and he approves
The way the righteous go;
But sinners and their works shall meet
A dreadful overthrow.

Wiersbe reminds us that “God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in the Word, we may expect God’s blessings. Resolve to meditate on the Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others. (see Matthew 5:3note)


C H Spurgeon in his inimitable pithy style pictures meditation this way…

Oh, that you and I might get into the very heart of the Word of God, and get that Word into ourselves! As I have seen the silkworm eat into the leaf, and consume it, so ought we to do with the Word of the Lord; not crawl ever its surface, but eat right into it till we have taken it into our inmost parts. It is idle merely to let the eye glance over the words, or to recollect the poetical expressions, or the historic facts; but it is blessed to eat into the very soul of the Bible until, at last, you come to talk in Scriptural language, and your very style is fashioned upon Scripture models , and, what is better still, your spirit is flavored with the words of the LORD.

I would quote John Bunyan as an instance of what I mean. Read anything of his, and you will see that it is almost like reading the Bible itself. He had studied… [the Bible] till his very soul was saturated with Scripture; and, though his writings are charmingly full of poetry, yet he cannot give us his Pilgrim’s Progress – that sweetest of all prose poems – without continually making us feel and say,

“Why, this man is a living Bible! Prick him anywhere; his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.”

I commend his example to you, beloved, and, still more, the example of our Lord Jesus. If the Spirit of God be in you, He will make you love the Word of God; and, if any of you imagine that the Spirit of God will lead you to dispense with the Bible, you are under the influence of another spirit which is not the Spirit of God at all. I trust that the Holy Spirit will endear to you every page of this Divine Record, so that you will feed upon it yourselves, and afterwards speak it out to others. So the Jews began less and less to be like Ezra 7:10 (see note) and to delight less and less in the pure milk of the law of the LORD, so they grew less familiar with Who God really is and what He really requires of men. (Ed: And fewer and fewer experienced the blessing of the good hand of the LORD upon them.)

O HOW I LOVE THY HOLY LAW!
by Isaac Watts
(play hymn)

O how I love Thy holy law!
’Tis daily my delight;
And thence my meditations draw
Divine advice by night.

My waking eyes prevent the day
To meditate Thy Word;
My soul with longing melts away
To hear Thy Gospel, Lord.

How doth Thy Word my heart engage!
How well employ my tongue!
And in my tiresome pilgrimage,
Yields me a heav’nly song.

Am I a stranger or at home,
’Tis my perpetual feast;
Not honey dropping from the comb
So much allures the taste.

No treasures so enrich the mind;
Nor shall Thy Word be sold
For loads of silver well refined,
Nor heaps of choicest gold.

When nature sinks, and spirits droop,
Thy promises of grace
Are pillars to support my hope,
And there I write Thy praise.


Alan Carr – THE PLEASURE OF THE SUCCESSFUL BELIEVER

Ill. The successful believer is genuinely and completely in love with the Word of God.)

A. The Word Has Captured His Full Affection – Delight = Pleasure! The Word of God isn’t a Book of fables, myths and legends. To the child of God it is the very Word of Truth. it is God-breathed and infallible, inerrant and absolutely perfect. He loves it and he lives it, finding in its pages all he needs to grow and prosper for Jesus.

Ill. The value of the Word:

1. It is Food – Job 23:12Matt. 4:4

a. Milk for the baby – 1 Pet. 2:2 (Ill. It gives the baby Christian everything he needs to grow up strong and healthy!) (Ill. It needs to be prepared and served right however!)

b. Meat for the growing – Heb. 5:12-14 (Ill. It provides all we need to make us strong in the Lord!)

c. Bread for everyone – John 6:51 (Ill. Bread is the staple food of the world! No matter where you go, people need the Bread of life!)

d. Honey for those in need – Psa. 19:10 (Ill. nothing has the power to encourage as does a Word from God!)

2. It is Light – Ps. 119:105

3. It is Truth – John 17:17

4. It is a Mirror – James 1:23-25

5. It is Water – Eph. 5:25-27

a. It Cleanses – Eph. 5:26

b. It Quenches – John 4:13-14

c. It Refreshes – Ps. 119:150

6. It is a Seed – 1 Pet. 1:23

7. It is a Sword – Heb. 4:12Eph. 6:17

8. It is a Hammer – Jer. 23:29

a. It can Build Up – Pro. 16:24

b. It can Tear Down – Rev. 2:1619:1521

9. It is a Fire – Jer. 20:9Luke 24:32

Ill. The successful believer is in love with the Bible. He knows that in its pages, he can find all that his soul requires. It embodies the complete revelation of God to men. It meets the need of the Christian life.

Do you love it as you should?

B. It Has Captured His Full Attention – Not only does the successful believer love the Book, but he lives out the Book daily. The Bible is internalized and it becomes the singular standard for faith and practice. Every thought, every move, every decision is made against the backdrop of God’s Word, and what it has to say about an issue. However, before life can ever be lived in this fashion, the Bible must be consumed and made a vital part of who you are – 2 Tim. 2:15. (Ill. The Psalmist declares that the successful believer spends his days and his nights in the pursuit of the Book. Does the Bible fill your thoughts? Do you find yourself consumed with its content and mesmerized in the meditation of it? The Bible is never better than when it is read and then lived out!) (Sermons and Outlines)

Psalm 1:3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of waterWhich yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever * he does, he prospers. (NASB: Lockman)

English Translation of the Greek (Septuagint): And he shall be as a tree planted by the brooks of waters, which shall yield its fruit in its season, and its leaf shall not fall off; and whatsoever he shall do shall be prospered.

Amplified: And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity]. (Amplified Bible – Lockman)

KJV: And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

NET: He is like a tree planted by flowing streams; it yields its fruit at the proper time, and its leaves never fall off. He succeeds in everything he attempts. (NET Bible)

NJB: Such a one is like a tree planted near streams; it bears fruit in season and its leaves never wither, and every project succeeds. (NJB)

Young’s Literal: And he hath been as a tree, Planted by rivulets of water, That giveth its fruit in its season, And its leaf doth not wither, And all that he doth he causeth to prosper.

HE WILL BE LIKE A TREE FIRMLY PLANTED BY STREAMS OF WATER:

PLANTED BY STREAMS
OF WATER

He will be – As Joseph Alexander observes “the present and the future insensibly run into each other, so as to to suggest the idea of continuous or permanent condition.” (Psalm 1 Commentary) In other words, blessed not only in this life but the life to come! Is this not a desire of your heart dear child of the Living God? Indeed, it is the blessed man or woman who gives irrefutable testimony to the invisible God, their supernatural lives virtually “shouting” that there is a God in heaven Who desires to save, but Who in His justice will be forced to judge all who fail to receive the free gift of eternal life through faith in His Son, Christ Jesus.

Play this beautiful song…then, enabled by the Holy Spirit, put the blessed truth of Psalm 1 into practice…you will never regret it beloved!

  • Planted By the Waters

    Note: In this song the words “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD…” are from the parallel passage in Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” (HALLELUJAH!)

F B Meyer – The rewards of the blessed man – He shall be under Divine culture, planted (Ps 92:13); within reach of perennial supplies, planted by rivers (John 7:3738,39); prepared against any demand or emergency – fruit in season; unfading beauty and freshness, a spiritual evergreen; and prosperity even in this world, because his life is ordered by discretion and obedience to Divine principles. Joseph realized this picture (Ge 39:34)

Like a tree – “A lively emblem of vitality and fruitfulness.” (J. Alexander) The psalmist introduces a simile, a term of comparison, which functions much like a window which God’s Spirit opens in order to give us added insight into the meaning of a particular passage of Scripture. Remember that these “windows” are not to be abused by a fanciful, even “sanctified” imagination, but must always be interpreted in light of the context. The danger of figures of speech is for us to “run wild” with speculative interpretations, forgetting that all figures of speech are meant to convey literal truth.

A W Pink – This figure is found in numerous passages, for there are many resemblances between a tree and a saint. He is not a “reed” moved about by every wind which blows, nor a creeper, trailing along the ground. A tree is upright, and grows heavenward. This tree is “planted”—many are not—but grow wild. A “planted” tree is under the care and cultivation of its owner. Thus, this metaphor assures us that those who delight in God’s Law are owned by God, cared for and pruned by Him! (The Blessed Man)

Guy King – A tree must have water, and it is fascinating to see how some kinds – the alder, for instance – If planted away from it, will instinctively push out their roots in the direction of the water, however far off, seeming, with their tendrils, to be feeling for it, till they find it. (TO MY SON An Expositional Study of II Timothy by Guy King)

David Caldwell expounds on “The tree similitude”…A beautiful illustration of the perpetual verdure and fruitfulness of the piety deriving its origin and sustenance from the Word of God. It is compared to a tree whose roots are refreshed by never-failing streams of living water, and whose every part is instinct with the life flowing from its roots. It is the same with the piety nourished by the Word of God. As the sap of the tree imparts life not only to its roots, and trunk, and larger branches, but also to the remotest twig and leaf, and to the very down upon the leaf, so the truly godly man’s piety pervades his whole life, imparting its spirit and character and beauty to everything he does he is not a religious man in one or two departments of life, but he is a religious man everywhere. His religion is a mental habit–a habit of thought, of feeling, of purpose, of action, of which he never for a moment divests himself. He aims that not so much as a leaf on his tree of righteous living shall show signs of decay. The same spirit that actuates him in the largest, actuates him also in the least transaction of his life. His religion is not a thing that is put on (cp James 1:27note),–it is the man himself–the man in the man. Consequently the storm that bows mock trees of righteousness to the earth, leaves him still standing; the drought that dries up their streams of life, leaves his life still full, fresh, and flowing. Vigor, verdure, and fruitfulness are his evermore. His source of strength can never fail. It is the river of life flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, reaching his soul through the law of the LORD, wherein is his delight and unceasing meditation. (Biblical Illustrator – – scroll down page)

Frank S. Rowland – A tree sermon to children

Six characteristics of trees.

1. Contentment. I never heard of a tree complaining. They are perfectly contented with their lot. Did you ever hear of a maple wishing it were an oak? They have not so much to make them contented as we have. The Christ-Spirit in us will make us happy and contented.

2. Health. How many of you have seen an unhealthy tree? The perfect boy or girl is the one who, like the tree, is healthy. We should attend to these bodies of ours. We should be careful to eat and drink those things which will give us sound bodies. We need to keep our minds, bodies, and souls healthy.

3. Roots. A great part of a tree is underground. Two reasons for this–to hold the tree in its place, and to nourish the tree. A perfect man, a perfect woman, boy, or girl is one who is well-rooted. Among the roots which hold us stable and keep us from falling are–

(1) Good habits formed early in life;

(2) good companions;

(3) good books.

4. Importance. Trees are used in building, furniture, ships, and as medicine. Their fruit is important. The perfect man is important to society, to home, to national life. What should we do without the ideal man and woman?

5. Symmetry. The word means “perfectly balanced in all its parts.” Some trees have perfect proportions. There are men who have only attended to physical development; others only to intellectual development. The symmetrical man is one who has attended to the development of the mind, body, and spirit.

6. Trial. A mighty oak is perfect, because it has been tried. Tempests have swept over it, but still it stands. The perfect man, woman, boy, or girl is the one who, when tempted and tried, comes off the victor. Tried, weighed, and not found wanting, Tried and found to be sound. (Biblical Illustrator – scroll down page)

All God’s children should…

be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, (Why?) that He may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3).


Of Time And Trees -People who don’t want to wait 4 decades for a globe Norway maple to grow in their front yard can buy a 30-foot specimen from a New York nursery for $42,000. A 50-foot European beech is a “bargain” for only $20,000. In spite of the prices, the country’s leading nurseries report soaring sales of mature trees.

As one customer put it: “I can’t wait for a banana to ripen. I only buy them bright yellow. There’s no patience for watching a tree grow.”

We humans are always in a hurry, looking for shortcuts to skirt the process and grasp the product. And sometimes we expect instant maturity in our Christian walk and growth in faith. What a contrast to the enormous leisure of God in His dealings with us!

The psalmist affirmed God’s promise that the person who delights in His Word will “be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season” (Ps. 1:2-3). A growing Christian, whether a new believer or a seasoned saint, is like a healthy tree—planted, nourished, and fruitful.

If our roots are in God’s Word and our hearts are drawing sustenance from Him, we will flourish. And growth toward maturity brings joy to the God of patience.

Our fruitfulness and growth in Christ
Won’t happen instantly,
But meditating on God’s Word
Will bring maturity.
—Sper

It takes a moment to be saved.
It takes a lifetime to grow in godliness.


Spiritual Trees – Godly men and women are compared in Scripture to sturdy, healthy trees, planted by the rivers of water, laden with fruit, and full of leaves (Ps. 1:3104:16). In order for us to be fruitful trees, we must:

1. Stand straight for God. Lives that reveal Christlike character are lovely to behold, for they are not gnarled by sin or rotted by hypocrisy.

2. Be strong. Those who are well-rooted in God’s Word will be unmovable in times of trial and temptation.

3. Keep growing. As healthy trees add a new ring of growth each year, we too should constantly grow in grace (2 Pet. 3:18).

4. Bring blessing to others. Some trees provide food, others give shade, and others are made into lumber. So too, Christians should provide spiritual food and comfort to their neighbors, as well as use their time and talents to build people up in the Lord.

5. Be ready to be transplanted when God so wills. Christians are not here to stay; they are waiting to be transplanted in the garden of heaven where their fruit will never wither and their leaf will never fade.

How good a tree are you? Is there any fruit, any beauty, any growth worth talking about? Or are you wilted and unproductive? Get growing! —Henry G. Bosch (ODB Editor 1956-1981)

The just are nourished like a tree
Set by the riverside;
Their leaf is green, their fruit is sure,
And thus their works abide.
—Anon.

When growth stops, decay begins.


Planted (08362) (shathal/satal) is a verb which means to plant or to transplant. The idea is to plant and cultivate a seed or seedling in the ground so it may grow. Almost all the uses are figurative, speaking of the godly man or of Israel

The Septuagint (Lxx) uses phuteuo which means literally to plant (Mt 21:33) or figuratively to introduce the Gospel others (1Cor 3:6).

The picture in Psalm 1 is of the godly man being transplanted, which is a fitting image of the New Testament truth of the born-again person. We were dead in our trespasses and sins in IN ADAM and when we were born again by the sanctifying work of the Spirit we were transferred from (“transplanted” if you will from) the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light and placed IN CHRIST, rooted and grounded in Him.

Shathal – 11v – Ps 1:3Ps 92:13Jer 17:8Ezek 17:810222319:1013Hos 9:13 Usage: plant(2), planted(8).

Psalms 92:13 Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God.

Joni Eareckson Tada – The branches of growing trees not only reach higher, but their roots grow deeper. It’s impossible for a strong tree to have high branches without having deep roots. It would become top-heavy and topple over in the wind… The same is true with Christians. It’s impossible for us to grow in the Lord without entwining our roots around His Word and deepening our life in His commands.” (Diamonds in the Dust)

Joseph Alexander – He is not, however, like a tree growing wild, but like a tree planted, in the most favorable situation, on or over, i.e., overhanging, streams of water. The original words properly denote canals or channels, as customary means of artificial irrigation. hence the single tree is said to overhang more than one, because surrounded by them. The image presented is that of a highly cultivated spot, and implies security and care, such as could not be enjoyed in the most luxuriant wilderness or forest. (Psalm 1 Commentary)

Planted speaks of stability in the storms of life. Ray Pritchard elaborates on this picture asking…

How do you know when a tree has good roots? Answer: When the storms come. All the trees look pretty much alike when the sun is shining or a gentle rain is falling, but let a mighty storm with fierce rain and howling winds pass through. Then the true difference is apparent. The trees with few roots are blown over, but the trees with deep roots are still standing when the storm has passed. So it is for the child of God. You won’t know how good your root system is until the storms of life crash against you. Only then will you discover the strength of your spiritual foundation. The only way to be ready for the storm is to spend time now delighting in God’s Word day by day, meditating on its truth, and building a foundation deep and strong for whatever may come your way.

Parallel Isaiah 61:3b and note how or by whom he is planted and why?

So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

The older I get the more I like God’s picture of believers as “trees” Psalm 92 testifying that…

PSALM 92:12-14
The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,
He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Planted in the house of the LORD,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still yield fruit in old age;
They shall be full of sap and very green.

Streams of water – The Septuagint translates the phrase by streams of water with the Greek phrase “para tas diexodous ton hudaton“.

The Greek lexicon BDAG explains that the specific phrase tas diexodous ton hudaton means…

the point where a stream of water flowing underground suddenly breaks through and flows out freely, a spring

The point is that this is not a stagnant pool but a flowing stream, making the image even more vivid in a land where flowing spring fed streams were sparse. How blessed is this man!

