I want you to consider your Christmas activities. For some of you, Christmas is a day filled with presents and joy, worshipping God, and visiting with loved ones. Maybe you’ve saved for months to get your children that perfect gift. My wife is making me one of my favorite meals (lengua tacos) as a gift […]
Jesus, the lamb of God, became sin for His people that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus was the lamb who never strayed from the pasture, yet he took on the penalty deserved by foolish and rebellious sheep. Jesus is the lost sheep when he is suffering the penalty for our sins. Jesus is the one who cries to God to be sought after in this state. And Jesus is the one who never forgot God’s commands.
Pray Like Jesus Psalms 119:169 Taw Let my cry come before you, O Yahweh; give me understanding according to your word! As we begin to close the longest chapter of the Bible, we might be tempted to think that God has already said everything that can be said. We must put away any thought that […]
It has been said that there are two religions in the world: the religion of grace and the religion of works. A distinguishing characteristic of the religion of works is that somehow the good deeds a man does are what pleases his deity. This is true whether that religion sees man as inherently good or as innately sinful. Since this is an affront to the gospel of grace, our Scriptures go to great lengths to destroy any hope men can have to save themselves by proclaiming the gospel of grace (Romans 3:24,25; Ephesians 2:8, 9). But wicked men will always twist good religion to their own ends and many a man has proclaimed the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ apart from works as a license to sin.
One of the ways God helps us to walk in his ways while we strive to imitate Christ is by granting us awareness of His immanence. Nothing can be hidden from the anthropomorphic eyes of God. For the heathen, this truth is blatantly denied as they fancy themselves into thinking they will escape judgment. It’s not always because men think they are good that they shall escape judgment, but sometimes it is that they think no one knows of their crimes. The child of God whose heart has been quickened earnestly desires obedience to God’s precepts and adherence to God’s testimonies, yet he or she still finds it difficult to obey. The spirit and flesh are opposed to each other and the battle rages, and sometimes the flesh wins.
Christianity is thought of by many as the “religion of niceness.” Whoever came up with that idea knows very little of the scripture. Yes, Christians are called to be kind and should be known by their kindness and meekness. But too often we mistake kindness for fake-virtues like “never disagreeing with anyone,” and “never hating anything or anyone.” But as David speaks here, so does the Christ, “I hate and abhor falsehood.” Jesus Christ is the Truth and falsehood is a lie. Thus it is fitting that we should hate the opposite (falsehood) of that which we love (Christ). God chooses more than one word here to denote His holy hatred for lying. God personally hates lying and morally detests it.
We vomit spoiled food almost instantaneously, not because we think about it and decide we should expel it, but because our bodies are naturally designed to protect us. We have a *”gag reflex” for a reason, and it prevents things from getting deep inside us before we have time to realize all the effects. Similarly, our Christian conscience and convictions, bathed in the Word and Law of God, are capable of causing a natural aversion to sin and evil before we’ve even had time to consider it. We are disgusted by the ideas of lying, stealing, vandalism, gossip, slander, sexual immorality, rape, orgies, homosexual acts and desires, drunkness, hypocrisy, envy, sorcery, and faithlessness. A Christian who is growing in holiness and separation from worldly lusts will find themselves more quickly disgusted when they encounter rampant wickedness and filth as they walk their path in this world (James 1:21).
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the entire Bible. It’s longer than several entire books. I imagine that due to our propensity to read to the end of the chapter, a good number of people read Psalm 119 in one sitting when they get to it in their Bible reading plan. While there is […]
It is easy to be anxious in this world. We are surrounded by difficulty even when we are not being chased down by evildoers. A Christian’s comfort must begin with God. And the only way we can find comfort is with a God who is near to us. Other religions brag of completely transcendent gods. Some religions have gods who are so much like us that it’s impossible to discern what makes them gods in the first place. But our God, the God of Heaven and Earth, is near to us. He is omnipresent so we always have access to Him through Jesus Christ who shed his blood for us then rose again and ascended into Heaven. There is no place we can go to avoid His presence (as if we’d want to!).
The promise we have received is no different, but we have received more revelation. We meditate on the aspects of that promise which are already fulfilled: that Jesus Christ has come into the world. He was born of the virgin, conceived without the stain of sin by the Holy Spirit, and was perfectly righteous before the Father in every respect, although He was tempted by Satan (Hebrew 4:15). He was delivered to death and suffered the wrath of almighty God for sinners, (Isaiah 53:11), was buried, and on the third day rose from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:3,4). THIS is what we meditate upon, and all its implications: that we are wretched sinners, that Christ is a kind and gracious and all-sufficient savior, and that only by grace through faith can salvation be accomplished (among others)!
First, we note the extent and duration of God’s righteousness. It is righteous forever. There is no other being of whom that can be said. God is eternal and unchanging. Thus, His righteousness is forever righteous. What a comfort to know that our God will not change and will forever be righteous. Secondly, we note the quality of God’s righteousness. His righteousness is righteous. While this seems obvious, it bears remarking that God describes our righteousness in very different terms. Isaiah 64:6 reminds us that “all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” God’s righteousness is contrasted with ours in that His righteousness is eternal and unblemished righteousness. There is no stain on God’s righteousness and it isn’t pushed about by winds of change. Praise Him!
