How Can You Cleanse Your Way? Psalm 119 b
Stephen Caswell © 2000
Perfect Yardstick In London
After ten years of patient work, experts in London finished what is said to be the most perfect yardstick in the world. It is made of platinum and iridium, and was designed to be used as the standard of the British government. Every year for ten years it will be examined and if it varies by even a millionth of an inch it will be rejected. The Bible is the Christian’s standard for his rule of conduct. It tells us how to live. A sergeant in the army once said to a young private in his regiment the Bible will keep you from sin or sin will keep you from the Bible.
Tonight I would like to address the question, How can young people live a clean life in a wicked society? Although evil is increasing in the world this is not a new problem for believers. The Psalmist addressed this issue 3,000 years ago. Psalm 119:9 says: How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. This verse states both the question and an abbreviated answer which he elaborates in the next 7 verses. A persons way refers to their manner of life or their conduct. The words take heed mean to keep or observe. God's Word reveals how to live a clean life in an evil world. In fact the Word reveals God's will for our lives. The Psalmist shares 2 main points regarding God's Word.
I. Searching God's Word & II. Sharing God's Word
Firstly Searching God's Word
You may think searching God's Word is an easy task. Certainly God gave us His Word to live by, but He will not be fobbed off with 5 minutes in the morning. If we desire to know God's Word it will take time and effort. The Psalmist reveals four steps in this. Investigation, Memorization, Application & Education.
Psalm 119:10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
When we study God's Word our desire should be to meet with the God of the Word. We study the Word to know the Lord better and His will for us. The Psalmist sought the Lord with His whole heart. He was devoted to God and longed to know Him better. This was not a once in a while meeting, but a regular time with God. The word sought means to seek with care, to inquire of, to investigate. It is in the perfect tense which means that he sought the Lord with the result that he kept on seeking Him. This speaks of the Psalmist's diligence.
God wants us to earnestly seek Him. Jeremiah 29:12-13 says: 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. God reveals Himself to those who take the time to earnestly seek Him. In Psalm 27:8 David said this: When You said, Seek My face, My heart said to You, Your face, Lord, I will seek. The Psalmist sought the Lord and asked for help to keep His commandments. We need God's help to keep His commandments because we can't do it on our own. Firstly, to know God and His Word requires diligent investigation.
Psalm 119:11a Your word I have hidden in my heart,
The Psalmist wasn't content to just understand God's Word, he wanted it with him all the time, so he memorized it. Copies of the Scriptures were not common in those days. Usually you had to go to the temple to read God's Word. Even if you owned a portion of God's Word, you couldn't it everywhere. Such a position wasn't acceptable to the Psalmist. So he hid God's Word in his heart like a treasure. He recognized how precious God's Word was and stored it up in His heart. Today we have fond memories that we like to bring out at special times. Mary treasured the things she heard from Jesus in her heart too. If we hide God's Word in our heart we can bring it out and share it at appropriate times. We can draw on it's wisdom for guidance each day. But Scripture memorization requires effort!
Records Of Bible Memorization
Ÿ Tertullian devoted his days and nights to Bible reading, so much so that he learned much of it by heart, even its punctuation's.
Ÿ Theodosius the Younger could repeat any part of the Scripture exactly, and discourse with the bishops at court as if he himself were a bishop.
Ÿ Origen never went to meals or to sleep without having some Scripture portions read.
Ÿ Eusebius said that he heard of one, whose eyes were burned out under the Diocletian persecution, repeat from memory the Scriptures in a large assembly.
Ÿ Beza could repeat all of Paul’s epistles in Greek at the age of 80.
Ÿ Cramer could repeat the New Testament from memory, learning it on his trip to Rome.
Ÿ Ridley also memorized the entire New Testament during his walks in the Pembroke Hall of Cambridge.
Psalm 119:11b That I might not sin against You!