Adam Clarke

By the rivers of water – פלגי מים palgey mayim, the streams or divisions of the waters. Alluding to the custom of irrigation in the eastern countries, where streams are conducted from a canal or river to different parts of the ground, and turned off or on at pleasure; the person having no more to do than by his foot to turn a sod from the side of one stream, to cause it to share its waters with the other parts to which he wishes to direct his course.

Albert Barnes agrees, adding that streams …

does not here quite express the sense of the original. The Hebrew word פלג peleg, from פלג pâlag, to cleave, to split, to divide), properly means divisions; and then, channels, canals, trenches, branching-cuts, brooks. The allusion is to the Oriental method of irrigating their lands by making artificial rivulets to convey the water from a larger stream, or from a lake. In this way, the water was distributed in all directions. The whole land of Egypt was anciently sluiced (channeled) in this manner, and it was in this way that its extraordinary fertility was secured. An illustration of the passage may be derived from the account by Maundrell of the method of watering the gardens and orchards in the vicinity of Damascus. “The gardens are thick set with fruit trees of all kinds, kept fresh and verdant by the waters of the Barady … This river, as soon as it issues out of the cleft of the mountain before mentioned, into the plain, is immediately divided into three streams, of which the middlemost and largest runs directly to Damascus, and is distributed to all the cisterns and fountains of the city. The other two, which I take to be the work of art, are drawn round, the one to the right, and the other to the left, on the borders of the gardens, into which they are let out, as they pass, by little rivulets, and so dispersed over all the vast wood, insomuch that there is not a garden but has a fine, quick stream running through it.” Trav., p. 122… The image is that of a tree abundantly watered, and that was flourishing.

Steven Cole explains that…

The psalmist describes the person who delights in God’s Word as a tree planted by streams of water. This is a tree that has been deliberately cultivated, surrounded by these canals or streams so that its roots have a continual supply of water. It is solid and able to withstand drought or storms. It is fruitful and has continual evidence of life and vitality–its leaves do not wither. He sums it up by applying it: “In whatever he does, he prospers.” There’s a truly happy person: the person God blesses with His prosperity, no matter what circumstances of life he finds himself in.

God is not promising financial prosperity here, but rather, soul-prosperity. The so-called “health and wealth” teaching being promoted by some TV preachers, which claims that God promises financial prosperity, is false. God’s servants may be poor in this world’s goods and afflicted by many trials. But they are rich toward God (Luke 12:21), which is true prosperity. (Ibid)

Wiersbe writes…

A tree is a blessing. It holds soil, provides shade and produces fruit. The godly are like trees, with root systems that go deep into the spiritual resources of God’s grace (v. 3). But sadly, many professing Christians are not like trees but are like artificial plants or cut flowers with no roots. They may be beautiful for a while, but soon they die.

A tree needs light, water and roots to live. We all have resources upon which we draw life. The question we need to ask ourselves is, Where are our roots? The person God can bless is planted by the rivers of water. We must be careful not to be like Christians who are dry and withered and depend upon their own resources. They are like tumbleweeds, blown about by any wind of doctrine.

To have the blessings of verse 3, we need to meet the conditions of verses 1 and 2. That is, we must first be separated from the world and saturated with the Word to be situated by the waters.

God desires to bless us, but we need to meet certain conditions to receive His blessings. We bear fruit only when we have roots, and we must draw upon spiritual resources to bring forth fruit in due season. To bear the fruit of the Spirit, we must allow the Spirit to work in us and through us.

In contrast to the believer, the ungodly are not like trees but are like chaff. They have no roots, produce no fruit and are blown about. The ungodly reject the Word of God and will perish without hope Ps 1:6). As Christians we must not reject the ungodly but try to reach them. God blesses us so that we might be a blessing to others. His Spirit helps us bear fruit that can help win the lost.

Are you like a tree or like chaff?

We need God’s resources to bear fruit. But where we place our roots is paramount. Only as we grow them deeply into the spiritual resources of God’s grace will we produce fruit. Make the Bible your spiritual resource. Delight in it and feed your soul with its truth. God can use you to help win the lost.

In Jeremiah 17 we have a passage that closely parallels Psalm 1…

5 Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD.

6 “For (term of explanation = should always beg at least one question “What is being explained?”) he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant.

7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust (or hope) is the LORD.

8 “For (term of explanation = should always beg at least one question “What is being explained?”) he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.

Wiersbe – The most important thing about a tree is the root system. If the roots do not go down deep, the tree will not grow in a healthy manner. If we are rooted in the things of the Lord, then our words will be the fruit of our fellowship with Him. We will be like that “blessed man” in Psalm 1 and produce fruit in due season. One reason our Lord was able to say the right words at the right times was because He communed with His Father and heard from heaven each day. Listen to His testimony (Mark 1:35). (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary – Old Testament. Victor)


Deep Roots

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season. —Psalm 1:3

Today’s Scripture:Psalm 1:1-6

In my orchard are two pear trees. Last summer was extremely dry, yet one of the trees was unaffected and remained green and yielded luscious pears. The other tree did not do so well. Its leaves turned yellow, the fruit shriveled, and the leaves and the fruit both dropped to the ground. The tree seemed to be dead.

Then came the rains, and the ground was soaked with moisture. The tree that seemed to be dead sprang to life again. Soon it was covered with leaves, and (believe it or not) in the latter part of August it burst into full bloom. Little pears came into view, but then came the frost and no fruit matured.

One tree thrived and produced delicious fruit in season. What made the difference? Its roots had grown deep, where they found plenty of water. The other had shallow roots and depended on the uncertain rains. The one was like the tree David described, “planted by the rivers of water” (Ps. 1:3). The other, with belated bloom, bore no fruit.

Which kind of a tree are you? Do your roots go deep into the underground streams of the Word of God, or is your devotional life shallow and only occasional? Dig deep, friend, deep into the Book, and your life will produce abundant spiritual fruit. By M.R. DeHaan

The just are nourished like a tree
Set by the riverside;
Their leaf is green, their fruit is sure,
And thus their works abide.
—Anon.


Deep Roots

Read: Psalm 1:1-6

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. —Psalm 1:3

Some friends of mine planted two trees of the same kind and age. The first was set in level ground in the middle of the yard, where its roots went deep into the ground to soak up water. The second was planted at the bottom of a steep bank. When it rained, the water rushed past it to the street.

Both trees appeared to thrive. Then a strong windstorm came. The tree in the middle of the lawn stood firm, while the other one toppled over. Why? The root systems were different. The tree in the lawn had deep roots, while the other one had shallow roots. At the base of the bank, the water always passed swiftly over the top of the soil, so those roots stayed shallow. That tree, therefore, could not withstand the force of the wind.

We need to let our roots grow deep, anchoring us firmly in the Word of God. We must not settle for the rushing surface waters of emotion and experience. They have their place in the Christian life, but we need to take the time to learn the deeper, strengthening truths of the Bible and the deeper realities of the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:9-13). Then, when the pressures of life increase or the strong winds of temptation blow, we won’t be toppled. Our deep roots will enable us to withstand adversity. By David C. Egner 

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.
—Carter

When you’re rooted in truth, you can withstand the winds of trial.


Bearing Good Fruit

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season. Psalm 1:3

Today’s Scripture & Insight:Psalm 1:1–3

The view from my airplane window was striking: a narrow ribbon of ripening wheat fields and orchards wending between two barren mountains. Running through the valley was a river—life-giving water, without which there would be no fruit.

Just as a bountiful harvest depends on a source of clean water, the quality of the “fruit” in my life—my words, actions, and attitude—depends on my spiritual nourishment. The psalmist describes this in Psalm 1: The person “whose delight is in the law of the Lord . . . is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season” (vv. 1–3). And Paul writes in Galatians 5 that those who walk in step with the Spirit are marked by “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (vv. 22–23).

Sometimes my perspective on my circumstances turns sour, or my actions and words become persistently unkind. There is no good fruit, and I realize I haven’t spent time being quiet before the words of my God. But when the rhythm of my days is rooted in reliance on Him, I bear good fruit. Patience and gentleness characterize my interactions with others; it’s easier to choose gratitude over complaint.

The God who has revealed Himself to us is our source of strength, wisdom, joy, understanding, and peace (Ps. 119:2898111144165). As we steep our souls in the words that point us to Him, the work of God’s Spirit will be evident in our lives. By Peter Chin


Like A Tree

He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. —Psalm 1:3

Today’s Scripture: Ephesians 4:11-16

In the quietness of my final years I plan to watch a tree grow—a birch tree I planted as a tiny sapling over 30 years ago. It stands now in mature splendor, just outside our picture window—beautiful in every season of the year.

So it is with our spiritual endeavors: We may have planted, watered, and fussed over our “saplings” (those we’ve mentored) for a time, but only God can make a “tree.”

Occasionally I hear from those I ministered to years ago, and discover to my delight that they have grown to maturity and have been greatly used of God—with no help from me. It’s a gentle reminder that I plant and water for a while, and help others “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ” (Eph. 4:15). But only God “gives the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).

German theologian Helmut Thielicke writes, “The man who doesn’t know how to let go, who is a stranger to quiet, confident joy in Him who carries out His purposes without us (or also through us or in spite of us), in Him who makes the trees grow . . . that man will become nothing but a miserable creature in his old age.”

So, at my age, I may yet tend a sapling or two, but mostly I will let go and watch them grow. By David H. Roper

A Prayer: Lord, I want to be used by You in others’ lives. Teach me from Your Word so that I can help others follow You. And enable me to let go and trust You to work in them. Amen.

WHO YIELDS ITS FRUIT IN SEASON AND WHOSE LEAF DOES NOT WHITHER AND IN ALL HE DOES HE PROSPERS:

Since I am in the “autumn” of my life, the words of Psalm 92 regarding fruitfulness are a continual source of motivation and encouragement to me as they should be to all God’s “aging” saints…

The righteous man (or woman) will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age. They shall be full of sap and very green, to declare that the LORD is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. (Psalm 92:12-15note)

Spurgeon has a wonderful exposition on this psalm writing: The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, whose growth may not be so rapid, but whose endurance for centuries is in fine contrast with the transitory verdure of the meadow. When we see a noble palm standing erect, sending all its strength upward in one bold column, and growing amid the dearth and drought of the desert, we have a fine picture of the godly man (Ed: and woman), who in his (her) uprightness aims alone at the glory of God; and, independent of outward circumstances, is made by divine grace to live and thrive where all things else perish. The text tells us not only what the righteous is, but what he shall be; come what may, the good man (woman) shall flourish, and flourish after the noblest manner. He (she) shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. This is another noble and long lived tree. “As the days of a tree are the days of my people”, saith the Lord. On the summit of the mountain, unsheltered from the blast, the cedar waves its mighty branches in perpetual verdure, and so the truly godly man (woman) under all adversities retains the joy of his (her) soul, and continues to make progress in the divine life. Grass (see Ps 92:7note), which makes hay for oxen, is a good enough emblem of the unregenerate; but cedars, which build the temple of the Lord, are none too excellent to set forth the heirs of heaven.

Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. In the courtyards of Oriental houses trees were planted, and being thoroughly screened, they would be likely to bring forth their fruit to perfection in trying seasons; even so, those who by grace are brought into communion with the Lord, shall be likened to trees planted in the Lord’s house, and shall find it good to their souls. No heart has so much joy as that which abides in the Lord Jesus.

Fellowship with the Stem
begets fertility in the branches
.

If a man (woman) abide in Christ He brings forth much fruit. Those professors who are rooted to the world do not flourish; those who send forth their roots into the marshes of frivolous pleasure cannot be in a vigorous condition; but those who dwell in habitual fellowship with God shall become men (women) of full growth, rich in grace, happy in experience, mighty in influence, honored and honorable. Much depends upon the soil in which a tree is planted; everything, in our case, depends upon our abiding in the Lord Jesus (Jn 8:3132Jn 15:71Jn 2:142Jn 1:1,2), and deriving all our supplies from Him (Jn 15:5). If we ever really grow in the courts of the Lord’s house we must be planted there, for no tree grows in God’s garden self sown; once planted of the Lord, we shall never be rooted up, but in His courts we shall take root downward, and bring forth fruit upward to His glory for ever.

They shall still bring forth fruit in old age. Nature decays but grace thrives (cp 2Cor 4:16note). Fruit, as far as nature is concerned, belongs to days of vigor; but in the garden of grace, when plants are weak in themselves, they become strong in the Lord, and abound in fruit acceptable with God. Happy they who can sing this Sabbath Psalm (Ps 92:1), enjoying the rest which breathes through every verse of it; no fear as to the future can distress them, for their evil days, when the strong man fails, are the subject of a gracious promise, and therefore they await them with quiet expectancy. Aged believers possess a ripe experience, and by their mellow tempers and sweet testimonies they feed many. Even if bedridden, they bear the fruit of patience; if poor and obscure, their lowly and contented spirit becomes the admiration of those who know how to appreciate modest worth. Grace does not leave the saint when the keepers of the house do tremble; the promise is still sure though the eyes can no longer read it; the bread of heaven is fed upon when the grinders (teeth) fail; and the voice of the Spirit in the soul is still melodious (Eph 5:19note) when the daughters of music are brought low. Blessed be the Lord for this! Because even to hoar (to those whose hair is gray, white with age) hairs He is the I AM, who made His people, He therefore bears and carries them (cp Ps 68:19note).

They shall be fat and flourishing. They do not drag out a wretched, starveling (lean) existence, but are like trees full of sap, which bear luxuriant foliage. God does not pinch His poor servants, and diminish their consolations when their infirmities grow upon them; rather does He see to it that they shall renew their strength (Isa 40:31note), for their mouths shall be satisfied with His own good things. Such an one as Paul the aged would not ask our pity, but invite our sympathetic gratitude; however feeble his outward man may be, his inner man is so renewed day by day that we may well envy his perennial peace. (cp 2Cor 4:16note)

This mercy to the aged proves the faithfulness of their God, and leads them to show that the Lord is upright, by their cheerful testimony to His ceaseless goodness. We do not serve a Master Who will run back from His promise. Whoever else may defraud us, He never will. Every aged Christian is a letter of commendation to the immutable fidelity of Jehovah.

He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Here is the psalmist’s own seal and sign manual; still was he building upon his God, and still was the Lord a firm foundation for his trust. For shelter, for defense, for indwelling, for foundation, God is our Rock; hitherto He has been to us all that He said He would be, and we may be doubly sure that He will abide the same even unto the end. He has tried us, but He has never allowed us to be tempted above what we are able to bear: He has delayed our reward, but He has never been unrighteous to forget our work of faith and labour of love (1Th 1:3note). He is a Friend without fault, a Helper without fail (Heb 13:5-6note). Whatever He may do with us, He is always in the right; His dispensations have no flaw in them, no, not the most minute. He is true and righteous altogether, and so we weave the end of the psalm with its beginning, and make a coronet (crown) of it, for the head of our Beloved.

It is a good thing to sing praises unto the Lord, for “He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

Yields its fruit in season – The blessed man who abides in the Word (cp John 15:5 with John 1:1Col 3:16note cp Jn 8:3132), the “Seed” (Mt 13:23Lk 8:15, cp 1Pe 1:23note), can expect to bear fruit. The more we converse with the word of God the better prepared we are for every good work (2Ti 3:1617note). Note the recurring biblical principle: First the root, then fruit. First hearing and doing of the Word (James 1:22noteJames 1:25note) and then the bearing of fruit. The sad truth is that many Christians are more concerned about the “leaves” and neglect the root, the most important part! Unless we spend time daily in the Word, intentionally setting aside time to allow the Spirit to feed us (1Cor 2:10-161Jn 2:2027), we will wither spiritually and bear little if any fruit. We may have spiritual life, but we will not experience it abundantly (Jn 10:10b, cp Mk 4:8202Pe 1:8note2Pe 1:1011note). Note that the promise is not just for “reading” the Word, but for meditating on the Word, taking time to “chew before you swallow” so to speak, so that you might digest the spiritual truth that you have read. While I applaud “through the Bible in a year” reading programs, the danger, if you will, is that one can become so focused on keeping up with the reading schedule that they do not take the time to meditate on what they are reading. One verse meditated upon is far better than one chapter hastily read.

THOUGHT: If you are reading too fast, one of best ways to slow down and facilitate meditation on the Scripture is to read the Bible inductively taking time to carefully observe the text, establishing the context, taking time to note the terms of contrastterms of conclusionterms of explanationexpressions of timeterms of comparison such as similes and metaphors, and interrogating each of these “finds” with the 5W/H’S. The discipline of reading inductively takes an some time to learn, but the benefits of your investment will be last forever and ever!