In Romans 10:2-4, Paul criticizes the Israelites for having a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. It is not that they didn’t know who God is or that they worshipped the wrong God. No, Paul’s admonition is that the Israelites knew God, but didn’t comprehend His righteousness. Thus, they didn’t submit to it, nor were they grasping their need for Christ’s righteousness to cover them. But the Israelites could not blame the psalmist. For centuries before the incarnation, Psalm 119 was telling the people of God’s righteousness and His faithful promise. Thus, the psalmist is consumed with his own zeal for God’s righteous testimonies. He is consumed with zeal for God’s faithful promise as a contrast to the ignorance of his enemies.
God justifies us by grace through faith alone, and that faith is followed by good works (Ephesians 2:10). God doesn’t just forgive sinners and leave them in their sin; He promises them help along the way (Proverbs 3:6). That is his promise to us. God provides us with new affections and desires. But in our unredeemed flesh, we still must wage war with sin. Confessing our weakness, we ought to pray with the psalmist “let no iniquity get dominion over me!” It is good and right to plan on not sinning, but we humbly request God to be the power that enables us to walk in newness of life. A healthy fear of the power of sin is essential to avoid it. It is those who think they stand who are in most danger of falling (1 Corinthians 10:12). Humbly acknowledge your need for His grace today.
God is glorified by His giving of more and more grace. It magnifies God’s benevolence and kindness in the eyes of creatures when He expresses pity on them and blesses them with still more grace. Oh, how many Christians will go to Heaven and only realize there that there was more grace available in this life had they only asked. God will never run out and you can never exhaust His grace! Too often we don’t ask for more grace because we don’t feel we deserve it.
We never deserve it. That’s why we call it grace. It is not earned. It’s granted by a good and merciful Savior.
Thus, David begins the end of this octet with the proclamation that God’s precepts are right. All of them! And thus it follows that every other way is false and therefore worthy of disposal. It is not enough for the Christian to say “I believe what I believe but I won’t judge someone else for their beliefs.” This is as hateful as letting a child play with a fork near an outlet or walk through a parking lot with his or her hand unheld. When you love someone, you do what you can to protect them while they are weak, teach them how to protect themselves so they’ll grow, and warn them of the very real dangers they are ignorant of.
ot only are we promised deliverance from our own cursed flesh, but we are promised freedom from the evil of this world. We long to see the day when all of God’s enemies are finally made a footstool (Hebrews 1:13) so that we might be delivered from them! Our suffering and oppression, although ordained by God and granted by God (Philippians 1:29) is nevertheless something we naturally want to avoid. We long for the time and place where God will wipe away every tear (Revelation 21:4), where there will be no more pain and no more death. Suffering and pain are results of the curse, and all creation groans to be delivered—ourselves included (Romans 8:22-23). It is this meaningful focus on future deliverance that strengthens the child of God for every circumstance in this world. We are not promised health and wealth now, but when we inherit all the rewards earned by the Christ, we will be glad we traded none of them for temporary comfort!
God’s holy hatred for sinners is pure and so much more terrifying than we tend to want to think about. The KJV says, “Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes,” and the sense is truly terrible. There is no mercy for the wicked when God’s judgment comes. Therefore, we must all the more earnestly tell sinners of the mercy of God which can be found today. And we must never diminish the terror of the Lord. The heathen will rage (Psalm 2:1) and the weak of heart will accuse us of fear-mongering, but there can be no compromise when we preach the wrath of God because to tone down God’s hatred for sinners has the practical effect of diminishing Christ’s love for sinners, as well.
Not only is God our hiding place, but He is our shield. He is our defense against everything hurled toward us by the enemy. There is no condemnation from God for those who are in Christ Jesus, the hiding place, but the condemnation of men is in ample supply. God does not promise that his people will avoid attacks from evildoers. But He acts as our shield. It is God who takes the brunt of the punishment when we are accosted for our faith (Acts 9:5). With a shield, we will still feel the impact of the blows and experience the heat of the battle, but we will not receive a fatal blow until the shield determines it is time.
The Antidote to Sorrows Psalms 119:109 I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. David was no stranger to danger. He was constantly threatened, yet refused to forget God’s law. He wrote, “I hold my life in my hand continually…” and this is a reference to the ever-present danger […]
God’s Word Lights The Way Psalms 119:105 ESV Nun Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. The 14th octet of this great psalm begins with this oft memorized declaration about God’s illuminating Word. The psalmist notes that God’s word is a lamp to his feet. David lives in a […]
Honey is never bitter or sour, and neither is the Bible to the adopted child of God. We taste it, take it within ourselves, and then come back for more. But like honey, it has to be searched for and found, then extracted from its comb. Honey doesn’t come from Heaven in jars. There is danger and even peril in taking the fruit of the bee, and we also must be willing to endure trial when we dig into God’s Word. You may even get stung!