Psalms 119:137-138 ESV
“Righteous are you, O Lord,
and right are your rules.
You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.”
“Righteous” is whatever is right in the eyes of God. So, righteousness is holiness, godliness, moral purity, honesty, faithfulness, trustworthiness, and the like. God is fully righteous because he is absolutely perfect. He is totally without sin and everything that he does is absolutely good. No evil ever exists in his character.
So, the rules he has for us, and yes, he still has rules for us to follow, are righteous. And they are for our good. He sets up moral boundaries for us for our good, not to harm us. They are to keep us from falling back into sin and from doing harm to others and to ourselves. So, they are for our benefit, not there to put us under bondage.
We are not saved from our sins by being “rule keepers,” per se, for we can’t be saved of our own merit, and we can’t keep all the rules perfectly in ourselves. So, Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins to make the way for us to die with him to sin and to live to him and to his righteousness. He delivers us from our slavery to sin so we can walk in his holiness.
He allows for the fact that we may sin again (1 Jn 2:1-2), but he makes it clear that if we continue to live in sin, to make sin our practice, that we don’t have forgiveness of sins and eternal life with God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10).
But we don’t have to try to keep the commandments of God (New Covenant) in our own flesh. Jesus delivered us from our bondage to sin and he empowers us to live righteously. We just have to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and to follow him in his ways and in his truth. And we have to depend on him and his power and strength to not yield to the flesh but to the Spirit.
Psalms 119:139-140 ESV
“My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget your words.
Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.”
When we are born again of the Spirit of God via dying with Christ to sin, we are given new lives in Christ Jesus, not like our old lives, which are to be lived for the glory and praise of God. Now our zeal (passion, desire) should be for God and for his Word and for his will and purpose for our lives. Now we should want to please him in all that we do and to not please ourselves.
If we truly have been transformed of the Spirit of God, and if we have been given new lives in Christ Jesus, not like our old lives of living for sin and self, then it should radically change (alter) who we are, and our perceptions and beliefs and practices. And it should change our “want to’s.” Now we should want what God wants for our lives.
If we proclaim that we have believed in Jesus Christ but nothing really changes in our lives other than maybe we are a little nicer to people than we were before, or we may start reading the Bible and praying and attending gatherings of the church, then our lives have not been radically altered by God’s saving grace.
I am certainly not proclaiming that we instantly become perfect in every way or that the Christian life is not a process of sanctification. We still live in flesh bodies. We will still be tempted to sin. We will have to fight off Satan’s lies and his evil schemes against us, and we will have to bathe ourselves in the word of God and walk in obedience to our Lord daily, by his power.
But our lives should change. We should be different people. We should want to do what pleases the Lord, not look for loopholes to get out of obeying the Lord, and not be claiming that Jesus does it all and so nothing is required of us. If the Spirit of God transformed us from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, it should be apparent by our lives.
We should hunger for the Word of God, and we should want to study the Scriptures to hear from our Lord and to learn what he requires of us so that we can do what pleases him. No one should have to impress upon us the importance of this or have to prod us to try to get us to read the Bible. When you were dating your spouse, did anyone have to talk you into calling him or her and into having conversations with the one you love?
Psalms 119:141-144 ESV
“I am small and despised,
yet I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is righteous forever,
and your law is true.
Trouble and anguish have found me out,
but your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are righteous forever;
give me understanding that I may live.”
In the world we live in today, at least here in America, which has infiltrated the church, not many people are being taught to hunger and to thirst after righteousness. They are not being taught to humble themselves before God in true repentance and to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ. And so they are also not being taught that they must walk in obedience to God’s Word.
Instead, they are being told that Jesus is just so enamored with them that he is just so grateful if they will just spend time with him. And they picture Jesus as dedicated and devoted to us humans because we are just so awesome and that our salvation from sin is all about us and so we can go on living in our sin, only now without guilt and without punishment.
But they have it all backwards. We are to be in awe of God. We are to worship him and bow down to him and hunger and thirst after his righteousness. We should long for our times when we can sit with the Lord at his feet (figuratively speaking) and listen to him speak his truths to our hearts so that we can obey them.
So, if we are the few who are traveling the narrow road which leads to eternal life, we are going to be persecuted and despised by those who have chosen the broad road that leads to destruction but which is being disguised as the road leading to eternal life. And they will ignore or reject or oppose us and call us legalistic and insensitive and hyper-religious and self-righteous.
Even pastors of church congregations and the congregants who are following these pastors, if they are following the cheap grace gospel, will hate us and will want nothing to do with us. They will not want us coming into the doors of their buildings called “church,” because they will not want the truth brought in which might offend the people of the world, and human flesh.
But even if we are cast aside and mistreated and unloved and not encouraged and supported spiritually by the majority of what is called “church,” we should not let that discourage us. We should hold strongly to our Lord and to his teachings, and we should keep following him wherever he leads us in doing what he has called us to do and in saying what he has called us to say, even if it gets us hated and rejected in return.
So, keep on following Jesus with your life even if you don’t get much support from family, friends, neighbors, or others who call themselves Christians.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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