Season (eth) is the appointed time, the proper time, the right time and is translated in the Lxx with kairos which describes a specific period of time that lasts for a season. In other words, kairos refers to a fixed and definite time, the time when things are brought to crisis, the decisive epoch waited for or a strategic point in time — the “opportune time.” Kairos is occasionally translated opportunity in the NAS. (See related word eukaira translated “good opportunity” in Mt 26:16Lk 22:6) The English word opportunity has a fascinating origin. Hundreds of years ago when living by the sea was critically important to everyday business and industry, the word opportunity was first coined. Time-tables for everything from commerce to transportation depended on the rise and fall of tides. The specific time when the water was deep enough to sail out to sea was known as ob portu, the time when time and tide converged. As believers, our lives are filled with God given opportunities, those moments for example when an urgent need converges with your ability to help meet that need. If you have the eyes to recognize that opportunity (eg, you have been “marinating” your mind with God’s Word and you spiritual senses are on “high alert”), you can seize the moment and redeem the time, the opportunity, (Eph 5:16note) for the glory of God, joining Him where He is at work. As we learn to recognize and choose to join God when He presents us with an ob portu moment, we begin to enter into the fullness of the blessed, blessed (“blessed” in Ps 1:1 is plural!) life the psalmist is describing!

See Related Study – Redeem the Time

Shakespeare alluded to the idea of ob portu when he wrote the classic lines…

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
(Julius Caesar, 4.3.217)

Pritchard – To speak of “fruit in its season” means that the tree produces fruit that expresses its true inner character. How do you spot an orange tree? By the oranges it produces. And how do you spot an apple tree? Look for the apples. Whatever is on the inside must eventually be seen on the outside. Applied to the spiritual life, this means that when our roots are deep in the Word, we will be given whatever we need, whenever we need it. If we need love, from the Word of God will come the strength to produce the fruit of love. If we need a forgiving spirit, from the Word of God will come the strength to forgive. If we need courage, we will produce the fruit of courage. If we need patience and perseverance, the Word of God will produce it in us. This sort of supernatural life is available to every believer, but it will only be fully realized over time as we continue to walk with the Lord and to delight in his Word. (see also study of the fruit of the Spirit – see notes Galatians 5:1617181920212223242526 — see notes Galatians 5:1617181920212223242526)

David Dickson (1834) – The man that makes the word of God his delight, shall be made fruitful in every good work, as opportunity is offered to him

A W Pink writes that the psalmist’s description of a fruitful Christian…

is an essential character of a gracious man, for there are no fruitless branches in the true Vine (Jn 15:5). “In season,” for all fruits do not appear in the same month, neither are all the graces of the Spirit produced simultaneously.

  • Times of trial—call for faith.
  • Times of suffering—call for patience.
  • Times of disappointment—call for meekness.
  • Times of danger—call for courage.
  • Times of blessings—call for thanksgiving.
  • Times of prosperity—call for joy.

John Piper explains that if you separate from sin and saturate your mind with Scripture …

You will be a fruitful person. O for more fruitful people! You know them. They are refreshing and nourishing to be around. You go away from them fed. You go away strengthened. You go away with your taste for spiritual things awakened. Their mouth is a fountain of life. Their words are healing and convicting and encouraging and deepening and enlightening. Being around them is like a meal. This is the effect of delighting in the Word of God and meditating on it day and night. You will yield fruit in season. (Psalm 1 Meditate on the Word of the Lord Day and Night)

ALL THE LORD’S TREES
SHOULD BE “EVERGREENS!”

Leaf does not whither – The life of a Scripture saturated follower of Christ is a vibrant, living testimony, for his good (God) works give clear evidence of the reality of the profession of his lips. As MacDonald says the meditating man’s “spiritual life is not subject to cyclical changes but is characterized by continuous inner renewal.”

Jesus commanded all of us as His disciples as lights of the world, not to hide our light under a basket but to be fruit bearers who are like a city set on a hill…

Let your light shine (aorist imperative = Do this now even with a sense of urgency) before men (Not under a basket) in such a way that they may see your good works (being careful not to draw attention to yourself), and glorify (doxazo = give a proper opinion of) your Father Who is in heaven (In short our invisible Spirit enabled, supernatural works give clear, irrefutable testimony of the invisible God we worship and serve! For the power to do good works see Acts 1:8note). (Mt 5:16note)

Paul issues a parallel charge to Christ’s “light bearers” commanding us to…

Do (present imperative = Make this the habit of your life all the days of your life) all (Greek = no exceptions!) things without grumbling (goggusmos) or disputing (dialogismos) (Be careful! This is not possible naturally but only supernaturally! In other words, although it is “impossible“, it is “Him-possible”! Study and “surrender” to Phil 2:13NLTnote and then obey the command in Phil 2:12bnote!); that (expresses purpose of obeying the preceding command) you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, (Phil 2:1415note)

Pink comments “Where there is no fruit to God’s glory—our profession is a mockery.”

Regarding the phrase one whose leaf does not whither John Piper says…

The point here is that the hot winds are blowing and the rain is not falling and all the other trees that are not planted by streams are withering and dying, but in spite of all the heat and drought, your leaf remains green, because delighting in the Word of God and meditating on it day and night is like being planted by a stream. The happiness of this person is durable. It is deep. It does not depend on which way the wind is blowing or whether the rain is falling. It gets its life from an absolutely changeless source: God in his Word.

David Dickson (1834) on “his leaf also shall not wither”…

This man shall be enabled to bear out a holy profession of his faith in, and obedience to God, in adversity, as well as in prosperity

Pritchard – The phrase pictures a leafy tree that seems like an evergreen because its leaves are in season all year round. People like this are constantly refreshed by the Word of God, constantly renewed, constantly drawing on new strength for new situations. They are never boring, never dull, never living off yesterday’s blessings, but living each day in the strength of the Lord whose mercies are new every morning.

Habakkuk describes such a person…

Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18see commentary)

F B Meyer

…his leaf also shall not wither –

“If a man abide not in Me,” said our Lord, “he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered.”

The same thought is here. Thrust down your rootlets to the oozy river bed, and there is no doubt about your continuing earnest, patient, God-filled. The sun of temptation may strike you with sword-like beams, but you will have a source of supply which they cannot exhaust. The secret of an unwithering beauty is in the Word of God, delighted in and meditated upon day and night. And what is the Word of God, but the life of God. translated into human speech?

Wean yourself from all beside, and learn to feed on God. Withdraw your rootlets from men and things, and let them travel to the river of God, which is full of water. Close other doors, and open those that. lead out on to the terrace, whence you may behold the far-spread landscape of what He is, and says, and is willing to be to us all.

Note that word meditate (Meditate). The root must lie in contact with the stream, and the soul must steep itself in the Word of God. We must give the truth time to enter and pervade our souls. We must have retreats, shut away from the rush of life, up and down the glades of which we may tread. These retreats are oftener found within the soul than without. Just as in the temple of old, there was Solomon’s porch, where Jesus walked, so in the temple within there are closes and cloisters, where we may commune with our heart, and be still.

Prospers (06743)(tsalach/salah – see word study) means to accomplish satisfactorily what is intended = generally expresses idea of a successful venture, as contrasted with failure. The source of true success is God’s Spirit Who enables supernatural spiritual prosperity. Don’t twist this promise to apply only to material prosperity, for that is far less valuable than spiritual prosperity. God may choose to prosper us materially, but not at the expense of our spiritual prosperity!

The Septuagint translates tsalach with the verb kateuodoo which means to “have free course or passage, prosper.” (BDAG)

William MacDonald astutely (and I think accurately) observes that…

This kind of man shall prosper in everything he undertakes. The reason, of course, is that he is living in fellowship with the Lord, and all his service is therefore guided by the Holy Spirit. The only way to be efficient and successful in the Christian life is to be led by the Spirit of God. Self-directed activity is an enormous waste of time, money, and effort! (EdNote striking contrast – Spirit led versus Self directed – Beloved, which describes your works/ministry?)

Piper says the phrase “he prospers” describes “a life whose “labor is not in vain” (1Corinthians 15:58note), but succeeds in God’s good purposes into eternity.”

Pink adds that…

This (prosperity) necessarily follows, though it is not always apparent to the eye of sense. Not even a cup of water given in the name of Christ, shall fail to receive its reward—if not here, certainly in the hereafter (Mt 10:42Mark 9:41).

David Dickson (1834) – Whatsoever duty or service to God this man goes about, shall not want the assistance of God, nor success, nor acceptance at His hands – whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Albert Barnes – This (“all he does he prospers”) is a literal statement of what had just been put in a figurative or poetic form (“be like a tree… “). It contains a general truth, or contains an affirmation as to the natural and proper effect of religion (Ed: relationship with God through faith in Christ), or of a life of piety, and is similar to that which occurs in 1Ti 4:8note — “Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

THE WORD OF GOD
AND PROSPERITY

Pritchard adds that…

They prosper in the sense that no matter what happens, they find strength for the day and hope in the midst of the hardest difficulties. They bring forth godly fruit in good times and bad times. Why? Because they are planted deep in the good soil and their roots reach out to the water of the Word of God. Finding constant nourishment therein, they can face whatever life throws at them.

The thought here is similar to Romans 8:37 (note) where in the midst of struggles, sorrow, persecution, famine, distress, nakedness and the sword, those who know Jesus are “more than conquerors” through His divine power. And that triumphant deliverance comes to us in large part through the Word of God.

In this world we may face disappointment, sorrow, rejection, failure, sickness, abandonment, and discouragement. We may hear things about our children we prayed to God never to hear, our dearest friends may desert us, our spouse may leave us, and we may face an unremitting series of earthly tragedies. Illness, physical weakness, and death itself may visit our door time and again.

Even then, we prosper, we thrive, we survive, we are not destroyed. Sometimes when I ask friends going through hard times how they are doing, the answer comes back, “I’m surviving.” Years ago I foolishly thought that was a wimpy response. Now I see that it is a powerful statement of faith. Sometimes surviving is the same as thriving. Some days to survive is to prosper. That, too, is a kind of prosperity for the people of God. (Psalm 1: Trees Planted by the Water) (Bolding added)

Alan Carr – THE PROSPERITY OF THE SUCCESSFUL BELIEVER

Ill. The promises of this verse are conditional. When we live separated lives and feed our souls on God’s Word, then we can expect these things to happen for us.)

A. His Position – By the River! Always close to the life giving resources. (Ill. This was meaningful to Israel with her mostly arid conditions.) The tree planted by the river is never dry and wilted, but is green, lush and lovely. (Ill. The believer who lives close to God will never be dry and wilted either. He will be vibrant, lively and productive.) (Ill. Many never know the joy of drawing off Christ daily! As a result, they are spiritually wilted and dead looking.) The droughts of life and the dry seasons never seem to affect the believer who is planted near the river. He is connected to an unfailing source of life and strength.

B. His Prominence – Ill. A tree. The life of the successful believerstands heads above all those around him. It is easily seen when a man draws from the Lord. (Ill. Men will know when you have been with Jesus – Acts. 4:13)

C. His Permanence – Planted – Unlike some plants, which live for a season and die out, this tree, has sunk its root deep and has a hidden source of life. (Ill. The value of private prayer and Bible Study.) (Ill. Planted – literally “transplanted.” A tree cannot transplant itself, neither can a man transplant himself into the Kingdom of God. It is wholly a work of God’s grace. And, He always plants us in good soil, near the water supply. However, after we are planted, it is our responsibility to draw from the resources, which God has provided.)

D. His Productivity – “Brings forth fruit” – The successful believer is a blessing to all those around him, because his fruit is plentiful. (Ill. John 7:38) (Ill. Old apple tree in the cow pasture. Man, cows, birds and insects all benefited from the fruit off this old tree.) (Ill. You may never know just who is feeding off your life!)

E. His Predictability – “In his season” This tree isn’t a freak. Just as there are seasons of fruit bearing, so there are times of rest and growth. As believers, we aren’t to worry over the fruit. That is the Father’s business! When everything else is as it should be, then the fruit will come in its season – John 15:1-5.

F. His Perpetuity – “leaf shall not fade” – The successful believer is like an evergreen. He is always surrounded by the green of life. (Ill. The trees in the wintertime. The hardwoods and leafy trees are look dead, but the evergreens stand out as islands of life in a sea of deadness. They are unaffected by winter or weather, but they are always the same.) (Ill. our lives should be lives of consistency! We are called on to be a stable, faithful and dependable people – 1 Cor. 15:58) The successful believer is consistent. The curve balls of life are unable to knock him off course. (Ill. Thank the Lord for consistent people!) (Ill. Life lived by this river in unchanging.)

G. His Prosperity – “Whatsoever he doeth, it shall prosper” – In other words, God will bless the successful believer. His personal life, his family life, his business life, his church life, his spiritual life will all be blessed of the Lord. That isn’t to say that there won’t be stormy seas, but the successful believer will be able to sail them with Jesus until they are calm once again!

Conclusion: Do you possess the characteristics of the successful believer? If so, the Bible, in verse 1, says you are “Blessed.” This means “Oh how very, very happy.” I hope you have seen yourself among the happy ones and are encouraged about you walk with Jesus tonight. You see it is possible to be successful for Christ and know it with out being self-righteous!

However, if you saw yourself lacking in some of these areas, then Jesus stands ready, willing and able to make those things right once again. Let’s take whatever steps are necessary to make our lives be the successes they can and should be. (Sermons and Outlines)


Slow Down And Live

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. —

Psalm 1:2

Many of our New Year’s resolutions may actually accelerate our pace of life instead of helping us to slow down. In a quest for greater productivity and efficiency, we overschedule our days, then rush through meals, drive impatiently, and wonder why the joy of living eludes us.

Carol Odell, who writes a business advice column, says that slowing down can positively affect our lives at work and at home. She believes that rushing can cloud our judgment and cause us to overlook important things and valuable people. Carol encourages everyone to slow down, and even suggests the radical idea of welcoming red traffic lights and using the waiting time to meditate.

In Psalm 1, there is no hint of a frenzied pace. It describes a person who enjoys the blessing of God. Instead of thinking and acting like those who rarely consider spiritual matters, “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (v.2). The result is a fruitful life and a well-nourished soul (v.3).

Isaiah wrote, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3). Just for today, try thinking about that verse whenever you have to wait. Isn’t it time for all of us to slow down and live? By David C. McCasland

If you’re working hard to make a living,
Never taking time to smell the roses,
Now’s the time to heed the Bible’s wisdom:
Find true joy before your life’s day closes.
—Hess


What Is Reality?

His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. —Psalm 1:2

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 1:1-6

The cartoon depicted a frustrated father changing a flat tire in the rain. His two children were peering out the car window. In response to their complaining, he said, “Don’t you understand? This is life. This is what’s happening. We can’t switch to another channel!”

Television and reality—does the former distort the latter? After 10 years of research, media analyst Kenneth Curtis measured TV’s impact on society. He concluded that the omnipresent, flickering screen constantly tries to tell us what behavior and attitudes are desirable. He described the effect of TV as a subtle process that has become a significant force in defining reality.

If this is true, we had better be careful about what we watch. The networks are not committed to portraying Christian values. Many things that are presented as acceptable are in fact dangerous. Furthermore, watching TV makes us passive observers rather than active participants in solving life’s problems. The violence, sex, and materialism on TV can make us insensitive to our calling as Christians to be salt and light in a sinful world.

Only as we meditate on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2) can we have the right perspective. To avoid a distorted view of life, we must allow God’s truth to define reality. By Mart DeHaan

Our thoughts are shaped by what we see, 
And thoughts affect our soul;
So if we’d profit from TV,
We must be in control.
—DJD


Who Is Most Important?

His delight is in the law of the Lord . . . . He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. —Psalm 1:2-3

Today’s Scripture: Psalm 1:1-6

During an operation, an experienced surgeon asked a young intern, “Who is the most important person in this operating room?”

The intern searched for an appropriate answer. He didn’t believe that his mentor was asking for personal compliments, so trying to sound gracious he replied, “I suppose that it would be these nurses who assist you in such an efficient manner.”

The surgeon shook his head and said, “No, the most important individual in this room is the patient.”

It’s possible to overlook the obvious in studying the Bible too. It’s easy to forget how important you are in the process. Whether or not you find profit depends on your attitude.

What is the right attitude to bring to Bible study? First, approach the Bible with a sense of your own need, not simply to teach it to someone else. Second, approach the Bible with humility. Don’t try to make the Bible say what you would like it to say, but study to discover what God has said.

German theologian Johann Bengel (1687-1752) said, “Be like a maker of a well who brings no water to his source but allows the water he finds there to flow freely without stoppage, diversion, or defilement.” Those who do that will grow like trees “planted by the rivers” (Psalm 1:3).  By Haddon W. Robinson

Afraid to see what’s in God’s Book?
It’s meant for you, don’t fail to look.
The words and thoughts contained therein
Will bring God’s peace and cleanse from sin. 
—Beals


Fiber Man

Read: Psalm 1

In His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. —Psalm 1:2-3

Dr. Denis Burkitt achieved fame for discovering the cause and cure of a disease named after him— Burkitt’s lymphoma. He also received widespread acclaim for demonstrating the benefits of a fiber-rich diet, which earned him the amusing nickname “Fiber Man.”

