Psalms 103:11-18 ESV
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
“As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”
Old Commands, New Commands
Now, some people may immediately respond to this by stating that this is Old Covenant teaching or that it is from the Old Testament and thus it does not apply to us today. And that is a fair statement for those who have no understanding of what the New Testament teaches on this same subject. For it is true that we are not under the Old Covenant, but we are now under the New Covenant, and so we don’t have to obey all those liturgical, sacrificial, purification, and ceremonial laws that were under the Old Covenant.
Nonetheless, the New Covenant is not lawless. And if a command from the Old Covenant is repeated for us in the New Testament, under the New Covenant, then it is New Covenant teaching, too. For Jesus summarized the law and the prophets into two commands, which basically is that we are to love God with our entire being, and we are to love other people as we love and care for our own selves. And love does no harm to its neighbor. And if we are loving God, the Scriptures teach that to love God is to obey him.
So, whether under the Old Covenant or under the New Covenant we still have to obey our Lord and his commandments, but his commandments taught under the New Covenant are what we are to now obey. For Jesus said that if we love him, we will keep (obey) his commandments and we will be loved by the Father and by Jesus, and Jesus will manifest himself to us. And he said that if we keep his commandments that we will abide in his love, just as he has kept the Father’s commandments and he abides in His love.
And then Jesus taught that not everyone who says to him, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one doing the will of God the Father who is in heaven. For on the day of judgment many are going to claim that they did this or that thing in the name of Jesus, but to those who did not honor him as Lord, and who did not obey him, he is going to say, “I never knew you; depart from me you workers of lawlessness.” And he taught that if we are going to come after him we must deny self, daily die to sin, and follow him in obedience (Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 9:23-26).
Teachings of the Apostles
But some people will claim that Jesus lived under the Old Covenant, so we don’t have to obey his words. I disagree, for the gospel is the gospel of Christ, but Paul and the other apostles all (or mostly all) taught the same things. Paul taught that if sin is what we obey that it will end in death, not in life eternal. And he taught that the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. And he taught that if we live according to the flesh we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the body, then we will live.
And Paul taught that God is going to render to each one of us according to our works, and for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. And he taught that they will not inherit eternal life with God who make sin their practice. For whatever we sow in this life we will also reap. And he warned us to not be deceived, for neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, etc., will inherit the kingdom of God. For we are all going to be judged by what we do.
And then John taught that we know that we have come to know God/Jesus if we keep (obey) his commandments. So, if we claim to know God, but we do not keep his commandments, in practice, then we are liars who do not live by the truth. And if sin is what we practice, then we do not know God, and we do not abide in him, and we are not born of God, but we are of the devil. But whoever practices righteousness is righteous, and whoever keeps (obeys) our Lord’s commands abides in God and God in him.
And James taught that we are not to be those who merely listen to (or read) the word of God, but we must be doers of the word, i.e. we must obey the teachings under the New Covenant. And going back to Paul, he taught that, as followers of Jesus we are to no longer live the way we did before we believed in Jesus, for the truth in Jesus is that we are to put off our old self and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. And we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
And then we read in Titus 2:11-14 that the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce (say “No!” to) ungodliness and worldly (fleshly) passions (lusts), and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s return. For Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 22:36-40; Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:31-32,51; Jn 10:27-30; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 1 Co 15:2; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Tit 2:11-14; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 5:9; Heb 10:26-31; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3]
Back to Psalms 103
So, going back to Psalms 103, in light of all these New Testament passages, we can apply what it teaches there to our lives today. For to fear the Lord is to take him and his word seriously and to apply his/its truths to our lives, i.e. it is to obey his commands (New Covenant). And as we also read in the New Testament, God’s steadfast love for us is for us who fear him and who keep his commands. We are the ones he forgives of our sins. For if we do not obey him, we do not know him, and we do not have eternal life in him.
And we have to obey the Lord in good times and in bad times, when life does not treat us fairly and when it is just. We have no excuses if we continue in deliberate and habitual sin against our Lord and if we do not obey his commands, in practice. Yes, he is compassionate towards us who fear him, but he makes no allowances for deliberate and habitual sin regardless of how bad our circumstances are. For he provided the way out from underneath temptation to sin. We just have to take his way out.
‘Til The Storm Passes By
By Thomas Mosie Lister
In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry
Keep me safe till the storm passes by
Many times Satan whispered
There is no use to try
For there’s no end of sorrow, there’s no hope by and by
But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I’ll rise
Where the storms never darken the skies
Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more
Till the clouds roll forever from the sky
Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand
Keep me safe till the storm passes by
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