This is a sermon by Paul Washer delivered on June 27, 2019
God is perfect in his nature. God is perfect in all his works. God is perfect in His will. And because of that you and I should strive to know His will and to obey His will. But this is an impossibility unless we dedicate ourselves to the study of God’s Word. One of the greatest reasons for spiritual weakness among God’s people is the neglect of the study of the Word of God. That is all there is it to it. It is true.
Even those who attend church regularly, even those who would pretend to be very spiritual, and involved in many Christian things, they do not know what God’s Word says. They may give themselves to all kinds of so called “spiritual duties” and they may put great emphasis on worship and spiritual gifts and the power of the Holy Spirit and yet they really do not know what the Word of God teaches.
Some of this can also be said about those who preach the Word of God. That ministers have become so busy, so full of programs and committees and meetings, so busy planning activities, that they look more like business men then men of God. Survey after survey tells us that many pastors spend less than a few minutes a day in the Bible. And oftentimes the sermons are not based upon a true exposition of Scripture.
But the preachers of old were very different than this. Let me give you an example. Alexander MacLaren, considered to be one of the great preachers of England, he was known to spend 60 hours preparing one sermon, 60 hours of study and prayer. It is quite common for men to spend 20-30 hours on a sermon, seeking to understand the Scriptures and seeking the power of God in prayer. But look at us today. It is all about noise. It is all about activity. It is all about special meetings. But how many people are devoted to the study of God’s Word?
What we are going to look at this hour is our need to respond correctly to God’s will. Our need to know God’s will thru the study of the Word of God. Now look at Psalms Chapter 1, verses 1 thru 3.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NASB):
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Let’s begin in verse 1. How blessed is the man, who number one, does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, number two, does not stand in the path of sinners, and number 3, does not sit in the seat of the scoffers. Now when we study the Old Testament, we must understand the way that Hebrew language works. There is something called a Hebrew parallelism. We see it throughout the book of Psalms and the book of Proverbs. A statement is made and then it is made again. The second statement may be a little different than the first, but it is saying the same thing, but with greater emphasis.
For a man to be blessed-and what does it mean to be blessed? Does it mean nice cars and big houses? No. When the Bible talks about a man being blessed, it talks about him being in God’s favor. He is reconciled to God and he enjoys God’s presence. I think a lot of people today, who claim to be Christians, would rather have material prosperity than God. And I think a lot of preachers are the same way. Why should we care about these little things, when the great thing is God’s favor, God’s presence, God’s life flowing thru us.
Now to be a blessed man, what must be done? Well first of all one must be reconciled to God. And how does that happen? Thru our works? Thru our church? Thru our activity? Absolutely not! It happens only one way, not thru a work we have done, but thru a work that God has done thru His Son Jesus Christ. We are reconciled to God only thru Christ’s death on Calvary. Jesus Christ lived the perfect life we could not live. He went to the cross and on that cross our sins were imputed to him. He bore our guilt and all the judgment of God that should fall upon us, it fell upon him. He was punished in our place for our sin. And with his death he paid the price. On the third day he rose again from the dead, 40 days later he ascended in heaven where he sat down on the right hand of God.
How might we be reconciled? By trusting in Him, by relying upon Him, by faith in His person and works on our behalf. If I died right now, I would go to heaven for one reason, 2000 years Jesus Christ died for this sinner. I hope in nothing else. Nothing else. If you trust in Jesus plus something else to get you to heaven, you are not trusting Christ. Everything that we would add would only pervert His work.
There was this farmer and he kept trying to witness to this carpenter. He was a master carpenter. The carpenter found it hard to believe that salvation was thru Christ alone. He thought he had to do something to add to Christ’s work in order to be saved. And so the farmer was thinking ‘how can I show him?’ So the farmer called the carpenter one day and told him I want you to build me a beautiful door. Your best wood; your best design; I want it to be beautiful. So the carpenter goes away. He spends weeks on the door. Weeks. He makes his best door with his best material with the most beautiful best design and he brings it to the farmer. He hangs it up on the door post. There it was; absolutely beautiful. So the farmer when he looks at the door, he doesn’t say anything; but he just walks away. He goes to his tool shed where he has all his tools and he comes back with a big ax and the carpenter says what are you doing? He said there are a few things I want to add to the door that you made. He starts cutting it with this big rough ax. It is utterly destroyed. The carpenter said you took my beautiful work and you destroyed it! The farmer said that is exactly what you are doing to Christ. Christ’s work on Calvary is perfect, but you think you need Christ plus your good works. Your good works do not add to what Christ has done, they pervert it and deform it.
We are saved by Christ alone. Therefore there is no boasting and yet those who have been saved, who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, they will be transformed by the saving power of Christ, and they will begin to walk in a newness of life. Works do not result in our salvation. Works flow out of the salvation that Christ has worked in our life. When a person becomes a child of God, he will want to do the will of God. He will want to walk in the blessing of God, which again is not referring to some material prosperity. It is the experience of God’s presence and power.