What many people don’t know, however, is that Dr. Burkitt was not merely a great medical pioneer; he was a dedicated servant of God who daily spent much time in prayer and meditation on God’s Word. He observed, “I am convinced that a downgrading in priority of . . . prayer and biblical meditation is a major cause of weakness in many Christian communities. . . . Bible study demands pondering deeply on a short passage, like a cow chewing her cud. It is better to read a little and ponder a lot than to read a lot and ponder a little.”

Dr. Burkitt didn’t leave just a great legacy of healing; he left an example of personal holiness and closeness with the Lord. The secret was his lifelong habit of setting aside a specific time for prayer and reflection on God’s Word.

Few of us will ever enjoy accomplishments like his, but by following the prescription of Psalm 1 we can attain the same spiritual health that he did.

In the stillness of the morning,
Before a busy day of care,
How sweet to be alone with God
Through His holy Word and prayer! —Anderson

God speaks to those who take the time to listen.

By Haddon W. Robinson

Application Questions

  • Have you discovered the secret of blessed? Do you really desire to be blessed? Do you understand that although blessed is a supernatural condition, you as a believer still have a responsibility — there are certain negative behaviors that will impede the flow of God’s blessing (Ps 1:11Pe 2:1).
  • Who are you getting your primary counsel from? If you are not delighting in the God’s Word, is it because you are “stuck” in verse 1?
  • How is your spiritual state? One way to judge your spiritual state by asking… What is the Word of God to me? What place has does the Word have in my life?’
  • A W Pink asks “How far, dear reader, do you and I resemble this “blessed man”? Let us again press the order of these three verses. Just so far as we fall into the sins of verse 1—will our delight in God’s Law be dulled. And just so far as we are not in subjection to His will—shall we be fruitless. But a complete separation from the world, and wholehearted occupation with the Lord—will issue in fruit to His praise!” And all God’s children cry “Amen! Let it be so Lord!”
Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Christian’s Profession: To Excel in Good Works

Titus 3:8,14 (Darby Bible):

The word is faithful, and I desire that

thou insist strenuously on these things,

that they who have believed God may

take care to pay diligent attention to

good works. These things are good and

profitable to men.

And let ours learn to apply themselves

to good works for necessary wants, that

they may not be unfruitful.

English Standard Version:

The saying is trustworthy, and I want

you to insist on these things, so that

those who have believed in God may

be careful to devote themselves to good

works. These things are excellent and

profitable for people.

And let our people learn to devote

themselves to good works, so as to

help cases of urgent need, and not

to be unfruitful.

The Apostle Paul sets forth in no uncertain terms that Christian believers must be diligent in devoting themselves to good works. The words “to take care or be careful” in the Greek mean: to give sustained thought to something; to fix one’s attention on; to give careful attention, and to think seriously about.  The Greek word is in the present tense, which calls for continual, habitual action. God exhorts us in His Word to make it a habit to seriously think about and fix our attention to devoting ourselves to good works.  The word “devote” is the Greek word proistemi, which means: to excel, to take the lead in; to be at the head of, and to attend to with care and diligence. It has the idea of standing before others in a position of leadership. It is someone who stands in front and leads the whole group. 

Rogers and Rogers, in The New Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the Greek New Testament, state that “The word has a technical meaning: ‘to practice a profession.’” We are to excel and be leaders in good works. God wants us to assume a position of leadership in producing good works in our families, our churches, our jobs, and our communities. We have leaders in politics, leaders in business, and leaders in education, but what about leaders in good works? We need leaders in loving people. We need leaders in compassion. We need leaders in tenderness. We need leaders in mercy.  We need leaders in speaking the truth. We need leaders in healing the brokenhearted. We need leaders in encouragement. We need leaders in forgiveness. The world is in desperate need of leaders in good works who love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and energetically manifest His goodness in their words and deeds. God needs us to assume a role of leadership and responsibility to be completely devoted to doing good works that flow from our new creation in Christ.

Our profession, our occupation, and our employment are to excel in good works that bring God’s goodness into the challenges and circumstances of our times. God wants us to stand in first place when it comes to doing good works energized by Him that reach the hearts and lives of people on every level. What profession, what passion, and what purpose are we practicing in our lives? What better profession to be called to then to excel in good works? No matter if we are a nurse, or a mailman, or a laborer, or a doctor, we can practice our calling and profession to excel and be leaders in good works in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our communities.

To excel in your profession of doing good works does not happen overnight. Verse 14 states that we must learn to lead and excel in good works. It is a growing process that requires great dedication and commitment of heart. The word “learn” in the Greek means: intentional learning by inquiry, study and observation; to direct one’s mind to something to produce an external effect; learning with a close connection with action or behavior, and learning through repeated action. A form of this word is translated “disciple,” where it emphasizes a relationship where one learns through a teacher to the extent that such learning and knowledge is applied in the pupil’s life.

We learn to excel in good works by the study of the Bible, by observation of and relationship with the leaders in the church, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit in practicing the art of doing good works. We are to be disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ who follow his example of good works.  We learn by God teaching and inspiring us, by men and women of God teaching us in words and actions, and by boldly walking forth and doing the good works.  We must be patient in our growth, but we will grow in our walk of good works if we trust God, become rooted and grounded in His Word, pray continually, and walk by the holy spirit. We are to be disciples who are known for our excellence in bringing God’s goodness into the heart of all our works. God wants an unwavering commitment, empowered by the new creation in Christ, to diligently pursue good works as the disciples of Christ.

People cry out all over the world for these good works that are energized by God in the Christian believer. Titus clearly states that when we excel in good works, “it is excellent and profitable for people” and can help people in cases of urgent need. The word “profitable” in the Greek means: useful, profitable, beneficial, helpful, and that which yields advantageous results. It provides something one needs to attain a certain goal. The word “urgent” in the Greek means: that which one cannot do without because it is indispensable and what is required to be done by the circumstances.  It is what ought to be done according to the law of duty.

When we excel in good works, in both the world and in the Body of Christ, it is profitable and yields advantageous results in the lives of the people we touch. When we excel in good works, we help people attain the God-designed goals and purposes for their lives. When we excel in good works, we help people to accomplish and pursue their particular gifting in the Body of Christ. When we excel in good works, we give people something that they can not do without because we are bringing God’s goodness into their lives no matter what the circumstance.

It is our sacred duty as Christians, according to God’s calling, to love and devote ourselves to help people with pressing needs and urgent wants, with God’s goodness in our words and actions. Every place we go, there is an urgent demand for a born again son or daughter of God to rise up and diligently devote their life to doing good works in the service of our God. Everyday you have something to say and do that will show forth our Savior’s love and compassion. We cannot remain silent. We cannot sit around and do nothing. We are the hands, feet, mouth, eyes, and heart which Jesus Christ reaches out to the world.

Matthew West, in his song “Something to Say,” echoes this calling to good works:

Wake up, 7:32AM

Can’t believe its time to do it all over again

Yesterday, it took all you had

And your wandering if you will ever get it back

But the whole world is waiting for

Waiting for you to step out that door

Come on, and let your life be heard today         

You got something to say

If you’re livin’, if you’re breathin’

You got something to say

And you know if your heart is beatin’

You got something to say

And no one can say it like you do

God is love and love speaks through

You got it, you got it

You got something to say

Listen up, I got a question here

Would anyone miss you if you disappeared?

Well your life is the song that you sing

And the whole world is listening

Well the answer to the question is

You were created, your life is a gift and

The lights are shining on you today, ’cause

You got something to say

God only has one you. As His poetic masterpiece in Christ, you have gifts, abilities, and talents that God uniquely designed for you that no other person on Earth possesses. God needs you to step forward and let your light shine in the wonderful way God has designed for you. You need to see the beauty of your new life in Christ. God needs us to produce exquisite and awesome works of goodness that honor and glorify Him. Our lives are wasted when we do not live for the glory of God. If we fail to excel in good works, the world will suffer, people will suffer, and the body of Christ will suffer. The whole world is waiting. Our cities and towns are waiting. Our families and churches are waiting. Now is the time to excel.

Matthew 5:14-16 (New King James Version):

You are the light of the world. A city that

is set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a

basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives

light to all who are in the house.

Let your light so shine before men, that they

may see your good works and glorify your

Father in heaven.

The word “you” in verse 14 is emphatic in the Greek, as God is telling us in no uncertain terms that, yes, you are the light of the world. What an amazing truth! We are not a light of the world, but we are the light of the world because Christ lives in us. We shine as the light before people by our good works. Remember the connection that light has with goodness from the first usage of the word “good” in the Bible. These good works bring God’s light into a circumstance, problem, or challenge. These good works bring God’s light to the hearts and souls of people. The very nature of light is to shine and dispel darkness. These good works dispel the darkness of Satan’s kingdom.  As Christian believers, we are to let our lights shine to the entire world. Jesus commands this, and in the Greek, there is a sense of urgency to this command. Now is the time to shine. The word “shine” in the Greek means: to radiate brilliantly, to beam forth, and to shine brightly. Our lives and works are to radiate brilliantly and shine brightly in the darkness of this age. We must let the wonderful light of Christ in us brilliantly shine forth in all its goodness and truth.

God does not want us to be an invisible believer who hides the beauty of Christ within under a basket of excuses. We let our light shine through the beautiful and attractive good works that come from Christ living in us. These good works are a revelation of God’s goodness and His glory. These good works come from the heart of God as He energizes, inspires, motivates, arouses, awakens, and stirs them within us. God is at the center of all these good works, and they bring glory and praise to His name. These good works reflect God’s divine character and show forth to the world the wonderful goodness, love, compassion, and mercy of our Heavenly Father. We are in the public relations department for God; we are ambassadors for the Lord Jesus Christ, and we are the divine representatives of God’s goodness upon the earth. We were created in Christ Jesus as poetic masterpieces to display His glory.

John Piper, in a Sermon entitled “God Created Us For His Glory,” elaborates on the truth that we are created to display the glory of God: 

Ever since Adam and Eve chose to eat of the forbidden

tree in order to be like God, independent of Him and

wise in their own right, the human race has been

enslaved to a rebellious heart that hates to rely on God

but loves to make a name for itself…Man was created

from the beginning in God’s image that he might image

forth God’s glory. He was multiply and fill the earth so

that the knowledge of the glory of God would cover the

sea. And ever since the fall of man into sin, people have

refused to align themselves with this divine goal. But all

of God’s acts have been aimed at seeing it through…He

created us for His glory…The glory of God is the beauty

and excellence of His manifold perfections. It is an

attempt to put into words what God is like in His

magnificence and purity. It refers to His infinite and

overflowing fullness of all that is good. The term might

focus on His different attributes from time to time-like

His power and wisdom and mercy and justice-because                           

each one is indeed awesome and beautiful in its magnitude                                             

and quality. But in general God’s glory is the perfect                           

harmony of all His attributes into one infinitely beautiful

and personable being…He created us to display His glory,

that is, His glory might be known and praised. This is the

goal of God that we must align our hearts and actions…  

We do not do good works to make a name for ourselves, or so that we get all the glory. Don’t we have enough of this in the “what have you done for me lately” generation?” We bring the light of God’s goodness to this age of selfishness where so many are out for their own fame and fortune. We are concerned that people see the true image of God through our lives. It is when we lose our lives in Him that we find the true meaning in life. Selfishness always leads to frustration, disappointment, and defeat as the prideful journey of self-exaltation leads nowhere.

David Needham, in Birthright: Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?, sets forth a beautiful illustration of our birthright as Christians:

Let me tell you about an object I keep in the top

drawer of my desk. I have used it so often over the

years as an illustration that it is not only badly

chipped, it has produced several holes in my pockets

from carrying it around. Its a small glass prism (my

humble substitute for a diamond). Without light, it

really isn’t much at all. But with sunlight, Oh!

Suddenly you see all the shades of the rainbow

dancing across the wall, splashing colors upon

whatever it touches. Who is a Christian? In terms

of deep, spiritual personhood, he or she is God’s

uniquely designed prism, his ultimate spiritual

masterpiece. Created clean as a flawless diamond,

progressively being faceted as a receiver, responder,

and displayer of the otherwise invisible glories of

the infinite God into limitless, visible colors-the

rainbow of his own attributes-so that all creation

may see GOD. That is wonderfully true! And it is

simply amazing. Our lives are the means by which

the invisible God becomes visible to a world that

will not see him any other way. Our inmost being,

the prism; our flesh, the wall upon which colors

are seen. Could there be any greater purpose, any

greater significance than being alive for this?

We are God’s spiritual masterpiece and His flawless diamond who display the beautiful, vibrant colors of our God to the world. We are the city on the hill whose light can be seen for great distances. We are shining stars in the dark sky and light-bearers to all those in need. What a treasured possession you are to God, as you help the world to see the majesty and splendor of your heavenly Father.

II Corinthians 3:18-4:6 (Phillips):

All of us who are Christians have no veils

on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the

glory of the Lord. We are transformed in

ever increasing splendour into his own

image, and this is the work of the Lord

who is the Spirit.

This is the ministry which God in his mercy

has given us and nothing can daunt us.

We have set our faces against all shameful

secret practices; we use no clever tricks,

no dishonest manipulation of the Word of

God. We speak the plain truth and so

commend ourselves to every man’s conscience

in the sight of God.

If our gospel is “veiled”, the veil must be in

the minds of those who are spiritually dying.

The god of this world has blinded the minds

of those who believe not, and prevents the light

of the glorious gospel of Christ, the image of

God, from shining on them.

For it is Christ Jesus as Lord whom we preach,

not ourselves; we are your servants for Jesus sake.

God, who first ordered light to shine in darkness,

has flooded our hearts with his light, so we can

enlighten men with the knowledge of the glory

of God, as we see it in the face of Jesus Christ. 

 God has flooded our hearts with his light, and we reflect like mirrors the glory of the Lord. But a wonderful transformation takes place each day of our lives, as we look to the Lord and to the written Word of God that reveals our true identity.  We are transformed more and more into the likeness of God’s glorious Son day by day and reflect more and more of His splendor and God’s wonderful glory. It is like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly. Day by day and moment by moment, we reflect more and more of the true image of God in our lives. God’s glory is reflected on our faces, in our words, in our actions, in our thoughts, and in the entire sphere of our lives.

We enlighten the minds of men and women to the knowledge of the glory of God through the face of Jesus Christ by holding forth the Word of Life and shining forth the glory of God through our good works. The devil, the god of this age, does everything in his power to stop the light from shining in the hearts and lives of spiritually dead people and accomplishes this through their unbelief. The devil even masquerades as a false angel of light to lead people away from the wonderful healing wholeness and salvation available in the glorious good news of Christ. But the devil has no power to extinguish or stop the light from setting people free and delivering all those who come to Christ and confess him as their Savior and Lord.

I Peter 2:9 (Amplified):

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a dedicated nation, God’s own purchased,

special people, that you may set forth the

wonderful deeds and display the virtues and

perfections of Him Who called you out of

darkness into His marvelous light.

 As God’s own purchased, special people in Christ, we have the distinguished purpose of setting forth and displaying the wonderful virtues, perfections, and qualities of our God. The words “set forth” in the Greek mean: to bring the word out, to proclaim everywhere, to give out intelligence, to tell forth, and to make widely known. In modern vernacular, it could mean “to advertise.” This word also has the idea of declaring things that are unknown. This is the only place where this Greek word is used in the entire New Testament, but it is used 10 times in the book of Psalms in the Septuagint(the Greek Translation of the Old Testament), where in each usage the psalmist is proclaiming the magnificent excellencies of God.

The Greek word for “virtues and perfections” means: any quality where one stands out as excellent; the ability to perform heroic deeds; the demonstration of virtue by excellence in life; living up to one’s potential, and fulfilling one’s purpose with excellence. It is a tapestry of excellence and courage and denotes the courage to excel in life. It is goodness in action that produces something excellent. 

God called us out of darkness into His marvelous light and earnestly desires for us to proclaim and make widely known to the world all of His excellent qualities, all of His powerful works, and all of His heroic deeds. God is the true hero of mankind. God has been absolutely heroic in His efforts to accomplish the redemption of mankind from the sin of Adam. God is the excellent one in all of His words and deeds. God has the courage of a mighty warrior, the strength of a thousand armies, the heart of a tender lover, the wisdom of a million minds, the righteousness of a thousand judges, the faithfulness of a  million shepherds, the holiness of ten thousand sacrifices, and the power of a million universes. Nothing in heaven or earth compares to the splendid majesty of God Almighty.

 We are to advertise to the world the glorious character of our God. This knowledge about the true goodness and nature of God is unknown or dimly seen by many people all over the earth. People see through a glass darkly when it comes to knowing the attributes and qualities of their Creator. We live in an age where it is often vital to national security to get accurate intelligence about a subject, nation, or movement. How much more important is it to have accurate intelligence about the Creator of the heavens and earth?  How much more important is it to know the true nature and character of God.  We are involved in the greatest advertising campaign ever! We are to advertise the truth about God’s goodness, which is the sum total of all of His excellent qualities, to every person who God brings across our paths.

