Taking Liberties

Psalm 19:1-6 ESV

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
In them he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber,
and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens,
and its circuit to the end of them,
and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Whenever I read this passage of scripture, I immediately connect it with the writings of Paul in the book of Romans where he states that what can be known about God is made plain by God to all humankind through God’s created works.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Rom. 1:20

So, no one can claim that they are unaware of God or that they have no knowledge of him. In fact, I have been amazed at what lengths some who call themselves atheists will go to try to prove that God does not exist. They will even say such things as “I don’t need God,” or “I don’t need Jesus’ salvation.” Why fight so hard against what does not exist?

Yet, it isn’t just the existence of God which the heavens declare and which his created works reveal. It is the glory of God, his eternal power, and his divine nature which are revealed through his created works. So, through the things he has made, we are able to see his holiness, his righteousness, his grace, his mercy, but also his justice, and the power he has to carry it out.

Thus, for those of us who have not only the knowledge of God through his created works, but who also have had the scriptures taught to us, some of us since childhood, we are definitely without excuse if we refuse to give God the honor and obedience he so deserves, and if we choose to go our own way, instead, i.e. the way of sinful practices of the lusts of the flesh.

Psalm 19:7-11 ESV

The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean,
enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true,
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.

Some people have this false notion that now that we are under grace, we don’t have to obey God’s commands. While it is true that we, as Christians, are not bound by all the Old Covenant laws the Jews had to follow, we have never been freed from having to obey God’s moral laws. All of those, with the exception of honoring the Sabbath Day, are repeated over and over again for us in the New Testament, under the New Covenant.

And, they are not merely suggestions or recommendations to us as to how we should live, but they are still commands we must obey. We don’t have to obey them perfectly, i.e. we are not required to have sinless perfection, but we are required to walk (in lifestyle) according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh if we want to be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-24).

It is obedience to God’s commands which revives our souls, and which makes us wise, and which rejoices our hearts, and which enlightens our spiritual eyes. Yet, this is not about following a set of rules or trying to be good. This is about total surrender to Jesus Christ, submitting to his Lordship over our lives, letting his Spirit rule in our hearts, and following him wherever he leads us, doing whatever he commands us to do.

This, too, is about walking in the fear of the Lord, which has to do with showing God honor, value, respect, adoration and obedience as a matter of course, as our daily practice. Again, it doesn’t mean we will never sin, but that sin is no longer our master, and Jesus Christ is the ruler of our hearts.

So, rather than shunning God’s rules for godly living, i.e. his moral laws, we are to uphold them, and they are to be how we live, our habits, our practices. And, it should be the desire of our hearts to want to obey them rather than finding work arounds or copouts or excuses for why we can’t walk in obedience to the Lord.

And, even for believers in Jesus Christ, the scriptures, i.e. God’s instructions to us, serve not only to encourage and strengthen us, but also to rebuke, to correct and to warn us against falling away. They warn us against complacency, and against apathy, and against false teachings which would lead us astray. And, they warn against pride and selfishness and self-sufficiency, too, and they teach us dependence on our Lord Jesus Christ.

And, in keeping the Lord’s commands, i.e. his moral laws and his instructions to us, his church, there is great reward. We have peace of mind and of heart, we have assurance we are walking in the right way, we have joy in our spirits, and the fruit of the Spirit, and God’s Spirit then works through us to encourage others in their walks of faith, too.

Psalm 19:12-14 ESV

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

When we are willfully and knowingly sinning against God, in open rebellion against his commands, and especially if we make this our practice, our regular habit, and to even do so premeditatedly, we are quite able to discern our errors. For, we know going into the sin that what we are doing is wrong, and that we are refusing the Spirit’s voice, and we are closing our minds, our hearts and our eyes to God’s commands he has given us to follow.

But, there are times when we slip up in a given moment when we don’t realize what we are doing until the Holy Spirit convicts us or prompts us to let us know we have to stop doing what we are doing, and we have to listen to his voice and obey him.

An example of this might be that we are talking with people and we are sharing with them things going on in our lives, and so we begin to say something about another person, which is ok, but then it begins to go a direction that is not ok. And, then the Holy Spirit prompts us that we don’t want to go there. At this point we can choose to obey, or we can continue, but continuing would then be making the choice to disobey.

Another example is that our minds are always at work. At least most of us are continually thinking about something. And, sometimes Satan will introduce negative thoughts into our minds, or he will whisper lies about something or someone, and we may start thinking about the thought that is in our minds, and then the Holy Spirit prompts us again, and says “Don’t go there.” And, then we have to stop, or else we are willfully sinning.

The problem that is often presented with this idea of “hidden faults,” though, is that so many people claim they did not know, when they did know. If you are a seasoned Christian, especially, and if you have taught the scriptures, or you have known the scriptures a really long time, especially, if this is a sin with which you “struggle” on a consistent basis, then you know going into it what you are doing, or else you know that you are tempting fate when you don’t put up the necessary road blocks to keep you from going there.

So, if we want the Lord to keep us from presumptuous (taking liberties) sins, then we have to cooperate with him. He doesn’t just zap us and instantly we no longer willfully, knowingly sin against him. We have to make the choice to listen to him and to obey him, to say “No!” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives, in the power of God, while we wait for his return (Tit. 2:11-14).

Jesus already made that way of escape out from underneath temptation. His blood, shed on a cross, put our sin to death with him so that we, in his power, can now die daily to sin and self and live to him and to his righteousness. So, we are without excuse if we continue in willful rebellion against his commands and then if we claim he just hasn’t delivered us yet. The deliverance is already there. We just have to apply it to our lives by choosing to obey our Lord, in his power, rather than to obey our flesh (See: Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 6:1-23; Rom. 8:1-17; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).

Have Thine Own Way, Lord

Words by Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907
Music by George C. Stebbins, 1907

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway.
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me!

*copyright status is public domain

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s