Study 1 GOD’S METHOD FOR HOLY LIVING
TEN STUDIES IN PSALM 119
by Francis Dixon
Key-verse: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9)
The Bible has the answer to every question that is vitally important to us in this life and the life to come. Some say that the Bible is not relevant; for David or for Paul it was ideal in its teaching and application, and even for the Lord Jesus (for the Old Testament was His Bible) but, they say, the Book does not relate to our needs in the twenty-first century. Such ideas are entirely wrong, for the Bible is the only book that speaks with authority about the needs of time and eternity; it is the only guide to a holy life, to a life that is pure, dedicated and pleasing to God. So the psalmist, who was deeply concerned about personal purity, cried out, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.” We might re-phrase the question: What is the secret of personal, practical holiness? for example:-
- 1. In Psalm 51:10 we read of a pure heart. But how can we have this?
- 2. In Isaiah 52:11 we learn of the importance of being pure before God can use us. But how can we be pure?
- 3. In Jeremiah 17:9 we read of the deceitfulness and wickedness of our hearts. But how can our hearts be cleansed and changed?
- 4. In Matthew 5:8 we read about the pure in heart. But how can we gain this purity?
- 5. In Romans 7:18-24 we have a description of a struggle that every one of us experiences. But how can we gain the victory?
- 6. In 2 Corinthians 7:1 we read of the importance of entire cleansing. But how can this be effected?
- 7. In 1 Timothy 5:22 we read of the importance of personal purity. But how…?
This is the great question: How can I be clean?
1. THE QUESTION
There are three things to notice:-
- 1. It is a plain question. It means exactly what it says. Here is a young man, his heart is sinful, his life is offensive, his thoughts are impure, his habits are dirty, his conversation is foul, his relationships are immoral – how can this young man become clean? – look up Mark 1:40-41. Whether we are young or old, we know what the question means because it touches our deepest need.
- 2. It is a priority question. This does not have to do with education, a career, success, marriage, popularity or security; it has to do with the purifying of the heart and life. By nature we are sinful, surrounded by evil forces. Our eyes, lips, feet, hands, ears – they all want to sin. How can I be clean?
- 3. It is a practical question. It calls for action, and our verse is the testimony of a man who knew his need of cleansing and how that need could be met.
This great question contains: (1) an admission of need; (2) a confession of desire; (3) a suggestion of urgency. Do you have (1)…and (2)…and do you recognise (3)? Well, what is God’s method for holy living?
2. THE ANSWER
Look at our verse – “By living according to your word”. Examine this sentence carefully and you will see three things which you must do to gain cleansing:-
- 1. Stop in your tracks. Note the word “way”, which has in it the meaning of “rut” or “track” – the kind of track that would be made by a large wheel. You must stop in your tracks and obey the injunction of Haggai 1:7.
- 2. Take yourself in hand. How easy it is to drift, to get more and more entangled in all the sordidness of sin. Do you read impure literature? Do you indulge in unclean habits? Do you foster unclean thoughts?
- 3. Apply the remedy. Take the Bible and apply it to every part of your life and conduct. That is the way to be cleaned up spiritually and morally.
But how can we enter into this experience of cleansing, and be kept clean and pleasing to God each day? Psalm 119:9-16 gives us the answer. Notice in particular verses 10 to 16:-
- 1. Verse 10 – Search your Bible and be ready to obey all that God commands. Immediately you will begin to experience cleansing – look up John 15:3.
- 2. Verse 11 – Let God’s Word enter right into you. It not only has the power to cleanse but also to keep you clean, and it is most important that your heart is kept clean – look up Proverbs 4:23 and see why.
- 3. Verse 12 – Be humble, teachable and submissive. Notice the words “teach me” here. You must do what Mary did (Luke 10:39) – see Matthew 11:29.
- 4. Verse 13 – Declare the truth of God’s Word in your daily walk and at your work. This will help you to exert a cleansing and purifying influence.
- 5. Verse 14 – Rejoice in God’s Word and treasure it above everything else. Riches and possessions disappear; God’s Word abides (1 Peter 1:23-25).
- 6. Verse 15 – Learn, mark and inwardly digest God’s Word and never question what it says. To “meditate” means “to chew over”, and as you “consider your ways” submit to the fact that God knows the way that is best.
- 7. Verse 16 – Keep on with this daily process of taking God’s Word and applying it to your life in obedience and practice.
If you will take your Bible and use it in this way, it will not be long before you come to Calvary, and when you ask the meaning of Jesus’ work on the Cross in shedding His precious blood, you will discover the way to be cleansed from the guilt and penalty of your sin (1 John 1:7). Then, as you continue to read and obey His Word you will receive daily cleansing. This is a life-long process, and every time you are conscious of grieving Him, it is necessary to turn humbly and with penitence to confess your sin. It is then you will receive the assurance of His forgiveness and cleansing – look up 1 John 1:9.