We advertise to the world the glory of our God in two primary ways. The first way is to simply tell people about the wonderful qualities of God and the great things He has done. We hold forth the words of Life contained in the Bible; we proclaim the heroic deeds that God has accomplished in our lives and in the lives of others; we tell people about our wonderful Jesus and His victory at Calvary, and we share the awesome promises of deliverance and hope from the heart of God.  The Lord knew how important this advertisement campaign was and exhorted the Apostle Paul to speak the good news and not to be silent.

Acts 18:9 (NIV):

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in

a vision: Do not be afraid; keep on

speaking, do not be silent. For I am

with you, and no one is going to

attack and harm you because I have

many people in this city. So Paul

stayed for a year and a half, teaching

them the word of God. 

We must not be afraid; we cannot be silent. We must keep on speaking because God has many people in our cities and communities who desperately need to hear the gospel and heroic deeds and qualities of our awesome God.

The second way we advertise to the world the glory of our God is to live in such a way that people will be able to see the excellence and virtues of God in our lives. Our words, our actions, our thoughts, and our works should brilliantly reflect the marvelous qualities of our Heavenly Father and be stamped with His excellence. Good works that come from our living union with Jesus Christ shine forth his excellence and display to the world the good, loving, kind, merciful, tender, faithful, and caring nature of our God. We are a living advertisement of the glorious character, the fathomless love, and the tender mercies of the only true God. This is the dignity and special honor of the Christian life: that we can manifest to the world how great our God is and always will be. 

In our good works, we take on the character and excellent qualities of our God. It is not just a simple good work, but it is who we are, transformed by a living, vital union with our Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We are a witness to life as God intended it to be from the beginning. Our lives radiate joy, peace, patience, faith, goodness, kindness, love, and strength. We maybe the only Bible the world ever reads. We maybe the only Jesus the world ever sees. What a testimony we have! At one time we were held captive by the power of darkness, but God called us out of the darkness and gave us complete deliverance from all of the oppression, depression, fear, and hopelessness that dwell in that darkness. God Almighty called us into His marvelous light, and we became the light-bearers to the world.

The Greek word for “marvelous” means: wonderful, to look at with wonder and amazement, to marvel at, that which excites the feeling of wonder, extraordinary, striking, remarkable, and astonishing.” It is an awesome work or quality of the highest degree of excellence that causes great wonder, astonishment, and amazement. The marvelous light of God shows forth all of His brilliant and glorious attributes like the varied colors of the rainbow. We are children of light whose lives are a witness to the awesome and remarkable goodness and glory of God. Our good works should cause the world to marvel at our spectacular and marvelous God. The goodness of God is so awesome, so marvelous, so amazing, and so extraordinary that it takes your breath away. What a privilege to witness and advertise the goodness of God to the world.

Ephesians 5:8,9 (Revised English Bible):

Though you were once darkness, now

as Christians you are light. Prove yourselves

at home in the light.

For where light is, there is a harvest of

goodness, righteousness and truth.

(New American Bible):

For you were once darkness, but now you

are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

For light produces every kind of goodness,

righteousness and truth.

When we walk as children of the marvelous light of God we will produce a harvest that reflects God’s goodness, righteousness, and truth. We will make an incredible mark upon the world when our lives bear the fruit of walking as children of light. We will be a living testimony of God’s goodness, His righteousness, and His truth. Let us make a commitment to shine brightly and advertise all of the excellencies of God’s glory to every person we meet.  

We have another responsibility when it comes to good works that is often neglected. We are not only to excel in good works in the world, but we must never forget to excel in good works towards our Christian brothers and sisters. The history of Christianity is not a pretty sight. We have had inquisitions, crusades, witch trials, burning at the stake, excommunications, killings, great schisms, heretical charges, and wars between Christians. Christians have condemned, ostracized, criticized, ridiculed, harassed, abused, neglected, attacked, killed, reviled, and denounced each other with unrelenting passion throughout the ages.  Christians have so often specialized in hate, not love; condemnation, not forgiveness; pride, not humility; greed, not giving; hypocrisy, not truth; blame, not responsibility; impatience, not longsuffering, and bitterness, not kindness. We have been poor representatives of our Jesus, and broken displays that fail to shine forth  the characteristics of our loving Father. No wonder so many have not wanted to have anything to do with Christianity or Jesus Christ. How we have forgotten the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the words of the Apostle Paul to the church.

John 13:34,35 (The Message):

Let me give you a new command: Love

one another. In the same way I loved

you, you love one another.

This is how everyone will recognize that

you are my disciples-when they see the

love you have for one another. 

Verse 35 (New Living Translation):

Your love for one another will prove to

the world that you are my disciples.

Verses 34,35 (Wuest):

A commandment, a new one, I am giving

you, that you should be constantly loving

one another with a divine and self-sacrificial

love; even as I love you, you also be loving

one another.

In this all shall know that you are my disciples,

if you constantly have love among one another.

Galatians 6:9,10 (New Living Translation):

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.     

At just the right time we will reap a harvest of

blessing if we don’t give up.

Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity,

we should do good to everyone-especially to

those in the family of faith.

(Amplified):

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and

faint in acting nobly and right, for in due time

and at the appointed season we shall reap, if

we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.

So then, as occasion and opportunity open to us

let us do good [morally] to all people [not only

being useful or profitable to them, but also doing

what is good for their spiritual advantage]. Be

mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of

the household of faith [ those who belong to                                     

God’s family with you, the believers].

We are to love our Christian brothers with the same love that Jesus Christ loves us. The distinguishing mark of Christian disciples is the love that they constantly have among each other. Love is at the center of all of the good works that we are to be devoted to in the church. We diligently pursue to do good works to all people of any race, nation, gender, or creed, but we especially are to do good works to the household of faith. Why  have Christians been so cruel and hateful toward each other given the Lord’s commandment? Why do Christians bite and devour one another instead of loving one another? If we are shining as lights for God, if we are walking in intimate fellowship with him, if Jesus is living in us, if we are reflecting His glory, then we are going to be walking in great love.

The word for “love” in John 13 is agapao, the same word used for the love God has for us. Agapao means: a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object that causes one to prize it. It springs from an appreciation of the preciousness of an object and is a love of esteem for the value and worth of an object. It is a love of admiring affection. It is to love with wonder and admiration prizing the worth of the person loved. It means to cherish with reverence and to have an internal feeling of satisfaction, kindness, and regard for the beloved person of His affection.

We should cherish, respect, and value our Christian brothers and sisters. My, how we have fallen short of agapao love among us in the history of the Christian church. This agapao love is not dormant, but is active and is manifested by our good works that bless the Body of Christ. We are all members of His body, and the fullness of Christ fills each one of us. We are to especially have good works and words of tenderness, kindness, forgiveness, mercy, love, goodness, patience, faithfulness, and truth in our churches. We are so often too busy pointing the finger instead of extending a helping, compassionate, and understanding hand. God is at work in countless churches and numerous ministries that may be beyond our realm of Christian comfort or doctrine. Every single Christian on the face of the earth has something to contribute to the Body of Christ. God has a purpose, a dream, a vision, and a desire for greatness in the service of Christ for each born again believer. Every Christian believer is a poetic masterpiece in Christ, and God has magnificent good works ready to be energized if we will only walk forth spiritually in them in full partnership with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If we ever want to manifest the marvelous glory of God and His goodness in our works, we must learn to love and help each other in the church. 

God understands the challenge of a life dedicated to divine good works that reflect His character. The transformation of our lives into a representation of the living Christ is a growth process and has bumps, setbacks, and frustrations. Having Christ formed in our words, our thoughts, our actions and our lives, is a day by day growing process, like physical life when a newly born baby grows in time into a mature adult. Growing is an exciting process, but it is also can cause one to become weary and disenchanted by slow progress or development. It is easy to lose heart in developing a lifestyle of good works. We can grow weary and faint in the pursuit of the magnificent good works that God has specifically designed for us. This is often because we try to figure everything out, instead of just trusting God to change, transform, mold, and lead us into a life that is a glorious reflection of the heart and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ. We try to set our own timetables, and we have our own preconceived notions as to how God is supposed to work, what God is supposed to do, when God is supposed to do it, and how long it is going to take. We fail to realize that our times, our growth, our transformation, our fruit, our development, and our change are in His hands; we just need to trust and obey Him, and He will take care of the growth process. We must have childlike faith that God will work in our lives and energize within us the power, strength, ability and desire to live for Him and display His glory to the world through our words and deeds.

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The World has No Answer to Sin and Its Consequences to the Human Race, but God Does

Immediately after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, something cataclysmic happened. Everything changed. In a second, in a flash, Adam and Eve died spiritually and lost their spiritual connection with God. They lost the holy spirit of God within them. The nature of spiritual death replaced the nature of spiritual life. Sin poured into creation and corrupted the entire nature of Adam and Eve. Also by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, death infiltrated the human race. The seeds of physical death were planted in them, and their corrupted human nature would dominate them throughout their lives until they died. On that fateful day of disobedience, the dying process had begun, as Adam and Eve were mere mortals, embraced by sin and death. They were now free to make a world of their own choosing. They no longer could enjoy the intimate presence of God and the joy of close fellowship with Him. A curse settled in upon the earth and it still hangs over all the world like a dark cloud. Men and women became lost and alienated from the life of God.  Shame and guilt before God replaced love and confidence. Fear and uncertainty replaced peace and security. They lost God-consciousness and became self-conscious. They lost the spiritual power and ability to do good and gained the power to do evil, which was now inherent in their nature. They became  subjects in the devil’s kingdom and heirs to death, misery, pain, and affliction. The exercised power of darkness became a constant thorn and source of agitation in their lives. 

Genesis 3:7 also reveals the birth of religion, as Adam and Eve foolishly tried to cover their sin of disobedience by making coverings for themselves. They thought that by the works of their own hands, they could somehow justify themselves and earn the favor of God. Religion always focuses on man and his rules, regulations, and works to try to be God-like. Religion always drives people away from the heart of God and puts them in bondage and fear. Religion always misunderstands the goodness of God and his loving nature. Adam and Eve had died spiritually, and their entire nature was infused by sin. A mere covering of fig leaves was not going to solve the enormous dilemma that they had brought upon themselves. Adam could not restore his perfect relationship with God by a simple covering. This disaster could only be rectified by God Almighty and His glorious plan of redemption and wholeness. God’s goodness is the only place where the future salvation of a person could reside.

Genesis 3:8-10 (Amplified):

And they heard the sound of the Lord

God walking in the garden in the cool

of the day, and Adam and his wife hid                                        

themselves from the presence of the                                         –  

Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to Adam and

said to him, Where are you?

He said, I heard the sound of You walking

in the garden, and I was afraid because I

was naked; and I hid myself.      

God would appear in the garden in some physical form to fellowship with Adam and Eve. What intimacy! What closeness! What communion! What friendship they enjoyed, and what a privilege to have such an uninhibited, close relationship with God Almighty. But on this day, something tragic had happened and Adam and Eve’s entire nature and disposition toward God changed. There was now a separation and barrier between God and people, and guilt and shame dominated their mindset towards God. Instead of running into the presence of the Lord with confidence and great freedom, Adam and Eve hid from God in fear. They lost the spirit of God and had no vital and living connection with their Creator any longer. Adam and Eve no longer had the innocent trust and love for God where their hearts were pure and unrestricted in their full sharing of themselves with their Heavenly Father. Now their hearts were full of panic and dread, as they were afraid of God and terrified to come into His presence.

The word “hid” in the Hebrew means: to hide secretly, to withdraw from the sight of another, and to conceal oneself generally for the purpose of security.” The word “presence” is paniym, which we have studied before, and it means: to direct or set one’s face toward, and to be face to face in the presence of someone and everything that person represents.  At one time, Adam and Eve loved the intimacy of fellowship face to face with God. They loved His goodness, His blessing, and His caring heart. They thrilled to be in His presence and have a deep heart to heart sharing of everything they were and  hoped to be. Nothing was hidden from God. Nothing was held back in their fellowship and worship of Him. It was face to face, eye to eye, and heart to heart intimate communion. It was profound and satisfying, as they had a deep yearning to know their loving God. In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy and great goodness for those who love Him and put Him first in their life. Before God’s face is a peace that passes all understanding. As God wrapped His loving arms around His children, they had security and comfort.

So why would anyone want to run from the presence of God? Who would want to hide from such an awesome God? After Adam and Eve sinned and died spiritually, something happened on the inside of them. The mind and heart of Adam and Eve became full of fear and shame in the presence of God. There was an enmity and a turning of the human heart away from God and all the goodness He represents. The human heart became twisted because of the sin nature that had poured into it. Selfishness, self-interest, pride, and rebellion against God became part of their inborn nature. God no longer was a priority. Adam and Eve now wanted to hide and conceal their thoughts, desires, and purposes from God Almighty. They wanted to hide in secret from God and withdraw themselves from His sight. They thought they had some warped sense of security in separating themselves from their Creator and fleeing from everything true, just, loving, and good that God represents.

The voice of God brings goodness, justice, mercy, and righteousness. The voice of God always has the best interests of His children in mind. Yet Eve listened to the voice of the serpent and obeyed his word. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and followed her right into disobedience. The sound of God’s presence and voice no longer brought them comfort, security, and guidance. The voice of God made them tremble in fear because of their unbelief in the goodness of God and His Word.

Verse 8 is the first usage of “fear” in the Bible, and it is enlightening to see that fear always drives a person away from God and the truth of His Word.  Fear makes you hide from God and builds unbelief in the human heart. Fear drives a barrier in the human heart between God and man. Fear encases, binds, and enslaves a person in mind and heart. Fear keeps a person from walking in intimate fellowship with their Creator. Fear indicates a lack of trust in God and His Word.               

God’s first words after the Fall of Adam and Eve wonderfully reveal the heart of God and His goodness. He could have deserted Adam and Eve and turned His back on them. He could have given up on them because of their rebellion and disobedience. But God called to Adam, “Where are you?”  God was still seeking Adam, even in his sinful state and even after committing high treason against Him. What a God of love! What a God of mercy! What a God of goodness! Even in the midst of the ruin of God’s creation and the sentence of death on His children, God had a plan of restoration to bring men and women back to paradise. God came to the garden seeking fellowship with Adam and Eve, but because of their betrayal, He had to design and initiate His awesome plan of redemption. God deeply desired to rectify the enormous problem of sin because of Adam’s disobedience. The devil wanted to keep man forever in a state of death and destruction, unredeemed and crushed by the penalty of sin. God would not stand by and do nothing. God did not throw in the towel and say, “Kids, you are on your own now.” God would give hope even in man’s darkest hour, as He promised a Savior who would bring salvation, goodness, wholeness and righteousness back to the human race, and ultimately destroy the great enemy of God, the devil. The goodness of this legal plan of redemption is so great and magnificent that its riches and glory far surpass anything ever known in history. Truly it is the good news.

Genesis 3:11-13 (Amplified):

And He said,  Who told you that you

were naked? Have you eaten of the

tree of which I commanded you that

you should not eat?

And the man said, the woman whom 

You gave to be with me-she gave me                                          

fruit from the tree and I ate.

And the Lord said to the woman,

What is this you have done? And

the woman said, the serpent beguiled

(cheated, outwitted, and deceived) me,

and I ate.

Interwoven into the sinful nature of man is to play “the blame game” by failing to take responsibility for his actions. Adam pointed the finger at the woman, but ultimately blamed God because He gave him the woman. The first words uttered by man after the Fall blamed God for the evil that had befallen him. Man has been blaming God for evil ever since. Instead of recognizing His goodness and love, men and women have blamed God for all the problems in the world. God is portrayed as evil, and the human race is painted as good. Neither Adam nor Eve asked for forgiveness. Neither Adam nor Eve said they were sorry. Neither Adam nor Eve admitted they did anything wrong. Pride and exaltation of self above God became an inherent characteristic of the sin nature. The finger of accusation pointed to everyone but themselves. Adam and Eve gave God an excuse for their disobedience. Adam failed to speak God’s Word, failed to stand up for God’s Word, failed to teach God’s Word, failed to follow God’s Word, and failed to believe God’s Word. He decided to remain absolutely silent. Then he blamed God, implying that He should not have given him the woman in the first place. Adam blatantly told God that He was an accessory and partaker of this sin and just as responsible as Adam or Eve for all of its consequences. Just a little bit arrogant, don’t you think? There simply is no humility in the sin nature. Selfishness and pride rule the day in this corrupt nature of sin. Eve finally realized that she had been cheated, deceived, outwitted, and tricked by the serpent, yet again, she did not accept responsibility for her actions.

Job 31:33 (New American Standard):

Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,

By hiding my iniquity in my bosom.