Now how as believers can we walk that way? Let’s go back to our verse. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers.” In order to walk in God’s favor, we must walk with God. But there is also the idea of separation. We must not walk in the counsel of the wicked. We must not walk according to their opinion. But how can we know that their counsel is wicked? Only if we have renewed our mind in the Word of God.
As a baby you were not born with discernment. As a newborn infant in Christ you were not born with discernment. You must grow in discernment by training your mind. We must not walk in the counsel of the wicked. We must not stand in the path of sinners. How can we know how to walk? How can we know what path to choose? Today Christians are hurting themselves and they are hurting the testimony of the church. Because like in the book of Judges they are doing what is right in their on eyes. And they cannot choose the path. But what did David say? His Word, God’s Word is like a lamp unto his feet and a light to his path.
Imagine that you were at a back of a room. On the other side of the room was a door. You need to leave that room because it is on fire. It is easy. You just run thru the door. But what if someone planted a minefield in that room so that if you stepped in the wrong place, you would be blown to pieces? Now what do you do? If you don’t leave, you are going to burn up. But if you try to leave, more than likely you will step on a bomb and blow up. There is no way out unless someone gives you a map that shows you where to walk and where not to walk.
That is a helpful illustration in regard to the Christian life. But we cannot remain paralyzed with fear. We must live in this world, but we must learn to walk. How? God’s Word. It is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. David said in Psalm 119 that it made him wiser than his own teachers. We do not stand in the path of sinners nor sit in the seat of scoffers. People who are always scoffing. Always mocking. Always doubting. Always criticizing. Always against the will of God. How can we avoid this? How can we be filled with faith? How can we have great hope? How can we walk in simplicity? Believing God without grumbling? Again there is only one way. The Word of God. The Word of God.
Isn’t it amazing we will acknowledge the Bible is the Word of God and yet leave it upon the shelf to gather dust. When I would read old preachers, they would talk about people that would rather read novels than the Word of God. But then that changed. People that would rather watch television than read the Word of God. Then that changed. People that would rather surf the internet than read the Word of God. And play unrealistic video games rather than the Word of God. Not that some of those things are bad in themselves. But if you do that, more than you study God’s Word, what are you saying? Its horrible and you will be called on the day of judgment to give an answer for that. Constantly connected to the internet. There is hardly anybody connected to God. You want news of what everyone is doing so now you cannot even discern what God is doing. You should turn from it. It is wrong.
So you say, ‘so you believe the internet is bad?’ Not anymore than I believe food is bad. Food is not a sin, but gluttony is. The internet is neutral. I challenge you. Take the last week and write out how many hours you have been on the internet; how many hours have you been on TV; how many hours games; how many hours tweeting friends; and texting. And how many hours in the Word of God. You should not be laughing, but you should be crying right now. You should be weeping. That you love a little phone more than you love Jesus Christ. Really? I don’t want to hurt you, but it is a word you need to hear. We cannot even disconnect anymore. It is almost like all the Christians are obeying John 15 where Jesus says, I am the vine and you are the branches. But we have gotten confused. It should be written, the internet is the vine and we are the branches. Brothers this is wrong. What will be the next thing to come down the line that will make us even further away from God?
Now in verse 2: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law he meditates day and night.” Look at this. I think I can keep using the internet and all of this as an example. I have seen literally people, they shake until they can get to their phone. They got to find out what’s going on. It’s the last thing they do before they go to bed. It’s the first they do when get up. If only this was the Word of God. How strong we would be! How pitiful we have become! Like addicts.
But he says the godly man delights in the law of the Lord. He wants to know what has God said. He delights to hear it. He even delights in it when it rebukes him. Because he know that God is speaking to Him. Which means God has not given up on him. We delight in it. Delight in the law of the Lord. Do you? Do you? You can play with me all day long, but don’t do that with God. Does your life demonstrate that you delight in the law of the Lord?
What Scripture are you meditating upon? What are you trying to understand? What verse are you trying to incorporate into your life? When was last time you mourned because God struck your life thru some text in Scripture. The godly man, the godly woman delights in the law of the Lord. How do we know he delights in it? Is it because he tells us? How can we know he is really delighting in the law of God? It says in his law he meditates day and night.
Remember what we learned from Romans 12. Renewing our mind in the Word of God so we begin to think like Christ instead of think like the world. Do you do this? Yes or no? Do you do this? Meditate in the law of God day and night? Please do not think this is something super spiritual that has no application. It is what everyone is supposed to do. And it how success comes to men doing the will of God.
Look at Joshua chapter 1. Moses has died. The great leader of Israel has died, and Joshua has taken his place. He is take them into the Promised Land. Now Israel was a large nation. But it was nothing compared to the nations that were in the Promised Land. They were giants. They had fortresses. And Joshua is to take a group of people into that and to fight against all these enemies. We’re not talking about just some little preacher. We are talking about a warrior who has to go in and fight in some of the most bloodiest battles ever recorded.
Look at verse 2 of chapter. This is God speaking “Moses by servant is dead!” Joshua you no longer have your spiritual father. You are alone. Now arise, stand up, and go cross the Jordan! You have any idea of what that was like. You are alone. Now get up and cross the river and go fight all those people and then he gives him a promise in verse 3. “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses.” Look at verse 5: “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life.” He has given him great promises. He gave him an impossible command to fulfill. Cross the river and fight those people. But then he gave him a great promises. Then another great promise: No one will be able to stand against you”
Now when Joshua looked at his army and he looked at that army, He had two choices. Believe what his eyes could see or believe what God has promised. God had promised him. But then Joshua does not only have to believe, he has to act.
Look what God commands him. Verse 6: “Be strong and courageous” Then look at verse 7: Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.” He was going to fight a real military battle. But upon what did his success depend? Doing everything that God said in His law. It didn’t depend on how many soldiers Joshua had. It didn’t depend on how big the army was. Or how big the enemy was. It depended upon knowing the will of God and obeying it.
Look what he says in verse 8: This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night (why should he 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.
Why did he meditate upon it? It is the only way to obey it. James warns us-don’t you look at the law of God, and then turn away and forget what you heard. Because it is not those who simply know or read, or study the Word of God, but those who do it.
So back to Psalms it says “his delight is in the law of the Lord and he meditates upon it day and night.” There is a good illustration of this that comes from the farm. I do not know if you know this, but cows have four stomachs. They do. They bite a piece of grass, they chew it, and they swallow it. Then do you know else happens? They regurgitate it again and they chew it, and they swallow it, and they do it again. They are getting every bit of vitamins and nutrients out of that grass.
That is the same way with the Word of God. We feed upon it; we go over it and over it and over it until it starts truly speaking to us. God honors those who meditate upon His law and will stay there day and night until they hear from God. Oh dear brothers and sisters in Christ we should be this way. We must be this way.
Now what will this man be like? Now first of all he will be like a tree. When God wants to talk about something that is not lasting, He will talk about grass and dew and clouds and vapor and smoke. When God wants to talk about something permanent, He talks about mountains, and rocks and trees. When He wants to talk about something strong, He talks about a tree. And we have this idea of a believer who is strong, who is solid, who is not going to move. He is there. He has his roots dug deep into Christ and into Christ’s word. Here there is this idea of spiritual strength. But there is also here the idea of life. Not just strength, but life. Spiritual life. He is not a tree planted firmly in the desert. But he is a tree planted firmly right beside the water. His roots go down into Christ, down into Christ’s word and He is filled with the Holy Spirit. He is filled with spiritual life. And out of that what happens? He yields fruit. He bears fruit. In his character, he grows, although it may be slow, he is growing. And in his ministry, there’s life, there’s growth.
You know one of the reasons why churches are so filled with activities and programs and gimmicks and entertainment is because there is no spiritual life. The pastors are not studying hours a day the Word of God. They are not in prayer. The leaders around them are not. And so there is no spiritual life. So they have to create a circus atmosphere so that things will happen. That is not the man of God. He bears fruit not because he is running around like a businessman. Not because he is in committee meetings all the time. But because he has dug his roots deeply in the Word of God and prayer. He yields fruit it its season and its leaf does not wither. Its eternal fruit. Its enduring fruit.
And it says in whatever he does, he prospers. Because it doesn’t matter what you are doing. Those who know the Word of God will do well. Whether it’s a pastor or an evangelist, or a rocket scientist or a dentist or a mathematician, those who meditate upon the Word of God will prosper. Now again what do I mean by prosper? They will be useful to God. And they will be a blessing to others.
I hear TV preachers quoting this all the time, I hear all those prosperity teachers quoting this all the time. Yielding fruit they say, prospering, becoming wealthy, big cars. Let me share with you something. This is talking about a tree that is bearing fruit. Let me ask you a question, have you ever seen a tree eat its own fruit? Why does a tree bear fruit? He bears it for others to eat not himself. Do you see that? What does it mean to bear fruit? It means we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and people are saved from hell. It means we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach His Word and families are reconciled. It means we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and the father does not come home drunk anymore. It means we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and people start orphanages for poor children. To bear fruit. It’s to be a useful servant of God. And when we die there are thousands and thousands of people who have been saved because we lived. One solitary life dedicated to Christ, dedicated to His Word, dedicated to prayer, can result in the healing of nations. So when I talk about prosperity, that is what I am talking about. The salvation of God revealed to man.
Don’t you want to be this way? Where does it began? Remember what I told you this afternoon. What is the best time to plant a tree. A hundred years ago. That was the best time to plant a tree. But if you did not do it, what’s the best time to plant a tree? Right now.
This is another thing church you need to listen to. Why do we come together on Sundays? It is to hear the Word of God preached, but we should also be encouraging one another. Not legalistically, not critically, but encouraging one another. How is your time in the Word? What has God taught you this week? Can you share anything to me about your prayer life? Can you give me a testimony of what God is doing in your life?
Do you ever do that? You know what? When someone is a believer and they are not walking with Christ, when someone walks up to them and asks them those type of questions, do you know what they say? Fanatics! Legalists! Nosey! What does Scripture command? To be a life that bears fruit, not a barren life.