The main reason that we hide God's Word in our hearts is so that we can avoid sin. Verse 9 revealed this general principle. We can cleanse our ways or lifestyle by taking heed of God's Word. Here the Psalmist says that hiding God's Word in one's heart enables them to overcome sin. It's hard to overcome sin if you don't know what it is. The Word tells us what sin is. When we hide God's Word in our hearts we can apply it to our daily lives. Ephesians 6:17 says: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the wilderness He used God's Word to overcome the temptations. The Word rhma is the appropriate portion of God's Word for the situation. We should follow Christ's example. We mustn't allow Bible study and Scripture memorization to stop just there. God wants us to apply it in our lives. God wants us to learn and memorize His Word so that we might stop sinning. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. We follow God's Word so that we can walk in His ways. It applies to our everyday conduct. Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
A friend of mine is an airline pilot. He didn't become one overnight. It took him a lot of hard work, time and money to accomplish this. He had to study many books, practice flying on simulators and in small aircraft. But why all of this effort? To make sure that he can safely fly the public around. He has to memorize safety procedures for all sorts of problems. This is so that if there is mechanical failure he will know the appropriate action to take. The knowledge learned is practical, and has to be followed. The same is true in the Christian life. We need to memorize God's Word so that we will know the right thing to do in trials and temptations. Do you hide God's Word in your heart? Do you draw on it in temptation? Do you apply it?
Psalm 119:12 Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes!
The Psalmist gives glory to God: Blessed are you, O Lord! In all our prayers we should intermix praises. The Psalmist had a teachable spirit. He acknowledged God's greatness and praised Him joyfully. He then asked God to teach him His statutes. If we truly desire to grow in our knowledge of the Lord and His will for our lives, we must be teachable. This means humbling ourselves before our great Master and asking Him to teach us. The Psalmist asks grace from God: Teach me your statutes; help me to know and do my duty in every thing. Psalm 119:18 says this: Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from your law. God teaches us by His Holy Spirit. He also uses other believers to do this. But if we want to learn God's Word we must be humble and teachable. A proud man won't learn anything from God!
Epigram On Education
• A knowledge of the Bible without a college course is more valuable than a college course without the Bible. —William Lyon Phelps
• If we work upon marble, it will perish; if on brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumple into dust; but if we work upon immortal minds, and imbue them with principles, with the just fear of God and love of our fellow men, we engrave on those tablets something that will brighten to all eternity. —Daniel Webster
Searching God's Word for guidance in life is a wise thing to do. However God's Word demands more than a few rushed minutes each day. The Psalmist revealed that knowing God and His Word requires a diligent search. Firstly, it requires investigation. Do you seek the Lord with your whole heart? God asks us to! Secondly the Psalmist took God's Word with him everywhere by hiding it in his heart. Is God's Word precious to you? Are you memorizing it? Thirdly, the Psalmist applied the Scriptures so that he wouldn't sin against God. Do you use it to overcome temptation? Are you applying God's Word in your life? God wants us to be doers of the Word not forgetful hearers. Fourthly, the Psalmist was teachable. He was humble enough to ask God to instruct Him. We need to come to God's Word the same way. We should ask the Lord to open our eyes to see the wonders of His Word. Are you teachable? Do you come to church to learn? Are you studying the Word? Bible Study's can help here!
Secondly Sharing God's Word
God doesn't reveal His Word to us to bless us only. He wants us to share it with others. There are a number of ways that we can do this. He lists a couple of them here.
Psalm 119:13 With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth.
The Psalmist looks back with comfort upon the respect he had paid to the word of God. He had the testimony of his conscience for him. That he had edified others with what he had been taught out of the word of God is stated: With my lips have I declared all the judgments of your mouth. This he did according to the word of God, not only as a prophet by his psalms, but in his common discourse. He showed how full he was of the word of God, and what a holy delight he took in his acquaintance with it; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. Thus he used his knowledge well. He did not hide God’s word from others. He declared to them the judgments of His God.
We can all share the Word of God by witnessing for the Lord. We can tell others about our great God. Christians who keep the Gospel to themselves are not only disobedient, they are selfish. Others need to hear the good news of God's salvation. They need to be told of God's love and judgments. The Lord commands us to tell people of His salvation and coming judgment. Mark 16:15-16 And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Do you tell others about the Lord?
Friends Of Jesus’ Patients
Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman, famous evangelist, said that the New Testament records tell of forty people, each suffering from the same disease, who were healed by Jesus. Of this number, thirty-four were either brought to Jesus by friends, or He was taken to them. In only six cases out of forty did the sufferers find the way to Jesus without assistance. Of the vast number of people who find their way to Jesus today, most of them reach Him because the friends of Jesus are concerned about the welfare of their souls. Are you concerned for the lost?
Psalm 119:14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.
The external expression of the Psalmist's inner loyalty to the Lord is joyful obedience. When Christians are full of God's Word they cannot but rejoice in the Lord who has done so much for them. They gladly obey God's Word because they know the value of doing this. God's Word is of far more value than riches. Riches soon pass away. They can be lost or ruined, but God's Word remains forever. Not only this, through the Word we learn about the God who wrote the Word. We can grow in our relationship to Him. The Psalmist expresses the joy He receives from living in obedience to the Word. The love for God's Word is really love for God. If we really love God's Word we will know the Lord better and joyfully obey Him.
They Were Supernaturally Joyful —A. W. Tozer
George Mueller would not preach until his heart was happy in the grace of God; Ian Ruybroeck would not write while his feelings were low, but would retire to a quiet place and wait on God till he felt the spirit of inspiration. It is well-known that the elevated spirits of a group of Moravians convinced John Wesley of the reality of their religion, and helped to bring him a short time later to a state of true conversion. The Christian owes it to the world to be supernaturally joyful. We must share the joy of our salvation. Are you happy to be saved? Then show it to those around you! Joyfully obey the Lord and serve Him!
Psalm 119:15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways.
He not only discoursed of them to others, but he communed with his own heart about them, and took pains to digest the Word in his own thoughts. God’s Word should be very much the subject of our thoughts. Some of the Scriptures are deep and mysterious. To understand these requires careful thought. The word meditate speaks of wise, pensive concentration. We must prayerfully ponder these deeper passages in our hearts. God keeps His richest treasures to those who dig deep into the Word. God also expects us to act on them when we find them out.
I would rather lay my soul soak in half a dozen verses of the Bible all day than rinse my hand in several chapters. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Psalm 119:16 I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.
With his whole being the godly man cries out for God and delights in His will. God's ways are not to be dreaded, they are his delight. They motivate him to live God's way. David took more delight in God’s statutes than in the pleasures of his court or the honors of his camp, more than in his sword or in his harp. When the law is written in the heart duty becomes a delight. The Psalmist never forgot what he had learnt from God's Word. He said: I will not forget your word. Not only did he not forget it, he was always mindful of it. Those that meditate in God’s word, and delight in it, are in no great danger of forgetting it. It is their treasure, their joy and motivation for living.
Difference Between Work and Play — Genius at Work
Have you ever thought of the difference between work and play? You use the same muscles to play golf as you do to mow your lawn; you use the same brain power to play bridge as you do to conduct a business; the only difference is the mental attitude. Why is it that work tires you more than play? Again it is the mental attitude, so if you want to make your work easier, make play out of it. Too many men make work out of golf, and when you do that you have taken the pleasure out of it. It may not be easy, but if you can change the mental attitude toward the things you call work, you can get more out of life. Mark Twin said, Work is not a concrete thing; it is a mental attitude. Nothing is either work or play but thinking makes it so.
The Psalmist was faithful to share the Word of God with others. He declared it to sinners and saints. Do you share God's Word with those around you? Do you witness for Jesus Christ. The Psalmist also joyfully obeyed it before all those around him. He meditated and delighted in it each day. Do you rejoice in God's Word and readily obey it? Are God's rules for life your delight? Will you be like the Psalmist and never forget God's Word? I trust that you will for then you will make your way clean in an evil society! Then the Lord will bless you!!
This evening we addressed the question, How can young people live a clean life in a wicked society? We saw that obeying God's Word enables us to remain pure in a sinful world. This involves two things.
I. Searching God's Word
This cannot be accomplished in a few rushed minutes each day. It requires diligence. The Psalmist highlighted 4 things. Investigation, Memorization, Application & Education. Will you diligently seek the Lord in His Word? Will you study the Bible, memorize it, and ask God to teach you? Will you use the Word to overcome sin? Will you apply the Word in your life?
II. Sharing God's Word
We can share God's Word with sinners, saints and ourselves. Sharing God's Word requires 4 things. Declaration, Exultation, Meditation & Motivation. Will you share the Word with others? Will you joyfully obey it? Will you ponder the deeper things of Scripture? Will you allow God's Word to become your delight?
2 Peter 3:17-18 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.