Adam tried to cover his transgression and hide his iniquity from God. This verse sets forth the nature of Adam’s disobedience and two dominating characteristics of the sin nature inherited from Adam. The word “transgressions” in the Hebrew means: to rebel revolt or rise up in clear defiance of authority by violation of a law, command, or duty. The fundamental idea is a breach of relationship between two parties. It is a willful deviation and rebellion against God and His way or path. It is a stepping aside from the right path. It is to cross a line, challenging God’s boundaries. It is to refuse allegiance and duty to whom they are due. It is to knowingly refuse subjection to rightful authority. At the heart of this word “transgressions,” there is a real absence of love, respect, and honor towards the rightful authority. What insight this word gives us into Adam’s disobedience! Adam made a deliberate decision to rebel against God, His goodness, and His Word. He refused allegiance and dedication to God and knowingly revolted against His commandment. He stepped outside of the right and good path God had established in the Garden of Eden and crossed the line, challenging the boundaries of God’s Word. It was an assault on the goodness  of God’s character, blessings, and Word.  It was a fundamental breach of the loving relationship God had established with His children. Adam turned his back on His relationship with God.  At the heart of  the disobedience of Adam was a lack of belief that God really loved  him, and conversely, Adam showed a lack of a deep, heartfelt love and respect for His Creator. He was more concerned about his relationship with Eve than His relationship with God.

Adam tried to cover this transgression in the presence of God. The word “covered” in the Hebrew means “to conceal and to hide.” God saw Adam’s heart, and he could not hide his transgression from Him. Adam showed no respect for God’s authority and tried to conceal the rebellious purposes and desires of his heart from God Almighty. Adam tried to make his transgression look good by rationalizing his disobedience to God and then blaming God for the evil consequences. The sin nature seems to have a bent toward trying to make good look evil and evil look good.  Adam became a rebel against the goodness of God.

The second word used to describe Adam’s disobedience is “iniquity.”  This word in the Hebrew means: perversity, depravity, and crookedness, and comes from a verb meaning to bend or to twist. It is a twisting of the standard and deviating from it. It is to distort and twist God’s standard, deviating from His righteous design and purpose. It is rebellion from a twisted condition of the human heart. It is disobedience due to thinking and reasoning that is crooked or perverse. Adam had twisted God’s righteous standard and distorted the way of God. He deviated from God’s commandment by crooked reasoning, and his heart became twisted and turned away from God. Then Adam tried to conceal his iniquity in his heart from God. God saw right thorough Adam’s twisted logic and got to the heart of the matter. The sin nature specializes in twisted and distorted logic that deviates from the heart of God. The whole idea that God is not good and causes evil is twisted and distorted logic. God’s goodness is perfect, whole, pure, and without any distortion or evil deformities.

Deuteronomy sets forth in great simplicity what God wanted Adam and Eve to do yet they failed miserably.

Deuteronomy 13:4 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

You must follow the Lord your God and fear

(reverence, respect) Him. You must keep His

commands and listen to His voice; you must

worship Him and remain faithful to Him.                                       

John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart, describes the heart of God:

I am convinced beyond a doubt of this:

God wants to be loved. He wants to be a

priority to someone. How could we have

missed this? From cover to cover, from

beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart

is, “Why won’t you choose me?” It is

amazing to me how humble, how

vulnerable God is on this point.  “You

will…find me,” says the Lord, “when

you seek me with all your heart” (Jer.

29:13). In other words, “Look for me,

pursue me-I want you to pursue me.”

Amazing. As Tozer said,  “God wants

to be wanted.”

Adam and Eve failed to keep God’s commands and listen to His voice. They failed to remain faithful to God by putting Him first above all else. They failed to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They failed to choose God, and ultimately Adam and Eve did not want God. This is just heartrending. Tragically, as a result, sin and death entered into the human race.

Romans 5:12 (Amplified);

Therefore, as sin came into the world through

one man, and death as the result of sin, so

death spread to all men, [no one being able

to stop it or to escape its power] because all

men sinned.

New Living Translation:

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire

human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so

death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. 

Message Bible:

You know the story of how Adam landed us in

the dilemma we’re in, first sin, then death,

and no one exempt from either sin or death.

That sin disturbed relations with God in

everything and everyone…

Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also.

E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in Light of our Redemption, writes:

Sin has ruled as king in the realm of spiritual

death, where man lives under the cruel Emperor,

Satan. Every effort of man has to failed to eradicate

the power of sin. Education has failed. History

confesses that every single rise in civilization has

been accompanied by a decline in morals. War

has dominated in every period of the life of every

nation, destroying the youth and strength of humanity.

It has brought untold suffering to man. Its cruelty is

but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in

its destruction of man. Man has been unable to strike

at the root  and the cause of sin, sickness and death.

The law of disease has fastened itself upon the

human body, blighting and scourging humanity.

Death is the supreme problem that all men at all

periods have faced. It casts its shadow on upon

every happiness born in the sense of man. Man,

lying in the embrace of Satan, cries in agony against

this vain struggle which only ends in a hopeless

death and doom…He is born to die…Spiritual death,

the nature of Satan, is the soil out of which has

grown sin, sickness, physical death and every sorrow

that has darkened the life of God’s man.

Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children.  The human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God.  Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death.

The word “sin” in Romans 5:12 in the Greek means: to miss or fail to hit the mark, like when someone fails to hit the target with a bow and arrow; to fall short of any goal, purpose, or standard, and a failure or aberration from a prescribed law or duty. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, states that the word means “a falling and missing the true end and scope of our lives which is God.” Wuest, in Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, says it means “missing the divinely appointed goal, a deviation of what is pleasing to God, doing what is opposed to God’s will…a missing of the goal conformable to and fixed by God.” In A Critical Lexicon and Concordance of the English and Greek New Testament, Bullinger gives some great insight into the history of this word as:

A duct or canal by which water flows down to

any place… and which implies an evil influence…

in which it has the idea of turbidity and excitement,

muddy confusion in water, acetous fermentation

in wine, bitumen arising from hot natural springs,

collection of mud brought down by tumultuous

waters, bitter and brackish waters, etc…and then

is the defiling influence and bitter principle of

disturbance which has flowed down upon the

creation of God.  

God had a wonderful divinely appointed purpose for Adam and Eve and all their progeny when He blessed them in the Garden of Eden. He had a great plan of goodness for Adam and Eve and their children, desiring to bring them into the full accomplishment of His destiny for them. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin poured into their nature, causing them to miss the purpose and goal that God had designed for their lives. Their entire relationship with God was defiled and disturbed as bitterness, hostility, separation, and enmity against God flowed into their nature like raw sewage or muddy contaminated waters. Adam and Eve now had a sin nature that was against God and His will having the dominant characteristic of continuously missing the standard of God, like a reckless archer who can never hit the target. The affections, desires, motives, reasoning, and thoughts coming from the sin nature were in rebellion against God and His authority. The sin nature is inherently grounded in a hostility against walking with God, trusting God  and relying on God as its only sufficiency.  The heart and soul of the human race became polluted with the sin nature, which is twisted to an enmity toward all the things of God, all the goodness of God, and all the words of God.     

In Romans 5:12, “sin” is in the singular, and the word “the” is before the word “sin” in the Greek text. “The sin” does not describe the acts or deeds of sin, but the root cause: the totally depraved nature, or the basic active principal of sin.  PreceptAustin  gives us some valuable insight on their website:

What Paul is doing by using the phrase “The Sin

is to use this word not to describe the actions or

results of sin (sins [plural] which are committed)

but to describe the underlying root cause, the

basic principle or, in medical terms,…the

virus” that killed (first spiritually and then

physically) Adam and which has infected

all men for all men can trace their physical

lineage to Adam. Think of The Sin as analogous

to a highly contagious, 100% lethal virus which

every man, woman and child has contracted

because every person alive is related to Adam,

the first man, who himself was infected. Or

think of The Sin as analogous to an abnormal

“gene” which transmits a defective moral/ethical

“DNA code” to all of Adam’s offspring, this

defective code explaining why every individual

commits sins (plural)…The Sin is man’s Adamic

SIN(inherent) nature (that every baby inherits

from his spiritual father Adam) in distinction to

“SINS” one commits each day, these being a natural

outworking of the (inherent) SIN nature in every

man, woman and child. PERSONAL SINS then

are those sins we commit because we are by nature

SINNERS having inherited THE SIN “virus” that

entered the garden from our first spiritual “father”

Adam. 

Romans 5:12 declares that this sin nature, this deadly virus, this defective gene that directs a person’s life away from what is pleasing to God, entered into the world through  Adam’s  disobedience to God. The word “entered” in the Greek literally means: to come into and contains the force of distribution, meaning it made its way to each individual member of the human race.” The word is in the indicative mood, the mood of certainty, which states that the action is factual and certainly occurred.   The word “world” is kosmos in the Greek which in this verse means: the harmonious arrangement and order of God’s creation. It was the creation in perfect order and harmony before the entrance of sin. The word “spread” in the Greek means: to go or pass through; to send out in all directions like a highly contagious virus disseminating and spreading completely through an entire population.” Sin and death certainly spread to every member of the human race and ruined God’s original perfect order and harmony of His creation. No one had a pass; no one was exempt; no one was immune; we all inherent this sin nature from Adam. 

Romans 5:17 says that “death reigned,” and Romans 5:21 says that “sin reigned” over the whole human race. The word “reigned” means: to rule with the authority and power of a king, to possess regal authority to reign, and to exercise the highest influence and control. The human race was now subject to the rule of two great kings, namely sin and death. The power and authority of sin and death wreaked havoc and destruction on all peoples of the earth, and no one could break free of its rule nor escape its power.  They exercised kingly authority, not to liberate its subjects but to bring them into bondage.  People became slaves to sin and its consequences, as they desperately needed a deliverer who would conquer the twin kings of sin and death.

Before Adam fell into sin, he had a nature perfectly suited to bearing the image of God and representing His goodness. The sin nature was not part of our humanity as God had originally designed it. Adam was designed to represent His Maker, and God gave him a divine nature in which he shared some of the attributes and qualities of His Creator. Characteristics of God, such as love, joy, goodness, peace, kindness, faithfulness, and wisdom must have been abundant in Adam, as he was  a son of God and bore His image. He had every godly quality necessary for him to exercise his dominion upon the earth. There was nothing in his nature that caused him to act contrary to the will of God.

When Adam fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, this perfect image of God’s character that he represented was shattered into pieces. Sin was now mixed into this nature like a virus in the blood, and the image of God inside us was greatly dimmed. These great qualities that God had designed intrinsically in men and women became mixed with sin which obscured and obstructed their demonstration in the world. This sin nature is not an intrinsic part of who God designed you to be, but is a contamination and intrusion into our lives that caused physical and spiritual death. We still see great acts of compassion, courage, creativity, and kindness that exhibit that we were made in the image of God. However, qualities of selfishness, hatred, cruelty, lust, indifference, violence, and idolatry all flow out of this sin nature and obscure and suffocate these godly qualities.  The sin nature is very strong and dominates over the image of God, so no one has exhibited an ability to habitually be free of its impulses and characteristics. Man’s relationship with God was broken and separated by sin, which made it even more difficult to exhibit the qualities and attributes of God, our Creator.

The sin nature energized the thoughts, reason, will, and emotions, as Adam and Eve were living in a state of separation from God. The sin nature is absolutely rooted in selfishness and intrinsically pushes people to glorify themselves rather than God.  The sin nature drives one to habitually act and speak in a manner that satisfies its evil desires. Adam turned the image of God into an image of sinful man, as the world throughout all ages of history has not lived up to the image of God.   No one can break free of the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death, without the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be the liberator, the deliverer, the conqueror, and the Savior from the kings of sin and death and all their evil consequences.

The sin nature within us does not mean that God has not designed us for a wonderful purpose and given us qualities and talents that we can use to glorify Him. The dim image of God that comes forth at times is a reminder of man’s original destiny and purpose that had God had designed. Man and woman were meant for so much more than an enslaved obedience to the sin nature. We retain a shadow of the image of God in ourselves, but the primary nature is this fallen nature of Adam. The human nature has fallen, and the original image has been marred. Humans struggle with a nature that has been crippled by the loss and continued absence of a relationship with God. The sin nature, like a deadly disease, is lethal to life. The sin nature brings no meaning, purpose, goodness, or blessing to life. In Mark Cosgrove’s, Foundations of Christian Thought, he states:

The result of the Fall could be called, not selfishness

but self-centeredness…they (Adam and Eve) became

the center of their own experience or existence, rather

than God being the center of their lives…it is clear that

after the Fall they, and everyone born after them,

seemed bent inward on self and prone to selfishness.

Isolation and emptiness of soul…What the fall of

human nature into sin means practically speaking

is that while human beings are possesses with

great potential and desire from the image of God in

them, at the same time, they are incapable of

reaching this potential and happiness.

There is great emptiness of soul and meaningless in life without God.  Mankind has lost their true heart, their true destiny, and their true purpose. David Needham, in Birthright, Christian Do You Know Who You Are?, gives a vivid illustration of the emptiness and meaninglessness of the sin nature:

Try to imagine for a moment the entire human

race as though it were an art gallery full of

picture frames. Long, long halls. Billions of

picture frames-without any pictures! Empty

can you visualize it? Some of the frames are

very carefully carved. Some boast very delicate

gold leaf, others are rather gaudily painted. A

few are dirty, chipped. But every frame is

wrapped around-nothing-emptiness. Is it

possible the human race is seen in such a

way by God? An art gallery with no paintings!

Each human being was intended to frame an

inimitable, individual masterpiece of God’s

own reflected glory. But where God should

be, there is only emptiness, a bare patch of

wall. Since the frames are conscious, however,

the fact of emptiness is simply too devastating-

too self-destructive-to acknowledge. And so     

human kind becomes obsessed with the only                            

thing left to it: its own flesh. The frame. Life,

if it is to be found at all, must be found in each                                       

one’s own frame, and the frames around him.

So, ingeniously and carefully, man lights the                                                                      

gallery, carpets and air-conditions the halls,

creates all sorts of special displays, and

leads community crusades to clean up the

dirty and broken frames…No wait. It wasn’t

suppose to work out this way! We thought

all our inventions and progress would solve

the difficulties and…if only we had more

time. But the air is getting foul. Lights are

beginning to flicker. Sounds of confusion

are coming from every corner. And anyway-

there are no pictures. We all know that.

Emptiness. Everywhere emptiness. What

difference does it all make anyway? Oh,

the tragedy of Eden! Rejecting dependence

upon the will and character of God, Adam

and Eve rejected life! Looking for fullness,

they found instead a fathomless despair.

Even in some twisted sense they fulfilled

by sinning what they were-sinners-they still

were missing the destiny for which God had

created them. There one bridge to meaning,

their fundamental reason for existing, lay

collapsed in hopeless ruin before them. Man’s

essential nature was now “in the flesh.” And

the Bible says that “those who are in the flesh

cannot please God.”

So, by his very nature, man is a sinner.

Cut off from his Creator.

Cut off from any hope of meaning.

A rebel  trapped in futility

That is what sin is all about…

So it was, long ago in the Garden, human

beings forced upon themselves the task of self

fulfillment without any hope of success. Authentic

meaning, significance, and purpose lay always

beyond their grasp. It is this fact that underlies

the darkness of evil. This then, is sin-a tragedy

for human beings and an offense to God. Apart

from God’s intervening miracle of changing us,

there is no hope.

Emptiness, meaninglessness, hopelessness, and lifelessness became the destiny of the human race because of their rejection of God in the Garden. The beautiful, breathtaking picture and exquisite masterpiece that God desired for every person became broken, stained, marred, and shattered. The picture was lost and the frame was empty and without true meaning. A bare patch of wall with a blank piece of backboard now was the focal point of the frame. No vibrant colors, no living images, no spectacular scenes of beauty, and no inspiring reflections, but only an image of emptiness. Oh, if we would only listen and obey the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 44:22: (New International Reader’s Version):

I will sweep your sins away as if they were

a cloud. I will blow them away as if they

were the morning mist. Return to me.

Then I will set you free.

The sin nature will never bring meaning to life. It does not want a relationship with God, but desires to follow the course set by the god of this world. God had such goodness planned for the human race, but they turned their backs on Him and fell into ruin. John Eldridge, in Epic: The Story God is Telling and the Role that is Yours to Play, describes the human race after the Fall of Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin into the world: 

Something has gone wrong with the human

race, and we know it. Better said, something

has gone wrong within the human race.

It doesn’t take a theologian or a psychologist

to tell you that. Read a newspaper…Most

of the misery we suffer on this planet is

the fruit of the human heart gone bad. This

glorious treasure has been stained, marred,

infected. Sin enters the story and spreads

like a computer virus…Any honest person

knows this. We know we are not what we

were meant to be…Something has gone

wrong. We know that much. Whatever else

we know, whatever else our convictions

may be, we know that something has gone

terribly wrong with the world, with us, with

life. Haven’t you ever wondered , if only for

a moment, why life comes nowhere close to

the desires that are written in your heart?

Where are the beauty, intimacy and adventure?

Why can’t we make these things last? The poet

George Herbert declared, “I cried when I was                             

born and every day shows why.” Dear God-

what has happened to our world?

