Monday, May 8, 2017, 8:02 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Refresh My Spirit, Lord.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 1 (ESV).
Ways of the Wicked (v. 1)
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
We are joyous, peaceful and contented in Christ, and in his favor (grace, benefits, and provisions), which he bestows upon us, when we walk (in lifestyle) in the ways of the Lord and not in the ways (counsel, thinking, values and behaviors) of the wicked, who practice sinning against God.
So, in what ways might we be guilty of walking in the counsel of the wicked, of standing in the way of sinners, and of sitting in the seat of scoffers? The answer to this may be as individual as we are, but I can think of some ways which may be common, at least here in America, to the majority. For one, I believe television has played a HUGE role in American households in shaping our thinking, values, morals and behaviors. TV can be very hypnotic, persuasive, addictive and influential in our lives, and it can break down biblical morals and values, and desensitize us to many evils, ever so subtly.
About ten years ago, my husband and I took all of our movies, of which we had plenty, and we compared them to this passage of scripture:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. ~ Phil. 4:8
We literally threw in the trash all movies which did not fit with this passage of scripture. I think that only left about 2 or 3, and later we realized they did not conform, either. What I learned through this process, though, is how easily we are deceived, influenced and manipulated into accepting evil into our minds, hearts and lives, because it is disguised as something else. A lot of it is made out to be fun, innocent, and charming, and if we are brought up on this, and it is introduced so slowly and gradually, pretty soon we are accepting more and more, and don’t even realize it. But, that is exactly how Satan works. So, we got rid of our TV, too, and I have not missed it one bit!
Yet, TV is not the only culprit. Obviously the internet can be very seductive, as well, and so can be our close associations, which is why the Bible warns us about that, too, that we should not have close associations with the ungodly, i.e. with those who are living sinful lifestyles, lest we should be led into sin with them. And, it takes it one step further when it says that we should not even associate with a professing Christian who is living a sinful (immoral, wicked) lifestyle, and who has not repented of his or her sin.
Yet, the worst of all, I believe, is the modernized (remodeled) church of today. Why? Because the gatherings of the church should be where we are instructed in the ways of the Lord, where we experience biblical fellowship with other believers in Christ, and where God’s morals, values and thinking are upheld with the highest of honor. When we gather with the church, we anticipate that we should be influenced in what is godly, not in what is worldly. Nonetheless, the world has been brought into much of the church, along with its thinking, values, morals and behaviors, and thus we are even being influenced in the wrong ways within many of our church get-togethers.
Our Delight (v. 2)
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
So, how do we combat all these worldly and wicked influences in our lives, so that we do not walk in their ways? Well, I have suggested one way, and that is to compare the influences in our lives against Philippians 4:8 to see how they compare, and then to rid our lives of those (scripturally speaking) negative and wicked influences, as much as it is in our power to do so.
You have probably heard the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out.” If we take garbage into our minds and hearts, that is what we will reproduce. It is a simple fact. We have to remember here the teachings in the New Testament with regard to cutting out of our lives what leads us to sin (Matt. 18:7-9; Heb. 12:1-2). We have to cut them off (get rid of them) and throw them off so that we can run with perseverance the race God has marked out for us to run. This also fits with the scriptures teaching on fleeing wrong influences, false doctrines, sexual immorality, idolatry, slander, greed, and youthful passions (Jn. 10:5; 1 Co. 6:12-18; 10:14; 1 Tim. 6:3-11; 2 Tim. 2:22).
So, we have to put those wrong influences off, but then we have to put the right ones on. This is a scriptural principle taught throughout the Word of God. Not only do we learn what we need to cut out of our lives, but we learn what we need to pursue, develop and cultivate into our lives, in the power and working of God’s Spirit now living within us, as we cooperate fully with God’s work of grace in our lives.
And, the way in which we learn these things is by reading, studying and meditating on God’s Word, not just five minutes of the day, but throughout the day and night. And, we can’t do this if we are filling our minds with the junk of the world the majority of the time while we spend little time in God’s Word. And, we also can’t do this if we do not put God’s Word into practice in our lives, and if we walk away after we read it and forget what we learned, and thus we don’t apply it to our lives.
God’s Word has to be our delight! We have to love his Word, and desire it above all other influences in our lives. We have to hunger and thirst after righteousness, and want to walk in the ways of the Lord, or it won’t happen.
We Prosper (v. 3)
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
Yet, if God’s Word is our delight, and we meditate on it day and night, and we do what it says, then we will be at rest, secure and firmly planted in our faith in Jesus Christ, and in the truths of his Word, and nothing will be able to move us. We will not be easily persuaded and influenced by the world, nor will we sway with the wind in our beliefs. “We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14). Instead, we will become mature in our walks of faith with Christ, and we will speak the truth in love to our brothers and sisters in Christ, so that they, too, can be built up in Christ and reach maturity.
We may not always see all (or much of) the fruit for our labors in the Lord immediately, but God sees them, and they will be evident when the season is right. Some of us plant the seed, and others water it, but it is God who makes it to grow, and all in his perfect timing. We may never know in this life in how many people’s lives God has used us, and I don’t think we have to know. But, if we are walking in obedience to our Lord, and if we are faithful in service to him, in doing what he asks us to do, then that is fruit in and of itself, is it not? For, by this we grow in him and in our walks of faith, and we learn obedience, submission, and love for our Lord and for others. And, this is how we prosper, in Christ, and in his holiness and righteousness.
Wicked Not So (vv. 4-6)
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
When it speaks of the wicked here, it is speaking of those who walk (in lifestyle) in sin, who make sinning the practice of their daily lives. We all sin, most likely, at some time or another, but we don’t all willfully keep on sinning as the pattern of our lives. We don’t all hold on to specific sins and refuse to give them up, i.e. we don’t all refuse to repent.
Jesus said that if we want to come after him, we must deny self, take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and self) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self), we will lose them (for eternity). But, if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will gain eternal life (we will save our lives). Paul reiterated Jesus’ words when he said that if we walk (conduct our lives) in the flesh, we will die (in our sins), but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (with Christ for eternity). And, John said that if we say we have fellowship with God, but we walk (in lifestyle) in darkness (sin), we are liars (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 8:1-14; 1 Jn. 1:6).
The point of all this is that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God. He died that we might no longer walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. And, he gave himself up for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. His grace is not a free license – carte blanche (free rein) – to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15, 21; Ro. 8:1-14; Tit. 2:11-14; cf. Jn. 6:35-66; Ro. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; Gal. 2:20).
So, what this means is that the wicked and righteous are not only divided by those who believe in Jesus Christ and those who don’t, but they are distinguished by those who walk in the way of the righteous, and those who walk in the way of the wicked. So, make sure you are walking in God’s ways.
Refresh My Spirit, Lord / An Original Work / August 8, 2011
Based off of Psalm 51 & Matthew 11:28-30
Refresh my spirit, Lord.
Revive my heart today.
Move me to serve You,
Lord in all I do and say.
Be my heart’s one desire;
my spirit set on fire
In pure devotion, Lord,
to love you and obey.
Create within me, Lord,
a pure heart, this I pray,
So I can worship You
and yield to You always.
May all Your love and pow’r
be lived in me, I pray,
So I might love as You;
be Your witness today.
Jesus says, “Come to me
all you with heavy hearts,
And find in me your peace,
and give to me your all.
My yoke is light to bear,
‘cause I paid for your sin,
So you might be set free,
and purified within.”