The human heart desperately cries out for the goodness of God.  Yet, it has become contaminated and hardened by sin and dull to the heartbeat of God. The relentless onslaught of the god of this world exercising dominion upon the earth has further driven the human heart away from its loving Creator. Tragically, some people live their entire lives without ever tasting and experiencing the goodness of God.

Job 21:25 (New American Standard):

While another dies with a bitter soul,

Never even tasting anything good.

(NIV) :

Another man dies in bitterness of soul,

never having enjoyed anything good.

(Moffatt Translation):

Another man dies, broken-hearted, and

never gets the good of life.

With the infusion of the sin nature, bitterness took root in the human heart. Most people live with bitterness dominating some portion of their heart and soul throughout their entire life. Bitterness breaks and cripples the human heart. The goodness of God melts away all bitterness of the soul and brings release, freedom, and deliverance from the oppression of bitterness. The devil wants your heart to be in a constant state of bitterness. New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies  explains that bitterness in the Hebrew means “to be bitter of soul is to be exasperated, angry, disgusted, uneasy, discontented, and exceedingly sorrowful.”  There is great anguish, fierce resentment, and heart-crushing despair at the center of bitterness. Without God, a person’s life becomes a story of bitterness and ravaging disappointment. God desires with every ounce of His being for you to taste and enjoy His goodness. What a travesty to live your entire life and never taste, never experience, and never enjoy the goodness of God. Every day another soul has died in great bitterness, broken by life, and completely alienated from the goodness of God. Only by the power of God and the healing redemption available in the Lord Jesus Christ will the bondage of bitterness be obliterated in a person’s life. Yet Adam set the pattern of the human race in turning away from God and trying to find meaning and purpose in life in our own vain and futile efforts.

Romans 3:12 (New Living Translation):

All have turned away; all have become                            

useless. No one does good, not a single

one.

(Wuest):

All turned aside; all to a man became

useless. There is not one who habitually

does goodness; there is not as much as

one.

The words “turned aside” in the Greek means: to turn aside or away from; to shun; to bend away from the right course; to steer clear of; to stay away from, and to avoid.  It was used to describe a soldier running the wrong way or deserting. The Greek word is in the active voice, which indicates that the turning away is a deliberate choice and not an accidental losing of their way. This sin nature of man drives a person away from the heart of God. All of us have at sometime deserted God and shunned Him. We all at some time made a deliberate choice to turn away from God and avoid Him at all costs. All of us at some time in our lives have rejected the goodness of God. It is simply amazing when one sees the goodness, faithfulness, and love of God, how anyone would ever want to turn away from Him. Yet the history of the world is largely a chronicle of  people turning their backs on their loving Creator and following their own destructive paths.

Every single member of the human race became useless without God. The word “useless” is an enlightening word as to the nature of man without God. In the Greek, it means: to be worthless; to be useless; to be unprofitable; to render unserviceable, and to be unfit for any useful purpose. The Hebrew word used in the same verse in Psalm 14:3 means: to go bad and to become sour like milk. When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was working at a fabric warehouse, and one day I noticed a refrigerator in the basement. I opened the door hoping there might be some food or drink, and there was a carton of milk sitting on the shelf. When I eagerly opened the carton, the most disgusting smell I had ever experienced filled my nostrils, and I became extremely nauseated. The milk had soured and was good for nothing. I could not even look at a glass of milk for months after that episode.

God vividly says that a person without God under the power and influence of the sin nature is like a carton of sour milk. Sour milk is worthless for any good use and cannot be used for its intended purpose. The highest and best the human race has to offer in society, government, academics, arts, and every other category amounts to nothing more than sour milk without God. Every life, every purpose, every idea, and every goal lived apart from the truth of God and His Word is wasted and worthless. 

How mankind has often exalted ourselves in great arrogance against God. The human race has throughout its history been flooded with countless examples of unbridled pride and conceit. I remember taking numerous classes in world history in college, and the pompous nature of so many people, kingdoms, and rulers is astounding. I wonder how they would react if they knew that God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and earth, thought they were no better than spoiled, rotten milk.  Without God, a person can never fulfill their true purpose and destiny, as their lives begin to rot and waste away.

Spurgeon, in the Treasury of David, says, “The fallen race of man, left to its own energy, has not produced a single lover of God or doer of holiness, nor will it ever do so. Grace must interpose or not one specimen of humanity will be found to follow after the good and true.” The contamination of the sin nature, along with the turning aside from God, turned Adam and Eve’s once glorious lives into sour milk that was putrid and offensive to the true purpose and will of God. Sin rendered men and women unfit for what God had intended for them. Like a piece of rotten fruit that had gone bad, the human race desperately needed a Savior and Redeemer to restore all that Adam had lost in the Garden of Eden.

The word “good” in the Greek means: goodness in its widest sense with the idea of usefulness; kindness; the goodness of God’s divine attributes showing itself in benevolence to man; moral goodness and integrity; genuine goodness and generosity of heart, and goodness expressed in action and deed. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, defines it as “ a beautiful word, as it is the expression of a beautiful grace…a grace of word and countenance, it is one pervading and penetrating the whole nature, mellowing there all which would have been harsh and austere…a goodness that has no edge, no sharpness in it.” The Tyndale Bible Dictionary defines it as “the state of being that includes the attributes of loving affection, sympathy, friendliness, patience, pleasantness, gentleness, and goodness. It is more volitional than emotional.” The word “do” in the Greek means: to make, form, produce or bring about the accomplishment of something.  As Wuest indicates in this verse, it is in the sense of a habitual doing or making, producing, forming, and building something on a habitual and continuous basis.

Not one single person on the earth after the Fall of Adam habitually produces works of goodness, kindness, integrity, graciousness, generosity, love, gentleness, and compassion out of a heart loyal to honoring and serving God. The sin nature of a man or woman cannot produce anything good that glorifies God. The sin nature is inherently harsh, unforgiving, cruel, selfish, deceitful, arrogant, evil, hateful, jealous, and immoral and produces these types of words and actions. The image of God reflects all the attributes of His goodness, love, tenderheartedness, gentleness, grace, and compassion. However, because the human race is now under the power and control of sin and living in a world controlled and dominated by the god of this world, the devil, no natural man or woman without Christ can do, make, build, and produce great works of goodness that bring glory and praise to God Almighty. There is not one ounce or drop of goodness in the sin nature that poured into the heart and soul of the human race because of Adam’s disobedience. If you live by the sin nature and under its control, you will never accomplish the good purpose and design that God wants for your life. It is like building your life on sinking sand. It is living a life of very little meaning or purpose, and it becomes an exercise of futility and disappointment.

Romans 7:18 (NIV):

I know nothing good lives in me,

that is, in my sinful nature. For I

have the desire to do what is good,

but I cannot carry it out.

New Living Translation:

I know I am rotten through and through

so far as my old sinful nature is concerned.

No matter which way I turn, I can’t make

myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.

Wuest:

For I positively know that there does not

dwell in me, that is, in my flesh, good; for

the being desirous is constantly with me;

but the doing of the good, not.

God’s goodness does not make its home in the sin nature. God’s goodness does not live or abide in the sin nature. God is not responsible for the sin nature or the fruit, deeds, and actions that proceed from it. No matter where the sin nature turns or what it does, it is absolutely impossible for it to produce works and deeds that reflect and demonstrate God’s goodness. The sin nature and God’s goodness are polar opposites. The sin nature produces words, deeds, and actions that are evil. I like the Wuest translation, which sounds like a modern, hip vernacular: “but the doing of the good, NOT.” The word “doing” in the Greek means: to labor, work or engage in activity involving considerable expenditure of effort to bring a result or end to successful completion; to work out fully and thoroughly; it represents the full and final bringing of an enterprise to a successful conclusion; to carry something out to its ultimate goal and to do, accomplish or perform something successfully. The sin nature, no matter how much effort is expended, cannot successfully bring about a work of God’s goodness as its accomplished goal.

The word “good”  (a different Greek word than in Romans 3) means: that which is inherently excellent or intrinsically good, beautiful, honorable, admirable or precious and provides some special or superior benefit. It is something morally excellent and worthy of recognition. It is the beautiful, noble and honorable impression made by good as it manifests itself. It is goodness that is visible to the eye and radiates beauty and harmonious perfection that is pleasing to God. It is goodness that is excellent in its nature and characteristics.  The sin nature through hard work cannot produce anything intrinsically good or beautiful that has any special or superior benefit to the kingdom of God.  Nothing morally excellent or worthy of recognition comes out of the sin nature of ah uman being. The fruit of our sin nature never benefits God or promotes His kingdom in any way, shape, or form. No matter how wise, or how rich, or how connected a person may be, they have no ability in this corrupt sin nature to accomplish anything that reflects the beauty, loveliness, honor, wholeness, and perfection of the goodness of God.

The heart and soul are lost and wounded in the wilderness of this world, battered by sin and in desperate need of God’s healing redemption. John Eldridge, in Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, describes the long and vicious war of sin and the waging spiritual battle for the human heart:

Its June 6, 1944..You are soldier on the third wave

at Omaha Beach. Thousands of men have gone

before you and now its your turn. As you jump out

of the Higgins boat and wade to the beach, you see

the bodies of soldiers everywhere-floating on the

water, tossing in the surf, lying on the beach.

Moving up the sand you encounter hundreds of

wounded men. Some are limping toward the bluffs

with you, looking for shelter. Others are barely

crawling. Snipers on the cliffs above continue to

take them out. Everywhere you look, there are pain

and brokenness. The damage is almost overwhelming…

this is one brutal war…But we do not think so closely

about life and I’m not sure why…Men (and women)

are being taken out right and left. Scattered across

the neighborhood lie the shattered lives of men and

women who have died at a soul-level from the wounds

they have taken. You’ve heard the expression, “he’s a

shell of a man?” They have lost heart. Many more

are alive but they are badly wounded. They are trying

to crawl forward, but are having an awful time getting

there lives together, they seem to be taking hits. You

know others who are already captives, languishing in

prisons of despair, addiction, idleness, or boredom.

The place looks like a battlefield, the Omaha beach

of the soul. And that is precisely what it is. We are

in the late stages of the long and vicious war against

the human heart…We were born into a world at war.

The battle for the human heart is fierce, as both God and the devil are at war for the soul of mankind. Even though the human race is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and all the consequences of sin poured into God’s creation, God promised a coming Redeemer who would crush the serpent and break the power and penalty of sin. He would be the victorious captain of our soul, and our triumphant general in the battle for the human heart.

Let’s return to Genesis 3 to see some additional truths concerning this battle of good and evil, the curse pronounced on the serpent, and God’s awesome promise of redemption.

Genesis 3:14 (KJV):

And the LORD God said unto the serpent,

Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed

above all cattle, and above every beast

(chayyah-living thing) of the field; upon

thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou

eat all the days of your life.

God reserved the harshest judgment and strongest curse for His archenemy, the devil, as revealed in verses 14 and 15. It was a proclamation of the death penalty; it was an announcement of his ultimate destruction, and it was a message that his future was doomed. Just when it appeared Satan had achieved a great victory, God boldly confronted him with a firm declaration of his annihilation. There was no discussion, no debate, and no question as sentence was at once pronounced. Satan did not get off the hook, but was cursed above every living thing upon the earth. The curse of God fell upon this evil fallen angel and will abide all the days of his existence until his final destruction, as described in the Book of Revelation.  Although Satan gained the authority and power over the world from Adam, every action in his evil kingdom has the curse of God hanging over it. His power is not unlimited; his kingdom will not abide forever, and there is a time limit to his exercise of authority over the earth.

The first part of his curse is that “upon thy belly thou shalt go.”  Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states this is a figure of speech referring to the devil and “implies utmost humiliation.” He elaborates:

This figure means infinitely more than the

literal belly of flesh and blood just as the words

“heel” and “head” do in verse 15. It paints for

the eyes of our mind the picture of Satan’s ultimate

humilation; for prostration was ever the most

eloquent sign of subjection. When it says “our

belly shall cleaveth unto the ground” (Psalm 44:25),

it denotes such a prolonged prostration and such a

depth of submission as could never be conveyed or

expressed in literal words.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on the The Serpent’s Sentence, says:

Note THE REMARKABLE PROSTRATION

which fell upon the serpent-”upon your belly

shall you go.” So does the serpent move and so

does evil labor to make progress. Satan moves

always as a fallen one-not with the dignity of

holiness, but groveling low. God has put upon

his every movement the indication that he is

no longer great and wise…The greatest potentate

of evil is doomed to cringe and crawl…All the

objects of the power of evil are groveling.        

There is no dignity in Satan’s kingdom. There is no uprightness in Satan’s schemes. He sneaks, grovels, cringes, and crawls, but suffers humiliation on a daily basis. He has to masquerade as an angel of light; he has to deceive, and he has to counterfeit the things of God, for he cannot stand in truth. Even though he is full of pride and arrogance, he must prostrate and be subject to the power of the Word of God. His authority and strength must bow to and coil back from the living Word of God and those who believe it. He cannot extinguish or snuff out the light of God. He cannot conquer those who trust God and believe His Word. Any victory of Satan is short lived when seen in the light of his daily failures and humiliation in his fight against God Almighty. But nothing compares to his ultimate humiliation and destruction right before the eyes of the entire world.  Ezekiel and Isaiah prophesied of this final devastating humiliation of the curse in Genesis 3:14, “upon they belly thou shalt go”:

Ezekiel 28:17-19 (English Standard Version):

Your heart was proud because of your

beauty; you corrupted your wisdom

for the sake of your splendor. I cast you

to the ground. I exposed you before kings,

to feast their eyes on you.

By the multitude of your iniquities, in the

unrighteousness of your trade you profaned

your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from

your midst; it consumed you, and I turned

you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all

who saw you.

All who know you among the peoples are

appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful

end and shall be no more forever.

Isaiah 14:15-20 (Christian Holman Standard):

But you will be brought down to Sheol

into the deepest regions of the Pit.

Those who see you will stare at you; they

will look closely at you; “Is this the man

who caused the earth to tremble, who shook

kingdoms,

who turned the world into a wilderness, who

trampled its cities and would not release the

prisoners to return home?”

All of the kings of the nations lie in splendor,

each in his own tomb.

But you are thrown out without a grave, like

a worthless branch, covered by those slain

with the sword and dumped into a rocky pit

like a trampled corpse.

You will not join them in burial, because you

destroyed your land and slaughtered your own

people. The offspring of evil doers will never be

remembered.  

The god of this world, the devil, who ruined Adam and Eve in the garden, who  contaminated God’s creation with sin, who turned the world into a wasteland of evil and trampled its cities, who made people prisoners in the bondage of his snare, who uses and destroys his followers, and who spreads fear throughout every age, will one day become like a worthless branch and a trampled corpse, as he is destroyed and reduced to ashes. This is the future of the serpent. He will enchant no more, fascinate no more, deceive no more, destroy no more, and oppose the goodness of God no more. This is the ultimate humiliation awaiting the great enemy of God and His people. This is the future of evil.       

The second part of the God’s curse on the devil is: “dust shalt thou eat all the days of your life.” E.W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

“Dust shalt thou eat”. This is not true to the letter,

or to fact but it is all the more true to truth. It

tells of constant continuous disappointment,

failure and  mortification: as when deceitful ways

are spoken feeding on deceitful food, which is

“sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth shall be

filled with gravel” (Prov. 20:17). This does not

mean literal “gravel” but something far more

disagreeable. It means disappointment so great

that it would gladly be exchanged for the literal

gravel. 

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon on The Serpent’s Sentence, says:

THE PERPETUAL DEGRADATION put upon

the serpent- “And dust shalt thou eat all the days

of your life.” Satan is now to live a defeated life,

for such is the force of expression. It signifies that

they are utterly defeated. So Satan, all his life,

exists as a conquered and chained enemy-his power

is broken and he knows it. He is defeated as to the

whole of his great scheme and he is to be defeated

in the details of it all the days of his life…Forever,

dust shall be the serpent’s meat, for what he gains

always disappoints him. He thought he had obtained

great advantage when he won the woman to –

disobedience-but he made a rod for his own back

since her Seed has become his Eternal Antagonist…

If Satan ever knows pleasure at all, it is of the foulest

and most unsatisfactory kind-dust is his meat. There

is nothing satisfying in the pleasures of rebellion. He

remains a disappointed, restless being. His whole cause,

for which he has labored these thousands of years with

horrible perseverance-his whole cause, I say-will

dissolve into dust and will be blown away as smoke!…

Everything that sin can bring you is just so much dust…

This is the misery of that great spirit who is called the

Prince of Darkness, that he must eat dust all his days.

Satan and his kingdom suffer bitter disappointment, frustration, and disillusionment on a daily basis. There is no joy or contentment in Satan’s kingdom. At every turn, at every corner, and at every path, the devil is constantly frustrated by God and His goodness. Evil always brings disappointment, as only the goodness of God can truly satisfy the heart and soul of a person. The best the devil has to offer is dust in your mouth, dust in your purposes, dust in your accomplishments, and dust in your life without God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan is constantly disturbed and aggravated because he cannot usurp God’s throne, cannot defeat God, cannot outsmart God, cannot overcome God, cannot overpower God, and cannot get away from the curse of God that permeates everything he does. The Evil One has a cloud of defeat and doom that hangs over all of his schemes and deceptions.

The next verse contains the greatest promise of the goodness of God in the Bible. When it seemed that all was lost and the devil had succeeded in ruining Adam and Eve, God promised a coming Savior, who will redeem mankind from the penalty of sin and  ultimately crush the devil into oblivion. This was a promise of hope, goodness, and salvation, as God would not leave the world helpless, but would give them His only begotten Son. What a God of love and goodness to promise this to His children who had just committed high treason against Him. God threw the glorious light of His Word right back at the serpent, as the coming redeemer would not only restore everything Adam and Eve lost in the garden, but utterly destroy the devil and all his works. This was the final death blow of the curse of God on the devil that was boldly pronounced in the garden. God heralded forth this good promise so every fallen angel, including the devil himself, would hear about His magnificent goodness and shudder about their ultimate defeat. 

Genesis 3:15 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible):

And enmity shall I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,-

He shall crush thy head, but thou shall crush

his heel.

This is a declaration of war! This verse sets forth the fulcrum point of all history and defines the ceaseless battle that has raged since Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden. This verse is the central theme of all scriptures, as the red thread of the coming Redeemer is interwoven into every book of the Old Testament. Its message is even written in the heavens, as each night the stars proclaim the sufferings and glorious triumph of Christ.

Who is the seed of the woman? In conception the seed comes from the male, but God’s Word clearly refers to the woman’s seed here. Seed implies birth, and this verse indicates a virgin birth of a man who would crush the arch-enemy of God. This man is the Savior, the Redeemer, the Liberator, the Messiah, the Second Adam, and the Conqueror over sin and death. This man is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Adam as a fallen man could not conquer death or sin, but was a slave to them. Adam or Eve could not of their own power crush and destroy the devil. Adam and Eve could not redeem themselves and pay the penalty of sin that hangs over the human race. They were in desperate need of the seed of the woman, the Redeemer, to free them from the curse of their disobedience. There was great hope in this promise of goodness.

God proclaims that the destiny of this seed of the women is to destroy the devil and all his works. God promises the destiny of the serpent is utter destruction at the hands of this man. The Second Adam will “crush the head of the serpent.” The word “crush” in the Hebrew means: to break or smite in pieces and to greatly injure or wound. E. W.

Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

When it is said (v.15), “He shall crush thy head,”

it means something more than a skull of bone, and

brain and hair. It means all Satan’s plans and plots,

policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed

and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the

purposes of God.

Charles Spurgeon continues in his sermon on The Serpent’s Sentence:

We now observe his FINAL DOOM…Here is the

end of the great conflict. Satan who heads the

powers of evil in the world, is to fight it out with

all his cunning and strength… but in the end the

Seed of the woman is to bruise his head…Hallelujah,

Hallelujah, He has cast the Prince of Darkness from

his high places…What can he do with a  broken

head? This bruise upon the head  of the Evil One is

a mortal stroke. If  he had been bruised upon the tail

or upon the neck he might have survived. But the

Lord shall utterly slay the kingdom of evil and crush

its power.

In this great battle, the serpent will inflict some temporary damage as he will “crush the heel” of the seed of the woman. E.W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, explains:

It cannot mean his literal heel of flesh and blood,

but suffering, more temporary in nature…The

bruising of Christ’s heel is the most eloquent and

impressive way of foretelling the most solemn

events; and to point out that the effort made by

Satan to evade his doom, then threatened, would

become the very means of insuring its

accomplishment; for it was through the death of

Christ that he who had the power of death would

be destroyed; and all Satan’s power and policy

brought to an end, and all his works destroyed…

What  literal words could portray these literal

facts so wonderfully as these expressive figures

of speech.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon The Serpent’s Sentence, expounds on this truth:

We see in the text THE LIMITED ACHIEVEMENT

of the old serpent. What will be accomplished by all

his schemes? “You shall bruise his heel.” That is

all…That bruised heel is painful enough…He was

betrayed, bound, accused, buffeted, scourged, spit

upon. He was nailed to the Cross. He hung there

in thirst and fever and darkness and desertion.

They pierced His hands and feet…Satan by death

death bruised the heel of the woman’s seed…but

when our Lord thought of the Resurrection, the

salvation of His chosen and the conquest of the

world, it seemed to him to be a light thing-”He

endured the Cross, despising the shame.”…Make

the best of it Satan, it does not come to much. All

that you are at your greatest is but a heel-nibbler

and nothing more.

This is the essence of the battle of good and evil throughout all history. The seed of the woman represents all of God’s goodness, and the serpent and his seed represent everything that is evil. The most intense war the world has ever known is about to begin. It is more fierce, more violent, more brutal, more ferocious, and more severe than all of the wars of human history combined. At the very root of this warfare is deep-seated enmity between good and evil, between God and His people and the serpent and his people, and between the Word of God and the word of Satan. This is a spiritual battle, an invisible war for the heart and soul of all peoples on Earth.

God states that there will be great enmity between the serpent and the second Adam, Christ. The word “enmity” in the Hebrew means: hatred and hostility with a desire to injure. There is no truce in this battle. There is no peace agreement. As long as Satan’s kingdom operates upon the earth, it will be opposed vigorously by Christ. Jesus Christ is the absolute pinnacle of God’s goodness, and he represents everything that is good in the heart and purposes of God.  Christ represents God’s goodness, mercy, grace, love, righteousness, justice, holiness, faithfulness, truth, life, and peace. Satan has great hostility to the goodness of God  and everything that Christ represents, as he tries to suppress the knowledge and understanding of God’s goodness in the hearts and minds of people. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about how good God is and the great salvation and deliverance available through Jesus Christ. He fervently desires to injure, hurt, destroy, harm, wound, impair, mar, impede, obstruct, hinder, frustrate, and discourage God’s people, God’s Word and  God’s purposes. He does everything he can to turn people away from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan has  raging hostility toward the second Adam, for he knows that his head will be crushed by him. This is a fatal blow from which there is no recovery. Once a serpent’s head is crushed, he cannot inject his poison into the world anymore or operate his schemes and deceptions on all mankind. The devil knew that there was a genealogical Christ line that would pass through Eve, as the seed of the woman would  have to be born. Later, the Word of God was more specific that this Christ line would pass through Abraham and King David. The entire Old Testament is a record of the fierce attempts of the devil to wipe out the Christ line, and prevent Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, from ever being born. It is a record of God’s magnificent works and actions that repeatedly delivered the Christ line from extinction. Sometimes the survival of the Christ line rested on the faith of one individual like Noah, Joseph, Abraham, and Esther. Read the Old Testament with this truth in mind, and the Word of God will come alive in new and wonderful ways.

There is not enough space in this book to go into detail of the countless schemes and plots of the devil to destroy this Christ line, and God’s miraculous protection of it. The salvation and redemption of the human race depended on the preservation of the Christ line.  The devil started with the murder of Abel and was absolutely relentless to try to destroy the Seed of the woman who would utterly crush and defeat him. He was not going to go out without a vicious and violent battle where he marshaled all his evil forces to bring about the destruction of the Christ line. The devil even tried to genetically corrupt the entire human race with nephilim, or giants of wickedness, (see Genesis 6) so that the Christ line could never come. This was a serious all out attack on the human race to prevent the coming of the Redeemer.  The devil also tried floods, famines, warfare, idolatry, politics, religion, people, philosophies, and countless schemes throughout the Old Testament to destroy the true knowledge of God, and obliterate the genealogical line from which Christ would be born. But Satan was foiled again and again. He even tried to devour the infant Jesus through Herod’s decree of death, but God was always one step ahead of the devil in the preservation of His promise of the Seed of the woman.

The book of Romans sets forth the importance of this one man, the second Adam, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race for all who believe.

Romans 5:15,17,18 (Amplified Bible):

But God’s free gift is not all to be compared

to the trespass [His grace is out of all

proportion to the fall of man]. For if many

died through one man’s falling away (his

lapse, his offense), much more profusely

did God’s grace and the free gift that comes

through the undeserved favor of the one

Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to

and for the benefit of many.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse,

offense) death reigned through that one,

much more surely will those who receive

God’s overflowing grace (unmerited favor)

and the free gift of righteousness [putting

them into right standing with Himself] reign

as kings in life through the one Man Jesus

Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One.)

Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s

false step and falling away led] to condemnation

for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness                                           

leads to acquittal and right standing with God

and life for all men.

God revealed His ultimate plan of grace with the Seed of the woman, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who by His death and resurrection made available the free gift of righteousness leading to acquittal from the penalty of sin and right standing again with God.  The court of God legally pronounces the declaration of acquittal when a man or woman confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and believes God raised Jesus from the dead. Sin and death reign in this world because of Adam’s one act of disobedience, but now through the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice, we can reign as kings in this life and the one to come.

Ray Pritchard in his Commentary on Romans explains:

Death reigned. That’s our heritage from Adam.

Death reigns on the earth because of Adam’s

sin…Ah, but that’s only part of the story. There

is a way out. There is a way to reverse what

Adam did…It comes, Paul says to those who

receive God’s abundant provision of grace and

the gift of righteousness…But notice the result

of receiving the gift of righteousness. Those

who receive this free gift now reign in life.

On one hand, death reigns; on the other hand,

those who know Jesus Christ as Savior reign

as kings right now, in this life and in the life

to come. We live in dying world, but in this

realm of death, we may through Jesus Christ

reign as kings. And in the life to come, we

shall reign forever, rising from the dead,

clothed with immortality. Only God could

take a slave and transform him into a king.

But that is what God has done through Jesus

Christ. So what Jesus did is far greater than

what Adam did. Greater in its nature. Greater

in its power. Greater in its effect.

The goodness of God has its ultimate triumph in the Lord Jesus Christ. Evil has its sentence of doom and ultimate destruction in the Lord Jesus Christ. What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent, so awesome and so astounding, that it permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important event in all of human history, because he broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He regained everything that Adam and Eve had lost on that tragic day in the Garden of Eden and so much more. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin.  We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. We can walk in great power, wreaking havoc in Satan’s kingdom on the earth as we touch people with the great healing love and wholeness available in Jesus Christ.  You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ. 

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eight Words That Change Everything

In the book of Acts, we read of Saul, a man who had a definitive objective in life. He thought he understood what truth was, so he set out to persecute the Church of Jesus Christ. Yet, as he was on the road to Damascus one day, a blinding light from heaven suddenly caused him to be thrown to the ground. The Scripture tells us that he was blind for three days (see Acts 9:3, 9). Everything he thought he was, all that he was attempting to do, every purpose he thought he had in life suddenly came to an end.

It may feel the same way for you today. Perhaps you thought you knew what your life was going to be. But whether gradually or suddenly, like Saul—who, as we know, became the apostle Paul—you have come to an end. You can no longer see a way forward.

Paul, trembling and astonished, had an encounter with the Son of the living God. The first thing he prayed in response was a prayer that I believe everyone who wants a living relationship with God must pray. He spoke eight words that changed everything, not just for him, but for millions of people around the world.

IT STARTS WITH “LORD”

The first word of his prayer was simply, “Lord.” In Luke 6:46, Jesus said to the religious leaders of the day, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Yet when Paul called Him “Lord,” he meant it. It was a confession that he was no longer in charge; there was a new boss in his life. Paul understood that he was called to lay down his plans and everything he thought his life was going to amount to.

I believe that part of the reason many Christians in this generation are so powerless is because they have never truly come to that place of surrender, saying, “God, You are Lord of my life now. Your Word is supreme. Your thoughts are above my thoughts; Your ways are above my ways. If Your Word says it is wrong, it is wrong—even though I might think it is right. I am not going to be among those who call You ‘Lord, Lord’ but do not do the things which You say. I yield the rights to my life.”

A DIVINE PURPOSE

The next words that Paul said in his prayer were, “What do You want me” (Acts 9:6). This implies that God not only had the right to his life, but He had a divine purpose for his life. The will of God is not always pleasant. We often want to craft some pleasant thing in our heart and bring it to God, saying, “Okay, here is Your will for my life; obviously You are going to agree with this.” Yet Jesus Himself said in Matthew 26:39, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as You will.”

Remember, God does not want your plans; He does not need your strength. Imagine this formerly enraged man called Saul hauling Christians out of their homes and torturing them to the point of blaspheming God just to get out of the pain. When Stephen, a precious young servant of God, was martyred, Paul was there holding the coats of the witnesses, consenting to his death (see Acts 7:58). No doubt Saul was a man full of ideas. His whole life had been governed by his own zealous agenda. But now he had come to the point of saying, “Lord, what do You want? You have a divine purpose for my life.”

We must understand that the divine purpose of God for our life is far beyond our thinking. He says in Jeremiah, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). In other words, “I am thinking thoughts about you that you have not even considered yet. I am able to do more for you and through your life than you can even ask or think.” In the natural, we are confined in our minds by our past experiences, by the depths of our struggles, by the parameters of what other people have said about us. But the Holy Spirit, who comes to live inside of you when you yield to the Lord, is not confined by these things. He is the God of the universe, and He can do things that you cannot even imagine!

We see in the Bible that the last two words of Paul’s prayer were, “to do,” making the full statement, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6). In other words, He is the Lord of my life with a divine purpose for my life, and now His plan requires my active cooperation. God starts to open doors, and we are simply required to walk through them. Remember Jesus said to the Church of Philadelphia, “See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8). The open door is set there by God. All He requires now is our cooperation—our willingness to go where we have never gone, to do what we know we cannot do without Him, to speak even though we do not know what is going to come out of our mouth, to be put in uncomfortable places.

Consider Paul going from enraged persecutor of the Church to suddenly finding himself in the midst of followers of Jesus Christ—looking for acceptance and trying to convince the disciples that he was no longer against them. It must have been incredibly uncomfortable for him. Yet we know that from that initial prayer, God did things through his life that you and I are still talking about two thousand years later!

SMALL BEGINNINGS

When Paul prayed, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” we might expect God to have replied, “Paul, I want you to get up and start writing the Scriptures. I want you to go out and establish churches.” You see, you and I always want the whole package—the full answer. But God’s first answer to Paul’s prayer was simply, “Arise and go into the city” (Acts 9:6). That was all God told him! Although we want the entire pathway laid out before us, God says, “No, just take the first step. Just do the first thing.” He does not lay it all out before us, because He knows that we would not be able to handle it. If, within the first few weeks of my salvation, Jesus had told me the plan He had for me, I think I would have collapsed on the sidewalk! I had a lot of struggles in my life at the time. I was not yet free from fear and could not speak publicly, so everything He would have laid out before me would have seemed like an absolute impossibility. So in His mercy and His gentleness, God just tells us to do the first thing first.

Remember, do not despise the day of small beginnings. Do not regard that initial answer to your prayer as nothing. Perhaps God will tell you to just get up and open your Bible. Maybe He will tell you to go to the pantry and pour that bottle of liquor down the sink or flush those drugs down the toilet. Maybe He will tell you to get a word and speak it to the heart of your wayward son or daughter. Whether they scoff or scorn or curse you out, just go through that first door by faith.

A FAR-REACHING MINISTRY

In Paul’s case, after he was told to go into the city, the second answer that came to him was when God sent a man called Ananias to lay hands on Paul so that he would receive his sight back. The Lord said to Ananias, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). So Ananias obeyed God, went to Paul, and essentially said, “God sent me here, and this is what He told me about you: Your ministry is going to be greater than anything you could ever imagine it to be. But it is not big to God, it is just big to you. God is going to use you because you have chosen to obey. However there is a caveat that comes with it—“For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:16).

In other words, “Yes, your ministry is going to be far-reaching, but it is not going to be easy.” Likewise, I believe there is going to be hardship ahead for many who choose to stand for Christ today. They will go on to have a widespread ministry, but it will be costly. Nevertheless, we know that our generation desperately needs the Church to begin to walk in all that God has ordained for us.

My prayer is that God will give each of us the grace and willingness to say the words, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Remember, Paul did not start by saying, “Lord, I have a hundred ideas about how to advance Your kingdom. I have a strategy.” He came in surrender to the Lord’s plans.

Don’t forget that God’s plan for your life is so much bigger than even the best one you can imagine for yourself. It simply starts with the desire to get up and then wait until the Lord speaks to you. If you will follow the leading of His voice, though it will not be easy, you will impact your known world—starting in your own home. In fact, your ministry could change the trajectory of your entire family; it could have a lasting impact at your workplace, within your community, and beyond. If God can simply find an obedient heart, it is amazing what He can do!

By Carter Conlan

http://sermons.tsc.nyc/eight-words-that-change-everything/newsletter/english/

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment