The Time of Your Life

lightstock_67242_max_user_1468309What does 2016 hold for each of us beloved? Our Father knows (best). We do not. G Campbell Morgan wisely said therefore “Let the year be given to God in its every moment! The year is made up of minutes: let these be watched as having been dedicated to God! It is in the sanctification of the small that hallowing of the large is secure.”

“Time that is past we can never recall.
Of time to come, we are not sure at all.
Only the present is now in our power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.” -Anonymous

Time is a strange commodity — we cannot save it, retrieve it, relive it, stretch it, borrow it, loan it, stop it or store it , but can only use it or lose it. We can’t call “time out” in the game of life and there are no “instant replays” as in the game of football. Job in the midst of the trial of his life was very sensitive to the brevity of life declaring “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle…my life is but breath… my days are swifter than a runner. They flee away. They slip by like reed boats, like an eagle that swoops on its prey. Man, who is born of woman, is of few days, and full of trouble. Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He flees like a shadow and does not remain.” (Job 7:6-7, 9:25-26, 14:1-2) A poet phrased it well — “When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept. When as a youth I dreamed and talked, time walked. When I became a full grown man, time ran. When older still I daily grew, time flew. Soon I shall find in traveling on, time gone.” And so while we cannot control the length of our days, yet by God’s grace we can control their depth, for we know that our Redeemer lives (Job 19:25) and that He is on our side (Ps 124:1-2note, cf Ro 8:31-32note).

Our vigor is fleeting, our best years are brief,
Our youth passes quickly—time’s ever a thief;
But hope yet becomes us—death’s sting holds no power;
We have a Redeemer—an unfailing Tower. —Gustafson

James wrote you “do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:15) When the great artist Raphael died at the early age of 37, friends and relatives carried his marvelous but unfinished painting The Transfiguration in the funeral procession. His family felt that because of the limited time he was allotted to use his creative genius, the painting was an appropriate symbol of his unfulfilled earthly aspirations. That half-completed picture has another meaning–a message that should impress itself on all of us: Life is fleeting and death may come unexpectedly. We should treasure each hour as a gift of great value and use it to the best advantage. And so we do well to pray the prayer of Moses the man of God “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.…. Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong, eighty years. Even the best of them are struggle and sorrow; indeed, they pass quickly and we fly away….SO TEACH US to number our DAYS, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:1-2, 10, 12note) The root meaning of the verb translated “NUMBER” is “to weigh” or “to measure.” We are to place each DAY in the divine balance so that it tips the scales in such a way that will bring glory to God and blessing to the lives of others. Remember that there is no time after time, but there is an eternity. Indeed, time is but the fringe of eternity!

Reflect for a moment what time of day it would be today if Moses’ normal life span of “70 years” were were squeezed into a single 24-hour day. For example, if you are 59, the time is approximately 8:30pm. If you approached your 70th birthday, it would be near midnight! In fact, this Christmas I considered asking my children for a watch called the “Tikker” which not only tells time but calculates your estimated life span, and displays a running countdown of your remaining time! It is advertised as the watch “that counts down your life, just so you can make every second count!” That’s not a bad tagline Biblically speaking! So the question is…

How much time? We are never sure,
But at least we have today
To seek to do the Master’s will,
In all we do and say. —Fitzhugh

David a man after God’s own heart echoed a prayer similar to Moses — “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my DAYS are numbered–how fleeting my life is.” (Ps 39:4NLT) Did you notice that the prayers of both men specify “DAYS” not years? Most men number their life in years, but wise men number their lives in DAYS. David goes on to write “BEHOLD, Thou hast made my DAYS as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in Thy sight. Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah…. And now Lord what do I wait for? My hope is in You” (Ps 39:5,7note) For what are you waiting? And how can you be sure that what you’re waiting for is going to come to pass? In light of the brevity of life, David’s HOPE was in Jehovah. Biblical hope is not “hope so,” but “hope sure,” a mindset that gives us an absolute assurance that God will do good to us in the future. The “Tikker” is ticking. Today is the DAY for us to seek God’s presence and power to enable us to be the people He wants us to be. And finding HOPE in our eternal God gives meaning for our daily lives however long or short. As Spurgeon explains “a handbreadth is one of the shortest natural measures, being the breadth of four fingers; such is the brevity of life, by divine appointment; God hath made it so, fixing the period in wisdom. David’s “BEHOLD” calls us to attention. To some the thoughts of life’s hastiness will bring the most acute pain, but to others the most solemn earnestness. How well should those live who are to live so little! Is my earthly pilgrimage so brief? Then let me watch every step of it, that in the little time there may be much of grace.” Selah – Pause and reflect on these things remembering that it is not HOW LONG you live that counts, but HOW WELL you live. Don’t spend time. Invest it! Don’t spend it on futility. Invest it in eternity!  “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl 9:10).

One life for Christ is all I have,
One life for Him so dear;
One life for doing all I can
With every passing year. —Brandt

Moses and David were both seeking God’s wisdom to live in the eternal now, to live in light of eternity, knowing that TODAY is the only DAY of which one can be certain. We need to give God our days, confident that He will take care of our tomorrows. “Yesterday is but a cancelled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is all of the cash that you have. Spend it wisely.” Indeed, we are stewards of every God-given DAY. DAYS wasted can never be recovered. No man ever possessed the same moment twice! One DAY we will all give an account for the opportunities God gave us each day of our life (2Cor 5:10note). We have all been allotted the same amount of time each day. May God grant that we learn to view every minute as precious, seeking to use it for His glory, for as the poet put it “I have only just a minute – only 60 seconds in it./ Forced upon me – can’t refuse it/ But it’s up to me just how I use it; I must suffer if I lose it./ Give account if I abuse it./ Just a tiny little minute – but eternity is in it.” Amen

SO THE QUESTION IS “AM I REDEEMING THE TIME OF MY LIFE?” To help answer that question ask yourself what do you really value most in life? Undoubtedly God, Jesus, family, etc are at the top of your list. But did you remember to include “TIME?” Ephesians 5:15-16note has been called the Bible’s key to TIME MANAGEMENT. In these passages Paul commands all believers “Therefore (because we have been awakened from spiritual stupor and spiritual death and have the light of Christ – Eph 5:14noteBE CAREFUL(a command to continually take heed, be alert, be vigilant, to discern with Spirit enabled vision) how you walk, not as unwise men (foolishly), but as wise, MAKING THE MOST OF   (REDEEMING) THE OPPORTUNITY (Kairos) because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:16) Notice that the evil of our day should motivate us to redeem the time each day. C H Spurgeon paraphrasesEph 5:16note–“See then that ye walk circumspectly (being careful to consider all circumstances and all possible consequences), not carelessly, not thinking that it is of no importance how you live; but looking all round you, “walk circumspectly,” watching lest even in seeking one good thing you spoil another.” In other words, if we walk wisely, we will be careful not to let the good steal God’s best! Charles Hummel, author of “Tyranny of the Urgent,” wrote that our “greatest danger is letting the urgent (secular, temporal) things crowd out the important (divine, eternal things).” Our problem is that too often we live by life’s demands, instead of by God’s priorities. Remember that life is too short for us to do everything we want to do, but it is long enough for us to do everything God wants us to do.

Paul gives a parallel command in Colossians to “Conduct (command to make this your habitual practice enabled by the Spirit) yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders,MAKING THE MOST OF (same verb as Eph 5:16) the OPPORTUNITY (KAIROS). Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.” (Col 4:5-6note) The verb MAKING THE MOST OF (REDEEMING) (Eph 5:16, Col 4:5) literally means to “buy out of the market place” as would a wise merchant diligently seeking the best bargains, taking care not to miss the fleeting “opportunities!” MAKING THE MOST OF is in the present tense which calls for us to make redemption of time our daily practice, buying up the strategic opportunities which God providentially places in our path. If we are walking wisely (Eph 5:15note), filled with (continually controlled and enabled by) God’s Spirit (Eph 5:18note), we will be spiritually alert to divine OPPORTUNITIES and will begin to view people and circumstances not simply as encounters (or irritations) but as opportunities (and “invitations”) to impact eternity, as we learn to “look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2Cor 4:18note).

Think of redeeming the time this way – If each day someone gave you $1440 (the number of minutes in a day) and said spend it or lose it, most of us would be quite motivated to wisely spend every dollar! A survey asked “What do you have to live for?” to which 94% answered they were just enduring today and living for tomorrow. That is living unwisely (Eph 5:15note). Too many people miss TODAY because they are worrying about TOMORROW (cf Jesus’ words in Mt 6:34note). Adrian Rogers said “We face the future out of breath, because we have been fighting tomorrow’s battles today!” Instead of killing time, redeem it. Instead of counting the days, make your days count. “ETERNITY will be appreciated only in the measure that we have rightly handled TIME!” Spurgeon said “‘NOW’ should be the watchword of the wise.” LATER may be too late! Right NOW counts for eternity. To make our life count for eternity, we must be wise in how we spend our time today. What will your eternal harvest be? A popular slogan says, “Life Is Short—Party Hard.” But God, Who gives us eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, reminds us that “Life Is Short—Live It Well!” It’s not how long you live that counts, but how well you live, for a life lived for God will count for eternity. To make the most of our earthly existence, we must lose ourselves in the will of God, living “the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.” (1Pe 4:2note).

I do not ask for honor, fame
While life’s short race I run,
But for a will to do Thy will
And then Thy glad “Well done.” —Meadows

In Ephesians 5:16 the word TIME is the Greek word KAIROS which can also be translated as OPPORTUNITY (as in Col 4:5) or SEASON (Ps 1:3 in the Lxx). In ancient Greece “Kairos” was a mythological character who had a forelock by which you could seize him when you met him, but who was bald in the back, so once he had sped past (his statute had wings on his feet), he could not be seized again. And so kairos refers to a fixed and definite period of time during which something can be accomplished that cannot be accomplished after the time has passed. The idea of kairos is not “clock time” (Gk – chronos) but what one writer refers to as “kingdom opportunities.” The time/opportunity for bringing forth fruit is the spring SEASON in which the tree bears fruit (Ps 1:3). Once the season has passed, there is no fruit. And so in a spiritual sense kairos is the time which  God allots to each believer to bring forth “spiritual fruit.” Therefore it behooves us, enabled by the Spirit, to  “Seize the Day” (Carpe diem) because Tempus fugit (Time flies)! Kill time and you murder opportunity. History records that when Hannibal could have taken Rome he did not, and when he later sought to he could not. As Horace Mann put it “Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever.” Kairos represents the best time to do something, the moment when circumstances are most suitable. Kairos can be a moment or a season, but always refers to specific times in which opportunity is “ripe”, so that when the time passes, so does the opportunity.

Our English word OPPORTUNITY is derived from the Latin “ob portu.” In ancient times before modern harbors, ships had to wait for the timing of the tide before they could make it safely to port. Thus “OB PORTU,” described the ship waiting “FOR PORT,” ready to seize the crucial moment when it could ride the tide into safe harbor. The captain knew that if he missed the passing tide, the ship would have to wait for another tide to come in. God gives each of us many “ob portu’s”, but we must be spiritually wise and Spirit filled in order to see and seize them. As Charles Swindoll said “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities (ob portu’s) brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Shakespeare’s famous line from Julius Caesar conveys the same thought: “There is a tide in the affairs of men (an “ob portu”), Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries.” Napoleon said, “There is in the midst of every great battle a ten to fifteen minute period that is the crucial point (kairos). Take that period and you win the battle; lose it and you will be defeated.” In short, KAIROS conveys the sense of an “opportune time,” a “window of opportunity”.  “Opportunity is the flower of time which blooms for a moment and is gone for ever.” (G Barlow) John Broadus said “Opportunity is like a fleet horse that pauses for a moment at one’s side. If you fail to mount him in that moment, you can hear the clatter of his hoofs down the corridors of time. That opportunity is gone forever.” Jonathan Edwards America’s greatest theologian understood Paul’s charge to REDEEM THE TIME and as a young man wrote “Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can. Resolved: to live with all my might while I do live.”

A farmer’s clock ran amuck one morning and struck seventeen. The man of the house jumped up and ran all over the place, saying, “Get up, it’s later than it ever has been before!”  It is later than it ever has been by God’s eternal timepiece. It is later than you think! Today you are as young as you will ever be. Don’t vacillate! Don’t hesitate! Don’t procrastinate! Time is loaned to us and, as good stewards of Christ, enabled by His Spirit we must use it wisely. Let us each redeem the golden moments of opportunity while we still can! “Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.” (Ps 144:4) As Spurgeon (who went home at age 59) said “A short life should be wisely spent. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify us in misspending a single quarter of an hour!” Spurgeon in fact reduced our lives to four words “Sown, groan, blown, gone!” As Larry Moyer said “Decide now what you want written on your tombstone, then live your life backward from there.” Stated another way, instead of counting your days, make your days count! Ask yourself what would you change if this day were your last? In fact, we should live every day as if it might be our last, for one of these days we will be right!

Now is the only time we own
To do His precious will,
Do not wait until tomorrow;
For the clock may then be still.

John Piper reiterates that the “OPPORTUNITY will never come again. The days are evil; opposition is great; be wise as serpents (Mt 10:16). Understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph 5:17-note)…These words ring with a sense of urgency. They are like the words of a platoon leader addressing his unit just before they enter combat. The air is tense and your heart is beating fast and, even if you love battle, your hands are sweaty. “Watch your step; be smart; don’t miss your opportunity; keep yourself lean for the battle!”…In other words, the Christian life is a vigilant life, defensively guarding itself from the subtleties of the evil days and offensively redeeming the time to strike for love and righteousness again and again. We are a vigilant people at war with unbelief and evil. O to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me…Surely God means for our minutes on earth to count for something significant. Paul said, “In the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Php 2:16note). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my “labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1Cor 15:58note). And I commend this promise to you. No minute need be lived in vain. Eternity will render it significant if lived in faith for the glory of God. In the end we rest in this: “My times are in Your hand” (Psalm 31:15note).

Adoniram Judson a famous missionary to Burma wrote that “A life once spent is irrevocable. It will remain to be contemplated throughout eternity. The same may be said of each DAY. When it is once past, it is gone forever. All the marks which we put upon it, it will exhibit forever. Each DAY will not only be a witness of our conduct, but will affect our everlasting destiny. How shall we then wish to see each day marked with usefulness! It is too late to mend the days that are past. The future is in our power. Let us, then, each morning, (enabled by God’s Spirit) resolve to send the DAY into eternity in such a garb as we shall wish it to wear forever. And at night let us reflect that one more DAY is irrevocably gone, indelibly (forever) marked.” Eternity will reveal whether we have made the right use of time for what we weave in time we will wear in eternity.  David Brainerd whose candle burned so brightly that God brought him home at the relatively young age of 29 wrote in his diary “Oh, how precious is time; and how guilty it makes me feel when I think I have trifled away and misemployed it or neglected to fill up each part of it with duty to the utmost of my ability and capacity. Oh, that I might not loiter on my heavenly journey!” It’s too late to redeem the time that is past, but not the time that is passing! Clocks don’t move backwards! So don’t replay those old tapes of failures of unfaithfulness. The hands of the time of your life that count are the ones moving “clockwise!” So enabled by God’s Spirit and His Word, make every second count for eternity!

Time that is past you can never recall,
Of time to come, you are not sure at all;
Only the present is now in your power,
Therefore, redeem and improve every hour.—Unknown

Adrian Rogers offers some practical thoughts on redeeming the time: (1) Learn to live in the eternal now. Today is the only day you have. Redeem the time. (2) Stop saying, “If I had time.” You do have time. (3) Stop worrying about tomorrow, and stop waiting for tomorrow. Give God today, and He will take care of tomorrow. (4) Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today. Cut yourself loose from the past. Bury your failure in the grave of God’s forgetfulness (read Micah 7:18-19Isaiah 43:2544:22), and let Him give you a brand new day. (5) If you have not accepted Christ, now is the time “for He says, “At the acceptable time (kairos = the opportune time!) I listened to you and on the day of salvation I helped you”; behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME (kairos),” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION” (2Cor 6:2)

Let us pray like the old Puritans in Valley of Vision — “Turn my heart from vanity, from dissatisfactions, from uncertainties of the present state, to an eternal interest in Christ. Let me remember that life is short and  unforeseen, and is only an opportunity for usefulness; GIVE ME A HOLY AVARICE TO REDEEM THE TIME, to awake at every call to charity (love) and piety (godliness), so that I may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, instruct the ignorant, reclaim the vicious, forgive the offender, diffuse the Gospel, show neighborly love to all. Let me live a life of self-distrust, dependence on Thyself (Thy Spirit), mortification, crucifixion, prayer.” Amen

Dear reader, may God by His Spirit cause each of us to so order our steps that when that great day comes we might hear those glorious words “Well done, good and faithful servant, you were faithful in a few things, I will put your in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your Master.” (Mt 25:21) “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Ps 90:12note)

The famous missionary C T Studd penned these words…

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice,
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave.
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes and fears,
Each with its days I must fulfill,
Living for self or in His will.
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Now take a moment, as you ponder the moments of your life which remain and the poignant words of Robin Mark’s song

When It’s All Been Said and Done
There is just one thing that matters.
Did I do my best to live for Truth?
Did I live my life for You?
When It’s All Been Said and Done
All my treasures will mean nothing.
Only what I’ve done for love’s reward,
Will stand the test of time.

Courtesy of https://preceptaustin.wordpress.com/2016/01/04/the-time-of-your-life/

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Amazing Message of Psalm 23 for Our Times

23-psalm1In all likelihood, many of you are very familiar with Psalm 23, but I would like to consider this portion of Scripture in the context of a life well-lived in God. I believe that the Christian life, at least as has been the case in America, is generally lived in two stages, both of which are ordained of God and supernaturally lived. These two stages are beautifully illustrated in Psalm 23, so let’s take a look, starting at the beginning.

David’s song opens with the words, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). Can you, too, say today that the Lord is your shepherd? In other words, have you truly transferred the ownership and direction of your life over to God? Consider this: If I were to tell you that I was going to give you my car, the transaction would not be complete until I signed off on the title and you went down to the Department of Motor Vehicles and got it registered in your name. At that point, with the title in hand, you would be able to rightfully say, “This car belongs to me.”

Now, a lot of people want to call Jesus their shepherd, yet they do not want to release the rights of their lives over to Him. They may come to church and agree with a set of facts, understanding that there is a heaven and a hell and knowing that Jesus died for their sins. However, mental agreement with a set of facts is not salvation. There comes a point when each person has to sign over the rights to his life to the One who bought him with a price.

Until that happens, one cannot honestly say, “The Lord is my shepherd.” There are other people who want to retain joint ownership. They come to the altar and sign over the “title” of their life, but they also say, “I will now be a co-owner with Jesus of what He purchased with His blood.” However, the Lord will never be a passenger in any car! When you sign over the rights to your life, it does not mean co-ownership. He fully owns you! He owns the rights to your future—to wherever He calls you to go and whatever He calls you to be!

And then there is a third type of people who want to be the lien holders. In other words, they essentially say, “If You do not treat me the way I think You ought to, I am taking back the rights to my life.” No! When we come to Christ, we cast ourselves on the mercies of God. We make the choice to go with Him all the way—no turning back. It is truly wonderful when you can rightfully say, “The Lord is my shepherd.”

Yes, you may have struggles, and you may even argue with God at times. But if He is the Lord of your life, He will lead and guide you, using your life for His glory.

I SHALL NOT WANT

David then goes on to say, “I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). Having once been a shepherd myself, I well understand what this means. When we were younger, my wife and I had a sheep farm with sixty-eight females, two males, and a bunch of lambs, depending on the season. Sometimes when I got home after working all day, I would go sit in the barn among the sheep for an hour or so, just listening to them. I was able to pick up on many things. You see, because I was their shepherd, their needs were my concerns. I could tell if there was trouble simply by the tension in the air. If they were chewing too fast, quite often it was because there was a sick lamb in their midst. Or perhaps a snake or rat had gotten into the barn. I would then get up and start looking around and I would always discover the problem!

And so when I gave my life to Christ, it became easy for me to understand that His heart is for me. His heart is to feed me when I am hungry, to calm all my fears, to reassure me by His presence that all will be well. Every need I have is of deepest concern for my shepherd, and so I know I shall not want!

HE MAKES ME TO LIE DOWN

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters” (Psalm 23:2). I grew up in a house where I was taught to worry. Before my mother became a Christian, she worried so much that if there was nothing to worry about, she would worry about that! It seemed as if most of her sentences had “and die” at the end of them. “Don’t eat your food too fast—you will choke and die!” or “Be careful crossing the street—you might get hit by a car and die!” By the time I was fifteen years old, I was afraid to go out of the house.

But when I came to Christ, He “made me to lie down in green pastures”—which meant reading the Word of God. I opened the Bible, and He began to reveal to me why I was born. I started to sense that there was a divine purpose for my life and that it would be achieved by His promises. I learned that God had not given me a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind. He led me to a place of stillness in my spirit—a place where all of the clanging voices of doom and despair were silenced.

FOR HIS NAME’S SAKE

“He restores my soul” (Psalm 23:3). We all have pain and wounds from the past that threaten to dominate our thinking and our lives forever. However, the Lord restores our soul. He brings healing that cannot come any other way. The verse continues: “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). Notice that God does this for His name’s sake. Did you know that God has interwoven the honor of His name in you? What an amazing thought! God might say to the angels in heaven, “Do you want to see what I look like? Look at that person! I have interwoven the honor of My name in keeping that child of mine—leading, guiding, and transforming him into what he was destined to be!” One day back on the farm, I was about to leave for work when I looked out the kitchen window and saw that about twenty of my sheep had escaped through a hole in the fence. They ended up underneath my neighbor’s deck next door. I was already dressed for work and didn’t have time to gather a bunch of people to help me get the sheep back. As I was trying to figure out what to do, I suddenly remembered that sheep love oats. I quickly put some in a can and carried it over to my neighbor’s porch. I then shook the can, saying, “Here, you ewes, come follow me!” Even though there were twenty sheep and only one little can of oats, they all felt certain they were going to get some, so they followed me down the road back home. If I had left them there, I would have become known as the guy who lets his sheep wander all over the place. Therefore, for my name’s sake, I led them back to where they were supposed to be!

That is exactly what God does. If you are where you shouldn’t be, you will soon find before you somebody with a “can of oats”—the promises of God. “Follow Me; I have something greater for your life! You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to be in this relationship. You don’t have to keep going to this club.”

Remember, wherever God is calling us to go will always be a place of safety and provision. I would never call my sheep home only to leave them high and dry in the barn. I would break open a bag of oats and fill the troughs so that they all had as much as they wanted!

THE BRIDGE

Did you notice that up until this point, Psalm 23 has been all about me? “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down; He leads me; He restores me” (see Psalm 23:1–3). It has been all about my comfort, my promises, my healing and my being led. Of course, all of these things are important. You don’t make demands of a child when he is learning to walk or read. A child needs constant reassurance that everything is going to be okay.

And so the first three verses of Psalm 23 speak to me about the beginnings of the Christian walk. God is reassuring us that He will be with us, comfort us, provide for us, and lead us. But then we come to the bridge. Just as a bridge in a song is a climactic build to something greater, verse four is a bridge that takes us to a deeper place as sons and daughters of God: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (23:4). It is a bridge from that place of youthfulness to something deeper in God. It is where we fulfill our purpose as sons and daughters of God, representing Him in the earth. It is often a place where we must face our deepest inner fears; a place where we may feel incapable of doing what Christ is asking of us.

ELISHA’S JOURNEY

The Bible gives us another picture of this bridge in the story of Elijah and Elisha. Elisha was a young prophet in training who ended up following Elijah across the Jordan River. This crossing was the bridge—representing death to an old way of living and birth to a new destiny. Before arriving at the Jordan, they passed by different cities with prophets who saw Elisha’s journey only as one of loss. They warned Elisha, “If you follow this path, you are going to lose your master! It is going to be difficult” (see 2 Kings 2:5).

It is in such a place that many Christians stand idle in indecision, and some end up turning back. But not Elisha. The Bible tells us that when Elijah crossed over the Jordan with Elisha following close behind, the people who knew truth watched, refusing to embark on the journey themselves. It was the journey to life and power, yet they would not take it because it meant dying to something they did not want to let go of; it meant a lifestyle that they were not prepared to embrace. They did not mind studying the Scriptures and knowing the history. But to be given for a failing, fallen society was not something they found palatable at all.

In America, this, too, has been the source of weakness in our testimony of Christ. Our theological focus has primarily been on ourselves. We have lived in verses one to three of Psalm 23 for the last fifty years and, as a result, society is now turning against the testimony of Christ, with multitudes heading for hell. It is time for us to be willing to take the journey! We must go across the bridge in verse four and move on to something deeper for all of our lives.

Sadly, many will not cross the bridge because it means death to their own desires. It means entering into the work of God as mature sons and daughters, living for the benefit of others. Of course, it is not easy for any of us; we all inherently want to be happy and comfortable. Yet we are being called to this place known as the valley of the shadow of death.

A DEEPER JOY

David was willing to take the full journey, and we see in Psalm 23 that he eventually came to the place where he could say, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). He recognized that God was working through him an honorable and eternal purpose. “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). David was led to a table of divine strength in the midst of a hostile society. Although he was surrounded by enemies, he was able to sit down and eat with a peace deeper than any he had ever known; with confidence that could not be taken away from him. David went on to say, “You anoint my head with oil” (Psalm 23:5).

In other words, “Now I understand the purpose of my life. I thought I had won the victory in the days of Goliath, or when I sang my sweet songs and drove the devils away from Saul. But then You led me through the valley of the shadow of death, and now that I have come out the other side, I see that my life is meant to be something greater than I once thought. I understand that this is about Your kingdom and Your people!” “My cup runs over” (Psalm 23:5).

Now gladness flowed out of his entire being. There is a joy available in the Christian life that is so deep and so far beyond just singing songs in church or feeling good about ourselves. The Lord and the angels in heaven rejoice every time a sinner returns home, and He is willing to let us share in this joy! That means your joy will no longer merely be because there are oats in the barn or because you feel comfortable and warm. Your joy will be so far beyond all those former things you learned in verses one to three. Now it will be found in seeing the heart of God satisfied through your life in your generation.

GOODNESS AND MERCY

Lastly, David said, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6). When I get to the end of my journey, I want to be able to look behind me and see goodness and mercy in people’s lives. I want to be able to say, “Lord, You gave them to me, and I didn’t lose them. I did everything I knew to feed them and remind them that You care for them. I did everything I could to get them to follow me across the bridge so that they might be given for the needs of this society. I taught them that there is a table even in the presence of hateful places where, in the natural, we would rather not go.”

Which brings me back to the title of this newsletter: “For heaven’s sake, hurry up and die!” Let’s hurry up and die to ourselves and to our fears so that we can cross the bridge, making a way for many others to come to Christ. A self-focused Church will never touch this generation. That is why God is calling us to cross that bridge to where it is no longer about us but about His plans and purposes. So let’s go and be everything that God has called us to be. Let’s believe Him for the supernatural. Let’s allow Him to make us ambassadors of the Christ who went to a cross!

If we will allow Him to take us on this journey, God will cause us to make a difference in this world. He will give us grace and strength so that we might pave the way for countless others to find Him as Lord and Savior!

Carter Conlon ©2016 Times Square Church

Courtesy of http://www.tscnyc.org/sermons/46815_sermon-newsletter-201602-for-heavens-sake-hurry-up-and-die.pdf

Posted in Bible Teachings, Inspirational Messages | Leave a comment

God the Great Giant Killer

Charlton-Heston-as-Moses-The-Ten-Commandments-1956-ParamountThese are my notes for my teaching at the Chapel Service at Wheeler Mission for the homeless on January 17, 2016.

Life consist of many circumstances, difficulties and problems that seem overwhelming. We feel crushed under the weight of these giants. Often we want to give up as we lose heart to go on. This teaching is for you to tell you are not alone. God knows what you are going through and He is the great giant killer. In battling the giants, and the impossible in our lives, the first and foundational truth you must first know and believe is that you have immense value to God. You are important to God. God loves you with an infinite love and you are more precious to Him that all the treasures in Heaven and earth. Do you believe it?  It is true. Much about life in this world seems designed to make us think that what we are or what we think or do is of no account. We feel that it really makes no difference whether we live or die. We feel that we are lost in the shuffle; we are nameless, faceless blobs in the teeming masses of humanity!

Do you realize the significance of your life to God? Now is the time to decide what direction you are going and with whom. Alone or with God? Now is the time of your salvation in God.

God is not a duplicator. Of the seven billion people on the planet earth not one has the same fingerprint. God is not a duplicator, a copycat, and a counterfeiter, but God is a Creator; God is an originator: God is a visionary. God only has one you. No one can ever be you. God only designed one you. He only has one blueprint that he masterfully used to make a masterpiece called you. God has designed you wonderfully unique and awesomely made as a true original. God has the most spectacular design for your life that is absolutely breathtaking and specific down to the littlest detail. This is a new day. Past is gone. With God move forward from this day forth.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Value of your life to God. Only person on earth that would believe, Jesus would have still died for you.  You are significant. You matter. The Value of One Human Life Matthew 10:29-30: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Luke 15: The prodigal son and the loving, forgiving father. He was looking for him to return to Him and He ran to meet him.

The Bible shows you who you are and what you can become. Matthew 4:4:  our spiritual diet, our food that restores our soul, that defines our being guides our path, that gives us light in the midst of darkness and gives a rock to build our lives upon. God cannot lie and He is faithful to His word. It is the truth and it will set you free.

Land of promises and land of giants.

Do you know there is a spiritual Promised Land for each Christian believer where the believer lives and breathes the promises of God? It is a place where the promises of God are experienced in all their fullness and a place where we bear abundant spiritual fruit for our God. The Promised Land is where God has called us to live as Christians and where God wants our hearts to be. The Devil does not want us to enter the Promised Land and has set hostile giants throughout the land to prevent us from taking the inheritance that God has given us.  As Christians we must arise out of the wilderness and boldly go into this Promised Land and claim our rightful inheritance. As Joshua did, we need to take the mountains of giants and slew every giant in our minds and hearts that has ever prevented us from living the more abundant life that God has promised.  The Promised Land and the battle with these giants is the epicenter of spiritual warfare and we must conquer every giant in Christ if we are ever to fulfill our purpose for this generation.

God is a giant killer

First of all, let’s look at just how great the promises of God are. Nothing on the face of the earth compares to the promises of God. No amount of money or wealth can even compare to the riches of possessing even one promise.

II Peter 1:3, 4 (ESV):

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Phillips:

He has by his own action given us everything that is necessary for living the truly good life, in allowing us to know the one who has called us to him, through his own glorious goodness.

It is through him that God’s greatest and most precious promises have become available to us men, making it possible for you to escape the inevitable disintegration that lust produces in the world and to share in God’s essential nature.

God is His Word (John 1:1). It is what God has spoken. It is living and powerful and will change everything in your life. Jeremiah 23:29: Does not My word burn like fire? Does it not shatter rock like a strong hammer? Nothing can stand against His Word. Generations have tried but it lives and abides forever. This is what we need to be hiding in our hearts and meditating in our souls. This needs to be our fix in life.

The Bible teaches us the last and greatest lesson that the soul had to learn is the fact that God and God alone, is enough for its needs. This is the lesson that all His dealings with us are meant to teach; and this is the crowning discovery of our whole Christian life. God is enough!

Job 33:12,13: Behold in this you are not right, I will answer you, for God is greater than man. Why do you contend against him…?

Why do we go to weak substitutes and counterfeit gods that cannot satisfy and give you life? Why do we contend with His Word?

Then Job answered and said: If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times. He is wise in heart and mighty in strength —who has hardened himself against him, and succeeded? — who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; who alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the sea; who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south; who does great things beyond searching out, and marvelous things beyond number. Behold, he passes by me, and I see him not; he moves on, but I do not perceive him. Behold, he snatches away; who can turn him back? Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty! If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him? For he is not a man, as I am, (Job 9:1-4, 6, 8-12, 19, 32, 33 ESV)

Nothing compares to God in this world. He is enough. He is all that you need.

“Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea. If he passes through and imprisons and summons the court, who can turn him back? “If you prepare your heart, you will stretch out your hands toward him. If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your tents. Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish; you will be secure and will not fear. And your life will be brighter than the noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. And you will feel secure, because there is hope; you will look around and take your rest in security. You will lie down, and none will make you afraid; many will court your favor. But the eyes of the wicked will fail; all way of escape will be lost to them, and their hope is to breathe their last.” (Job 11:7-10, 13-15, 17-20 ESV)
Only God provides the way of escape. Without God there is no hope. Their hope vanishes with their last breath. Eternity.

Psalm 18 should be our confession in the battle against any giant in our life.

Psalm 18:1ff: I love you, O Lord, my strength.The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies.The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me;the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.10 He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. 16 He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.17 He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support.19 He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me. 21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God. 28 For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.29 For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.30 This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.31 For who is God, but the Lord?  And who is a rock, except our God?—32 the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless.33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.

Job 33:28: He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light. Behold God does all these things, twice, three times, with a man, to bring back his soul from the pit that he might be lighted with the light of life.

Psalm 40: 1-5: I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He reached down and drew me from the deep, dark hole where I as stranded, mired in the muck and clay. With a gentle hand, He pulled me out To set me down safely on a warm rock; He held me until I was steady enough to continue the journey again.As if that were not enough, because of Him my mind is clearing up.
Now I have a new song to sing—a song of praise to the One who saved me.
Because of what He’s done, many people will see and come to trust in the Eternal. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told. As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me.13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me! As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

We do not need to go astray after the lie anymore. He is our helper, our deliver. He will not delay. We can trust God and His promises as we enter the land of giants.

He is the Sovereign Lord. We reject the words of the enemy that bombard our hearts daily because we know what He thinks of us and what He has made us to be.

In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. Does not the ear test words as the palate tastes food? “With God are wisdom and might; he has counsel and understanding. If he tears down, none can rebuild; if he shuts a man in, none can open. He makes nations great, and he destroys them; he enlarges nations, and leads them away. (Job 12:10, 11, 13, 14, 23 ESV)

Joshua 1:1-9-The Battle Cry Against the Giants

There is a beautiful illustration of this truth in the book of Joshua. When Joshua was about to lead the nation of Israel into the Promised Land, he faced thirty-one hostile nations that were not about to surrender their territories to the people of God. These hostile empires were thirty-one strongholds, most having heavily fortified cities, and were described as giants in the land of Canaan (Numbers 11:31-33). The Devil placed these nations right in the heart of the Promised Land. If Israel was to inherit the land God had promised them, they would have to defeat these nations and tear down their strongholds. God told Joshua that not one nation, stronghold, or person could stand against him. Joshua was to courageously advance into enemy territory and conquer every stronghold in the name of God Almighty. God encouraged Joshua to not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God was with Him. God was going to show in spectacular fashion in the presence of His people that no stronghold can stand against His mighty power. The first kingdom-city that stood in the way of Joshua and all of Israel was Jericho a formidable, heavily fortified city. This stronghold had to be demolished, but human logic and reason would label this task as impossible. Jericho was one of the greatest cities of its day, and was surrounded by a great embankment with a stone retaining wall twelve to fifteen feet high. On top of the retaining wall was a mud-brick wall six feet thick and six to eight feet high. At the crest of the embankment was another mud-brick wall that was forty-six feet above the ground level outside the retaining wall. If you were standing in front of this city, the walls would be close to seven stories high. This stronghold’s massive fortifications dared any soul, army, or nation to attack it. Joshua could have easily thought, “Are you kidding me? This is impossible! This stronghold is impregnable!” But is anything too hard for God? What people say is impossible, God says is possible with Him! (Luke 18:37).

1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. 5 No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success[a] wherever you go. 8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The fall of the first giant: mighty Jericho:

Joshua 6:15ff:  On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. 16 And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city.  20 So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.

Jeremiah 32:26,27: The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?

Genesis 18:14: Is there anything too difficult for the Lord?

Luke 1:37: For nothing is impossible with God. (For no word from God will fail)

David and the formidable giant Goliath

The shepherd boy against the mightiest warrior on earth

I Samuel 17:4ff: And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span (9 ft 9 inches). He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail, and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze (126 pounds). And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron (15 pounds). And his shield-bearer went before him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.43 And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.” 45 Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, hat all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”48 When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.50 So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David.

Jehoshaphat

2 Chronicles 20: 1ff: After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle. Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi).Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah assembled to seek help from the Lord; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord.And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the Lord, before the new court, and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” Thus says the Lord to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you.”

Moses and army of Egypt and Red sea.

Exodus 14:13ff: 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging[b] their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the seareturned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the Lord threw[c] the Egyptians into the midst of the sea.28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

Now stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. I Samuel 12:16

Gideon-300 men vs. 135,000 Midianites. 450 to 1.

Judges 7:7: And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand…19 So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. 20 Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the Lord and for Gideon!” 21 Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the Lord set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Daniel 3: Then Nebuchadnezzar in furious rage commanded that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought. So they brought these men before the king.14 Nebuchadnezzar answered and said to them, “Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If this be so,our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.[d] 18 But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

19 Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. 20 And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics,[e] their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. 22 Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, fell bound into the burning fiery furnace.

24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”

We make God too small!

Daniel vs. the hungry lions: Daniel 6:16: Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” 17 And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. 18 Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

19 Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions.20 As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” 21 Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! 22 My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.

Hezekiah vs. the terror of the Assyrian kingdom

The atrocities, cruelty and savagery of the Assyrian Empire make ISIS today look like child’s play. The cruelty of the Assyrian Empire’s actions were publicized via text, colored wall paintings and carvings in stone. Historian Arthur Ferrill compared them to photos of Nazi concentration camps, and said they had few parallels in history. Artwork showing the skin being cut off of living captives, the impaling of prisoners on stakes, mass forced deportations of conquered peoples, captives being burned or having their tongues torn out and everywhere piles upon piles of human heads are highlighted. There mistake was to take on the Lord of Hosts, Yahweh.

2 Chronicles 32:9ff  After this, Sennacherib king of Assyria, who was besieging Lachish with all his forces, sent his servants to Jerusalem to Hezekiah king of Judah and to all the people of Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, 10 “Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem?11 Is not Hezekiah misleading you, that he may give you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, “The Lord our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria”? 13 Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand? 14 Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? 15 Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’”

2 Kings 19:14ff: Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord.15 And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said: “O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 16 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 17 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 19 So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”  “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 34 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” 35 And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. 37 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

Moses: And He said, Certainly I will be with thee”   (Exodus 3:12).

Of course, if the LORD sent Moses on an errand, He would not let him go alone. The tremendous risk which it would involve and the great power it would require would render it ridiculous for God to send a poor lone Hebrew to confront the mightiest king in all the world and then leave him to himself. It could not be imagined that a wise God would match poor Moses with Pharaoh and the enormous forces of Egypt. Hence He says, “Certainly I will be with thee,”

What are you giants?

Fear? Addiction? Job? Place to Live? Past? Bad reputation? Criminal record? People? God will deliver you from them all if you trust in Him.

Psalm 91: God’s promise against any giant

Psalm 91:1ff: Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you. If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you;

One of the amazing names of God is The Lord of Hosts: Exodus 15:3: The Lord is a warrior. The Lord is his name. This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel saying “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the LORD of Hosts (Zech 4:6). God is our warrior who will fight every battle, every difficulty and every problem for us. Nothing can withstand God!

Learn to trust God

Proverbs 3:1-7: My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.

Isaiah 64:4 boldly promises that God acts on behalf of those who trust in Him.

There is hope. We cannot be tethered to the sins of yesterday.

We cannot change the past no matter how wishful we may be. We can, however, learn from it. That’s certainly better than being held captive to its regrets, setbacks and problems. Every morning you awake to a new gift—the gift of today. It is my prayer that you will be freed to let go of yesterday—learn from it, yes, but also let go of it—and then to embrace today. For today is full of hope.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11).

Amazing lessons in the Bible of flawed people. Why does God show us the failures of these great leaders? Could it be He wants us to know that in spite of our fiascoes, He can still make something glorious out of our lives? The list of names in Hebrews 11 underscores this truth. In this passage, men and women of great faith are noted—ones whom God Almighty approved. One might be shocked, however, to discover how many of them were restored spiritually following failures such as deception, drunkenness, adultery, idolatry and murder. Consider Jacob. What a saga his life story is. From birth, God gave him a remarkable promise that he would be blessed and his older brother would serve him. With this kind of divine assurance, it would seem like Jacob would turn out to be the perfect saint. Instead, he became a crook who lied to his own father, stole his blessing and lived a life full of deceit. Jacob ended up wasting 20 precious years of his life. I consider his biography one of the most interesting of them all. Here is why: Numerous times throughout the Bible, God reminds His people that He is “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:15). In fact, in this same verse, God says, “This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” Toward the end of Jacob’s journey, God changed his name, which means “deceiver,” to Israel, meaning “Prince of God.” So, why doesn’t He say, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and . . . Israel”? How strange! How come He associates His name with a cheat who wasted two decades trying to do things his own way? Through His name, His very identity, God wants to say to you and me, “I am still the God who makes failures into princes of God. I remain the God who takes broken lives—people with multiple divorces, sick in body because of sin, in prison for decades, labeled as losers, crazy folk nobody wants, outcasts with no hope—and turns them into something beautiful.”

2 Corinthians 3:4ff: Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,

2 Corinthians 4:7: But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

Romans 8:31ff: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God is for you. He is on your team. Nothing and I mean nothing can separate you from Him and His love. This makes you a super-conqueror in Christ. THe court of God has wiped your slate clean in Christ and you no longer fall under condemnation for you have been justified, freed from the penalty of sin. THis is the victory we stand in in Christ.

God wants each Christian believer to come to the knowledge of the truth according to 1 Timothy 2:4 of their new identity in Christ. Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32 that when we continue in the Scripture, reading, memorizing, and reflecting on its words, we shall know the truth and the truth will set the heart free from any prison that is holding it captive. Truth in our thinking leads to great physical, mental, and spiritual freedom in our hearts. If we want to be set free from whatever burden is holding us back from living passionately for God, we must allow the truth of the Bible to govern our thought life. Either the truth of God or a lie is controlling our thought life. God gives truth, and the Devil speaks lies and deception. We must decide which takes control of our thought life. If truth does not live and breathe in our thinking, we will eventually fall into the snare of the Devil, and our thinking will turn from the truth of God and embrace a lie. The Devil is always trying to turn our thinking away from the truth. These dungeons of bondage melt when they touch the glory of our God. God cries out to us like He did in Isaiah 45:2, “I will go before you and level the mountains. Bronze doors I will shatter, and iron bars I will snap!”

Never forget these words as long as you live:

Isaiah 41:10: Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 121: 2-8:  My help comes from the Lord,  who made heaven and earth.He will not let your foot be moved;    he who keeps you will not slumber.The Lord is your keeper;    the Lord is your shade on your right hand.The Lord will keep you from all evil;  he will keep your life. The Lord will keep    your going out and your coming in    from this time forth and forevermore.

Hebrews 13:5b, 6: For He has said: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

Double and triple negative in Greek. When God says something twice in Bible it is certainly established without any iota of a doubt.

“Leave” in Greek: (aniemi)-to desert, send back, to relax, to loosen, not to uphold, to let sink abandon.. He is not going to leave us, fail to uphold us or let us sink! One might translate this phrase — “I will in no way let you go.” “I will not relax my hold on you.” Think about these words. God cannot lie. His Word is faithful.

“Forsake” in Greek: Forsake:  egkataleipo means to abandon, desert, or leave behind, leave helpless, leave destitute, leave in straits or let one down. It speaks of forsaking someone in a state of defeat or helplessness, even in midst of hostile circumstances.

Remember — When it’s just you and God, that’s enough.

“I will win her back once again. I will lead her out into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope” (Hosea 2:14–15, NLT).

I am here tonight to tell you no matter what happened in the past in the Valley of Trouble there is a gateway of Hope. Tonight is a new beginning. God is extending his hand to life up and embrace you. He is telling you, I’ve got this, do not be afraid, do not worry, Do not be anxious, I will take care of you.

God pleads, God admonishes, God commands and God calls to us every single day to not be afraid, but to simply trust Him in everything. He stands at the door of our heart and cries daily: “It is I! Be not afraid!”

Isaiah 43:1,2: But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.

Know from this day forward you are God’s through his saving work in Christ. You’re his child, his prized possession. You are His and nothing can change this. He is with you through the waters, and through the fire. He will never let you go, never abandon you and never forsake you. He is your giant killer.

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Depend on God

small_man_with_arms_raisedBiblically, “holy” means “separated,” or “set apart.” In Scripture, God’s chief attribute is holiness. In fact, He is said to be “holy, holy, holy,” that is, completely holy. So I think we can look at each day of our lives as “set apart,” but what does that mean in practice? Some people think it means to go live on top of a mountain in a monastery. Others don’t change their address, but they still hold themselves aloof from the “things of the world” to the degree that they are basically isolated from the mainstream of life and have little impact on other people.

I think, for us as Christians, that the proper understanding of this idea of separation is twofold: I separate myself in my heart (and in practice, depending upon the activity) from evil; and I have a place in my heart that is set apart for holy communion with my heavenly Father and my Lord Jesus. In the Old Testament, those who wanted to talk with God had to pack a lunch. That is, they had to travel to somewhere like the Tabernacle or the Temple, because that is where God dwelt. But now, because of the work of Jesus Christ and the gift of holy spirit, each “saint” (holy one) is a “holy dwelling place” where God has taken up permanent residence. So I can enter into the presence of God any time I choose to quiet my heart and focus upon my God and/or my Lord.

In that vein, I have been thinking a lot lately about specifically requesting much more from God. After all, not only is He my Father, He is also The Creator. His willingness to do “exceeding abundantly above all I can ask or think” equals His ability to do so. We all know Jesus’ words: “Ask, and it will be given to you.” And James says, “You have not because you ask not.” I think I’ll start believing both of those statements more than I have been, and realize that I can, and no doubt should, talk with both my Father and my Lord about everything in my life. That is, I can ask for their help about anything, big or small, internal or circumstantial. My goal is to more clearly recognize my own helplessness, and look to them for the help they so fervently desire to give me – and you.

It seems clear from Scripture that perhaps the biggest key there is to walking with God is recognizing our total dependence upon Him, yet how often do I fail to act this way, take matters into my own hands and get kicked in the teeth by the Devil. Then it becomes a matter of how I relate to these failures — I can rationalize, blame someone else, or blow it off. Or I can honestly look at my sin in light of God’s Word, feel the pain of hurting God and others, and then stay in the pain until I realize that God is the only way out. Then I can account and repent before my heavenly Father who will, like the father of the prodigal son, run to me in my repentance, take me up in His loving arms and, with perfectly appropriate kindness, do whatever it takes to help me see where I erred in my heart and encourage me to keep going on my path of righteousness.

In his book, What’s So Amazing About Grace?, Philip Yancey quotes C.S. Lewis:

“It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us. Surely we must have a little—however little—native luminosity? Surely we can’t be quite creatures…Grace substitutes a full, childlike and delighted acceptance of our Need, a joy in dependence. We become ‘jolly beggars.’”

Yancey then writes:

“We creatures, we jolly beggars, give glory to God by our dependence. Our wounds and defects are the very fissures through which grace might pass. It is our human destiny on earth to be imperfect, incomplete, weak and mortal, and only by accepting that destiny can we escape the force of gravity and receive grace. Only then can we grow close to God.”

Today, in our postmodern culture, “dependence” is hardly a byword. In fact, “independence” is the order of the day for those truly tuned in to “reality.” Of course, postmodern thinking makes it difficult to pinpoint reality, because each person is, in his ongoing evolution toward godhood, so independent that he creates his own reality. Because, they say, there is no such thing as absolute truth, no standard set by Someone higher than ourselves, each of us determines his own truth. I wonder what they say when two opposing “truths” clash head-on.

Postmodernism is akin to what Satan told Adam and Eve in the Garden: “You will be better off if you decide for yourselves what is reality. Any standard imposed upon you is restrictive, and dilutes the quality of life you could have. So go ahead, take matters into your own hands and don’t worry about the consequences.” How thankful we can be to the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, that he perfectly modeled a life of total dependence upon God, and that he is now ready, willing and able to help us walk in his steps of faith.

Some time ago I became aware of two very strange verses of Scripture “hidden away” back in the book of 1 Chronicles. At least, in the context they are very strange. 1 Chronicles 1:1 through 4:37 is a lengthy chronology of who fathered who fathered who fathered who, etc. But stuck right in it, out of the proverbial blue, are these two verses:

1 Chronicles 4:9 and 10 (NKJV)
(9) Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.”
(10) And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying “Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.” So God granted him what he requested.

Then recently I came across a little 92 page book by Bruce Wilkinson titled The Prayer of Jabez, and I would like to share with you some of it, in light of the importance of our making requests of God. Let us remember that God longs to give us every good thing He can, but He has set up the relationship between Him and each of His children such that it is usually incumbent upon us to ask for things before He can give them to us.

Wilkinson breaks down the four clauses in Jabez’ prayer. In the chapter titled, “So Why Not Ask?” he writes in regard to Jabez’ general request: “Oh, that you would bless me indeed”:

When we ask for God’s blessing, we’re not asking for more of what we could get for ourselves. We’re crying out for the wonderful, unlimited goodness that only God has the power to know about or give to us…Notice a radical aspect of Jabez’ request for blessing: He left it entirely up to God to decide what the blessings would be and where, when and how Jabez would receive them…The Jabez blessing focuses like a laser on our wanting for ourselves nothing more and nothing less than God wants for us…Even though there is no limit to God’s goodness, if you didn’t ask Him for a blessing yesterday, you didn’t get all that you were supposed to have.

Regarding Jabez’ request that God would “enlarge his territory,” in a chapter titled, “Living Large For God,” here are some excerpts:

Ask God to enlarge your life so you can make a greater impact for Him…As your opportunities expand, your ability and resources supernaturally increase also…Most believers seem to shrink from living at this level of blessing and influence…Our God specializes in working through normal people who believe in a supernatural God who will do His work through them…My willingness and weakness + God’s will and supernatural power = my expanding territory…You’ll nearly always feel fear when you begin to take new territory for Him, but you’ll also experience the tremendous thrill of God carrying you along as you’re doing it…It’s when you thrust yourself into the mainstream of God’s plans for this world—which are beyond our ability to accomplish—and plead with Him, “Give me more ministry for You!—that you release miracles…God always intervenes when you put His agenda before yours and go for it!

“Oh, that your hand would be with me” is the next part of the prayer of Jabez, and in regard to that, Wilkinson writes about “descending to power”:

Actually, the second you’re not feeling dependent is the second you’ve backed away from truly living by faith…Dependence upon God makes heroes of ordinary people like Jabez and you and me…Your surrendered need turns into God’s unlimited opportunity…God’s power under us, in us, surging through us is exactly what turns dependence into unforgettable experiences of completeness…If seeking God’s blessings is our ultimate act of worship, and asking to do more for Him is our utmost ambition, then asking for God’s hand upon us is our strategic choice to sustain and continue the great things that God has begun in our lives…You and I are only one plea away from inexplicable, Spirit-enabled exploits. By His touch you can experience supernatural enthusiasm, boldness and power. It’s up to you. Ask every day for the Father’s touch, because for the Christian, dependence is just another word for power.

The last of Jabez’ four requests is, “Oh, that you would keep me from evil.” Of late I have been sobered by considering the lethal combination of Satan’s clever wiles and my own weaknesses of character, so I have perhaps emphasized that clause as I have prayed this prayer recently. Writing about the perils of spiritual success, Wilkinson quotes another writer: “Blessedness is the greatest of perils because it tends to dull our keen sense of dependence upon God and make us prone to presumption.” In regard to Jabez’ plea, he goes on:

Somehow we don’t think to ask God simply to keep us away from temptation and keep the Devil at bay in our lives…We make a huge spiritual leap forward when we begin to focus less on beating temptation and more on avoiding it…Like Jabez, we should plead to be kept from the powerful pull of what feels right to us but is wrong.

Wilkinson suggests a prayer:

“Lord, keep me from making the mistakes I’m most prone to make when temptation comes. I confess that what I think is necessary, smart or personally beneficial is so often only the beautiful wrapping on sin. So please, keep evil far from me!”

As I said, I have been praying this prayer for only a while now, but I think I can already see evidence of how God has answered it. Of course, I pray a lot of other prayers too, but I try to start my day with this simple but powerful request to my heavenly Father. I also pray that I recognize how God is answering this fourfold supplication so that I can walk all the way into His will for my life. To do that, I see that I will have to trust Him to go all the way out “on the edge” of my faith and allow God to expand it.

Courtesy of http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/depend-on-god

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A Maranatha Mindset for 2016

ReturnTHOUGHTS ON A “MARANATHA MINDSET“: A Google search retrieves over 11 million hits for “Maranatha” (many associated with names of churches or ministries), so clearly this word is very popular. A brief informal survey of believers reveals the majority were uncertain of the meaning of Maranatha which prompted this post. Maranatha is used only once in the Bible by Paul who closes his first letter to the Corinthians with the surprisingly strong statement “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed (anathema). Maranatha.” (1Cor 16:22-note). Similar toHosanna, Hallelujah, and Amen which are transliterated Hebrew words, Maranatha is a transliterated Aramaic word, which has one of two meanings: “Our Lord has come” or “Our Lord, come!” Thomas Constable notes that “It is strange to meet with an Aramaic phrase in a Greek letter to a Greek Church. The explanation is that this phrase had become a watchword and a password. It summed up the vital hope of the early Church, and Christians whispered it to each other, identified each other by it, in a language which the heathen could not understand.” In short, “Maranatha” became the early church’s “Mindset!” The apostle John clearly had a “Maranatha Mindset” when he prayed “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” in response to Jesus’ promise “Yes, I am coming quickly.” (Rev 22:20-note) The majority of modern Bible versions and commentaries interpret Maranatha as a prayer beseeching the Lord Jesus Christ to return quickly/soon! Indeed, every time we pray “Thy Kingdom come” we are in a sense crying “Maranatha,” asking for the return of the King of the Kingdom (Mt 6:10a-note, cf Rev 19:16-note).

Paul writes that those with a “Maranatha Mindset” have a sense of urgency and know “that it is already the hour for us to awaken from sleep (from spiritual slumber, apathy,backsliding!), for now salvation (Our Savior and our final redemption and glorification) is nearer to us than when we (first) believed. The night (spiritual darkness of this present world) is almost gone and the day (of His Return) is near (we are standing on the “edge of eternity”!) Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness (including attitudes and actions we think are “secret” but in fact are fully exposed to God, Pr 15:3-note) and put on the armor of light…put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh (thinking of ways to arouse, to indulge or) to gratify its desires!” (Ro 13:11-14-note) Puritan William Gurnall (author of the classic: The Christian in Complete Armor) wrote that “Christ hath told us He will come, but not when, that we might never put off our clothes, or put out the candle (Mt 24:42-note,Mt 25:13-note, Mk 13:35-37-note).” “Since He may come any day, it is well to be ready every day.” (Hudson Taylor) Amen!

The famous hymn writer Fanny Crosby although physically blind had a vibrant “Maranatha Mindset” which gave her “vision” and passion to pen words like “Take the world but give me Jesus–In His cross my trust shall be; Till, with clearer, brighter VISION, Face to face my Lord I SEE!” (1Cor 13:12-note) Maranatha!

One scholar has noted that in the 260 chapters of the NT, there are 318 references to the Second Coming of Christ which means that about 1 of every 30 verses refers to the return of the Bridegroom (Mt 25:6-noteJn 3:29-note, cf Rev 19:7-note)! It is also notable that for every prophecy describing Jesus’ First Coming, there are eight which look forward to His Second Coming! Surely the Spirit desires to stir up in the Bride (Christ’s Body, the Church – Eph 1:22-23-note, 2Cor 11:2-note) a “Maranatha Mindset” which causes us to long for our Beloved, much like Solomon’s bride who cried out “Hurry, my beloved!” (Song 8:14-note)! And so it is fitting that James encourages us to live with a “Maranatha Mindset” writing “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:8-note)Augustine said “He who loves the coming of the Lord is not he who affirms it is far off, nor is it he who says it is near. It is he who, whether it be far or near, awaits it with sincere faith, stead-fast hope and fervent love.” Beloved, we can be ready for the last moment by being ready at every moment (Luke 21:36-note)!

Illustration of a “Maranatha Mindset:” In 1950 Florence Chadwick crossed the English Channel in record time and the next year crossed in the other direction. In 1952 she attempted to swim the 26 miles from Catalina Island to California, but after 15 hours a thick fog set in causing her to begin to doubt her ability to complete her course. After telling her mother she didn’t think she could make it, she swam for an hour and still unable to see the coastline due to the fog, stopped swimming. It wasn’t until she got into the boat that she learned that the shore was less than half a mile away. At the news conference she said: ‘All I could see was the fog. I think if I could have seen the shore I would have made it’. Two months later, she tried again, but this time when the thick fog set in, she continued to swim, because she focused on her goal, the shore. Beloved, we all experience “dense fog” from time to time for a variety of reasons, and it becomes difficult to fix our eyes on our goal (Php 3:14-note), Christ Jesus, the Author and Finisher of the race of faith (Heb 12:2-note). As this world grows darker, the promised return of the Son grows brighter. Paul who ministered with a Maranatha Mindset continually looking “not at the things seen, but the things unseen, remembering that the things seen are temporal, while the things unseen are eternal”(2Cor 4:17-18-note, cf Col 3:1-2-note), encouraged Timothy (and us) with his very last words (always important words): “I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have LOVED HIS APPEARING (~living with a Maranatha Mindset).” (2Ti 4:7-8-note) The great British expositor G Campbell Morgan modeled this mindset writing “I never begin my work in the morning without thinking that perhaps He may interrupt my work and begin His own. I am not looking for death, I am looking for Him.” Little wonder that Morgan was so mightily used by God in His Kingdom work!

What we believe about the eternal world to come, shapes how we live in this temporal, passing world (cf Ec 1:2-3-note, Ec 12:13-14-note). C S Lewis said that “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world, were precisely those who thought most of the next (~Maranatha Mindset). It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this (world). Precisely because we cannot predict the moment, we must be ready at all moments.” Yes, enjoy life, but anticipate heaven by living with aMaranatha Mindset continually “looking for the Blessed Hope (which is) the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13-note) If we are looking for Christ to return at any time, this “uplook outlook” will be a powerful incentive to spur us on to fight the good fight of faith (1Ti 6:12-note) necessary for godly living and bold proclamation of the Gospel (cf 2Cor 3:12-note, Eph 6:19-note). Am I living with a “Maranatha Mindset?” Do my day to day choices reflect the reality of my expectant attitude? “Expectant looking” is always a great “antidote” for “apathetic living.” “The certainty of the Second Coming should touch and tincture every part of our daily behavior.” (Blanchard) Indeed, “Uncertainty about the date of the Lord’s return is calculated to keep believers in an attitude of constant expectation and to preserve them from despondency.” (Ryle)

John Piper asks “Does your mind return frequently to the truth of Christ’s appearing? When your mind turns to the truth of His appearing, does your heart want it—is there an eagerness to see Him? Do you pray for His coming? Maranatha, prayed the early church! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Full sermon)

C H Spurgeon sums up this “Maranatha Mindset” declaring “Oh, that the Lord would come! He is coming! He is on the road and traveling quickly. (Rev 22:12-note) The sound of His approach should be as music to our hearts!”

May the cry of our hearts continually be “Hallelujah! Hosanna to God in the highest. Maranatha (Our Lord, come)! Amen.”

THOUGHTS ON A “MARANATHA MINDSET“: A Google search retrieves over 11 million hits for “Maranatha” (many associated with names of churches or ministries), so clearly this word is very popular. A brief informal survey of believers reveals the majority were uncertain of the meaning of Maranatha which prompted this post. Maranatha is used only once in the Bible by Paul who closes his first letter to the Corinthians with the surprisingly strong statement “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be accursed (anathema). Maranatha.” (1Cor 16:22-note). Similar toHosanna, Hallelujah, and Amen which are transliterated Hebrew words, Maranatha is a transliterated Aramaic word, which has one of two meanings: “Our Lord has come” or “Our Lord, come!” Thomas Constable notes that “It is strange to meet with an Aramaic phrase in a Greek letter to a Greek Church. The explanation is that this phrase had become a watchword and a password. It summed up the vital hope of the early Church, and Christians whispered it to each other, identified each other by it, in a language which the heathen could not understand.” In short, “Maranatha” became the early church’s “Mindset!” The apostle John clearly had a “Maranatha Mindset” when he prayed “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” in response to Jesus’ promise “Yes, I am coming quickly.” (Rev 22:20-note) The majority of modern Bible versions and commentaries interpret Maranatha as a prayer beseeching the Lord Jesus Christ to return quickly/soon! Indeed, every time we pray “Thy Kingdom come” we are in a sense crying “Maranatha,” asking for the return of the King of the Kingdom (Mt 6:10a-note, cf Rev 19:16-note).

Paul writes that those with a “Maranatha Mindset” have a sense of urgency and know “that it is already the hour for us to awaken from sleep (from spiritual slumber, apathy,backsliding!), for now salvation (Our Savior and our final redemption and glorification) is nearer to us than when we (first) believed. The night (spiritual darkness of this present world) is almost gone and the day (of His Return) is near (we are standing on the “edge of eternity”!) Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness (including attitudes and actions we think are “secret” but in fact are fully exposed to God, Pr 15:3-note) and put on the armor of light…put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh (thinking of ways to arouse, to indulge or) to gratify its desires!” (Ro 13:11-14-note) Puritan William Gurnall (author of the classic: The Christian in Complete Armor) wrote that “Christ hath told us He will come, but not when, that we might never put off our clothes, or put out the candle (Mt 24:42-note,Mt 25:13-note, Mk 13:35-37-note).” “Since He may come any day, it is well to be ready every day.” (Hudson Taylor) Amen!

The famous hymn writer Fanny Crosby although physically blind had a vibrant “Maranatha Mindset” which gave her “vision” and passion to pen words like “Take the world but give me Jesus–In His cross my trust shall be; Till, with clearer, brighter VISION, Face to face my Lord I SEE!” (1Cor 13:12-note) Maranatha!

One scholar has noted that in the 260 chapters of the NT, there are 318 references to the Second Coming of Christ which means that about 1 of every 30 verses refers to the return of Christ (Mt 25:6-noteJn 3:29-note, cf Rev 19:7-note)! It is also notable that for every prophecy describing Jesus’ First Coming, there are eight which look forward to His Second Coming! Surely the Spirit desires to stir up Christ’s Body, the Church – Eph 1:22-23-note, 2Cor 11:2-note) to a “Maranatha Mindset” which causes us to long for our Beloved, much like Solomon’s bride who cried out “Hurry, my beloved!” (Song 8:14-note)! And so it is fitting that James encourages us to live with a “Maranatha Mindset” writing “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5:8-note)Augustine said “He who loves the coming of the Lord is not he who affirms it is far off, nor is it he who says it is near. It is he who, whether it be far or near, awaits it with sincere faith, stead-fast hope and fervent love.” Beloved, we can be ready for the last moment by being ready at every moment (Luke 21:36-note)!

Illustration of a “Maranatha Mindset:” In 1950 Florence Chadwick crossed the English Channel in record time and the next year crossed in the other direction. In 1952 she attempted to swim the 26 miles from Catalina Island to California, but after 15 hours a thick fog set in causing her to begin to doubt her ability to complete her course. After telling her mother she didn’t think she could make it, she swam for an hour and still unable to see the coastline due to the fog, stopped swimming. It wasn’t until she got into the boat that she learned that the shore was less than half a mile away. At the news conference she said: ‘All I could see was the fog. I think if I could have seen the shore I would have made it’. Two months later, she tried again, but this time when the thick fog set in, she continued to swim, because she focused on her goal, the shore. Beloved, we all experience “dense fog” from time to time for a variety of reasons, and it becomes difficult to fix our eyes on our goal (Php 3:14-note), Christ Jesus, the Author and Finisher of the race of faith (Heb 12:2-note). As this world grows darker, the promised return of the Son grows brighter. Paul who ministered with a Maranatha Mindset continually looking “not at the things seen, but the things unseen, remembering that the things seen are temporal, while the things unseen are eternal”(2Cor 4:17-18-note, cf Col 3:1-2-note), encouraged Timothy (and us) with his very last words (always important words): “I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have LOVED HIS APPEARING (~living with a Maranatha Mindset).” (2Ti 4:7-8-note) The great British expositor G Campbell Morgan modeled this mindset writing “I never begin my work in the morning without thinking that perhaps He may interrupt my work and begin His own. I am not looking for death, I am looking for Him.” Little wonder that Morgan was so mightily used by God in His Kingdom work!

What we believe about the eternal world to come, shapes how we live in this temporal, passing world (cf Ec 1:2-3-note, Ec 12:13-14-note). C S Lewis said that “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world, were precisely those who thought most of the next (~Maranatha Mindset). It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this (world). Precisely because we cannot predict the moment, we must be ready at all moments.” Yes, enjoy life, but anticipate heaven by living with aMaranatha Mindset continually “looking for the Blessed Hope (which is) the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13-note) If we are looking for Christ to return at any time, this “uplook outlook” will be a powerful incentive to spur us on to fight the good fight of faith (1Ti 6:12-note) necessary for godly living and bold proclamation of the Gospel (cf 2Cor 3:12-note, Eph 6:19-note). Am I living with a “Maranatha Mindset?” Do my day to day choices reflect the reality of my expectant attitude? “Expectant looking” is always a great “antidote” for “apathetic living.” “The certainty of the Second Coming should touch and tincture every part of our daily behavior.” (Blanchard) Indeed, “Uncertainty about the date of the Lord’s return is calculated to keep believers in an attitude of constant expectation and to preserve them from despondency.” (Ryle)

John Piper asks “Does your mind return frequently to the truth of Christ’s appearing? When your mind turns to the truth of His appearing, does your heart want it—is there an eagerness to see Him? Do you pray for His coming? Maranatha, prayed the early church! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Full sermon)

C H Spurgeon sums up this “Maranatha Mindset” declaring “Oh, that the Lord would come! He is coming! He is on the road and traveling quickly. (Rev 22:12-note) The sound of His approach should be as music to our hearts!”

May the cry of our hearts continually be “Hallelujah! Hosanna to God in the highest. Maranatha (Our Lord, come)! Amen.”

Courtesy of https://preceptaustin.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/thoughts-on-a-maranatha-mindset/

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A Wonderful Study of Psalm 1: Living in the Blessings of God

psalmsBLESSING 
IN THE PSALMS

Blessing (bless, blessed) is a common theme in the Psalms (108 times in 98 verses – with approximately 47 referring to blessing the LORD and about 57 God blessing men, with the remainder difficult to classify – as an aside this makes for an interesting study, especially to see who it is that God blesses and how this blessing is manifested. See all uses in “Wisdom” Literature – Job, Psalms, Proverbs)…

Donne – How abundantly is that word Blessed multiplied in the Book of Psalms! The book seems to be made out of that word, and the foundation raised upon that Word, for it is the first word of the book. But in all the book there is not one Woe.

Let us take a moment to scan over some of the uses of bless, blessed and blessing in the Psalms as we prepare to study key to the blessed life in Christ…

Ps 2:12 Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge (put their trust) in Him!

Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith may be slender as a spider’s thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles: — “Lord, increase our faith.” (Spurgeon)

Psalm 5:12 For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O LORD, Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield.

This is a promise of infinite length, of unbounded breadth, and of unutterable preciousness.  (Spurgeon)

Psalm 24:5 (Context for who “he” is) He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. So that the saints need salvation; they receive righteousness, and the blessing is a boon from God their Saviour. They do not ascend the hill of the Lord as givers but as receivers, and they do not wear their own merits, but a righteousness which they have received. Holy living ensures a blessing as its reward from the thrice Holy God, but it is itself a blessing of the New Covenant and a delightful fruit of the Spirit. God first gives us good works, and then rewards us for them. Grace is not obscured by God’s demand for holiness, but is highly exalted as we see it decking the saint with jewels, and clothing him in fair white linen; all this sumptuous array being a free gift of mercy. (Spurgeon)

Ps 32:1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!

Blessed. Like the Sermon on the Mount (see notes Matthew 5:1ff), this Psalm begins with beatitudes. This is the second Psalm of benediction. The first Psalm  (see notesPsalm 1) describes the result of holy blessedness, the thirty-second details the cause of it. The first pictures the tree in full growth, this depicts it in its first planting and watering. He who in the first Psalm is a reader of God’s book, is here a suppliant at God’s throne accepted and heard.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. He is now blessed and ever shall be. Be he ever so poor, or sick, or sorrowful, he is blessed in very deed. Pardoning mercy is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only and sure way to happiness. To hear from God’s own Spirit the words, “absolvo te” is joy unspeakable. Blessedness is not in this case ascribed to the man who has been a diligent law keeper, for then it would never come to us, but rather to a lawbreaker, who by grace most rich and free has been forgiven. Self righteous Pharisees have no portion in this blessedness. Over the returning prodigal, the word of welcome is here pronounced, and the music and dancing begin.

A full, instantaneous, irreversible pardon of transgression turns the poor sinner’s hell into heaven, and makes the heir of wrath a partaker in blessing. The word renderedforgiven is in the original taken off or taken away, as a burden is lifted or a barrier removed. What a lift is here! It cost our Saviour a sweat of blood to bear our load, yea, it cost Him His life to bear it quite away. Samson carried the gates of Gaza, but what was that to the weight which Jesus bore on our behalf?

Whose sin is covered. Covered by God, as the ark was covered by the mercyseat, as Noah was covered from the flood, as the Egyptians were covered by the depths of the sea. What a cover must that be which hides away forever from the sight of the all seeing God all the filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit! He who has once seen sin in its horrible deformity, will appreciate the happiness of seeing it no more for ever. Christ’s atonement is the propitiation, the covering, the making an end of sin; where this is seen and trusted in, the soul knows itself to be now accepted in the Beloved, and therefore enjoys a conscious blessedness which is the antepast (a foretaste) of heaven. It is clear from the text that a man may know that he is pardoned: where would be the blessedness of an unknown forgiveness? Clearly it is a matter of knowledge, for it is the ground of comfort.

Verse 2. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. The word blessed is in the plural, oh, the blessednesses! the double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight! Note the three words so often used to denote our disobedience: transgression, sin, and iniquity, are the three headed dog at the gates of hell, but our glorious Lord has silenced his barkings for ever against his own believing ones. The trinity of sin is overcome by the Trinity of heaven. Non imputation is of the very essence of pardon: the believer sins, but his sin is not reckoned, not accounted to him. Certain divines froth at the mouth with rage against imputed righteousness, be it ours to see our sin not imputed, and to us may there be as Paul words it, “Righteousness imputed without works.” He is blessed indeed who has a substitute to stand for him to whose account all his debts may be set down. And in whose spirit there is no guile. He who is pardoned, has in every case been taught to deal honestly with himself, his sin, and his God. Forgiveness is no sham, and the peace which it brings is not caused by playing tricks with conscience. Self deception and hypocrisy bring no blessedness, they may drug the soul into hell with pleasant dreams, but into the heaven of true peace they cannot conduct their victim. Free from guilt, free from guile. Those who are justified from fault are sanctified from falsehood. A liar is not a forgiven soul. Treachery, double dealing, chicanery, dissimulation, are lineaments of the devil’s children, but he who is washed from sin is truthful, honest, simple, and childlike. There can be no blessedness to tricksters with their plans, and tricks, and shuffling, and pretending: they are too much afraid of discovery to be at ease; their house is built on the volcano’s brink, and eternal destruction must be their portion. Observe the three words to describe sin, and the three words to represent pardon, weigh them well, and note their meaning. (Spurgeon)

Ps 34:8 O taste (imperative = not a suggestion but a command) and see  (another imperative) that the LORD is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge (places his trust) in Him!

O taste and see. Make a trial, an inward, experimental trial of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for yourself; but if you taste you shall see, for this, like Jonathan’s honey, enlightens the eyes. That the Lord is good. You can only know this really and personally by experience. There is the banquet with its oxen and fatlings; its fat things full of marrow, and wine on the lees well refined; but their sweetness will be all unknown to you except you make the blessings of grace your own, by a living, inward, vital participation in them.

Blessed is the man that trusts in Him. Faith is the soul’s taste; they who test the Lord by their confidence always find Him good, and they become themselves blessed. The second clause of the verse, is the argument in support of the exhortation contained in the first sentence.  (Spurgeon)

Ps 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

Blessed. This is an exclamation similar to that of the first Psalm, “Oh, the happiness of the man.” God’s blessings are emphatic, “I wot ( know) that he whom Thou blesses is blessed,” indeed and in very truth. Is that man that maketh the Lord his trust. Faith obtains promises. A simple single eyed confidence in God is the sure mark of blessedness. A man may be as poor as Lazarus, as hated as Mordecai, as sick as Hezekiah, as lonely as Elijah, but while his hand of faith can keep its hold on God, none of his outward afflictions can prevent his being numbered among the blessed; but the wealthiest and most prosperous man who has no faith is accursed, be he who he may. (Spurgeon)

Ps 84:12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!

Here is the key of the Psalm. The worship is that of faith, and the blessedness is peculiar to believers. No formal worshipper can enter into this secret. A man must know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true rejoicing in the Lord’s worship, his house, his Son, or his ways. Dear reader, how fares it with thy soul? (Spurgeon)

What is the blessing associated with or “effected” by in this Psalm? Trust (cp Jer 17:7, 8). Faith. Believing (see word study on verb pisteuo). For example, do you really believe God has granted you “everything (how much? Greek word pas = all without exception!) necessary for life (zoe = not just breathing, but life abundant which is Jesus’ desire for us, Jn 10:10) and godliness through (preposition “dia” = the conduit through which “life and godliness” flow, so to speak) the true knowledge of Him (thus the vital importance of daily “eating” His pure, unadulterated Word of Truth and Life – 1Pe 2:2note, Mt 4:4, Dt 8:2, 3, 16, Php 2:16note) who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2Pe 1:3note)? Remember that trusting is not a passive mindset, but a reflects an active, volitional, submissive change in our thinking, which results in a change in our doing. If you truly believe, you will behave according to how, what and Who you believe. A disconnect in this dynamic is the essence of Pharisaical hypocrisy. Do not be deceived, beloved brethren (Jas 1:22note, Jas 1:25note; see related discussion re the NT phrase the obedience of faith)

Ps 94:12 Blessed is the man (Hebrew = geber = Hebrew root commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful warrior; relates to the male at the height of his powers) whom You chasten, O LORD, and whom You teach out of Your law;

Blessed is the man whom Thou chastens, O LORD. The psalmist’s mind is growing quiet. He no longer complains to God or argues with men, but tunes his harp to softer melodies, for his faith perceives that with the most afflicted believer all is well. Though he may not feel blessed while smarting under the rod of chastisement, yet blessed he is; he is precious in God’s sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him, and right happy will the results of his correction be (see notes Hebrews 12:5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10;11). The psalmist calls the chastened one a “man” in the best sense, using the Hebrew word which implies strength. He is a man, indeed, who is under the teaching and training of the Lord. (Spurgeon)

Ps 106:3 How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!

Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Multiplied are the blessings which must descend upon the whole company of the keepers of the way of justice, and especially upon that one rare man who at all times follows that which is right. Holiness is happiness. The way of right is the way of peace. Yet men leave this road, and prefer the paths of the destroyer. Hence the story which follows is in sad contrast with the happiness here depicted, because the way of Israel was not that of judgment and righteousness, but that of folly and iniquity. The Psalmist, while contemplating the perfections of God, was impressed with the feeling that the servants of such a being must be happy, and when he looked around and saw how the tribes of old prospered when they obeyed, and suffered when they sinned, he was still more fully assured of the truth of his conclusion. O could we but be free of sin we should be rid of sorrow! We would not only be just, but “keep judgment”; we would not be content with occasionally acting rightly, but would “do justice at all times.” (Spurgeon)

Ps 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments.

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord. According to the last verse of Psalm 111, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; this man, therefore, has begun to be wise, and wisdom has brought him present happiness, and secured him eternal felicity. Jehovah is so great that He is to be feared and had in reverence of all them that are round about Him, and He is at the same time so infinitely good that the fear is sweetened into filial love, and becomes a delightful emotion, by no means engendering bondage. There is a slavish fear which is accursed; but that godly fear which leads to delight in the service of God is infinitely blessed. Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in consequence thereof. We ought to bless God for blessing any man, and especially for setting the seal of his approbation upon the godly. His favour towards the God fearing displays His character and encourages gracious feelings in others, therefore let Him be praised. 

That delighteth greatly in His commandments. The man not only studies the divine precepts and endeavours to observe them, but rejoices to do so:

Holiness is his happiness, 
Devotion is his delight, 
Truth is his treasure
.

He rejoices in the precepts of godliness, yea, and delights greatly in them. We have known hypocrites rejoice in the doctrines, but never in the commandments. Ungodly men may in some measure obey the commandments out of fear, but only a gracious man will observe them with delight.

Cheerful obedience 
is the only acceptable obedience

He who obeys reluctantly is disobedient at heart, but he who takes pleasure in the command is truly loyal. If through divine grace we find ourselves described in these two sentences, let us give all the praise to God, for He hath wrought all our works in us, and the dispositions out of which they spring. Let self righteous men praise themselves, but he who has been made righteous by grace renders all the praise to the Lord.

Ps 119:1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.

Blessed. The psalmist is so enraptured with the Word of God that he regards it as the highest ideal of blessedness to be conformed to it. He has gazed on the beauties of the perfect law, and, as if this verse were the sum and outcome of all his emotions, he exclaims,

Blessed is the man whose life is the practical transcript of the will of God.

True religion is not cold and dry; it has its exclamations and raptures. We not only judge the keeping of God’s law to be a wise and proper thing, but we are warmly enamored of its holiness, and cry out in adoring wonder, “Blessed are the undefiled!”—meaning thereby that we eagerly desire to become such ourselves, and wish for no greater happiness than to be perfectly holy.

This first verse is not only a preface to the whole psalm, but it may also be regarded as the text upon which the rest is a discourse. It is similar to the benediction of Psalm 1, which is set in the forefront of the entire book: there is a likeness between this Psalm 119 and the Psalter, and this is one point of it, that it begins with a benediction. In this, too, we see some foreshadowings of the Son of David, who began His great sermon as David (Ed: the author of Ps 119 is not stated but could be David. Some think Ezra the Scribe) began His great psalm. When we cannot bestow blessings, we can show the way of obtaining them, and even if we do not yet possess them ourselves, it may be profitable to contemplate them, that our desires may be excited, and our souls moved to seek after them.

As David thus begins his psalm, so should young men begin their lives, so should new converts commence their life of faith, so should all Christians begin every day. Holiness is happiness, and it is our wisdom first to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Mankind began with being blessed in innocence, and if our fallen race is ever to beblessed again, it must find it where it lost it at the beginning, in conformity to the command of the Lord.

Ps 119:2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies. What! A second blessing? Yes, they are doubly blessed whose outward life is supported by an inward zeal for God’s glory. In the first verse we had an undefiled way, and it was taken for granted that the purity in the way was not mere surface work, but was attended by the inward truth and life which comes of divine grace. Here that which was implied is expressed.

Blessedness is ascribed to those who treasure up the testimonies of the Lord: in which is implied that they search the Scriptures, that they come to an understanding of them, that they love them, and then that they continue in the practice of them.

We must first get a thing before we can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it: we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced by the affections.

God’s word is His witness or testimony to grand and important truths which concern Himself and our relation to Him: this we should desire to know; knowing it, we should believe it; believing it, we should love it; and loving it, we should hold it fast against all comers.

There is a doctrinal keeping of the word when we are ready to die for its defence, and a practical keeping of it when we actually live under its power.

Revealed truth is precious as diamonds, and should be kept or treasured up in the memory and in the heart as jewels in a casket, or as the law was kept in the ark; this however is not enough, for it is meant for practical use, and therefore it must be kept or followed, as men keep to a path, or to a line of business.

If we keep God’s testimonies 
They will keep us

They will keep us right in opinion, comfortable in spirit, holy in conversation, and hopeful in expectation. If they were ever worth having, and no thoughtful person will question that, then they are worth keeping; their designed effect does not come through a temporary seizure of them, but by a persevering keeping of them: “in keeping of them there is great reward.” 

We are bound to keep with all care the word of God, because it is his testimonies. He gave them to us, but they are still his own. We are to keep them as a watchman guards his master’s house, as a steward husbands his lord’s goods, as a shepherd keeps his employer’s flock. We shall have to give an account, for we are put in trust with the gospel, and woe to us if we be found unfaithful. We cannot fight a good fight, nor finish our course, unless we keep the faith. To this end the Lord must keep us: only those who are kept by the power of God unto salvation will ever be able to keep his testimonies. What a blessedness is therefore evidenced and testified by a careful belief in God’s word, and a continual obedience thereunto. God has blessed them, is blessing them, and will bless them for ever. That blessedness which David saw in others he realized for himself, for inPsalms 119:168 he says, “I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies,” and in Ps 119:54-56 he traces his joyful songs and happy memories to this same keeping of the law, and he confesses, “This I had because I kept thy precepts.” Doctrines which we teach to others we should experience for ourselves. 

And that seek him with the whole heart. Those who keep the Lord’s testimonies are sure to seek after Himself. If His word is precious we may be sure that He Himself is still more so. Personal dealing with a personal God is the longing of all those who have allowed the word of the Lord to have its full effect upon them. If we once really know the power of the gospel we must seek the God of the gospel.

“O that I knew where I might find HIM,” 
will be our wholehearted cry.

See the growth which these sentences indicate: first, in the way, then walking in it, then finding and keeping the treasure of truth, and to crown all, seeking after the Lord of the way Himself. Note also that the further a soul advances in grace the more spiritual and divine are its longings: an outward walk does not content the gracious soul, nor even the treasured testimonies; it reaches out in due time after God Himself, and when it in a measure finds Him, still yearns for more of Him, and seeks Him still. 

Seeking after God signifies a desire to commune with Him more closely, to follow Him more fully, to enter into more perfect union with His mind and will, to promote His glory, and to realize completely all that He is to holy hearts. The blessed man has God already, and for this reason he seeks him. This may seem a contradiction: it is only a paradox.

God is not truly sought by the cold researches of the brain: 
We must seek him with the heart
.

Love reveals itself to love: God manifests His heart to the heart of His people. It is in vain that we endeavour to comprehend Him by reason; we must apprehend Him by affection. But the heart must not be divided with many objects if the Lord is to be sought by us (see Matthew 6:24note; cp one thing I do – see Philippians 3:13note). God is one, and we shall not know Him till our heart is one. A broken heart need not be distressed at this, for no heart is so whole in its seeking after God as a heart which is broken, whereof every fragment sighs and cries after the great Father’s face. It is the divided heart which the doctrine of the text censures, and strange to say, in scriptural phraseology,

a heart may be divided and not broken, and it may be broken but not divided; and yet again it may be broken and be whole, and it never can be whole until it is broken.

When our whole heart seeks the holy God in Christ Jesus it has come to Him of Whom it is written, “as many as touched Him were made perfectly whole.” 

That which the Psalmist admires in this verse he claims in the tenth, where he says, “With my whole heart have I sought thee.” It is well when admiration of a virtue leads to the attainment of it. Those who do not believe in the blessedness of seeking the Lord will not be likely to arouse their hearts to the pursuit, but he who calls another blessed because of the grace which he sees in him is on the way to gaining the same grace for himself. 

If those who seek the Lord are blessed, what shall be said of those who actually dwell with Him and know that He is theirs?

“To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus — what it is,
None but His loved ones know.”

Ps 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help. Heaped up is his happiness. He has happiness indeed: the true and the real delight is with him. The God of Jacob is the God of the covenant, the God of wrestling prayer, the God of the tried believer; he is the only living and true God. The God of Jacob is Jehovah, who appeared unto Moses, and led the tribes of Jacob out of Egypt, and through the wilderness. Those are happy who trust him, for they shall never be ashamed or confounded. The Lord never dies, neither do his thoughts perish: his purpose of mercy, like himself, endures throughout all generations. Hallelujah! 

Whose hope is in the LORD his God. He is happy in help for the present and in hope for the future, who has placed all his confidence in Jehovah, who is his God by a covenant of salt (See Trumbull’s Covenant of Salt). Happy is he when others are despairing! Happiest shall he be in that very hour when others are discovering the depths of agony. We have here a statement which we have personally tried and proved: resting in the Lord, we know a happiness which is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond conception. O how blessed a thing it is to know that God is our present help, and our eternal hope. Full assurance is more than heaven in the bud, the flower has begun to open. We would not exchange with Caesar; his sceptre is a bauble, but our bliss is true treasure. 

In each of the two titles here given, namely, “the God of Jacob”, and “Jehovah his God”, there is a peculiar sweetness. Either one of them has a fountain of joy in it; but the first will not cheer us without the second. Unless Jehovah be his God no man can find confidence in the fact that he was Jacob’s God. But when by faith we know the Lord to be ours, then we are “rich to all the intents of bliss.”

HOW BLESSED IS THE MAN: (Ps 2:12; 32:1,2; 34:8; 84:12; 106:3; 112:1; 115:12, 13, 14, 15; 119:1,2; 144:15; Ps 146:5; Dt 28:2-68; 33:29; Jer 17:7, 8; Mt 16:17; Lk 11:28; Jn 13:17;Jn 20:29; Rev 1:3, 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14)

How blessed – This phrase appears 23x in 22v in the Psalms – This makes an interesting devotional or Sunday School study – What does God say about “how blessed”? – see Ps 1:1;2:12; 32:1, 2; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4, 5, 12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1, 2; 127:5; 128:1; 137:8, 9; 144:15; 146:5. (And for “extra credit see the remainder of the 31v that use the phrase “how blessed”  2Ki 10:8, 2Chr 9:7, Pr 3:13; 20:7; 28:14; Isa 30:18; 32:20; 56:2; Da 12:12)

BLESSED, BLESSED
THE ONE WHO 
READS & HEEDS PSALM 1

Lk 11:28 (Jesus said) Blessed (makarios) are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.

Jn 13:17 (Jesus said) If you know these things, you are blessed (makarios) if you do them.

James 1:22 (note) Prove (present imperative =  as your lifestyle or regular practice) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers (akroates – like those who audit a course for non-credit!)  who delude (paralogizomai  = literally to reason alongside; present tense = continually in a state of spiritual delusion themselves

1 Samuel 15:22 (Samuel to disobedient King Saul from whom the “blessing” would be removed) Has the LORD as much delight (same Hebrew word chephets as in Psalm 1:2) in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

At the outset note that the promise of blessing in Psalm 1 is not for the one who simply reads these beautiful words but who hides and heeds the words in his or her heart. As Jesus’ Words emphasize in Luke 11:28 obedience is the key to blessing in both the Old and New Testament. God desires to bless His children because they are as it were, His trophies of redemption, His re-creations in Christ, and as such He desires the lost world to see His glory through believing, obedient children. So as you read and meditate on this great psalm, ask God to open your heart to receive the Word implanted which is able to save your soul, not just the first time but every day as His Spirit takes the Word and sets us progressively more and more apart from the world and unto God. As we read and ponder these precious words let us have tender, even trembling hearts, that we might begin to experience, not just life, which all believers have in Christ, but even abundant life in Christ, the life which is blessed, blessed.

Observe in Psalm 1 we encounter two men, two ways and two destinies. This contrast is especially dramatic when one observes words penned at the beginning (blessed) and the end (perish)! Take your choice!

In verse 1 we observe the practice of the godly man, in verse 2 the passion and in verse 3 his “permanence”. This beatitude psalm describes the “be attitude” man, the one who is spiritually satisfied regardless of the circumstances!

You may have read in Spurgeon’s comments above on the blessed state in Psalm 32:1-2 (Spurgeon on v1; Verse 2) where he notes that there is an association with the blessednesses in Psalm 1. And indeed there is for Psalm  32 speaks of blessings which are a result of God’s forgiveness of sins. It is on such a firm foundation of God’s imputation (reckoning, placing on one’s account) of confessing sinners as forgiven sinners (who are saints!), that makes possible the accomplishment the obedience and practical righteousness called for in Psalm 1, especially Psalm 1:1. Forgiven people are blessed people and are in the position (in Christ) to experience even greater blessednesses from our gracious, giving Lord! Amazing grace indeed that not only does He save us but that His desire is then to even blessed us over and above the blessing of salvation!

Psalm 1 contrasts the two life styles set out in the wisdom literature and reminds the readers of the choices of life or death, of blessing or curse (cf. Deut 30:11-20).

Steele (1674) speaks of the value of the different components of the OT wisdom literature noting that…

He that would be wise, let him read the Proverbs
He that would be holy, let him read the Psalms.

Spurgeon offer this overview of Psalm 1…

This Psalm may be regarded as the preface psalm, having in it a notification of the contents of the entire Book. It is the psalmists’ desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This, then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon. This Psalm consists of two parts: in the first (Psalms 1:1-3) David (Ed: the author is actually not stated) sets out wherein the felicity and blessedness of a godly man consist, what his exercises are, and what blessings he shall receive from the Lord. In the second part (Psalms 1:4-6) he contrasts the state and character of the ungodly, reveals the future, and describes, in telling language, his ultimate doom.

Warren Wiersbe rightly states that…

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.

BLESSED IN DUPLICATE!
BLESSED, BLESSED

Blessed (0835) (‘esher/’eser related to the verb ‘ashar = to go or be straight, to go on, to advance, to be right) and always refers to people but never to God. Vine writes that “Basically, this word connotes the state of “prosperity” or “happiness” that comes when a superior bestows his favor (blessing) on one. In most passages, the one bestowing favor is God Himself =Dt. 33:29. The state that the blessed one enjoys does not always appear to be “happy” = (Job 5:17-18). Eliphaz was not describing Job’s condition as a happy one; it was “blessed,” however, inasmuch as God was concerned about him. Because it was a blessed state and the outcome would be good, Job was expected to laugh at his adversity (Job 5:22). God is not always the one who makes one “blessed.” = 1Ki 10:8.”

Esher speaks of the inner contentment in the life of the man or woman who is right or “straight” with God. The man who practices righteousness will be a blessed man. ‘Esher describes “a person’s state of bliss (Ed: Webster = complete happiness. yjr highest degree of happiness; especially heavenly joys)” (Baker)

In Psalm 1:1, the Hebrew literally reads “blessed, blessed”, the Hebraic way of indicating superfluity, a truth that we might attempt to translate as “blessednesses”. The word blessed(‘esher) conveys a deep sense of well-being.

‘Esher – 42 OT uses (See notes above for more exposition of some of the Psalms that use ‘esher) – Deut. 33:29; 1 Ki. 10:8; 2 Chr. 9:7; Job 5:17; Ps. 1:1; 2:12; 32:1f; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4;41:1; 65:4; 84:4f, 12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1f; 127:5; 128:1f; 137:8f; 144:15; 146:5; Pr. 3:13; 8:32, 34; 14:21; 16:20; 20:7; 28:14; 29:18; Eccl. 10:17; Isa. 30:18; 32:20; 56:2;Dan. 12:12. NAS Usage: blessed(41), happy(4).

One person has written “The word happy is a good rendition of blessed (‘esher), provided one keeps in mind that the condition of “bliss” is not merely a feeling. Even when the righteous do not feel happy, they are still considered “blessed” from God’s perspective. He bestows this gift on them. Neither negative feelings nor adverse conditions can take his blessing away.”

A number of the translations render ‘esher with the English word “happy“, but I prefer the word blessed. In modern use happy speaks more of a feeling. And in general feelings depend on our circumstances or on what happens! I’m happy if what happens is good. I’m not happy if what happens is bad. However that is not the promise of Psalm 1, which speaks more of one’s state or condition rather than one’s feeling. To be sure, the blessed person can certainly feel happy. The distinction is that when the blessed person of Psalm 1 encounters adverse circumstances, he or she still experiences a state or condition of blessedness. In other words, as the Psalmist promises, the blessed man of Psalm 1 will be like a tree firmly planted, sturdy, and steady and not like a tumble weed tossed about by every wind of circumstance. It is as if the blessed person has an inner strength, a supernatural source of strength, a state of blessedness regardless of the circumstances that one encounters.

As Spurgeon so eloquently expresses blessed in the plural “Oh, the blessednesses! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight!”

John Piper adds that the Hebrew word ‘esher “means happy in the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and physical well being.”

The other Hebrew word for bless is the verb barak which is the verb used of man blessing God and of God blessing man. In contrast, the verb ‘ashar used only of God blessing man. Thus it is fitting that in Psalm 1:1, the noun chosen is ‘esher, speaking of the blessing from the Most High God to mankind.

In the Septuagint (Lxx), the Greek word for blessed is makarios (see word study) and can be summed up as describing the man who is fully satisfied (especially in the spiritual sense), independent of or regardless of circumstances. And so even though the winds and waves of affliction, testing and trial come against the “blessed man” (or “blessed woman”), fortified by the grace from Jehovah, he remains strong, stedfast and satisfied in the Lord. The blessed man knows that he is safe in “the Ark” of Jehovah, the One Who declares I Am… I Am anything and everything you will ever need (not want but need! cp Php 4:19, Ps 23:1, Ps 84:11 Mt 6:33, Lk 12:30, 31, 32, Ro 8:32, 2Co 9:8, He 13:5, 6 2Sa 22:7 Da 3:28,6:22 Ps116:4– ; Ps 120:1)

Adam Clarke  – The word ashrey, which we translate blessed, is properly in the plural form, blessednesses; or may be considered as an exclamation produced by contemplating the state of the man who has taken God for his portion; O the blessedness of the man! And the word haish, is emphatic: THAT man; that one among a thousand who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which God created him. 1. God made man for happiness. 2. Every man feels a desire to be happy. 3. All human beings abhor misery. 4. Happiness is the grand object of pursuit among all men. 5. But so perverted is the human heart, that it seeks happiness where it cannot be found; and in things which are naturally and morally unfit to communicate it. 6. The true way of obtaining it is here laid down.

In context, the psalmist expands the meaning of blessed in Psalm 1, explaining in picture language that the blessed man is like a tree by water, a striking image in an arid land where water is sparse and greatly valued. And thus planted by the precious water (and not a stagnant pool but a stream of flowing water!). And too the blessing is pictured as like a tree that is fruitful in season with an unwithering leaf. And such a one prospers in all he does. He is blessed indeed! And finally the psalmist goes on to explain the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of being known by Jehovah and the privilege of standing in the assembly of the righteous of all the ages. The blessed man is stabilized in the storms by these truths regarding his present and his future.

Martin Luther comments that “”blessed” is a plural noun, ashrey (blessednesses), that is, all blessednesses are the portion of that man who has not gone away, etc.; as though it were said, “All things are well with that man who,” etc. Why do you hold any dispute? Why draw vain conclusions? If a man has found that pearl of great price, to love the law of God and to be separate from the ungodly, all blessednesses belong to that man; but, if he does not find this jewel, he will seek for all blessednesses but will never find one!”

COUNT YOUR
BLESSINGS!

Spurgeon

Those that trust in Him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality. Again, those that trust in Him have not only a real blessedness, but they oftentimes have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted, and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it. It is their joy to know that God’s blessing is come to them not in word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.

“They would not change their blest estate
For all the world calls good and great.”

Then, further, they are not only really blessed, and consciously blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eyeballs; they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and, best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness,—the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

John Trapp  The psalmist saith more to the point about true happiness in this short Psalm than any one of the philosophers, or all of them put together; they did but beat the bush, God hath here put the bird into our hand.

Richard Baker  Where the word blessed is hung out as a sign, we may be sure that we shall find a godly man within. 

Ray Pritchard – In biblical terms to be blessed means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and you experience deep personal satisfaction. It’s important to know that this sort of happiness is not related to our circumstances. And it doesn’t come simply by seeking for it. You find happiness not by seeking it but by doing certain things (and not doing other things). The blessing comes as a side benefit of the choices we make. A wise man said that happiness is like a cat. Seek it and it will run from you. But go about your business steadily day by day and soon it comes and curls up at your feet. How true. The most miserable people on New Year’s Eve are those who seek happiness by hopping from one party to another and from one bar to another. True happiness and lasting contentment simply cannot be found that way. (Psalm 1: Trees Planted by the Water)

WATCH THE 
FIRST STEP!

God delights to bless His children, but we must be “blessable.” We must have discernment (discerning good and evil) which works itself out in avoiding the steps that lead to sin — considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch your first step if you want to be blessed!

Spurgeon calls us to observe “how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! (see notes beginning with Matthew 5:3) The word translated blessed is a very expressive one. The original word is plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall rest upon the man whom God hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall enjoy. We might read it, “Oh, the blessednesses!” and we may well regard it (as Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man’s felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!

And so this “Beatitude Psalm” opens with a blessing for the reader who heeds the truths therein, but closes with a “curse” (perish) for those who fail to heed these truths. Please do not misunderstand. All men in both the Old and New Testaments are saved by grace through faith in the Messiah, so the psalmist is not teaching salvation by works. But he is teaching blessing by obedience. In other words to hear and not to heed is to deceive one’s self and to miss God’s blessing. James warned his readers “prove (present imperative) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers who delude (see paralogizomai) themselves. (James 1:22note)

The Greek word for hearers in James 1:22 is akroates which was used to describe one who sat passively and listened to a singer or speaker. This is a description applicable to one who audits a college course, but not for credit, with the result that little effort (usually) is expended on the course material. Such hearers or auditors of college courses are not held accountable for what they hear, which is where the analogy breaks down, for all who read Psalm 1 will be held accountable for the profound, eternal truths it lays out in straightforward fashion.

 John MacArthur – Tragically, most churches have many “auditors,” members who willingly expose themselves to the teaching and preaching of the Word but have no desire for that knowledge to alter their day-by-day lives. They take advantage of the privilege of hearing God’s Word but have no desire for obeying it. When followed consistently, that attitude gives evidence that they are not Christians at all, but only pretenders. Such people, who are merely hearers and not also doers, think they belong to God, when, in reality, they do not. Proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word are never ends in themselves but are means to an end, namely, the genuine acceptance of divine truth for what it is and the faithful application of it.

Alexander Maclaren – Its theme, the blessedness of keeping the law, is enforced by the juxtaposition of two sharply contrasted pictures, one in bright light, another in deep shadow, and each heightening the other. Ebal and Gerizim face one another.

Wiersbe emphasizes that “First, we must be separated from the world (Ps 1:1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He (Ed: Describes Peter – and note what resulted = denial of Jesus – Lk 22:56-58. Sin is valuing anything as more glorious than Jesus!) is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees (Ed: Illustration = frog in the kettle, slowly increasing the cooking temperature!). We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world (contrast James 1:27); we love the world (1Jn 2:15-17, James 4:4), become conformed to it (Ro 12:2) and end up condemned with it. Lot is an example of someone who became worldly. He looked toward Sodom, pitched his tent toward Sodom, lived there, lost everything and ended in sin (Ed: But he was a believer so he was not condemned (Ro 8:1) but he surely did suffer loss of reward (1Cor 3:10-15). When we seek earthly rewards, we often forfeit heavenly, eternal rewards! Mt 6:19-21 Be careful how you walk! Eph 5:15, cp 2Peter 2:6-9).

Lot was righteous and thus saved but he missed the blessing of Psalm 1 because he failed to be separated and instead “assimilated” with the world! Dear believer, could it be that we are missing the blessing of Psalm 1 because we are not willing to separate from the world and/or the passing pleasures of sin?

Alan Carr – THE PATH OF THE SUCCESSFUL BELIEVER

 A. The Successful believer is separated in his walk of life.

 

1. He doesn’t Believe like the wicked – (Ill. He doesn’t listen to their counsel and invitations to evil) His hearing is turned a little higher!

2. He doesn’t Behave like the wicked – 2 Cor. 5:17 – (Ill. The old man has been put forever away!)

3. He doesn’t Belong with the wicked – 2 Cor. 6:17 0 (Ill. He feels out of place when surrounded by the devil’s crowd.

 

B. Ill. The downward progress – Walk, Stand, Sit. (Ill. This is the path Lot took – Gen. 19. It eventually led to his total downfall!)

C. The successful believer realizes that there is a vast difference between himself and the world he was saved out of, and he lives accordingly! (Sermons and Outlines)

WHO DOES NOT WALK IN THE COUNSEL OF THE WICKED: (Ps 81:12; Ge 5:24; Lev 26:27,28; 1Ki 16:31; Job 31:5; Pr 1:15; 4:14,15; Pr 13:20; Ezekiel 20:18; 1Pe 4:3)

Does not walk (01980)(halak) is a common OT verb (1340 verses) which literally denotes physical locomotion meaning to go (426x), going (30x),   goes (22x), walk (142x), act (5x), came (13x), come (82x), depart(14x), departed (55x), went (309x), flow(6x), led (14x), march (4)x, travel (3x). The basic idea of halak is that of movement of something –  flowing of a river = Ge. 2:14, descending flood = Ge 8:3, crawling beasts = Lev 11:27, slithering snake  = Lev 11:42, blowing wind = Eccl 1:6, tossing sea = Jonah 1:13.

Halak is often used (as in Psalm 1:1) as a metaphor to picture one’s behavior or conduct. How one walks (eg, walking in sins 2Ki 13:11, follow the example – 2Chr 17:3) is how one lives his or her life (1Sa 8:3, Dt 28:9).

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. (give me an undivided heart is the idea, cp Mt 6:24, James 1:6-7) (Ps 86:11)

The first use of halak is actually to describe the motion of a river (Ge 2:14), but the second use describes God walking in the Garden after Sin came into the world (Ge 3:8). The third use describes the curse to the Serpent (Satan) = “on your belly you will go (halak) and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” (Ge 3:14). In the next use (Ge 5:22) we see halak with its metaphorical meaning (as it is used here in Psalm 1), where is speaks of one’s conduct. For example, the phrase walking with or before God speaks of a close relationship to God (e.g., this positive use describes such men as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, David, all of whom were pleasing to God and all of whom experienced the blessednesses of Jehovah. CpGe 5:22, 24, 6:9, 17:1, 24:40, 48:15, Ps, 26:3, 56:13, 116:9 )

Vine – God is said to “walk” or “go in three senses. First, there are certain cases where He assumed some kind of physical form. For example, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God “walking” to and fro in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). He “walks” on the clouds (Ps. 104:3) or in the heavens (Job 22:14); these are probably anthropomorphisms (God is spoken of as if He had bodily parts). Even more often God is said to accompany His people (Ex. 33:14), to go to redeem (deliver) them from Egypt (2Sa 7:23), and to come to save them (Ps. 80:2). The idea of God’s “going” (“walking”) before His people in the pillars of fire and cloud (Ex. 13:21) leads to the idea that His people must “walk” behind Him (Dt. 13:5). Quite often the people are said to have “walked” or to be warned against “walking behind” foreign gods (Dt. 4:3). Thus, the rather concrete idea of following God through the wilderness moves to “walking behind” Him spiritually. Some scholars suggest that “walking behind” pagan gods (or even the true God) arose from the pagan worship where the god was carried before the people as they entered the sanctuary. Men may also “walk…after the imagination of their evil heart,” or act stubbornly (Jer. 3:17). The pious followed or practiced God’s commands; they “walked” in righteousness (Isa. 33:15), in humility (Mic. 6:8), and in integrity (Ps. 15:2). They also “walk with God” (Ge 5:22), and they live in His presence, and “walk before” Him (Gen. 17:1), in the sense of living responsibly before Him.   (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words)

In Hebrew the verb walk is in qal perfect where perfect depicts one’s walk or conduct as a whole, without necessarily any reflection on the duration of that conduct. The perfect can also speak of behavior that was started in the past and has continued into the present or which is started in the present and continues into the future. The point is “Don’t take the first step into the seductive cesspool of the world’s wisdom”! James paints a striking contrast between the world’s counsel (wisdom) and godly counsel (wisdom)…

This wisdom (worldly) is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:15-18)

To be a blessed person means that on one hand we do not do something and the other hand we do something. And so these wise words teach us how little by little we can step out of the place of blessedness and into the place of misery and cursing with devastating consequences. This first step begins when we begin to listen to and agree with the worldview of the wicked. Are believers at risk? Indeed, they are at great risk of taking this first misstep.

Solomon in the so called wisdom literature repeatedly warns against wrong associations…

Pr 1:15 My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,

Pr 4:14-15 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it. Turn away from it and pass on. (Read that verse again – count the admonitions! Those of us who are older know full well why such repeated warnings are necessary!)

Pr 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Dwight Edwards gives the following suggestions to help us chose our traveling companions in our life journey…

Is this person’s goal in life holiness or just happiness? Are they living for the things that will count for eternity, or for the decaying delicacies of this fading world? How serious is this person’s commitment to the cause of Christ? Many believers give mental assent to the goal of Christ-likeness, but relatively few pursue it with a burning passion. The purpose of true fellowship is to “stimulate (lit. “create a fever for”) one another to love and good works” (see Hebrews 10:24note; Heb 10:24note); not to huddle around worldly topics with other believers, under the guise of “Christian fellowship.”  One of the most moving illustrations of godly companionship is found in the relationship cultivated between David and Jonathan. Perhaps the best summation of their relationship is found in 1Samuel 23:16, “So Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods, and strengthened his hand in God.” Who do we have to help us “strengthen our hand in God”? To whom do we do the same? (2 Timothy Call to Completion)

LOT’S EXAMPLE OF
HOW NOT TO BE BLESSED

First note God’s assessment of Lot in 2 Peter…

He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteoussoul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds) (See notes 2 Peter 2:7; 2:8)

What’s the “key word” in these passages? Clearly it is the word righteous. Peter is emphasizing that Lot was an authentic believer, one who genuinely believed in the Messiah (as much as was revealed of His Person and work at the time). Had Peter not recorded this truth we would have all seriously questioned his salvation (and thus the repetition of the description righteous). As an aside one of the best OT passages (one used by Paul also in Romans 4:3,9) that explains how Lot was saved is the description of Uncle Abraham’s salvation, Moses recording that…

Then (see when or what “then” refers to by reading the preceding context –Genesis 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5) he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it (imputed it – placed it on his “spiritual” bank account) to him as righteousness. (Ge 15:6)

With this background read Moses’ description of Lot in Genesis 13, keeping in mind the conditions of Psalm 1:1 which are to be fulfilled in order to experience blessing from the LORD…

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere — this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled (Hebrew = yashab = to sit, a word that emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. Lot had settled down in Sodom) in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.  (Ge 13:10-12)

Ge 13:10 – Lot Looks

Ge 13:11 – Lot Chooses

Ge 13:12 – Lot Sits

Lot looked toward Sodom, then choose to go to Sodom, and finally settled in Sodom. Notice the parallel with Psalm 1:1 where the blessed man is careful about where he walks,stands, or sits. Needless to say Lot was the example to be avoided, the epitome of the righteous man who fails to enjoy the blessing of the Lord. In fact far from being blessed, Lot ended greatly vexed (2Pe 2:7note) and tormented (see 2 Peter 2:8note). Look out! Yes, as Jesus said “Remember Lot’s wife” (Lu 17:32 – her disobedience was a reflection of her unbelief), but also remember Lot’s choice! Lot choose to enter Sodom, and eventually enough of Sodom entered him that he even found it difficult to depart from thewicked…sinners…scoffers so that the angels had to physically extract him from Sodom! Lot though a genuine believer (righteous) was hardly a blessed man! Sadly there is a lot ofLot in a lot of believers today for they like Lot are choosing to walk in the counsel of the wicked (Sodom) when they could be basking in blessing upon blessing from Jehovah, the great I Am (I Am whatever you need, not whatever you want).

Does not walk – Does not go along with.

Pr 1:10 “If sinners entice you, do not give in to them.”

Ps 119:115 Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.

Counsel of the wicked – (Ps 64:2, Ge 49:6, 2Ch 22:3, Job 10:3, 21:16, Lk 23:51)

Counsel (06098) (esah) means counsel (52x), advice (11x), viewpoint or way of thinking, as when one thinks about a course of action (often including consultation with an advisor). It is a state of mind that affects the decisions that we make. Esah speaks of God’s counsel (the best but not always followed) in Ps 73:24, 106:13, 107:11, 119:24, Pr 1:25, 30, 8:14

Counsel is advice; opinion, or instruction, given upon request or otherwise, for directing the judgment or conduct of another; opinion given upon deliberation or consultation. It is the act of telling someone what they should do based on a plan or scheme (2Sa 15:34)

Advice is an opinion recommended, or offered, as worthy to be followed.

Psalm 1:1 instructs us to not listen to their advice especially in the moral/ethical realm, telling you how you should conduct your life. The first way to avoid evil is to refuse to be influenced by the ungodly.

WHO influences you? Are you letting the world’s way of thinking influence you?

NAS Usage: advice(11), consultation(2), counsel (52), counselor*(1), counselors*(1), counsels(1), designs(1), plan(8), plans(2), purpose(6), scheme(1), schemes(1), strategy(1).

Esah – 85v – Dt 32:28; Jdg 20:7; 2Sa 15:31, 34; 16:20, 23; 17:7, 14, 23; 1Kgs 1:12; 12:8, 13f; 2Kgs 18:20; 1Chr 12:19; 2Chr 10:8, 13f; 22:5; 25:16; Ezra 4:5; 10:3, 8; Neh 4:15; Job 5:13;10:3; 12:13; 18:7; 21:16; 22:18; 29:21; 38:2; 42:3; Ps 1:1; 13:2; 14:6; 20:4; 33:10f; 73:24; 106:13, 43; 107:11; 119:24; Pr 1:25, 30; 8:14; 12:15; 19:20f; 20:5, 18; 21:30; 27:9; Isa 5:19;8:10; 11:2; 14:26; 16:3; 19:3, 11, 17; 25:1; 28:29; 29:15; 30:1; 36:5; 40:13; 44:26; 46:10f; 47:13; Jer 18:18, 23; 19:7; 32:19; 49:7, 20, 30; 50:45; Ezek 7:26; 11:2; Hos 10:6; Mic 4:12;Zech 6:13

Wicked (07563)(rasha’) is an adjective meaning unrighteous, unjust, an evil person, wrong wicked, guilty (legally not innocent of a violation of the law – Ex 23:1, Ps 109:7), in the wrong, criminal, transgressor. Rasha‘ often describes unbelievers, who hate God and are habitually hostile toward Him. The wicked/ungodly conduct their lives as if God does not exist and with no regard for Him. Rasha‘ describes someone as evil with a focus on their being guilty or in the wrong (2Sa 4:11). Rasha‘ is the opposite of righteous  (06662).

Rasha‘ is found 249 times translated evil(1), evil man(1), evil men(1), guilty(3), man(1), offender(1), ungodly(1), wicked(228), wicked man(21), wicked men(2), wicked one(1), wicked ones(3).

The majority of the uses of Rasha‘ occur in the Psalms (4x in Psalm 1) and Proverbs (see below), which would make an interesting study, which would give you a “descriptive” definition of one who is wicked or what characterizes their behavior (this would help us avoid such people!)

Vine writes that “Rasha‘ generally connotes a turbulence and restlessness (cf. Isa. 57:21) or something disjointed or ill-regulated. Thus Robert B. Girdlestone suggests that it refers to the tossing and confusion in which the wicked live, and to the perpetual agitation they came to others.”

The Greek translates rasha‘ in Psalm 1:1 with asebes which means ungodly (765) (asebes from a = w/o + sébomai = worship, venerate) and describes one who expresses a lack of interest in the things of God and a behavior and lifestyle consistent with such an irreverent attitude. Click in depth study of the related word ungodliness (asebeia). Ungodly pertains to violating norms for a proper relation to deity, and in short means irreverent (lacking proper respect of God) or impious.

Rasha’ – 249v – Ge 18:23, 25; Ex 2:13; 9:27; 23:1, 7; Nu 16:26; 35:31; Dt 25:1f; 1Sa 2:9; 24:13; 2Sa 4:11; 1Kgs 8:32; 2Chr 6:23; 19:2; Job 3:17; 8:22; 9:22, 24; 10:3; 11:20; 15:20;16:11; 18:5; 20:5, 29; 21:7, 16f, 28; 22:18; 24:6; 27:7, 13; 34:18, 26; 36:6, 17; 38:13, 15; 40:12; Psalm 1:1, 4, 5, 6; 3:7; 7:9; 9:5, 16f; 10:2ff, 13, 15; 11:2, 5f; 12:8; 17:9, 13; 26:5; 28:3;31:17; 32:10; 34:21; 36:1, 11; 37:10, 12, 14, 16f, 20f, 28, 32, 34f, 38, 40; 39:1; 50:16; 55:3; 58:3, 10; 68:2; 71:4; 73:3, 12; 75:4, 8, 10; 82:2, 4; 91:8; 92:7; 94:3, 13; 97:10; 101:8; 104:35;106:18; 109:2, 6f; 112:10; 119:53, 61, 95, 110, 119, 155; 129:4; 139:19; 140:4, 8; 141:10; 145:20; 146:9; 147:6; Pr 2:22; 3:25, 33; 4:14, 19; 5:22; 9:7; 10:3, 6f, 11, 16, 20, 24f, 27f, 30,32; 11:5, 7f, 10f, 18, 23, 31; 12:5ff, 10, 12, 21, 26; 13:5, 9, 17, 25; 14:11, 19, 32; 15:6, 8f, 28f; 16:4; 17:15, 23; 18:3, 5; 19:28; 20:26; 21:4, 7, 10, 12, 18, 27, 29; 24:15f, 19f, 24; 25:5, 26;28:1, 4, 12, 15, 28; 29:2, 7, 12, 16, 27; Eccl 3:17; 7:15; 8:10, 13f; 9:2; Isa 3:11; 5:23; 11:4; 13:11; 14:5; 26:10; 48:22; 53:9; 55:7; 57:20f; Jer 5:26; 12:1; 23:19; 25:31; 30:23; Ezek 3:18f;7:21; 13:22; 18:20f, 23f, 27; 21:3f, 25, 29; 33:8f, 11f, 14f, 19; Dan 12:10; Mic 6:10; Hab 1:4, 13; 3:13; Zeph 1:3; Mal 3:18; 4:3

Guzik – The righteous man knows where to find completely godly counsel: Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. (Psalm 119:24) (See Spurgeon’s note) God’s Word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s Word to help someone who wants counseling.

William Heslop – “Walketh, standeth, sitteth,” reveals a growth in evil just as “ungodly, sinners, and scornful,” shows a fearful downward trend.

From thinking like the world we begin to act like the world.

The righteous (by grace through faith as was Abraham in Genesis 15:6) are to be in the world but not of the world. This subtle but critical distinction can be illustrated by considering a submarine which functions in the water but not of the water. If it is on the ground (out of the water) it is of no purpose and it is unable to fulfill its purpose. But when it is in the water it must be insulated (not isolated) from the water. If the water gets into the submarine then there is cause for alarm and emergency. The godly man who seeks God’s blessing must first be sure that his life choices are such that while not isolated from the world, he remains insulated from its seductive, destructive, evil influences, beginning with its evil counsel or advice.

Gill – “not to walk” herein is not to hearken to their counsel, to give into it, agree with it, pursue it, and act according to it; and happy is the man, who, though he may fall in the way of it, and may have bad counsel given him by ungodly men, yet does not consent to it, take it, and act upon it.

Pastor Steven Cole offers five guidelines for discerning the counsel of the wicked versus the wisdom of God…

(1) The counsel of the wicked denies the sufficiency of Scripture for dealing with the problems of the soul. The Bible claims to be adequate to equip the believer for every good work (see 2Ti 3:16note; 2Ti 3:17note) and to produce in us true happiness by dealing with the problems of the soul (Psalm 1). It provides answers for problems of guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, and relational conflicts. “Christian” psychology brings the world’s wisdom to bear on these problems, thus implying that the Bible is not sufficient and often stating “solutions” opposed to what the Bible prescribes.

(2) The counsel of the wicked exalts the pride of man and takes away from the glory of God. The Bible humbles the pride of man and exalts the glory of God (Isaiah 42:8;1Cor 1:31). The world’s wisdom builds the self and minimizes the need for absolute trust in God, whether for salvation or for daily living.

(3) The counsel of the wicked denies or minimizes the need for the cross of Christ by asserting either the basic goodness of man or by downplaying the extent and impact of the fall. The Bible teaches that we are all utterly wicked and self-seeking. None of us could or would seek God if left to ourselves (see notes Romans 3:10-18). The cross humbles human pride and wisdom and exalts Christ alone (1Cor 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

(4) The counsel of the wicked denies God’s moral absolutes and substitutes relative human “goodness.” God is absolutely righteous and His standards of holiness as revealed in His Word are absolute (see 1Peter 1:16note). Worldly wisdom rationalizes away God’s absolutes as being too “idealistic” or “harsh” and substitutes some human standard, such as “love.” In other words, human wisdom makes a god in its own likeness, rather than submitting to the true God.

(5) The counsel of the wicked focuses on pleasing self rather than on pleasing God and others. The world’s wisdom does not promote self-denial and love for God and others as of first importance (Mark 8:34; 12:29, 30, 31). Often the world’s wisdom provides “help” for a person (relief from the symptoms of his problem) without leading him to confess sin, depend on God, and live in obedience to God. The world’s wisdom counsels you to live first of all for yourself. In “Christian” form, it tells you that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love God and others. (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )

From Grace Gems

BEWARE OF THE COMPANY OF THE UNGODLY. Of course, I would not dissuade you from necessary dealings with the ungodly, nor from helping them, and certainly not from endeavoring to draw them to God when you have opportunity. It is the unnecessary fellowship with the ungodly from which I would dissuade you. Chiefly to be avoided are the profane, the swearer, the drunkard, and the enemies of godliness. But they are not the only ones who will prove harmful companions to us. Too frequent fellowship with people whose conversation is empty, will also divert our thoughts from heaven. We need all the help we can get in living the heavenly life on earth.

A stone is as fit to rise and fly in the air, as our hearts are by nature to move towards heaven. You need not hinder the rocks from flying up to the sky. It is sufficient that you do not help them. Just as surely, if our spirits have not great assistance, they may easily be kept from soaring upwards even without great hindrances.

Consider this in the choice of your company. What help will it be to your spiritual life to hear about the weather or the latest news? This is the conversation of earthlings. How will it help to raise your heart to God, to hear about an excellent book, or an able minister, or of some petty controversy? This is mainly the best conversation you are likely to hear from the formal, dead-hearted church member. Can you have your hearts in heaven while among your roaring companions in a bar, or when you work with those whose common language is profanity, filthiness, foolishness, and dirty jokes? No, the plain fact is, fellowship will be a part of our happiness in heaven; and it is now either a help or hindrance in living a heavenly life on earth. (Grace Gems)

NOR STAND IN THE PATH OF SINNERS: (Stand Ps 26:12, Ro 5:2, Eph 6:13) (Path – Ps 1:6; 36:4; 146:9; Pr 2:12; 4:19; 13:15; Mt 7:13,14)

Paul gives believers a similar warning in the NT…

Do not be deceived (present imperative + negative = command to stop being led astray): “Bad company corrupts (Note that use of the Present tense = continually! The verbphtheiro means to cause good morals to “decay,” to “waste away”)  good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)

Comment: Stop believing their falsehoods such as “you only go around once, grab all the gusto you can get!!!” – lies such as this will lead to rottenness in one’s life.

Stand (05975) in the path (01870)- This means to avoid being in the places where sinners congregate to do their thing. If you are serious about keeping yourself morally/ethically pure and holy, don’t put yourself in a path that will surely bring temptation.

Sinners (02400) (chatta’/hatta’) is an archery term which meant “to fall short, miss the mark.” (cp Judges 20:16note).The mark is the will and plan of God as revealed in Scripture. Sin is the transgression of His will as He has revealed it. Sin is whatever misses the will of God for man doctrinally or morally. We are all sinners. We all miss the mark, and none of us are perfect nor will we ever be perfect in this life. This is why Christ had to die for our sin so we might have His righteousness.

David Guzik – Sinners have a path where they stand, and the righteous man knows he does not belong on that path. Path speaks of a way, a road, a direction, and the righteous man is not traveling in the same direction as sinners. The righteous man is not afraid to take a less-traveled road, because he knows it leads to blessing, happiness, and eternal life. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” (see Matthew 7:13note) The righteous can have the confidence of Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (See Spurgeon’s note). God has a path, and it is a good road to take.

Steven Cole – The path of sinners refers to their way of life or behavior. To stand in the path of sinners means involvement with sinners in their sinful behavior. The word “sinners” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to miss the mark. It refers to deviating from the standard of God as revealed in His Word… If we run with worldly people in their godless way of life, we will be wrongly influenced by them. That is why a new Christian needs to cut off close relationships with many former friends: They will draw you back into the old way of life. You may not think so, but, “Do not be deceived”! On the other hand, we are not supposed to cut ourselves off completely from sinners (unless they make claim of being Christians). Otherwise, you would have to go out of the world (1Cor. 5:9, 10, 11). Rather, your objective changes. Whereas before you associated with sinners as one of them to join in their evil deeds, now you associate with them as a sinner saved by grace to seek to bring them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (Psalm 1- How To Live Happily Ever After)

Observe the progression in which patterns are forming and becoming entrenched. In other words we begin the downgrade by listening to the world’s wisdom especially in the moral/ethical sphere (“It’s okay to sleep together if you are engaged and soon to be married.” = “counsel of the wicked”!). And from listening to their counsel we begin to think like the world and soon we act like the world, because what a man believes will always determine how he behaves. Sin’s natural direction spiritually speaking is a sequential, seductive, downward drag. Words like regression, deterioration, degeneration, destruction come to mind. The writer of Hebrews warned that we should…

encourage (present imperative = command to make this your habit – Why? we are in continual need for we are bombarded by discouraging circumstances and news of this fallen world) one another (which implies [1] we need each other and [2] we need to be in contact, i.e., fellowship daily! No “lone ranger” Christians if you want to stay encouraged and be an encourager!) day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness (see study of apate) of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (Sin is deceitful [Latin = decipio = to take aside, to ensnare] – cunning, stealthy, misleading, untruthful, beguiling, cheating, counterfeit, deceptive, dishonest, disingenuous, ensnaring, trickish, duplicitous, illusory, deliberately causing one to believe something that is not true, deliberately misrepresentative) See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin

So the effect of sin is to bring  about a gradual “build up of plaque” (using a medical analogy) producing spiritual “arteriosclerosis” or hardening of one’s heart and this can happen to believers, especially to those believers who think “That could never happen to me!” (“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed [present imperative = command for continual vigilance against pride for we are continually vulnerable to its subtle nature] lest he fall.” 1Cor 10:12) As an aside, an instructive “warning” study are several of the Biblical examples of overconfidence – Haman in Esther 3-5,  Sennacherib and the angel of the Lord in Isaiah 37:36, 37, 38; Peter in Luke 22:33, 34, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, the churches at Sardis, Laodicea — Revelation 3:1; 3:2; 3:3, 3:17 see notes Revelation 3:1; 3:2; 3:3, 3:17.

NOR SIT AT THE SEAT OF SCOFFERS: (Ps 26:4,5; 119:115; Jer 15:17) (scoffers: Pr 1:22; 3:34; 9:12; 19:29)

Sit (03427) (yashab) has sense of to sit, dwell, remain, abide and emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. One has settled down and is comfortable and content with the world with its patterns.  In the present context this verb pictures the idea of becoming comfortable with sin and of progression from casual influence of ungodly people to collusion with them in their scorn.

In Numbers we see an instructive use of yashab, Moses recording the tragic story of Israel…

While Israel remained (yashab) at Shittim (the last stop before Israel crossed the Jordan) the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. (Numbers 25:1-3)

Comment: Sit (Yashab) here in Numbers 25 is not the same word as ‘camp‘ which is what they should have been doing! See Nu 35:19 where camped (chanah) means to pitch a tent, which is quiet a different action than from abiding or tarrying in the seat of scoffers (Idol worshipers in this case) and they forfeited the blessednesses of Jehovah! (Read the full story in Numbers 25)

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote over 1000 years later…

Now these things (referring to Numbers 25) happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved…11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Seat (04186) (moshab from yashab = to sit, remain, dwell) means a seat (1Sa 20:18, 25), assembly, dwelling place, dwelling (a settlement, a place to live – Ge 10:30), dwellers, a site, a  session; an abode (the place or the time). The idea is  not only ‘seat’ or ‘place of sitting down’ but also ‘session’ or ‘assembly.’” Zion is called the dwelling place of Yahweh (Ps 132:13). houses are sometimes called dwellings (Lev 25:29; Exo 12:20) and the people in them were called inhabitants, or dwellers (2Sa 9:12). In sum, moshab means a place where a thing (in this case a person) is settled or established.

NAS Usage – Usage: dwelling(3), dwelling place(1), dwelling places(5), dwellings(9), habitation(1), habitations(2), inhabited(3), inhabited places(1), lived(1), seat(8), seating(2), settlement(1), settlements(3), situation(1), time(1), where they lived(1), where you are to live(1).

Moshab – 43v – Ge 10:30; 27:39; 36:43; Ex 10:23; 12:20, 40; 35:3; Lev 3:17; 7:26; 13:46; 23:3, 14, 17, 21, 31; 25:29; Nu 15:2; 24:21; 31:10; 35:29; 1Sa 20:18, 25; 2Sa 9:12; 1Kgs 10:5;2Kgs 2:19; 1Chr 4:33; 6:54; 7:28; 2Chr 9:4; Job 29:7; Ps 1:1; 107:4, 7, 32, 36; 132:13; Ezek 6:6, 14; 8:3; 28:2; 34:13; 37:23; 48:15

Scoffers (03887) (lis/luwts) means to mock, to deride, to speak in a scornfully derisive or to boast so as to express utter contempt. The activity of the scornful is condemned as an abomination to people. The scoffer is one who shows contempt by mocking, sneering, or scorning. This verb frequently means to deride or boast in such a way as to express contempt (Pr. 9:7, 8; 13:1; 20:1). “By extension the word is used to signify ambassadors (2Chr 32:31);, interpreters (Ge 42:23); and spokesmen (Isa 43:27).” (Baker) “To  talk big, i.e., speak words which show no respect for the object, and make fun of the object, with a possible focus of speaking in the situation with confidence and authority.” (Swanson)

Walter Kaiser – Fools scorn and mock at sin (Pr 14:9) and judgment (Pr 19:28). The scorner (Qal participial form) himself may be described as proud and haughty (Pr 21:24), incorrigible (Pr 9:7), resistant to all reproof (Pr 9:8; 15:12), and hating any rebuke (Pr 13:1). Wisdom and knowledge easily elude him (Pr 14:6). So despicable is the scorner that he may be labelled as odious to all men (Pr 24:9). Therefore he must be avoided (Ps 1:1) by all who would live godly lives. Further, he should be punished by hitting so that the easily pursuaded naive fool may benefit from the lesson (Pr 19:25; 21:11). One good way to remove contention from a group is to eject the scorner, and then “strife and reproach will cease” (Pr 22:10). A prepared judgment awaits all such scorners (Pr 19:29), for their trademark of life has been “to delight” in their scorning (Pr 1:22). They shall be brought to nothing and consumed (Isa 29:20). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

Scoff = To treat with insolent ridicule, mockery or contumelious language; to manifest contempt by derision; with at. To scoff at religion and sacred things is evidence of extreme weakness and folly, as well as of wickedness. To show contempt by derisive acts or language; stresses insolence, disrespect, or incredulity as motivating the derision

Scorn = open dislike and disrespect or derision often mixed with indignation; reject or dismiss as contemptible or unworthy; show disdain or derision; to regard as unworthy of one’s notice or consideration & implies a ready or indignant contempt.

Lis/luwts– 26 v – Ge 42:23; 2Chr 32:31; Job 16:20; 33:23 (lis/luwts = intercessor, mediator, i.e., one who helps parties to come to an agreement); Ps 1:1; Ps 119:51; Pr 1:22; 3:34; Pr 9:7,8, 12; 13:1; 14:6, 9; 15:12; 19:25, 28f; 20:1; 21:11, 24; 22:10; 24:9; Isa 28:22; 29:20; 43:27 Usage: carry on as scoffers(1), deride(1), envoys(1), interpreter(1), makes a mockery(1), mediator(1), mock(1), mocker(1), scoff(1), scoffer(10), scoffers(5), scoffs at the scoffers(1), scorner(1), spokesmen(1). Below are some representative uses…

Ge 42:23 They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them.

2Chr 32:31 And even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

Comment: envoy, spokesman, go-between, i.e., a person who relates messages between parties, including language interpreting or a focus on the message’s content  (see alsoIsa 43:27)

Pr 1:22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?

Pr 3:34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

Comment: Lxx translates scoffer with antitasso (in present tense = their habitual attitude/action) which means to resist, to oppose, to be hostile toward. Antitasso was a military term found in the papyri meaning “to range in battle against” and pictured an army arrayed against the enemy forces. It means to oppose someone, involving a psychological attitude and also corresponding behavior. It means to “to be an enemy of” or “to resist with assembled forces.”

Ps 119:51 The arrogant (Lxx = huperephanos) utterly deride me, Yet I do not turn aside from Thy law.

Comment: Note the implication – the arrogant have no desire for God’s Law, His Word of Truth.

Isa 29:20 For the ruthless (Lxx = anomos = lawless, behaving contrary to the law) will come to an end, and the scorner (Lxx = huperephanos) will be finished (Lxx = exolethreuo= utterly destroyed, completely cut off from God’s presence – cf 2Th 1:6-9) Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off. (More literally in Hebrew this last phrase is “and all the watchers of wrong will be cut off.” )

Unlike the good man, who walks the path of wisdom, the scoffer is a wicked man who follows the path of folly, refusing to listen to the wisdom of others.

Whenever possible, avoid associating yourself with those who are antagonistic to God and His teachings.

Solomon records of God that

Surely he scoffs at the scoffer: but he gives grace to the lowly” (Pr 3:34).

God is opposed to the scornful, and He will scorn them. That’s a frightful picture.

Guzik writes that…

The scornful love to sit and criticize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man will not sit in that seat! When others are putting down Christians, it is easy to sit with them and criticize them. It is easy because there are many things to criticize among Christians. But it is wrong, because we are then sitting in the seat of the scornful.  Instead, we should be proud to follow Jesus Christ.

“Be out-and-out for Him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me… but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, – “I love Christ.”’” (Spurgeon)

Walk…stand…sit pictures a process of spiritual “retrogression” which is the ever present danger if we are not growing in grace by taking in God’s Word. The point is that believers never stand still in their Christian walk and the psalmist portrays the potential spiritual declension by three degrees of degeneration, describing our habit or conduct (walk, stand, sit) and three degrees of evil influence (counsel of the wicked, path of sinners, seat of scoffers). In short, the psalmist warns us how we are prone to wander as the hymn writer says,  turning aside little by little, even imperceptibly becoming increasingly entangled in the web of sin. We need to remember that the writer Hebrews warns of the deadliness of sin…

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin)

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

He is easily influenced by the way of the world in its attitudes and actions, for actions follow attitudes.

Scott Grant – In Psalm 1, the blessing first of all is on the one who does not engage in certain activities. A progression is in view from two levels. First, three types of offenders are mentioned, with each group being more severe than the previous. Second, the words used to convey association with the offenders convey the potential for increasing involvement with them. The wicked are those who would be guilty in a court of law, even for one offense. The word sinners implies a repetition of evil deeds. Scoffers not only engage in illicit activities but also ridicule those who don’t. (Delighting in the Word)

Paul gives an apt description of scoffers in Romans that…

although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice (as their lifestyle) such things are worthy of death, they not only do (habitual practice) the same, but also give (continually) hearty approval to those who practice (continually) them. (see note Romans 1:32)

Piper – So, instead of finding his pleasures in the words or the ways or the fellowship of the wicked, the one who is truly happy finds pleasure in meditating on the Word and the ways of God.

The description of the godly begins with the negative which prepares his heart for the positive teaching in verse 2. As Wiersbe so aptly puts it, the “blessee” must first be separated and then saturated. He must be separated from the world (the root idea of holy) and saturated with the Word. The more we delight in the Word, the less we will desire the world.

Solomon gives us good advice for avoiding the 3 step declension in Psalm 1:1 exhorting us to…

Watch (An imperative – it is imperative that we continually guard our heart from “intruders”) over your heart with all diligence, (why?) for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23) (NLT conveys the point “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”)

O child of God, guard well your eyes
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind–
Your Father wants you set apart. –Fasick

John Flavel very wisely observed that,

The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.

Pritchard calls us to…

Consider the progression involved: Walk … Stand … Sit. First, the man is walking down the road. Then he stops to hang out with the sinners. Eventually they prove to be such good company that he sits down and has intimate fellowship with them. What started as casual contact in the end becomes a declaration of personal allegiance.

The “counsel of the wicked” means the advice of the morally unstable. It’s a general term that describes the worldview of those who do not know the Lord. The “way of sinners” involves a series of lifestyle choices. The “seat of mockers” means to have close, intimate, long-term fellowship with those who openly reject the Lord. The progression goes like this:

Thinking … Behaving … Belonging.

Worldly wisdom leads to
Worldly action, which results in
Worldly fellowship.

Let us be clear on this point. Blessings come not only from what we do, but also from what we don’t do. Blessed people avoid certain things. And they avoid certain people and certain situations. They don’t hang out just anywhere and they don’t quickly buy into every line of thinking. And they are very careful not to join themselves to the company of those who do not love the Lord…

Sin never stands still. It always moves to control us. What starts as casual contact leads on to increasing closeness and permanence of association. Eventually, there is increasing boldness of evil accompanied by a lowering of our own inhibitions. We laugh at jokes that once would have seemed crude to us. We compromise our values in ways we never would have thought possible. We consent to things that would have greatly troubled us in the past. (Ibid)

Adam Clarke sees Psalm 1:1 as a picture of the seen in this a progression of sin commenting that…

The great lesson to be learned from the whole is, sin is progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to another. He who acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who abandons himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy from God.

Steven Cole comments…

Scoffers have rejected God and His Word. They now seek to justify themselves by openly deriding that which they’ve rejected. Scoffers think they know more than God. They’re too smart to believe in the Bible. Many scoffers come from church backgrounds, but they’ve cast it off as too “repressive.” Although they almost always hide under an intellectual smoke screen, invariably scoffers have cast off the Bible because they want to be their own god so that they can follow their own lusts. They don’t want God interfering in their sinful lifestyles.

The seat of scoffers refers to the assembly or place where such men gather to reinforce their godless philosophy. Birds of a feather flock together. Those who scoff at God love to get together to reinforce their prejudices. To sit in their seat means to belong to such a crowd. Take note: How truly happy is the person who does not sit in the seat of scoffers!

Before we leave verse 1, please note the downward progression in the life of sin. Satan doesn’t cause a person to fall away and spurn the faith all at once.

There are degrees of departure from God, as implied in three sets of three words:

(1) Walk > Stand > Sit. First, you walk–you’re still moving, but now in the wrong direction. Then, you stand–you’re lingering in sin. Finally, you sit–you’re at ease in the company of scoffers.

(2) Wicked > Sinners > Scoffers. First, you’re with the wicked–those who hang loose about God. Then you’re with sinners–those who openly violate God’s commands by missing the mark. Then you’re with scoffers–those who openly reject the truth.

(3) Counsel > Path > Seat. First, you listen to counsel–you begin thinking wrong thoughts. Then, you stand in the path–you engage in wrong behavior. Finally, you sit in the seat–you belong to the wrong crowd and have adopted the fatal attitude of the scoffer. And Satan’s got you!

Two lessons:

(1) Guard your mind! Satan begins there, as he did with Eve (“Has God said …?”). Wrong thoughts lead to wrong behavior which leads to rejection of God and His truth. Guarding your mind doesn’t mean that you become a non-thinker. It means that you critique everything by the unchanging standard of God’s Word of truth.

(2) Guard your friends! Those whom you choose as close friends should be committed to the things of God. “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2Co 6:14). Bad company will corrupt good morals. In my fourth year at Dallas Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “The two factors which will most influence where you will be ten years from now are the books you read and the friends you make.” Guard your mind! Guard your friends! (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )

Thomas Brooks has an interesting Biblical analysis of wicked men

Always look upon wicked men, under those names and notions which the Scripture describes them, such as: lions for their fierceness, bears for their cruelty, dragons for their hideousness, dogs for their filthiness, wolves for their subtleness, scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars,  thistles,
brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, scum.

You may know well enough what is within them, 
by the  apt names which the Holy Spirit has given them.
 

By looking upon them under those names and notions  that the Scripture sets them out by, may preserve the  soul from frequenting their company and delighting in  their society. Such monsters are wicked men–which  should render their company to all who have tasted of  the sweetness of divine love, a burden and not a delight.

Wiersbe writes…

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings. 

First, we must be separated from the world (v. 1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees. We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world; we love the world, become confirmed to it and end up condemned with it…

Second, we must be saturated with the Word (v. 2). Whatever delights us directs us. We saturate ourselves with the Word by meditating on it. Meditation is to the spirit what digestion is to the body. When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within us to “digest” the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us. 

Enjoy the blessings God has for you and allow Him to make you a blessing to others. (A third condition, being situated by the waters, is the topic of our next devotional.) 

God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in the Word, we may expect God’s blessings. Resolve to meditate on the Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others. (see Matthew 5:3notet)

Alexander Maclaren explains the order of negative preceding positive…

It is usually taken as an exclamation, but may equally well be a simple affirmation, and declares a universal truth even more strongly, if so regarded. The characteristics which thus bring blessedness are first described negatively, and that order is significant. As long as there is so much evil in the world, and society is what it is, godliness must be largely negative, and its possessors “a people whose laws are different from all people that be on earth.” Live fish swim against the stream; dead ones go with it.

The tender graces of the devout soul will not flourish unless there be a wall of close-knit and unparticipating opposition round them, to keep off nipping blasts. The negative clausespresent a climax, notwithstanding the unquestionable correctness of one of the grounds on which that has been denied — namely, the practical equivalence of “wicked” and “sinner.”

Increasing closeness and permanence of association are obvious in the progress from walking to standing and from standing to sitting.

Increasing boldness in evil is marked by the progress from counsel to way, or course of life, and thence to scoffing. Evil purposes come out in deeds, and deeds are formularised at last in bitter speech. Some men scoff because they have already sinned. The tongue is blackened and made sore by poison in the system. Therefore goodness will avoid the smallest conformity with evil, as knowing that if the hem of the dress or the tips of the hair be caught in the cruel wheels, the whole body will be drawn in. But these negative characteristics are valuable mainly for their efficacy in contributing to the positive, as the wall round a young plantation is there for the sake of what grows behind it.

Maclaren goes on to make a very important point, lest the reader think that holiness is manifest first and foremost by what one avoids or from that which one abstains. He writes that…

these positive characteristics (in verse 2), and eminently that chief one of a higher love, are the only basis for useful abstinence. Mere conventional, negative virtue is of little power or worth unless it flow from a strong set of the soul in another direction. (Amen. And I would add lest it become legalism which is powerless against the powerful pull of the world, the flesh and the devil.)

Spurgeon writes that…

 He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. He finds no rest in the atheist’s scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God’s presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:

He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor SITTETH in the SEAT of SCORNFUL.

When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God — the evil is rather practical than habitual — but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.

Adam Clarke writes…

Mark certain circumstances of their differing characters and conduct.

  1. The ungodly man has his counsel.
  2. The sinner has his way; and
  3. The scorner has his seat.

The ungodly man is unconcerned about religion; he is neither zealous for his own salvation nor for that of others; and he counsels and advises those with whom he converses to adopt his plan, and not trouble themselves about praying, reading, repentance, etc., etc.; “there is no need for such things; live an honest life, make no fuss about religion, and you will fare well enough at last.” Now “blessed is the man who walks not in this man’s counsel,” who does not come into his measures, nor act according to his plan.

The sinner has his particular way of transgressing; one is a drunkard, another dishonest, another unclean. Few are given to every species of vice. There are many covetous men who abhor drunkenness, many drunkards who abhor covetousness; and so of others. Each has his easily besetting sin; therefore, says the prophet, “Let the wicked forsake HIS WAY.” (Isaiah 55:7) Now, blessed is he who stands not is such a man’s WAY.

The scorner has brought, in reference to himself, all religion and moral feeling to an end. He has sat down — is utterly confirmed in impiety, and makes a mock at sin. His conscience is seared, and he is a believer in all unbelief. Now, blessed is the man who sits not down in his SEAT. 

Thomas Adams wrote of the scoffers that…

when a wicked man comes to the depth and worst of sin, he despiseth. Then the Hebrew will despise Moses (Exodus 2:14), “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” Then Ahab will quarrel with Micaiah (1Kings 22:18), because he doth not prophecy good unto him. Every child in Bethel will mock Elisha (2Kings 2:23), and be bold to call him “bald pate.” Here is an original drop of venom swollen to a main ocean of poison: as one drop of some serpents’ poison, lighting on the hand, gets into the veins, and so spreads itself over all the body till it hath stifled the vital spirits. God shall “laugh you to scorn,” (Psalms 2:4), for laughing Him to scorn; and at last despise you that have despised him in us. That which a man spits against heaven, shall fall back on his own face. Your indignities done to your spiritual physicians shall sleep in the dust with your ashes, but stand up against your souls in judgment.

ARE YOU
BLESSABLE?

Warren Wiersbe sums up Psalm 1:1 noting that…

God enjoys blessing your life, but you must be “blessable.” That means having discernment (v. 1), avoiding the steps that lead to sin: considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), being comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch that first step! (Wiersbe, W: With the Word: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook. Nelson)

The happy man (Lachlan MacKenzie, “The Happy Man”)

The happy man was born in the city of Regeneration in the parish of Repentance unto Life. He has a large  estate in the county of Christian Contentment.

He was educated at the School of Obedience —and often does jobs of Self-denial.

He wears the garment of Humility, and has another suit to put on when he goes to Court, called the Robe of Christ’s Righteousness.

He is necessitated to travel through the world on  his way to heaven—but he walks through it as fast  as he can. All his business along the way—is to  make himself and others happy. He often walks  in the valley of Self-Abasement, and sometimes  climbs the mountains of Heavenly-mindedness.

He breakfasts every morning on Spiritual Prayer,  and sups every evening on the same. He has food to eat, which the world knows nothing of—and his drink is the sincere milk of the Word of God.

Thus happy he lives—and happy he dies.

Happy is he who has . . .

Gospel submission in his will,
the love of God in his affections,
true peace in his conscience,
sincere Divinity in his breast,
the Redeemer’s yoke on his neck,
the vain world under his feet, and
a crown of glory over his head!

Happy is the life of that man who . . .

BLESSING
IN THE PSALMS

Blessing (bless, blessed) is a common theme in the Psalms (108 times in 98 verses – with approximately 47 referring to blessing the LORD and about 57 God blessing men, with the remainder difficult to classify – as an aside this makes for an interesting study, especially to see who it is that God blesses and how this blessing is manifested. See all uses in “Wisdom” Literature – Job, Psalms, Proverbs)…

Donne – How abundantly is that word Blessed multiplied in the Book of Psalms! The book seems to be made out of that word, and the foundation raised upon that Word, for it is the first word of the book. But in all the book there is not one Woe.

Let us take a moment to scan over some of the uses of bless, blessed and blessing in the Psalms as we prepare to study key to the blessed life in Christ…

Ps 2:12 Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge (put their trust) in Him!

Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith may be slender as a spider’s thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles: — “Lord, increase our faith.” (Spurgeon)

Psalm 5:12 For it is Thou who dost bless the righteous man, O LORD, Thou dost surround him with favor as with a shield.

This is a promise of infinite length, of unbounded breadth, and of unutterable preciousness. (Spurgeon)

Psalm 24:5 (Context for who “he” is) He shall receive a blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. So that the saints need salvation; they receive righteousness, and the blessing is a boon from God their Saviour. They do not ascend the hill of the Lord as givers but as receivers, and they do not wear their own merits, but a righteousness which they have received. Holy living ensures a blessing as its reward from the thrice Holy God, but it is itself a blessing of the New Covenant and a delightful fruit of the Spirit. God first gives us good works, and then rewards us for them. Grace is not obscured by God’s demand for holiness, but is highly exalted as we see it decking the saint with jewels, and clothing him in fair white linen; all this sumptuous array being a free gift of mercy. (Spurgeon)

Ps 32:1 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!

Blessed. Like the Sermon on the Mount (see notes Matthew 5:1ff), this Psalm begins with beatitudes. This is the second Psalm of benediction. The first Psalm (see notes Psalm 1) describes the result of holy blessedness, the thirty-second details the cause of it. The first pictures the tree in full growth, this depicts it in its first planting and watering. He who in the first Psalm is a reader of God’s book, is here a suppliant at God’s throne accepted and heard.

Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. He is now blessed and ever shall be. Be he ever so poor, or sick, or sorrowful, he is blessed in very deed. Pardoning mercy is of all things in the world most to be prized, for it is the only and sure way to happiness. To hear from God’s own Spirit the words, “absolvo te” is joy unspeakable. Blessedness is not in this case ascribed to the man who has been a diligent law keeper, for then it would never come to us, but rather to a lawbreaker, who by grace most rich and free has been forgiven. Self righteous Pharisees have no portion in this blessedness. Over the returning prodigal, the word of welcome is here pronounced, and the music and dancing begin.

A full, instantaneous, irreversible pardon of transgression turns the poor sinner’s hell into heaven, and makes the heir of wrath a partaker in blessing. The word rendered forgiven is in the original taken off or taken away, as a burden is lifted or a barrier removed. What a lift is here! It cost our Saviour a sweat of blood to bear our load, yea, it cost Him His life to bear it quite away. Samson carried the gates of Gaza, but what was that to the weight which Jesus bore on our behalf?

Whose sin is covered. Covered by God, as the ark was covered by the mercyseat, as Noah was covered from the flood, as the Egyptians were covered by the depths of the sea. What a cover must that be which hides away forever from the sight of the all seeing God all the filthiness of the flesh and of the spirit! He who has once seen sin in its horrible deformity, will appreciate the happiness of seeing it no more for ever. Christ’s atonement is the propitiation, the covering, the making an end of sin; where this is seen and trusted in, the soul knows itself to be now accepted in the Beloved, and therefore enjoys a conscious blessedness which is the antepast (a foretaste) of heaven. It is clear from the text that a man may know that he is pardoned: where would be the blessedness of an unknown forgiveness? Clearly it is a matter of knowledge, for it is the ground of comfort.

Verse 2. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. The word blessed is in the plural, oh, the blessednesses! the double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight! Note the three words so often used to denote our disobedience: transgression, sin, and iniquity, are the three headed dog at the gates of hell, but our glorious Lord has silenced his barkings for ever against his own believing ones. The trinity of sin is overcome by the Trinity of heaven. Non imputation is of the very essence of pardon: the believer sins, but his sin is not reckoned, not accounted to him. Certain divines froth at the mouth with rage against imputed righteousness, be it ours to see our sin not imputed, and to us may there be as Paul words it, “Righteousness imputed without works.” He is blessed indeed who has a substitute to stand for him to whose account all his debts may be set down. And in whose spirit there is no guile. He who is pardoned, has in every case been taught to deal honestly with himself, his sin, and his God. Forgiveness is no sham, and the peace which it brings is not caused by playing tricks with conscience. Self deception and hypocrisy bring no blessedness, they may drug the soul into hell with pleasant dreams, but into the heaven of true peace they cannot conduct their victim. Free from guilt, free from guile. Those who are justified from fault are sanctified from falsehood. A liar is not a forgiven soul. Treachery, double dealing, chicanery, dissimulation, are lineaments of the devil’s children, but he who is washed from sin is truthful, honest, simple, and childlike. There can be no blessedness to tricksters with their plans, and tricks, and shuffling, and pretending: they are too much afraid of discovery to be at ease; their house is built on the volcano’s brink, and eternal destruction must be their portion. Observe the three words to describe sin, and the three words to represent pardon, weigh them well, and note their meaning. (Spurgeon)

Ps 34:8 O taste (imperative = not a suggestion but a command) and see (another imperative) that the LORD is good. How blessed is the man who takes refuge (places his trust) in Him!

O taste and see. Make a trial, an inward, experimental trial of the goodness of God. You cannot see except by tasting for yourself; but if you taste you shall see, for this, like Jonathan’s honey, enlightens the eyes. That the Lord is good. You can only know this really and personally by experience. There is the banquet with its oxen and fatlings; its fat things full of marrow, and wine on the lees well refined; but their sweetness will be all unknown to you except you make the blessings of grace your own, by a living, inward, vital participation in them.

Blessed is the man that trusts in Him. Faith is the soul’s taste; they who test the Lord by their confidence always find Him good, and they become themselves blessed. The second clause of the verse, is the argument in support of the exhortation contained in the first sentence. (Spurgeon)

Ps 40:4 How blessed is the man who has made the LORD his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

Blessed. This is an exclamation similar to that of the first Psalm, “Oh, the happiness of the man.” God’s blessings are emphatic, “I wot ( know) that he whom Thou blesses is blessed,” indeed and in very truth. Is that man that maketh the Lord his trust. Faith obtains promises. A simple single eyed confidence in God is the sure mark of blessedness. A man may be as poor as Lazarus, as hated as Mordecai, as sick as Hezekiah, as lonely as Elijah, but while his hand of faith can keep its hold on God, none of his outward afflictions can prevent his being numbered among the blessed; but the wealthiest and most prosperous man who has no faith is accursed, be he who he may. (Spurgeon)

Ps 84:12 O LORD of hosts, How blessed is the man who trusts in Thee!

Here is the key of the Psalm. The worship is that of faith, and the blessedness is peculiar to believers. No formal worshipper can enter into this secret. A man must know the Lord by the life of real faith, or he can have no true rejoicing in the Lord’s worship, his house, his Son, or his ways. Dear reader, how fares it with thy soul? (Spurgeon)

What is the blessing associated with or “effected” by in this Psalm? Trust (cp Jer 17:7, 8). Faith. Believing (see word study on verb pisteuo). For example, do you really believe God has granted you “everything (how much? Greek word pas = all without exception!) necessary for life (zoe = not just breathing, but life abundant which is Jesus’ desire for us, Jn 10:10) and godliness through (preposition “dia” = the conduit through which “life and godliness” flow, so to speak) the true knowledge of Him (thus the vital importance of daily “eating” His pure, unadulterated Word of Truth and Life – 1Pe 2:2-note, Mt 4:4, Dt 8:2, 3, 16, Php 2:16-note) who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2Pe 1:3-note)? Remember that trusting is not a passive mindset, but a reflects an active, volitional, submissive change in our thinking, which results in a change in our doing. If you truly believe, you will behave according to how, what and Who you believe. A disconnect in this dynamic is the essence of Pharisaical hypocrisy. Do not be deceived, beloved brethren (Jas 1:22-note, Jas 1:25-note; see related discussion re the NT phrase the obedience of faith)

Ps 94:12 Blessed is the man (Hebrew = geber = Hebrew root commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of the successful warrior; relates to the male at the height of his powers) whom You chasten, O LORD, and whom You teach out of Your law;

Blessed is the man whom Thou chastens, O LORD. The psalmist’s mind is growing quiet. He no longer complains to God or argues with men, but tunes his harp to softer melodies, for his faith perceives that with the most afflicted believer all is well. Though he may not feel blessed while smarting under the rod of chastisement, yet blessed he is; he is precious in God’s sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him, and right happy will the results of his correction be (see notes Hebrews 12:5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11). The psalmist calls the chastened one a “man” in the best sense, using the Hebrew word which implies strength. He is a man, indeed, who is under the teaching and training of the Lord. (Spurgeon)

Ps 106:3 How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times!

Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times. Multiplied are the blessings which must descend upon the whole company of the keepers of the way of justice, and especially upon that one rare man who at all times follows that which is right. Holiness is happiness. The way of right is the way of peace. Yet men leave this road, and prefer the paths of the destroyer. Hence the story which follows is in sad contrast with the happiness here depicted, because the way of Israel was not that of judgment and righteousness, but that of folly and iniquity. The Psalmist, while contemplating the perfections of God, was impressed with the feeling that the servants of such a being must be happy, and when he looked around and saw how the tribes of old prospered when they obeyed, and suffered when they sinned, he was still more fully assured of the truth of his conclusion. O could we but be free of sin we should be rid of sorrow! We would not only be just, but “keep judgment”; we would not be content with occasionally acting rightly, but would “do justice at all times.” (Spurgeon)

Ps 112:1 Praise the LORD! How blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in His commandments.

Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord. According to the last verse of Psalm 111, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; this man, therefore, has begun to be wise, and wisdom has brought him present happiness, and secured him eternal felicity. Jehovah is so great that He is to be feared and had in reverence of all them that are round about Him, and He is at the same time so infinitely good that the fear is sweetened into filial love, and becomes a delightful emotion, by no means engendering bondage. There is a slavish fear which is accursed; but that godly fear which leads to delight in the service of God is infinitely blessed. Jehovah is to be praised both for inspiring men with godly fear and for the blessedness which they enjoy in consequence thereof. We ought to bless God for blessing any man, and especially for setting the seal of his approbation upon the godly. His favour towards the God fearing displays His character and encourages gracious feelings in others, therefore let Him be praised.

That delighteth greatly in His commandments. The man not only studies the divine precepts and endeavours to observe them, but rejoices to do so:

Holiness is his happiness,
Devotion is his delight,
Truth is his treasure.

He rejoices in the precepts of godliness, yea, and delights greatly in them. We have known hypocrites rejoice in the doctrines, but never in the commandments. Ungodly men may in some measure obey the commandments out of fear, but only a gracious man will observe them with delight.

Cheerful obedience
is the only acceptable obedience

He who obeys reluctantly is disobedient at heart, but he who takes pleasure in the command is truly loyal. If through divine grace we find ourselves described in these two sentences, let us give all the praise to God, for He hath wrought all our works in us, and the dispositions out of which they spring. Let self righteous men praise themselves, but he who has been made righteous by grace renders all the praise to the Lord.

Ps 119:1 How blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.

Blessed. The psalmist is so enraptured with the Word of God that he regards it as the highest ideal of blessedness to be conformed to it. He has gazed on the beauties of the perfect law, and, as if this verse were the sum and outcome of all his emotions, he exclaims,

Blessed is the man whose life is the practical transcript of the will of God.

True religion is not cold and dry; it has its exclamations and raptures. We not only judge the keeping of God’s law to be a wise and proper thing, but we are warmly enamored of its holiness, and cry out in adoring wonder, “Blessed are the undefiled!”—meaning thereby that we eagerly desire to become such ourselves, and wish for no greater happiness than to be perfectly holy.

This first verse is not only a preface to the whole psalm, but it may also be regarded as the text upon which the rest is a discourse. It is similar to the benediction of Psalm 1, which is set in the forefront of the entire book: there is a likeness between this Psalm 119 and the Psalter, and this is one point of it, that it begins with a benediction. In this, too, we see some foreshadowings of the Son of David, who began His great sermon as David (Ed: the author of Ps 119 is not stated but could be David. Some think Ezra the Scribe) began His great psalm. When we cannot bestow blessings, we can show the way of obtaining them, and even if we do not yet possess them ourselves, it may be profitable to contemplate them, that our desires may be excited, and our souls moved to seek after them.

As David thus begins his psalm, so should young men begin their lives, so should new converts commence their life of faith, so should all Christians begin every day. Holiness is happiness, and it is our wisdom first to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Mankind began with being blessed in innocence, and if our fallen race is ever to be blessed again, it must find it where it lost it at the beginning, in conformity to the command of the Lord.

Ps 119:2 How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart.

Blessed are they that keep his testimonies. What! A second blessing? Yes, they are doubly blessed whose outward life is supported by an inward zeal for God’s glory. In the first verse we had an undefiled way, and it was taken for granted that the purity in the way was not mere surface work, but was attended by the inward truth and life which comes of divine grace. Here that which was implied is expressed.

Blessedness is ascribed to those who treasure up the testimonies of the Lord: in which is implied that they search the Scriptures, that they come to an understanding of them, that they love them, and then that they continue in the practice of them.

We must first get a thing before we can keep it. In order to keep it well we must get a firm grip of it: we cannot keep in the heart that which we have not heartily embraced by the affections.

God’s word is His witness or testimony to grand and important truths which concern Himself and our relation to Him: this we should desire to know; knowing it, we should believe it; believing it, we should love it; and loving it, we should hold it fast against all comers.

There is a doctrinal keeping of the word when we are ready to die for its defence, and a practical keeping of it when we actually live under its power.

Revealed truth is precious as diamonds, and should be kept or treasured up in the memory and in the heart as jewels in a casket, or as the law was kept in the ark; this however is not enough, for it is meant for practical use, and therefore it must be kept or followed, as men keep to a path, or to a line of business.

If we keep God’s testimonies
They will keep us

They will keep us right in opinion, comfortable in spirit, holy in conversation, and hopeful in expectation. If they were ever worth having, and no thoughtful person will question that, then they are worth keeping; their designed effect does not come through a temporary seizure of them, but by a persevering keeping of them: “in keeping of them there is great reward.”

We are bound to keep with all care the word of God, because it is his testimonies. He gave them to us, but they are still his own. We are to keep them as a watchman guards his master’s house, as a steward husbands his lord’s goods, as a shepherd keeps his employer’s flock. We shall have to give an account, for we are put in trust with the gospel, and woe to us if we be found unfaithful. We cannot fight a good fight, nor finish our course, unless we keep the faith. To this end the Lord must keep us: only those who are kept by the power of God unto salvation will ever be able to keep his testimonies. What a blessedness is therefore evidenced and testified by a careful belief in God’s word, and a continual obedience thereunto. God has blessed them, is blessing them, and will bless them for ever. That blessedness which David saw in others he realized for himself, for in Psalms 119:168 he says, “I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies,” and in Ps 119:54-56 he traces his joyful songs and happy memories to this same keeping of the law, and he confesses, “This I had because I kept thy precepts.” Doctrines which we teach to others we should experience for ourselves.

And that seek him with the whole heart. Those who keep the Lord’s testimonies are sure to seek after Himself. If His word is precious we may be sure that He Himself is still more so. Personal dealing with a personal God is the longing of all those who have allowed the word of the Lord to have its full effect upon them. If we once really know the power of the gospel we must seek the God of the gospel.

“O that I knew where I might find HIM,”
will be our wholehearted cry.

See the growth which these sentences indicate: first, in the way, then walking in it, then finding and keeping the treasure of truth, and to crown all, seeking after the Lord of the way Himself. Note also that the further a soul advances in grace the more spiritual and divine are its longings: an outward walk does not content the gracious soul, nor even the treasured testimonies; it reaches out in due time after God Himself, and when it in a measure finds Him, still yearns for more of Him, and seeks Him still.

Seeking after God signifies a desire to commune with Him more closely, to follow Him more fully, to enter into more perfect union with His mind and will, to promote His glory, and to realize completely all that He is to holy hearts. The blessed man has God already, and for this reason he seeks him. This may seem a contradiction: it is only a paradox.

God is not truly sought by the cold researches of the brain:
We must seek him with the heart.

Love reveals itself to love: God manifests His heart to the heart of His people. It is in vain that we endeavour to comprehend Him by reason; we must apprehend Him by affection. But the heart must not be divided with many objects if the Lord is to be sought by us (see Matthew 6:24-note; cp one thing I do – see Philippians 3:13-note). God is one, and we shall not know Him till our heart is one. A broken heart need not be distressed at this, for no heart is so whole in its seeking after God as a heart which is broken, whereof every fragment sighs and cries after the great Father’s face. It is the divided heart which the doctrine of the text censures, and strange to say, in scriptural phraseology,

a heart may be divided and not broken, and it may be broken but not divided; and yet again it may be broken and be whole, and it never can be whole until it is broken.

When our whole heart seeks the holy God in Christ Jesus it has come to Him of Whom it is written, “as many as touched Him were made perfectly whole.”

That which the Psalmist admires in this verse he claims in the tenth, where he says, “With my whole heart have I sought thee.” It is well when admiration of a virtue leads to the attainment of it. Those who do not believe in the blessedness of seeking the Lord will not be likely to arouse their hearts to the pursuit, but he who calls another blessed because of the grace which he sees in him is on the way to gaining the same grace for himself.

If those who seek the Lord are blessed, what shall be said of those who actually dwell with Him and know that He is theirs?

“To those who fall, how kind thou art!
How good to those who seek!
But what to those who find? Ah! this
Nor tongue nor pen can show:
The love of Jesus — what it is,
None but His loved ones know.”

Ps 146:5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help. Heaped up is his happiness. He has happiness indeed: the true and the real delight is with him. The God of Jacob is the God of the covenant, the God of wrestling prayer, the God of the tried believer; he is the only living and true God. The God of Jacob is Jehovah, who appeared unto Moses, and led the tribes of Jacob out of Egypt, and through the wilderness. Those are happy who trust him, for they shall never be ashamed or confounded. The Lord never dies, neither do his thoughts perish: his purpose of mercy, like himself, endures throughout all generations. Hallelujah!

Whose hope is in the LORD his God. He is happy in help for the present and in hope for the future, who has placed all his confidence in Jehovah, who is his God by a covenant of salt (See Trumbull’s Covenant of Salt). Happy is he when others are despairing! Happiest shall he be in that very hour when others are discovering the depths of agony. We have here a statement which we have personally tried and proved: resting in the Lord, we know a happiness which is beyond description, beyond comparison, beyond conception. O how blessed a thing it is to know that God is our present help, and our eternal hope. Full assurance is more than heaven in the bud, the flower has begun to open. We would not exchange with Caesar; his sceptre is a bauble, but our bliss is true treasure.

In each of the two titles here given, namely, “the God of Jacob”, and “Jehovah his God”, there is a peculiar sweetness. Either one of them has a fountain of joy in it; but the first will not cheer us without the second. Unless Jehovah be his God no man can find confidence in the fact that he was Jacob’s God. But when by faith we know the Lord to be ours, then we are “rich to all the intents of bliss.”

HOW BLESSED IS THE MAN: (Ps 2:12; 32:1,2; 34:8; 84:12; 106:3; 112:1; 115:12, 13, 14, 15; 119:1,2; 144:15; Ps 146:5; Dt 28:2-68; 33:29; Jer 17:7, 8; Mt 16:17; Lk 11:28; Jn 13:17; Jn 20:29; Rev 1:3, 14:13; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7,14)

How blessed – This phrase appears 23x in 22v in the Psalms – This makes an interesting devotional or Sunday School study – What does God say about “how blessed”? – see Ps 1:1; 2:12; 32:1, 2; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4, 5, 12; 89:15; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1, 2; 127:5; 128:1; 137:8, 9; 144:15; 146:5. (And for “extra credit see the remainder of the 31v that use the phrase “how blessed” 2Ki 10:8, 2Chr 9:7, Pr 3:13; 20:7; 28:14; Isa 30:18; 32:20; 56:2; Da 12:12)

BLESSED, BLESSED
THE ONE WHO
READS & HEEDS PSALM 1

Lk 11:28 (Jesus said) Blessed (makarios) are those who hear the word of God, and observe it.

Jn 13:17 (Jesus said) If you know these things, you are blessed (makarios) if you do them.

James 1:22 (note) Prove (present imperative = as your lifestyle or regular practice) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers (akroates – like those who audit a course for non-credit!) who delude (paralogizomai = literally to reason alongside; present tense = continually in a state of spiritual delusion) themselves

1 Samuel 15:22 (Samuel to disobedient King Saul from whom the “blessing” would be removed) Has the LORD as much delight (same Hebrew word chephets as in Psalm 1:2) in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

At the outset note that the promise of blessing in Psalm 1 is not for the one who simply reads these beautiful words but who hides and heeds the words in his or her heart. As Jesus’ Words emphasize in Luke 11:28 obedience is the key to blessing in both the Old and New Testament. God desires to bless His children because they are as it were, His trophies of redemption, His re-creations in Christ, and as such He desires the lost world to see His glory through believing, obedient children. So as you read and meditate on this great psalm, ask God to open your heart to receive the Word implanted which is able to save your soul, not just the first time but every day as His Spirit takes the Word and sets us progressively more and more apart from the world and unto God. As we read and ponder these precious words let us have tender, even trembling hearts, that we might begin to experience, not just life, which all believers have in Christ, but even abundant life in Christ, the life which is blessed, blessed.

Observe in Psalm 1 we encounter two men, two ways and two destinies. This contrast is especially dramatic when one observes words penned at the beginning (blessed) and the end (perish)! Take your choice!

In verse 1 we observe the practice of the godly man, in verse 2 the passion and in verse 3 his “permanence”. This beatitude psalm describes the “be attitude” man, the one who is spiritually satisfied regardless of the circumstances!

You may have read in Spurgeon’s comments above on the blessed state in Psalm 32:1-2 (Spurgeon on v1; Verse 2) where he notes that there is an association with the blessednesses in Psalm 1. And indeed there is for Psalm 32 speaks of blessings which are a result of God’s forgiveness of sins. It is on such a firm foundation of God’s imputation (reckoning, placing on one’s account) of confessing sinners as forgiven sinners (who are saints!), that makes possible the accomplishment the obedience and practical righteousness called for in Psalm 1, especially Psalm 1:1. Forgiven people are blessed people and are in the position (in Christ) to experience even greater blessednesses from our gracious, giving Lord! Amazing grace indeed that not only does He save us but that His desire is then to even blessed us over and above the blessing of salvation!

Psalm 1 contrasts the two life styles set out in the wisdom literature and reminds the readers of the choices of life or death, of blessing or curse (cf. Deut 30:11-20).

Steele (1674) speaks of the value of the different components of the OT wisdom literature noting that…

He that would be wise, let him read the Proverbs
He that would be holy, let him read the Psalms.

Spurgeon offer this overview of Psalm 1…

This Psalm may be regarded as the preface psalm, having in it a notification of the contents of the entire Book. It is the psalmists’ desire to teach us the way to blessedness, and to warn us of the sure destruction of sinners. This, then, is the matter of the first Psalm, which may be looked upon, in some respects, as the text upon which the whole of the Psalms make up a divine sermon. This Psalm consists of two parts: in the first (Psalms 1:1-3) David (Ed: the author is actually not stated) sets out wherein the felicity and blessedness of a godly man consist, what his exercises are, and what blessings he shall receive from the Lord. In the second part (Psalms 1:4-6) he contrasts the state and character of the ungodly, reveals the future, and describes, in telling language, his ultimate doom.

Warren Wiersbe rightly states that…

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.

BLESSED IN DUPLICATE!
BLESSED, BLESSED

Blessed (0835) (‘esher/’eser related to the verb ‘ashar = to go or be straight, to go on, to advance, to be right) and always refers to people but never to God. Vine writes that “Basically, this word connotes the state of “prosperity” or “happiness” that comes when a superior bestows his favor (blessing) on one. In most passages, the one bestowing favor is God Himself = Dt. 33:29. The state that the blessed one enjoys does not always appear to be “happy” = (Job 5:17-18). Eliphaz was not describing Job’s condition as a happy one; it was “blessed,” however, inasmuch as God was concerned about him. Because it was a blessed state and the outcome would be good, Job was expected to laugh at his adversity (Job 5:22). God is not always the one who makes one “blessed.” = 1Ki 10:8.”

‘Esher speaks of the inner contentment in the life of the man or woman who is right or “straight” with God. The man who practices righteousness will be a blessed man. ‘Esher describes “a person’s state of bliss (Ed: Webster = complete happiness. yjr highest degree of happiness; especially heavenly joys)” (Baker)

In Psalm 1:1, the Hebrew literally reads “blessed, blessed”, the Hebraic way of indicating superfluity, a truth that we might attempt to translate as “blessednesses”. The word blessed (‘esher) conveys a deep sense of well-being.

‘Esher – 42 OT uses (See notes above for more exposition of some of the Psalms that use ‘esher) – Deut. 33:29; 1 Ki. 10:8; 2 Chr. 9:7; Job 5:17; Ps. 1:1; 2:12; 32:1f; 33:12; 34:8; 40:4; 41:1; 65:4; 84:4f, 12; 89:15; 94:12; 106:3; 112:1; 119:1f; 127:5; 128:1f; 137:8f; 144:15; 146:5; Pr. 3:13; 8:32, 34; 14:21; 16:20; 20:7; 28:14; 29:18; Eccl. 10:17; Isa. 30:18; 32:20; 56:2; Dan. 12:12. NAS Usage: blessed(41), happy(4).

One person has written “The word happy is a good rendition of blessed (‘esher), provided one keeps in mind that the condition of “bliss” is not merely a feeling. Even when the righteous do not feel happy, they are still considered “blessed” from God’s perspective. He bestows this gift on them. Neither negative feelings nor adverse conditions can take his blessing away.”

A number of the translations render ‘esher with the English word “happy”, but I prefer the word blessed. In modern use happy speaks more of a feeling. And in general feelings depend on our circumstances or on what happens! I’m happy if what happens is good. I’m not happy if what happens is bad. However that is not the promise of Psalm 1, which speaks more of one’s state or condition rather than one’s feeling. To be sure, the blessed person can certainly feel happy. The distinction is that when the blessed person of Psalm 1 encounters adverse circumstances, he or she still experiences a state or condition of blessedness. In other words, as the Psalmist promises, the blessed man of Psalm 1 will be like a tree firmly planted, sturdy, and steady and not like a tumble weed tossed about by every wind of circumstance. It is as if the blessed person has an inner strength, a supernatural source of strength, a state of blessedness regardless of the circumstances that one encounters.

As Spurgeon so eloquently expresses blessed in the plural “Oh, the blessednesses! The double joys, the bundles of happiness, the mountains of delight!”

John Piper adds that the Hebrew word ‘esher “means happy in the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and physical well being.”

The other Hebrew word for bless is the verb barak which is the verb used of man blessing God and of God blessing man. In contrast, the verb ‘ashar used only of God blessing man. Thus it is fitting that in Psalm 1:1, the noun chosen is ‘esher, speaking of the blessing from the Most High God to mankind.

In the Septuagint (Lxx), the Greek word for blessed is makarios (see word study) and can be summed up as describing the man who is fully satisfied (especially in the spiritual sense), independent of or regardless of circumstances. And so even though the winds and waves of affliction, testing and trial come against the “blessed man” (or “blessed woman”), fortified by the grace from Jehovah, he remains strong, stedfast and satisfied in the Lord. The blessed man knows that he is safe in “the Ark” of Jehovah, the One Who declares I Am… I Am anything and everything you will ever need (not want but need! cp Php 4:19, Ps 23:1, Ps 84:11, Mt 6:33, Lk 12:30, 31, 32, Ro 8:32, 2Co 9:8, He 13:5, 6 2Sa 22:7 Da 3:28, 6:22 Ps116:4- ; Ps 120:1)

Adam Clarke – The word ashrey, which we translate blessed, is properly in the plural form, blessednesses; or may be considered as an exclamation produced by contemplating the state of the man who has taken God for his portion; O the blessedness of the man! And the word haish, is emphatic: THAT man; that one among a thousand who lives for the accomplishment of the end for which God created him. 1. God made man for happiness. 2. Every man feels a desire to be happy. 3. All human beings abhor misery. 4. Happiness is the grand object of pursuit among all men. 5. But so perverted is the human heart, that it seeks happiness where it cannot be found; and in things which are naturally and morally unfit to communicate it. 6. The true way of obtaining it is here laid down.

In context, the psalmist expands the meaning of blessed in Psalm 1, explaining in picture language that the blessed man is like a tree by water, a striking image in an arid land where water is sparse and greatly valued. And thus planted by the precious water (and not a stagnant pool but a stream of flowing water!). And too the blessing is pictured as like a tree that is fruitful in season with an unwithering leaf. And such a one prospers in all he does. He is blessed indeed! And finally the psalmist goes on to explain the greatest blessing of all, the blessing of being known by Jehovah and the privilege of standing in the assembly of the righteous of all the ages. The blessed man is stabilized in the storms by these truths regarding his present and his future.

Martin Luther comments that “”blessed” is a plural noun, ashrey (blessednesses), that is, all blessednesses are the portion of that man who has not gone away, etc.; as though it were said, “All things are well with that man who,” etc. Why do you hold any dispute? Why draw vain conclusions? If a man has found that pearl of great price, to love the law of God and to be separate from the ungodly, all blessednesses belong to that man; but, if he does not find this jewel, he will seek for all blessednesses but will never find one!”

COUNT YOUR
BLESSINGS!

Spurgeon…

Those that trust in Him are blessed; and I would observe, first, that they are really blessed. It is no fiction, no imaginary blessing; it is a real blessedness which belongs to those who trust in God: a blessedness that will stand the test of consideration, the test of life, and the trial of death; a blessedness into which we cannot plunge too deeply, for none of it is a dream, but all a reality. Again, those that trust in Him have not only a real blessedness, but they oftentimes have a conscious blessedness. They know what it is to be blest in their troubles, for they are in their trials comforted, and they are blest in their joys, for their joys are sanctified. They are blest and they know it, they sing about it and they rejoice in it. It is their joy to know that God’s blessing is come to them not in word only but in very deed. They are blessed men and blessed women.

“They would not change their blest estate
For all the world calls good and great.”

Then, further, they are not only really blessed, and consciously blessed, but they are increasingly blessed. Their blessedness grows. They do not go downhill, as the wicked do, from bright hope to black despair. They do not diminish in their delights, the river deepens as they wade into it. They are blessed when the first ray of heavenly light streams on their eyeballs; they are blessed when their eyes are opened wider still, to see more of the love of Christ; they are blessed the more their experience widens, and their knowledge deepens, and their love increases. They are blessed in the hour of death, and, best of all, their blessedness increases to eternal blessedness,—the perfection of the saints at the right hand of God. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

John Trapp – The psalmist saith more to the point about true happiness in this short Psalm than any one of the philosophers, or all of them put together; they did but beat the bush, God hath here put the bird into our hand.

Richard Baker – Where the word blessed is hung out as a sign, we may be sure that we shall find a godly man within.

Ray Pritchard – In biblical terms to be blessed means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and you experience deep personal satisfaction. It’s important to know that this sort of happiness is not related to our circumstances. And it doesn’t come simply by seeking for it. You find happiness not by seeking it but by doing certain things (and not doing other things). The blessing comes as a side benefit of the choices we make. A wise man said that happiness is like a cat. Seek it and it will run from you. But go about your business steadily day by day and soon it comes and curls up at your feet. How true. The most miserable people on New Year’s Eve are those who seek happiness by hopping from one party to another and from one bar to another. True happiness and lasting contentment simply cannot be found that way. (Psalm 1: Trees Planted by the Water)

WATCH THE
FIRST STEP!

God delights to bless His children, but we must be “blessable.” We must have discernment (discerning good and evil) which works itself out in avoiding the steps that lead to sin — considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch your first step if you want to be blessed!

Spurgeon calls us to observe “how this Book of Psalms opens with a benediction, even as did the famous Sermon of our Lord upon the Mount! (see notes beginning with Matthew 5:3) The word translated blessed is a very expressive one. The original word is plural, and it is a controverted matter whether it is an adjective or a substantive. Hence we may learn the multiplicity of the blessings which shall rest upon the man whom God hath justified, and the perfection and greatness of the blessedness he shall enjoy. We might read it, “Oh, the blessednesses!” and we may well regard it (as Ainsworth does) as a joyful acclamation of the gracious man’s felicity. May the like benediction rest on us!

And so this “Beatitude Psalm” opens with a blessing for the reader who heeds the truths therein, but closes with a “curse” (perish) for those who fail to heed these truths. Please do not misunderstand. All men in both the Old and New Testaments are saved by grace through faith in the Messiah, so the psalmist is not teaching salvation by works. But he is teaching blessing by obedience. In other words to hear and not to heed is to deceive one’s self and to miss God’s blessing. James warned his readers “prove (present imperative) yourselves doers (poietes) of the word, and not merely hearers who delude (see paralogizomai) themselves. (James 1:22-note)

The Greek word for hearers in James 1:22 is akroates which was used to describe one who sat passively and listened to a singer or speaker. This is a description applicable to one who audits a college course, but not for credit, with the result that little effort (usually) is expended on the course material. Such hearers or auditors of college courses are not held accountable for what they hear, which is where the analogy breaks down, for all who read Psalm 1 will be held accountable for the profound, eternal truths it lays out in straightforward fashion.

John MacArthur – Tragically, most churches have many “auditors,” members who willingly expose themselves to the teaching and preaching of the Word but have no desire for that knowledge to alter their day-by-day lives. They take advantage of the privilege of hearing God’s Word but have no desire for obeying it. When followed consistently, that attitude gives evidence that they are not Christians at all, but only pretenders. Such people, who are merely hearers and not also doers, think they belong to God, when, in reality, they do not. Proclaiming and interpreting God’s Word are never ends in themselves but are means to an end, namely, the genuine acceptance of divine truth for what it is and the faithful application of it.

Alexander Maclaren – Its theme, the blessedness of keeping the law, is enforced by the juxtaposition of two sharply contrasted pictures, one in bright light, another in deep shadow, and each heightening the other. Ebal and Gerizim face one another.

Wiersbe emphasizes that “First, we must be separated from the world (Ps 1:1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He (Ed: Describes Peter – and note what resulted = denial of Jesus – Lk 22:56-58. Sin is valuing anything as more glorious than Jesus!) is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees (Ed: Illustration = frog in the kettle, slowly increasing the cooking temperature!). We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world (contrast James 1:27); we love the world (1Jn 2:15-17, James 4:4), become conformed to it (Ro 12:2) and end up condemned with it. Lot is an example of someone who became worldly. He looked toward Sodom, pitched his tent toward Sodom, lived there, lost everything and ended in sin (Ed: But he was a believer so he was not condemned (Ro 8:1) but he surely did suffer loss of reward (1Cor 3:10-15). When we seek earthly rewards, we often forfeit heavenly, eternal rewards! Mt 6:19-21 Be careful how you walk! Eph 5:15, cp 2Peter 2:6-9).

Lot was righteous and thus saved but he missed the blessing of Psalm 1 because he failed to be separated and instead “assimilated” with the world! Dear believer, could it be that we are missing the blessing of Psalm 1 because we are not willing to separate from the world and/or the passing pleasures of sin?

Alan Carr – THE PATH OF THE SUCCESSFUL BELIEVER

A. The Successful believer is separated in his walk of life.

1. He doesn’t Believe like the wicked – (Ill. He doesn’t listen to their counsel and invitations to evil) His hearing is turned a little higher!

2. He doesn’t Behave like the wicked – 2 Cor. 5:17 – (Ill. The old man has been put forever away!)

3. He doesn’t Belong with the wicked – 2 Cor. 6:17 0 (Ill. He feels out of place when surrounded by the devil’s crowd.

B. Ill. The downward progress – Walk, Stand, Sit. (Ill. This is the path Lot took – Gen. 19. It eventually led to his total downfall!)

C. The successful believer realizes that there is a vast difference between himself and the world he was saved out of, and he lives accordingly! (Sermons and Outlines)
WHO DOES NOT WALK IN THE COUNSEL OF THE WICKED: (Ps 81:12; Ge 5:24; Lev 26:27,28; 1Ki 16:31; Job 31:5; Pr 1:15; 4:14,15; Pr 13:20; Ezekiel 20:18; 1Pe 4:3)

Does not walk (01980)(halak) is a common OT verb (1340 verses) which literally denotes physical locomotion meaning to go (426x), going (30x), goes (22x), walk (142x), act (5x), came (13x), come (82x), depart(14x), departed (55x), went (309x), flow(6x), led (14x), march (4)x, travel (3x). The basic idea of halak is that of movement of something – flowing of a river = Ge. 2:14, descending flood = Ge 8:3, crawling beasts = Lev 11:27, slithering snake = Lev 11:42, blowing wind = Eccl 1:6, tossing sea = Jonah 1:13.

Halak is often used (as in Psalm 1:1) as a metaphor to picture one’s behavior or conduct. How one walks (eg, walking in sins 2Ki 13:11, follow the example – 2Chr 17:3) is how one lives his or her life (1Sa 8:3, Dt 28:9).

Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name. (give me an undivided heart is the idea, cp Mt 6:24, James 1:6-7) (Ps 86:11)
The first use of halak is actually to describe the motion of a river (Ge 2:14), but the second use describes God walking in the Garden after Sin came into the world (Ge 3:8). The third use describes the curse to the Serpent (Satan) = “on your belly you will go (halak) and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” (Ge 3:14). In the next use (Ge 5:22) we see halak with its metaphorical meaning (as it is used here in Psalm 1), where is speaks of one’s conduct. For example, the phrase walking with or before God speaks of a close relationship to God (e.g., this positive use describes such men as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, David, all of whom were pleasing to God and all of whom experienced the blessednesses of Jehovah. Cp Ge 5:22, 24, 6:9, 17:1, 24:40, 48:15, Ps, 26:3, 56:13, 116:9 )

Vine – God is said to “walk” or “go in three senses. First, there are certain cases where He assumed some kind of physical form. For example, Adam and Eve heard the sound of God “walking” to and fro in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:8). He “walks” on the clouds (Ps. 104:3) or in the heavens (Job 22:14); these are probably anthropomorphisms (God is spoken of as if He had bodily parts). Even more often God is said to accompany His people (Ex. 33:14), to go to redeem (deliver) them from Egypt (2Sa 7:23), and to come to save them (Ps. 80:2). The idea of God’s “going” (“walking”) before His people in the pillars of fire and cloud (Ex. 13:21) leads to the idea that His people must “walk” behind Him (Dt. 13:5). Quite often the people are said to have “walked” or to be warned against “walking behind” foreign gods (Dt. 4:3). Thus, the rather concrete idea of following God through the wilderness moves to “walking behind” Him spiritually. Some scholars suggest that “walking behind” pagan gods (or even the true God) arose from the pagan worship where the god was carried before the people as they entered the sanctuary. Men may also “walk…after the imagination of their evil heart,” or act stubbornly (Jer. 3:17). The pious followed or practiced God’s commands; they “walked” in righteousness (Isa. 33:15), in humility (Mic. 6:8), and in integrity (Ps. 15:2). They also “walk with God” (Ge 5:22), and they live in His presence, and “walk before” Him (Gen. 17:1), in the sense of living responsibly before Him. (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words)

In Hebrew the verb walk is in qal perfect where perfect depicts one’s walk or conduct as a whole, without necessarily any reflection on the duration of that conduct. The perfect can also speak of behavior that was started in the past and has continued into the present or which is started in the present and continues into the future. The point is “Don’t take the first step into the seductive cesspool of the world’s wisdom”! James paints a striking contrast between the world’s counsel (wisdom) and godly counsel (wisdom)…

This wisdom (worldly) is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:15-18)

To be a blessed person means that on one hand we do not do something and the other hand we do something. And so these wise words teach us how little by little we can step out of the place of blessedness and into the place of misery and cursing with devastating consequences. This first step begins when we begin to listen to and agree with the worldview of the wicked. Are believers at risk? Indeed, they are at great risk of taking this first misstep.

Solomon in the so called wisdom literature repeatedly warns against wrong associations…

Pr 1:15 My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path,

Pr 4:14-15 Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by it. Turn away from it and pass on. (Read that verse again – count the admonitions! Those of us who are older know full well why such repeated warnings are necessary!)

Pr 13:20 He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Dwight Edwards gives the following suggestions to help us chose our traveling companions in our life journey…

Is this person’s goal in life holiness or just happiness? Are they living for the things that will count for eternity, or for the decaying delicacies of this fading world? How serious is this person’s commitment to the cause of Christ? Many believers give mental assent to the goal of Christ-likeness, but relatively few pursue it with a burning passion. The purpose of true fellowship is to “stimulate (lit. “create a fever for”) one another to love and good works” (see Hebrews 10:24-note; Heb 10:24-note); not to huddle around worldly topics with other believers, under the guise of “Christian fellowship.” One of the most moving illustrations of godly companionship is found in the relationship cultivated between David and Jonathan. Perhaps the best summation of their relationship is found in 1Samuel 23:16, “So Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods, and strengthened his hand in God.” Who do we have to help us “strengthen our hand in God”? To whom do we do the same? (2 Timothy Call to Completion)

LOT’S EXAMPLE OF
HOW NOT TO BE BLESSED

First note God’s assessment of Lot in 2 Peter…

He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds) (See notes 2 Peter 2:7; 2:8)

What’s the “key word” in these passages? Clearly it is the word righteous. Peter is emphasizing that Lot was an authentic believer, one who genuinely believed in the Messiah (as much as was revealed of His Person and work at the time). Had Peter not recorded this truth we would have all seriously questioned his salvation (and thus the repetition of the description righteous). As an aside one of the best OT passages (one used by Paul also in Romans 4:3,9) that explains how Lot was saved is the description of Uncle Abraham’s salvation, Moses recording that…

Then (see when or what “then” refers to by reading the preceding context -Genesis 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5) he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it (imputed it – placed it on his “spiritual” bank account) to him as righteousness. (Ge 15:6)

With this background read Moses’ description of Lot in Genesis 13, keeping in mind the conditions of Psalm 1:1 which are to be fulfilled in order to experience blessing from the LORD…

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere — this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah — like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar. So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan; and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other. Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled (Hebrew = yashab = to sit, a word that emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. Lot had settled down in Sodom) in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. (Ge 13:10-12)

Ge 13:10 – Lot Looks

Ge 13:11 – Lot Chooses

Ge 13:12 – Lot Sits

Lot looked toward Sodom, then choose to go to Sodom, and finally settled in Sodom. Notice the parallel with Psalm 1:1 where the blessed man is careful about where he walks, stands, or sits. Needless to say Lot was the example to be avoided, the epitome of the righteous man who fails to enjoy the blessing of the Lord. In fact far from being blessed, Lot ended greatly vexed (2Pe 2:7-note) and tormented (see 2 Peter 2:8-note). Look out! Yes, as Jesus said “Remember Lot’s wife” (Lu 17:32 – her disobedience was a reflection of her unbelief), but also remember Lot’s choice! Lot choose to enter Sodom, and eventually enough of Sodom entered him that he even found it difficult to depart from the wicked…sinners…scoffers so that the angels had to physically extract him from Sodom! Lot though a genuine believer (righteous) was hardly a blessed man! Sadly there is a lot of Lot in a lot of believers today for they like Lot are choosing to walk in the counsel of the wicked (Sodom) when they could be basking in blessing upon blessing from Jehovah, the great I Am (I Am whatever you need, not whatever you want).

Does not walk – Does not go along with.

Pr 1:10 “If sinners entice you, do not give in to them.”

Ps 119:115 Depart from me, evildoers, that I may observe the commandments of my God.

Counsel of the wicked – (Ps 64:2, Ge 49:6, 2Ch 22:3, Job 10:3, 21:16, Lk 23:51)

Counsel (06098) (esah) means counsel (52x), advice (11x), viewpoint or way of thinking, as when one thinks about a course of action (often including consultation with an advisor). It is a state of mind that affects the decisions that we make. Esah speaks of God’s counsel (the best but not always followed) in Ps 73:24, 106:13, 107:11, 119:24, Pr 1:25, 30, 8:14

Counsel is advice; opinion, or instruction, given upon request or otherwise, for directing the judgment or conduct of another; opinion given upon deliberation or consultation. It is the act of telling someone what they should do based on a plan or scheme (2Sa 15:34)

Advice is an opinion recommended, or offered, as worthy to be followed.

Psalm 1:1 instructs us to not listen to their advice especially in the moral/ethical realm, telling you how you should conduct your life. The first way to avoid evil is to refuse to be influenced by the ungodly.

WHO influences you? Are you letting the world’s way of thinking influence you?

NAS Usage: advice(11), consultation(2), counsel (52), counselor*(1), counselors*(1), counsels(1), designs(1), plan(8), plans(2), purpose(6), scheme(1), schemes(1), strategy(1).

Esah – 85v – Dt 32:28; Jdg 20:7; 2Sa 15:31, 34; 16:20, 23; 17:7, 14, 23; 1Kgs 1:12; 12:8, 13f; 2Kgs 18:20; 1Chr 12:19; 2Chr 10:8, 13f; 22:5; 25:16; Ezra 4:5; 10:3, 8; Neh 4:15; Job 5:13; 10:3; 12:13; 18:7; 21:16; 22:18; 29:21; 38:2; 42:3; Ps 1:1; 13:2; 14:6; 20:4; 33:10f; 73:24; 106:13, 43; 107:11; 119:24; Pr 1:25, 30; 8:14; 12:15; 19:20f; 20:5, 18; 21:30; 27:9; Isa 5:19; 8:10; 11:2; 14:26; 16:3; 19:3, 11, 17; 25:1; 28:29; 29:15; 30:1; 36:5; 40:13; 44:26; 46:10f; 47:13; Jer 18:18, 23; 19:7; 32:19; 49:7, 20, 30; 50:45; Ezek 7:26; 11:2; Hos 10:6; Mic 4:12; Zech 6:13

Wicked (07563)(rasha’) is an adjective meaning unrighteous, unjust, an evil person, wrong wicked, guilty (legally not innocent of a violation of the law – Ex 23:1, Ps 109:7), in the wrong, criminal, transgressor. Rasha’ often describes unbelievers, who hate God and are habitually hostile toward Him. The wicked/ungodly conduct their lives as if God does not exist and with no regard for Him. Rasha’ describes someone as evil with a focus on their being guilty or in the wrong (2Sa 4:11). Rasha’ is the opposite of righteous (06662).

Rasha’ is found 249 times translated evil(1), evil man(1), evil men(1), guilty(3), man(1), offender(1), ungodly(1), wicked(228), wicked man(21), wicked men(2), wicked one(1), wicked ones(3).

The majority of the uses of Rasha’ occur in the Psalms (4x in Psalm 1) and Proverbs (see below), which would make an interesting study, which would give you a “descriptive” definition of one who is wicked or what characterizes their behavior (this would help us avoid such people!)

Vine writes that “Rasha’ generally connotes a turbulence and restlessness (cf. Isa. 57:21) or something disjointed or ill-regulated. Thus Robert B. Girdlestone suggests that it refers to the tossing and confusion in which the wicked live, and to the perpetual agitation they came to others.”

The Greek translates rasha’ in Psalm 1:1 with asebes which means ungodly (765) (asebes from a = w/o + sébomai = worship, venerate) and describes one who expresses a lack of interest in the things of God and a behavior and lifestyle consistent with such an irreverent attitude. Click in depth study of the related word ungodliness (asebeia). Ungodly pertains to violating norms for a proper relation to deity, and in short means irreverent (lacking proper respect of God) or impious.

Rasha’ – 249v – Ge 18:23, 25; Ex 2:13; 9:27; 23:1, 7; Nu 16:26; 35:31; Dt 25:1f; 1Sa 2:9; 24:13; 2Sa 4:11; 1Kgs 8:32; 2Chr 6:23; 19:2; Job 3:17; 8:22; 9:22, 24; 10:3; 11:20; 15:20; 16:11; 18:5; 20:5, 29; 21:7, 16f, 28; 22:18; 24:6; 27:7, 13; 34:18, 26; 36:6, 17; 38:13, 15; 40:12; Psalm 1:1, 4, 5, 6; 3:7; 7:9; 9:5, 16f; 10:2ff, 13, 15; 11:2, 5f; 12:8; 17:9, 13; 26:5; 28:3; 31:17; 32:10; 34:21; 36:1, 11; 37:10, 12, 14, 16f, 20f, 28, 32, 34f, 38, 40; 39:1; 50:16; 55:3; 58:3, 10; 68:2; 71:4; 73:3, 12; 75:4, 8, 10; 82:2, 4; 91:8; 92:7; 94:3, 13; 97:10; 101:8; 104:35; 106:18; 109:2, 6f; 112:10; 119:53, 61, 95, 110, 119, 155; 129:4; 139:19; 140:4, 8; 141:10; 145:20; 146:9; 147:6; Pr 2:22; 3:25, 33; 4:14, 19; 5:22; 9:7; 10:3, 6f, 11, 16, 20, 24f, 27f, 30, 32; 11:5, 7f, 10f, 18, 23, 31; 12:5ff, 10, 12, 21, 26; 13:5, 9, 17, 25; 14:11, 19, 32; 15:6, 8f, 28f; 16:4; 17:15, 23; 18:3, 5; 19:28; 20:26; 21:4, 7, 10, 12, 18, 27, 29; 24:15f, 19f, 24; 25:5, 26; 28:1, 4, 12, 15, 28; 29:2, 7, 12, 16, 27; Eccl 3:17; 7:15; 8:10, 13f; 9:2; Isa 3:11; 5:23; 11:4; 13:11; 14:5; 26:10; 48:22; 53:9; 55:7; 57:20f; Jer 5:26; 12:1; 23:19; 25:31; 30:23; Ezek 3:18f; 7:21; 13:22; 18:20f, 23f, 27; 21:3f, 25, 29; 33:8f, 11f, 14f, 19; Dan 12:10; Mic 6:10; Hab 1:4, 13; 3:13; Zeph 1:3; Mal 3:18; 4:3

Guzik – The righteous man knows where to find completely godly counsel: Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors. (Psalm 119:24) (See Spurgeon’s note) God’s Word is always the best counselor, and godly counselors will always bring the truth of God’s Word to help someone who wants counseling.

William Heslop – “Walketh, standeth, sitteth,” reveals a growth in evil just as “ungodly, sinners, and scornful,” shows a fearful downward trend.

From thinking like the world we begin to act like the world.

The righteous (by grace through faith as was Abraham in Genesis 15:6) are to be in the world but not of the world. This subtle but critical distinction can be illustrated by considering a submarine which functions in the water but not of the water. If it is on the ground (out of the water) it is of no purpose and it is unable to fulfill its purpose. But when it is in the water it must be insulated (not isolated) from the water. If the water gets into the submarine then there is cause for alarm and emergency. The godly man who seeks God’s blessing must first be sure that his life choices are such that while not isolated from the world, he remains insulated from its seductive, destructive, evil influences, beginning with its evil counsel or advice.

Gill – “not to walk” herein is not to hearken to their counsel, to give into it, agree with it, pursue it, and act according to it; and happy is the man, who, though he may fall in the way of it, and may have bad counsel given him by ungodly men, yet does not consent to it, take it, and act upon it.

Pastor Steven Cole offers five guidelines for discerning the counsel of the wicked versus the wisdom of God…

(1) The counsel of the wicked denies the sufficiency of Scripture for dealing with the problems of the soul. The Bible claims to be adequate to equip the believer for every good work (see 2Ti 3:16-note; 2Ti 3:17-note) and to produce in us true happiness by dealing with the problems of the soul (Psalm 1). It provides answers for problems of guilt, anxiety, depression, anger, bitterness, and relational conflicts. “Christian” psychology brings the world’s wisdom to bear on these problems, thus implying that the Bible is not sufficient and often stating “solutions” opposed to what the Bible prescribes.

(2) The counsel of the wicked exalts the pride of man and takes away from the glory of God. The Bible humbles the pride of man and exalts the glory of God (Isaiah 42:8; 1Cor 1:31). The world’s wisdom builds the self and minimizes the need for absolute trust in God, whether for salvation or for daily living.

(3) The counsel of the wicked denies or minimizes the need for the cross of Christ by asserting either the basic goodness of man or by downplaying the extent and impact of the fall. The Bible teaches that we are all utterly wicked and self-seeking. None of us could or would seek God if left to ourselves (see notes Romans 3:10-18). The cross humbles human pride and wisdom and exalts Christ alone (1Cor 1:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

(4) The counsel of the wicked denies God’s moral absolutes and substitutes relative human “goodness.” God is absolutely righteous and His standards of holiness as revealed in His Word are absolute (see 1Peter 1:16-note). Worldly wisdom rationalizes away God’s absolutes as being too “idealistic” or “harsh” and substitutes some human standard, such as “love.” In other words, human wisdom makes a god in its own likeness, rather than submitting to the true God.

(5) The counsel of the wicked focuses on pleasing self rather than on pleasing God and others. The world’s wisdom does not promote self-denial and love for God and others as of first importance (Mark 8:34; 12:29, 30, 31). Often the world’s wisdom provides “help” for a person (relief from the symptoms of his problem) without leading him to confess sin, depend on God, and live in obedience to God. The world’s wisdom counsels you to live first of all for yourself. In “Christian” form, it tells you that if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love God and others. (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )

From Grace Gems…

BEWARE OF THE COMPANY OF THE UNGODLY. Of course, I would not dissuade you from necessary dealings with the ungodly, nor from helping them, and certainly not from endeavoring to draw them to God when you have opportunity. It is the unnecessary fellowship with the ungodly from which I would dissuade you. Chiefly to be avoided are the profane, the swearer, the drunkard, and the enemies of godliness. But they are not the only ones who will prove harmful companions to us. Too frequent fellowship with people whose conversation is empty, will also divert our thoughts from heaven. We need all the help we can get in living the heavenly life on earth.

A stone is as fit to rise and fly in the air, as our hearts are by nature to move towards heaven. You need not hinder the rocks from flying up to the sky. It is sufficient that you do not help them. Just as surely, if our spirits have not great assistance, they may easily be kept from soaring upwards even without great hindrances.

Consider this in the choice of your company. What help will it be to your spiritual life to hear about the weather or the latest news? This is the conversation of earthlings. How will it help to raise your heart to God, to hear about an excellent book, or an able minister, or of some petty controversy? This is mainly the best conversation you are likely to hear from the formal, dead-hearted church member. Can you have your hearts in heaven while among your roaring companions in a bar, or when you work with those whose common language is profanity, filthiness, foolishness, and dirty jokes? No, the plain fact is, fellowship will be a part of our happiness in heaven; and it is now either a help or hindrance in living a heavenly life on earth. (Grace Gems)

NOR STAND IN THE PATH OF SINNERS: (Stand Ps 26:12, Ro 5:2, Eph 6:13) (Path – Ps 1:6; 36:4; 146:9; Pr 2:12; 4:19; 13:15; Mt 7:13,14)

Paul gives believers a similar warning in the NT…

Do not be deceived (present imperative + negative = command to stop being led astray): “Bad company corrupts (Note that use of the Present tense = continually! The verb phtheiro means to cause good morals to “decay,” to “waste away”) good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33)

Comment: Stop believing their falsehoods such as “you only go around once, grab all the gusto you can get!!!” – lies such as this will lead to rottenness in one’s life.

Stand (05975) in the path (01870)- This means to avoid being in the places where sinners congregate to do their thing. If you are serious about keeping yourself morally/ethically pure and holy, don’t put yourself in a path that will surely bring temptation.

Sinners (02400) (chatta’/hatta’) is an archery term which meant “to fall short, miss the mark.” (cp Judges 20:16-note).The mark is the will and plan of God as revealed in Scripture. Sin is the transgression of His will as He has revealed it. Sin is whatever misses the will of God for man doctrinally or morally. We are all sinners. We all miss the mark, and none of us are perfect nor will we ever be perfect in this life. This is why Christ had to die for our sin so we might have His righteousness.

David Guzik – Sinners have a path where they stand, and the righteous man knows he does not belong on that path. Path speaks of a way, a road, a direction, and the righteous man is not traveling in the same direction as sinners. The righteous man is not afraid to take a less-traveled road, because he knows it leads to blessing, happiness, and eternal life. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” (see Matthew 7:13-note) The righteous can have the confidence of Psalm 16:11: You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore (See Spurgeon’s note). God has a path, and it is a good road to take.

Steven Cole – The path of sinners refers to their way of life or behavior. To stand in the path of sinners means involvement with sinners in their sinful behavior. The word “sinners” comes from a Hebrew word meaning to miss the mark. It refers to deviating from the standard of God as revealed in His Word… If we run with worldly people in their godless way of life, we will be wrongly influenced by them. That is why a new Christian needs to cut off close relationships with many former friends: They will draw you back into the old way of life. You may not think so, but, “Do not be deceived”! On the other hand, we are not supposed to cut ourselves off completely from sinners (unless they make claim of being Christians). Otherwise, you would have to go out of the world (1Cor. 5:9, 10, 11). Rather, your objective changes. Whereas before you associated with sinners as one of them to join in their evil deeds, now you associate with them as a sinner saved by grace to seek to bring them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. (Psalm 1- How To Live Happily Ever After)

Observe the progression in which patterns are forming and becoming entrenched. In other words we begin the downgrade by listening to the world’s wisdom especially in the moral/ethical sphere (“It’s okay to sleep together if you are engaged and soon to be married.” = “counsel of the wicked”!). And from listening to their counsel we begin to think like the world and soon we act like the world, because what a man believes will always determine how he behaves. Sin’s natural direction spiritually speaking is a sequential, seductive, downward drag. Words like regression, deterioration, degeneration, destruction come to mind. The writer of Hebrews warned that we should…

encourage (present imperative = command to make this your habit – Why? we are in continual need for we are bombarded by discouraging circumstances and news of this fallen world) one another (which implies [1] we need each other and [2] we need to be in contact, i.e., fellowship daily! No “lone ranger” Christians if you want to stay encouraged and be an encourager!) day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness (see study of apate) of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (Sin is deceitful [Latin = decipio = to take aside, to ensnare] – cunning, stealthy, misleading, untruthful, beguiling, cheating, counterfeit, deceptive, dishonest, disingenuous, ensnaring, trickish, duplicitous, illusory, deliberately causing one to believe something that is not true, deliberately misrepresentative) See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin

So the effect of sin is to bring about a gradual “build up of plaque” (using a medical analogy) producing spiritual “arteriosclerosis” or hardening of one’s heart and this can happen to believers, especially to those believers who think “That could never happen to me!” (“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed [present imperative = command for continual vigilance against pride for we are continually vulnerable to its subtle nature] lest he fall.” 1Cor 10:12) As an aside, an instructive “warning” study are several of the Biblical examples of overconfidence – Haman in Esther 3-5, Sennacherib and the angel of the Lord in Isaiah 37:36, 37, 38; Peter in Luke 22:33, 34, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, the churches at Sardis, Laodicea — Revelation 3:1; 3:2; 3:3, 3:17 see notes Revelation 3:1; 3:2; 3:3, 3:17.

NOR SIT AT THE SEAT OF SCOFFERS: (Ps 26:4,5; 119:115; Jer 15:17) (scoffers: Pr 1:22; 3:34; 9:12; 19:29)

Sit (03427) (yashab) has sense of to sit, dwell, remain, abide and emphasizes a thoroughly settled state or condition. One has settled down and is comfortable and content with the world with its patterns. In the present context this verb pictures the idea of becoming comfortable with sin and of progression from casual influence of ungodly people to collusion with them in their scorn.

In Numbers we see an instructive use of yashab, Moses recording the tragic story of Israel…

While Israel remained (yashab) at Shittim (the last stop before Israel crossed the Jordan) the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the LORD was angry against Israel. (Numbers 25:1-3)

Comment: Sit (Yashab) here in Numbers 25 is not the same word as ‘camp’ which is what they should have been doing! See Nu 35:19 where camped (chanah) means to pitch a tent, which is quiet a different action than from abiding or tarrying in the seat of scoffers (Idol worshipers in this case) and they forfeited the blessednesses of Jehovah! (Read the full story in Numbers 25)

In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul wrote over 1000 years later…

Now these things (referring to Numbers 25) happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved…11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

Seat (04186) (moshab from yashab = to sit, remain, dwell) means a seat (1Sa 20:18, 25), assembly, dwelling place, dwelling (a settlement, a place to live – Ge 10:30), dwellers, a site, a session; an abode (the place or the time). The idea is not only ‘seat’ or ‘place of sitting down’ but also ‘session’ or ‘assembly.’” Zion is called the dwelling place of Yahweh (Ps 132:13). houses are sometimes called dwellings (Lev 25:29; Exo 12:20) and the people in them were called inhabitants, or dwellers (2Sa 9:12). In sum, moshab means a place where a thing (in this case a person) is settled or established.

NAS Usage – Usage: dwelling(3), dwelling place(1), dwelling places(5), dwellings(9), habitation(1), habitations(2), inhabited(3), inhabited places(1), lived(1), seat(8), seating(2), settlement(1), settlements(3), situation(1), time(1), where they lived(1), where you are to live(1).

Moshab – 43v – Ge 10:30; 27:39; 36:43; Ex 10:23; 12:20, 40; 35:3; Lev 3:17; 7:26; 13:46; 23:3, 14, 17, 21, 31; 25:29; Nu 15:2; 24:21; 31:10; 35:29; 1Sa 20:18, 25; 2Sa 9:12; 1Kgs 10:5; 2Kgs 2:19; 1Chr 4:33; 6:54; 7:28; 2Chr 9:4; Job 29:7; Ps 1:1; 107:4, 7, 32, 36; 132:13; Ezek 6:6, 14; 8:3; 28:2; 34:13; 37:23; 48:15

Scoffers (03887) (lis/luwts) means to mock, to deride, to speak in a scornfully derisive or to boast so as to express utter contempt. The activity of the scornful is condemned as an abomination to people. The scoffer is one who shows contempt by mocking, sneering, or scorning. This verb frequently means to deride or boast in such a way as to express contempt (Pr. 9:7, 8; 13:1; 20:1). “By extension the word is used to signify ambassadors (2Chr 32:31);, interpreters (Ge 42:23); and spokesmen (Isa 43:27).” (Baker) “To talk big, i.e., speak words which show no respect for the object, and make fun of the object, with a possible focus of speaking in the situation with confidence and authority.” (Swanson)

Walter Kaiser – Fools scorn and mock at sin (Pr 14:9) and judgment (Pr 19:28). The scorner (Qal participial form) himself may be described as proud and haughty (Pr 21:24), incorrigible (Pr 9:7), resistant to all reproof (Pr 9:8; 15:12), and hating any rebuke (Pr 13:1). Wisdom and knowledge easily elude him (Pr 14:6). So despicable is the scorner that he may be labelled as odious to all men (Pr 24:9). Therefore he must be avoided (Ps 1:1) by all who would live godly lives. Further, he should be punished by hitting so that the easily pursuaded naive fool may benefit from the lesson (Pr 19:25; 21:11). One good way to remove contention from a group is to eject the scorner, and then “strife and reproach will cease” (Pr 22:10). A prepared judgment awaits all such scorners (Pr 19:29), for their trademark of life has been “to delight” in their scorning (Pr 1:22). They shall be brought to nothing and consumed (Isa 29:20). (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)

Scoff = To treat with insolent ridicule, mockery or contumelious language; to manifest contempt by derision; with at. To scoff at religion and sacred things is evidence of extreme weakness and folly, as well as of wickedness. To show contempt by derisive acts or language; stresses insolence, disrespect, or incredulity as motivating the derision

Scorn = open dislike and disrespect or derision often mixed with indignation; reject or dismiss as contemptible or unworthy; show disdain or derision; to regard as unworthy of one’s notice or consideration & implies a ready or indignant contempt.

Lis/luwts- 26 v – Ge 42:23; 2Chr 32:31; Job 16:20; 33:23 (lis/luwts = intercessor, mediator, i.e., one who helps parties to come to an agreement); Ps 1:1; Ps 119:51; Pr 1:22; 3:34; Pr 9:7,8, 12; 13:1; 14:6, 9; 15:12; 19:25, 28f; 20:1; 21:11, 24; 22:10; 24:9; Isa 28:22; 29:20; 43:27 Usage: carry on as scoffers(1), deride(1), envoys(1), interpreter(1), makes a mockery(1), mediator(1), mock(1), mocker(1), scoff(1), scoffer(10), scoffers(5), scoffs at the scoffers(1), scorner(1), spokesmen(1). Below are some representative uses…

Ge 42:23 They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them.

2Chr 32:31 And even in the matter of the envoys of the rulers of Babylon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone only to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.

Comment: envoy, spokesman, go-between, i.e., a person who relates messages between parties, including language interpreting or a focus on the message’s content (see also Isa 43:27)

Pr 1:22 “How long, O naive ones, will you love simplicity? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing, And fools hate knowledge?

Pr 3:34 Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.

Comment: Lxx translates scoffer with antitasso (in present tense = their habitual attitude/action) which means to resist, to oppose, to be hostile toward. Antitasso was a military term found in the papyri meaning “to range in battle against” and pictured an army arrayed against the enemy forces. It means to oppose someone, involving a psychological attitude and also corresponding behavior. It means to “to be an enemy of” or “to resist with assembled forces.”

Ps 119:51 The arrogant (Lxx = huperephanos) utterly deride me, Yet I do not turn aside from Thy law.

Comment: Note the implication – the arrogant have no desire for God’s Law, His Word of Truth.

Isa 29:20 For the ruthless (Lxx = anomos = lawless, behaving contrary to the law) will come to an end, and the scorner (Lxx = huperephanos) will be finished (Lxx = exolethreuo = utterly destroyed, completely cut off from God’s presence – cf 2Th 1:6-9) Indeed all who are intent on doing evil will be cut off. (More literally in Hebrew this last phrase is “and all the watchers of wrong will be cut off.” )

Unlike the good man, who walks the path of wisdom, the scoffer is a wicked man who follows the path of folly, refusing to listen to the wisdom of others.

Whenever possible, avoid associating yourself with those who are antagonistic to God and His teachings.

Solomon records of God that

Surely he scoffs at the scoffer: but he gives grace to the lowly” (Pr 3:34).

God is opposed to the scornful, and He will scorn them. That’s a frightful picture.

Guzik writes that…

The scornful love to sit and criticize the people of God and the things of God. The righteous man will not sit in that seat! When others are putting down Christians, it is easy to sit with them and criticize them. It is easy because there are many things to criticize among Christians. But it is wrong, because we are then sitting in the seat of the scornful. Instead, we should be proud to follow Jesus Christ.

“Be out-and-out for Him; unfurl your colours, never hide them, but nail them to the mast, and say to all who ridicule the saints, ‘If you have any ill words for the followers of Christ, pour them out upon me… but know this – ye shall hear it whether you like it or not, – “I love Christ.”’” (Spurgeon)

Walk…stand…sit pictures a process of spiritual “retrogression” which is the ever present danger if we are not growing in grace by taking in God’s Word. The point is that believers never stand still in their Christian walk and the psalmist portrays the potential spiritual declension by three degrees of degeneration, describing our habit or conduct (walk, stand, sit) and three degrees of evil influence (counsel of the wicked, path of sinners, seat of scoffers). In short, the psalmist warns us how we are prone to wander as the hymn writer says, turning aside little by little, even imperceptibly becoming increasingly entangled in the web of sin. We need to remember that the writer Hebrews warns of the deadliness of sin…

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (see note Hebrews 3:13) (See Related Discussion: The Deceitfulness of Sin)

Oh to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

He is easily influenced by the way of the world in its attitudes and actions, for actions follow attitudes.

Scott Grant – In Psalm 1, the blessing first of all is on the one who does not engage in certain activities. A progression is in view from two levels. First, three types of offenders are mentioned, with each group being more severe than the previous. Second, the words used to convey association with the offenders convey the potential for increasing involvement with them. The wicked are those who would be guilty in a court of law, even for one offense. The word sinners implies a repetition of evil deeds. Scoffers not only engage in illicit activities but also ridicule those who don’t. (Delighting in the Word)

Paul gives an apt description of scoffers in Romans that…

although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice (as their lifestyle) such things are worthy of death, they not only do (habitual practice) the same, but also give (continually) hearty approval to those who practice (continually) them. (see note Romans 1:32)

Piper – So, instead of finding his pleasures in the words or the ways or the fellowship of the wicked, the one who is truly happy finds pleasure in meditating on the Word and the ways of God.

The description of the godly begins with the negative which prepares his heart for the positive teaching in verse 2. As Wiersbe so aptly puts it, the “blessee” must first be separated and then saturated. He must be separated from the world (the root idea of holy) and saturated with the Word. The more we delight in the Word, the less we will desire the world.

Solomon gives us good advice for avoiding the 3 step declension in Psalm 1:1 exhorting us to…

Watch (An imperative – it is imperative that we continually guard our heart from “intruders”) over your heart with all diligence, (why?) for from it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23) (NLT conveys the point “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.”)

O child of God, guard well your eyes
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind–
Your Father wants you set apart. –Fasick

John Flavel very wisely observed that,

The greatest difficulty in conversion is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion is to keep the heart with God.

Pritchard calls us to…

Consider the progression involved: Walk … Stand … Sit. First, the man is walking down the road. Then he stops to hang out with the sinners. Eventually they prove to be such good company that he sits down and has intimate fellowship with them. What started as casual contact in the end becomes a declaration of personal allegiance.

The “counsel of the wicked” means the advice of the morally unstable. It’s a general term that describes the worldview of those who do not know the Lord. The “way of sinners” involves a series of lifestyle choices. The “seat of mockers” means to have close, intimate, long-term fellowship with those who openly reject the Lord. The progression goes like this:

Thinking … Behaving … Belonging.

Worldly wisdom leads to
Worldly action, which results in
Worldly fellowship.

Let us be clear on this point. Blessings come not only from what we do, but also from what we don’t do. Blessed people avoid certain things. And they avoid certain people and certain situations. They don’t hang out just anywhere and they don’t quickly buy into every line of thinking. And they are very careful not to join themselves to the company of those who do not love the Lord…

Sin never stands still. It always moves to control us. What starts as casual contact leads on to increasing closeness and permanence of association. Eventually, there is increasing boldness of evil accompanied by a lowering of our own inhibitions. We laugh at jokes that once would have seemed crude to us. We compromise our values in ways we never would have thought possible. We consent to things that would have greatly troubled us in the past. (Ibid)

Adam Clarke sees Psalm 1:1 as a picture of the seen in this a progression of sin commenting that…

The great lesson to be learned from the whole is, sin is progressive; one evil propensity or act leads to another. He who acts by bad counsel may soon do evil deeds; and he who abandons himself to evil doings may end his life in total apostasy from God.

Steven Cole comments…

Scoffers have rejected God and His Word. They now seek to justify themselves by openly deriding that which they’ve rejected. Scoffers think they know more than God. They’re too smart to believe in the Bible. Many scoffers come from church backgrounds, but they’ve cast it off as too “repressive.” Although they almost always hide under an intellectual smoke screen, invariably scoffers have cast off the Bible because they want to be their own god so that they can follow their own lusts. They don’t want God interfering in their sinful lifestyles.

The seat of scoffers refers to the assembly or place where such men gather to reinforce their godless philosophy. Birds of a feather flock together. Those who scoff at God love to get together to reinforce their prejudices. To sit in their seat means to belong to such a crowd. Take note: How truly happy is the person who does not sit in the seat of scoffers!

Before we leave verse 1, please note the downward progression in the life of sin. Satan doesn’t cause a person to fall away and spurn the faith all at once.

There are degrees of departure from God, as implied in three sets of three words:

(1) Walk > Stand > Sit. First, you walk–you’re still moving, but now in the wrong direction. Then, you stand–you’re lingering in sin. Finally, you sit–you’re at ease in the company of scoffers.

(2) Wicked > Sinners > Scoffers. First, you’re with the wicked–those who hang loose about God. Then you’re with sinners–those who openly violate God’s commands by missing the mark. Then you’re with scoffers–those who openly reject the truth.

(3) Counsel > Path > Seat. First, you listen to counsel–you begin thinking wrong thoughts. Then, you stand in the path–you engage in wrong behavior. Finally, you sit in the seat–you belong to the wrong crowd and have adopted the fatal attitude of the scoffer. And Satan’s got you!

Two lessons:

(1) Guard your mind! Satan begins there, as he did with Eve (“Has God said …?”). Wrong thoughts lead to wrong behavior which leads to rejection of God and His truth. Guarding your mind doesn’t mean that you become a non-thinker. It means that you critique everything by the unchanging standard of God’s Word of truth.

(2) Guard your friends! Those whom you choose as close friends should be committed to the things of God. “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2Co 6:14). Bad company will corrupt good morals. In my fourth year at Dallas Seminary, Dr. Howard Hendricks said, “The two factors which will most influence where you will be ten years from now are the books you read and the friends you make.” Guard your mind! Guard your friends! (Psalm 1 How To Live Happily Ever After )

Thomas Brooks has an interesting Biblical analysis of wicked men…

Always look upon wicked men, under those names and notions which the Scripture describes them, such as: lions for their fierceness, bears for their cruelty, dragons for their hideousness, dogs for their filthiness, wolves for their subtleness, scorpions, vipers, thorns, briars, thistles,
brambles, stubble, dirt, chaff, dust, dross, smoke, scum.

You may know well enough what is within them,
by the apt names which the Holy Spirit has given them.

By looking upon them under those names and notions that the Scripture sets them out by, may preserve the soul from frequenting their company and delighting in their society. Such monsters are wicked men–which should render their company to all who have tasted of the sweetness of divine love, a burden and not a delight.

Wiersbe writes…

Two of the most popular words in the Christian vocabulary are bless and blessing. God wants to bless His people. He wants them to be recipients and channels of blessing. God blesses us to make us a blessing to others, but He has given us certain conditions for receiving blessings.

First, we must be separated from the world (v. 1). The world is anything that separates us from God or causes us to disobey Him. Separation is not isolation but contact without contamination. Sin is usually a gradual process. Notice the gradual decline of the sinner in verse 1. He is walking (Mark 14:54), standing (John 18:18) and then sitting (Luke 22:55). Becoming worldly is progressive; it happens by degrees. We make friends with the world; we become spotted by the world; we love the world, become confirmed to it and end up condemned with it…

Second, we must be saturated with the Word (v. 2). Whatever delights us directs us. We saturate ourselves with the Word by meditating on it. Meditation is to the spirit what digestion is to the body. When we meditate on the Word, we allow the Spirit of God within us to “digest” the Word of God for us. So not only do we delight in the Word, it becomes a source of spiritual nourishment for us.

Enjoy the blessings God has for you and allow Him to make you a blessing to others. (A third condition, being situated by the waters, is the topic of our next devotional.)

God desires to bless us, but we must meet His conditions for receiving blessings. By staying separate from the world and keeping saturated in the Word, we may expect God’s blessings. Resolve to meditate on the Word of God and obey it. He will make you a blessing to others. (see Matthew 5:3-notet)

Alexander Maclaren explains the order of negative preceding positive…

It is usually taken as an exclamation, but may equally well be a simple affirmation, and declares a universal truth even more strongly, if so regarded. The characteristics which thus bring blessedness are first described negatively, and that order is significant. As long as there is so much evil in the world, and society is what it is, godliness must be largely negative, and its possessors “a people whose laws are different from all people that be on earth.” Live fish swim against the stream; dead ones go with it.

The tender graces of the devout soul will not flourish unless there be a wall of close-knit and unparticipating opposition round them, to keep off nipping blasts. The negative clauses present a climax, notwithstanding the unquestionable correctness of one of the grounds on which that has been denied — namely, the practical equivalence of “wicked” and “sinner.”

Increasing closeness and permanence of association are obvious in the progress from walking to standing and from standing to sitting.

Increasing boldness in evil is marked by the progress from counsel to way, or course of life, and thence to scoffing. Evil purposes come out in deeds, and deeds are formularised at last in bitter speech. Some men scoff because they have already sinned. The tongue is blackened and made sore by poison in the system. Therefore goodness will avoid the smallest conformity with evil, as knowing that if the hem of the dress or the tips of the hair be caught in the cruel wheels, the whole body will be drawn in. But these negative characteristics are valuable mainly for their efficacy in contributing to the positive, as the wall round a young plantation is there for the sake of what grows behind it.

Maclaren goes on to make a very important point, lest the reader think that holiness is manifest first and foremost by what one avoids or from that which one abstains. He writes that…

these positive characteristics (in verse 2), and eminently that chief one of a higher love, are the only basis for useful abstinence. Mere conventional, negative virtue is of little power or worth unless it flow from a strong set of the soul in another direction. (Amen. And I would add lest it become legalism which is powerless against the powerful pull of the world, the flesh and the devil.)

Spurgeon writes that…

He is a man who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. He takes wiser counsel, and walks in the commandments of the Lord his God. To him the ways of piety are paths of peace and pleasantness. His footsteps are ordered by the Word of God, and not by the cunning and wicked devices of carnal men. It is a rich sign of inward grace when the outward walk is changed, and when ungodliness is put far from our actions. Note next, he standeth not in the way of sinners. His company is of a choicer sort than it was. Although a sinner himself, he is now a blood washed sinner, quickened by the Holy Spirit, and renewed in heart. Standing by the rich grace of God in the congregation of the righteous, he dares not herd with the multitude that do evil. Again it is said, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. He finds no rest in the atheist’s scoffings. Let others make a mock of sin, of eternity, of hell and heaven, and of the Eternal God; this man has learned better philosophy than that of the infidel, and has too much sense of God’s presence to endure to hear His name blasphemed. The seat of the scorner may be very lofty, but it is very near to the gate of hell; let us flee from it, for it shall soon be empty, and destruction shall swallow up the man who sits therein. Mark the gradation in the first verse:

He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor standeth in the way of sinners,
Nor SITTETH in the SEAT of SCORNFUL.

When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God — the evil is rather practical than habitual — but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who wilfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed, and are looked up to by others as Masters in Belial. But the blessed man, the man to whom all the blessings of God belong, can hold no communion with such characters as these. He keeps himself pure from these lepers; he puts away evil things from him as garments spotted by the flesh; he comes out from among the wicked, and goes without the camp, bearing the reproach of Christ. O for grace to be thus separate from sinners.

Adam Clarke writes…

Mark certain circumstances of their differing characters and conduct.

The ungodly man has his counsel.

The sinner has his way; and

The scorner has his seat.

The ungodly man is unconcerned about religion; he is neither zealous for his own salvation nor for that of others; and he counsels and advises those with whom he converses to adopt his plan, and not trouble themselves about praying, reading, repentance, etc., etc.; “there is no need for such things; live an honest life, make no fuss about religion, and you will fare well enough at last.” Now “blessed is the man who walks not in this man’s counsel,” who does not come into his measures, nor act according to his plan.

The sinner has his particular way of transgressing; one is a drunkard, another dishonest, another unclean. Few are given to every species of vice. There are many covetous men who abhor drunkenness, many drunkards who abhor covetousness; and so of others. Each has his easily besetting sin; therefore, says the prophet, “Let the wicked forsake HIS WAY.” (Isaiah 55:7) Now, blessed is he who stands not is such a man’s WAY.

The scorner has brought, in reference to himself, all religion and moral feeling to an end. He has sat down — is utterly confirmed in impiety, and makes a mock at sin. His conscience is seared, and he is a believer in all unbelief. Now, blessed is the man who sits not down in his SEAT.

Thomas Adams wrote of the scoffers that…

when a wicked man comes to the depth and worst of sin, he despiseth. Then the Hebrew will despise Moses (Exodus 2:14), “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?” Then Ahab will quarrel with Micaiah (1Kings 22:18), because he doth not prophecy good unto him. Every child in Bethel will mock Elisha (2Kings 2:23), and be bold to call him “bald pate.” Here is an original drop of venom swollen to a main ocean of poison: as one drop of some serpents’ poison, lighting on the hand, gets into the veins, and so spreads itself over all the body till it hath stifled the vital spirits. God shall “laugh you to scorn,” (Psalms 2:4), for laughing Him to scorn; and at last despise you that have despised him in us. That which a man spits against heaven, shall fall back on his own face. Your indignities done to your spiritual physicians shall sleep in the dust with your ashes, but stand up against your souls in judgment.

ARE YOU
BLESSABLE?

Warren Wiersbe sums up Psalm 1:1 noting that…

God enjoys blessing your life, but you must be “blessable.” That means having discernment (v. 1), avoiding the steps that lead to sin: considering sin (walking), contemplating sin (standing), being comfortable in sin (sitting). Watch that first step! (Wiersbe, W: With the Word: Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Handbook. Nelson)

The happy man (Lachlan MacKenzie, “The Happy Man”)

The happy man was born in the city of Regeneration in the parish of Repentance unto Life. He has a large estate in the county of Christian Contentment.

He was educated at the School of Obedience —and often does jobs of Self-denial.

He wears the garment of Humility, and has another suit to put on when he goes to Court, called the Robe of Christ’s Righteousness.

He is necessitated to travel through the world on his way to heaven—but he walks through it as fast as he can. All his business along the way—is to make himself and others happy. He often walks in the valley of Self-Abasement, and sometimes climbs the mountains of Heavenly-mindedness.

He breakfasts every morning on Spiritual Prayer, and sups every evening on the same. He has food to eat, which the world knows nothing of—and his drink is the sincere milk of the Word of God.

Thus happy he lives—and happy he dies.

Happy is he who has . . .

Gospel submission in his will,
the love of God in his affections,
true peace in his conscience,
sincere Divinity in his breast,
the Redeemer’s yoke on his neck,
the vain world under his feet, and
a crown of glory over his head!

Happy is the life of that man who . . .

believes firmly,
prays fervently,
walks patiently,
labors abundantly,
lives holily,
dies daily,
watches his heart,
guards his senses,
redeems his time,
loves Christ, and
longs for glory!

believes firmly,
prays fervently,
walks patiently,
labors abundantly,
lives holily,
dies daily,
watches his heart,
guards his senses,
redeems his time,
loves Christ, and
longs for glory!

Courtesy of http://www.preceptaustin.org/psalm_1_commentary.htm#1:1

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Our Journey from the Curse of Sin to Seated in the Heavenlies in Christ

Faith JourneyImmediately after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, something cataclysmic happened. Everything changed. In a second, in a flash, Adam and Eve died spiritually and lost their spiritual connection with God. They lost the holy spirit of God within them. The nature of spiritual death replaced the nature of spiritual life. Sin poured into creation and corrupted the entire nature of Adam and Eve. Also by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, death infiltrated the human race. The seeds of physical death were planted in them, and their corrupted human nature would dominate them throughout their lives until they died. On that fateful day of disobedience, the dying process had begun, as Adam and Eve were mere mortals, embraced by sin and death. They were now free to make a world of their own choosing. They no longer could enjoy the intimate presence of God and the joy of close fellowship with Him. A curse settled in upon the earth and it still hangs over all the world like a dark cloud. Men and women became lost and alienated from the life of God. Shame and guilt before God replaced love and confidence. Fear and uncertainty replaced peace and security. They lost God-consciousness and became self-conscious. They lost the spiritual power and ability to do good and gained the power to do evil, which was now inherent in their nature. They became subjects in the devil’s kingdom and heirs to death, misery, pain, and affliction. The exercised power of darkness became a constant thorn and source of agitation in their lives.

Genesis 3:7 also reveals the birth of religion, as Adam and Eve foolishly tried to cover their sin of disobedience by making coverings for themselves. They thought that by the works of their own hands, they could somehow justify themselves and earn the favor of God. Religion always focuses on man and his rules, regulations, and works to try to be God-like. Religion always drives people away from the heart of God and puts them in bondage and fear. Religion always misunderstands the goodness of God and his loving nature. Adam and Eve had died spiritually, and their entire nature was infused by sin. A mere covering of fig leaves was not going to solve the enormous dilemma that they had brought upon themselves. Adam could not restore his perfect relationship with God by a simple covering. This disaster could only be rectified by God Almighty and His glorious plan of redemption and wholeness. God’s goodness is the only place where the future salvation of a person could reside.

Genesis 3:8-10 (Amplified):

And they heard the sound of the Lord
God walking in the garden in the cool
of the day, and Adam and his wife hid
themselves from the presence of the
Lord God among the trees of the garden.

But the Lord God called to Adam and
said to him, Where are you?

He said, I heard the sound of You walking
in the garden, and I was afraid because I
was naked; and I hid myself.

God would appear in the garden in some physical form to fellowship with Adam and Eve. What intimacy! What closeness! What communion! What friendship they enjoyed, and what a privilege to have such an uninhibited, close relationship with God Almighty. But on this day, something tragic had happened and Adam and Eve’s entire nature and disposition toward God changed. There was now a separation and barrier between God and people, and guilt and shame dominated their mindset towards God. Instead of running into the presence of the Lord with confidence and great freedom, Adam and Eve hid from God in fear. They lost the spirit of God and had no vital and living connection with their Creator any longer. Adam and Eve no longer had the innocent trust and love for God where their hearts were pure and unrestricted in their full sharing of themselves with their Heavenly Father. Now their hearts were full of panic and dread, as they were afraid of God and terrified to come into His presence.

The word “hid” in the Hebrew means: to hide secretly, to withdraw from the sight of another, and to conceal oneself generally for the purpose of security.” The word “presence” is paniym, which we have studied before, and it means: to direct or set one’s face toward, and to be face to face in the presence of someone and everything that person represents. At one time, Adam and Eve loved the intimacy of fellowship face to face with God. They loved His goodness, His blessing, and His caring heart. They thrilled to be in His presence and have a deep heart to heart sharing of everything they were and hoped to be. Nothing was hidden from God. Nothing was held back in their fellowship and worship of Him. It was face to face, eye to eye, and heart to heart intimate communion. It was profound and satisfying, as they had a deep yearning to know their loving God. In the presence of God, there is fullness of joy and great goodness for those who love Him and put Him first in their life. Before God’s face is a peace that passes all understanding. As God wrapped His loving arms around His children, they had security and comfort.

So why would anyone want to run from the presence of God? Who would want to hide from such an awesome God? After Adam and Eve sinned and died spiritually, something happened on the inside of them. The mind and heart of Adam and Eve became full of fear and shame in the presence of God. There was an enmity and a turning of the human heart away from God and all the goodness He represents. The human heart became twisted because of the sin nature that had poured into it. Selfishness, self-interest, pride, and rebellion against God became part of their inborn nature. God no longer was a priority. Adam and Eve now wanted to hide and conceal their thoughts, desires, and purposes from God Almighty. They wanted to hide in secret from God and withdraw themselves from His sight. They thought they had some warped sense of security in separating themselves from their Creator and fleeing from everything true, just, loving, and good that God represents.

The voice of God brings goodness, justice, mercy, and righteousness. The voice of God always has the best interests of His children in mind. Yet Eve listened to the voice of the serpent and obeyed his word. Adam listened to the voice of his wife and followed her right into disobedience. The sound of God’s presence and voice no longer brought them comfort, security, and guidance. The voice of God made them tremble in fear because of their unbelief in the goodness of God and His Word.

Verse 8 is the first usage of “fear” in the Bible, and it is enlightening to see that fear always drives a person away from God and the truth of His Word. Fear makes you hide from God and builds unbelief in the human heart. Fear drives a barrier in the human heart between God and man. Fear encases, binds, and enslaves a person in mind and heart. Fear keeps a person from walking in intimate fellowship with their Creator. Fear indicates a lack of trust in God and His Word.

God’s first words after the Fall of Adam and Eve wonderfully reveal the heart of God and His goodness. He could have deserted Adam and Eve and turned His back on them. He could have given up on them because of their rebellion and disobedience. But God called to Adam, “Where are you?” God was still seeking Adam, even in his sinful state and even after committing high treason against Him. What a God of love! What a God of mercy! What a God of goodness! Even in the midst of the ruin of God’s creation and the sentence of death on His children, God had a plan of restoration to bring men and women back to paradise. God came to the garden seeking fellowship with Adam and Eve, but because of their betrayal, He had to design and initiate His awesome plan of redemption. God deeply desired to rectify the enormous problem of sin because of Adam’s disobedience. The devil wanted to keep man forever in a state of death and destruction, unredeemed and crushed by the penalty of sin. God would not stand by and do nothing. God did not throw in the towel and say, “Kids, you are on your own now.” God would give hope even in man’s darkest hour, as He promised a Savior who would bring salvation, goodness, wholeness and righteousness back to the human race, and ultimately destroy the great enemy of God, the devil. The goodness of this legal plan of redemption is so great and magnificent that its riches and glory far surpass anything ever known in history. Truly it is the good news.

Genesis 3:11-13 (Amplified):

And He said, Who told you that you
were naked? Have you eaten of the
tree of which I commanded you that
you should not eat?

And the man said, the woman whom
You gave to be with me-she gave me
fruit from the tree and I ate.

And the Lord said to the woman,
What is this you have done? And
the woman said, the serpent beguiled
(cheated, outwitted, and deceived) me,
and I ate.

Interwoven into the sinful nature of man is to play “the blame game” by failing to take responsibility for his actions. Adam pointed the finger at the woman, but ultimately blamed God because He gave him the woman. The first words uttered by man after the Fall blamed God for the evil that had befallen him. Man has been blaming God for evil ever since. Instead of recognizing His goodness and love, men and women have blamed God for all the problems in the world. God is portrayed as evil, and the human race is painted as good. Neither Adam nor Eve asked for forgiveness. Neither Adam nor Eve said they were sorry. Neither Adam nor Eve admitted they did anything wrong. Pride and exaltation of self above God became an inherent characteristic of the sin nature. The finger of accusation pointed to everyone but themselves. Adam and Eve gave God an excuse for their disobedience. Adam failed to speak God’s Word, failed to stand up for God’s Word, failed to teach God’s Word, failed to follow God’s Word, and failed to believe God’s Word. He decided to remain absolutely silent. Then he blamed God, implying that He should not have given him the woman in the first place. Adam blatantly told God that He was an accessory and partaker of this sin and just as responsible as Adam or Eve for all of its consequences. Just a little bit arrogant, don’t you think? There simply is no humility in the sin nature. Selfishness and pride rule the day in this corrupt nature of sin. Eve finally realized that she had been cheated, deceived, outwitted, and tricked by the serpent, yet again, she did not accept responsibility for her actions.

Job 31:33 (New American Standard):

Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,
By hiding my iniquity in my bosom.

Adam tried to cover his transgression and hide his iniquity from God. This verse sets forth the nature of Adam’s disobedience and two dominating characteristics of the sin nature inherited from Adam. The word “transgressions” in the Hebrew means: to rebel revolt or rise up in clear defiance of authority by violation of a law, command, or duty. The fundamental idea is a breach of relationship between two parties. It is a willful deviation and rebellion against God and His way or path. It is a stepping aside from the right path. It is to cross a line, challenging God’s boundaries. It is to refuse allegiance and duty to whom they are due. It is to knowingly refuse subjection to rightful authority. At the heart of this word “transgressions,” there is a real absence of love, respect, and honor towards the rightful authority.

What insight this word gives us into Adam’s disobedience! Adam made a
deliberate decision to rebel against God, His goodness, and His Word. He refused allegiance and dedication to God and knowingly revolted against His commandment. He stepped outside of the right and good path God had established in the Garden of Eden and crossed the line, challenging the boundaries of God’s Word. It was an assault on the goodness of God’s character, blessings, and Word. It was a fundamental breach of the loving relationship God had established with His children. Adam turned his back on His relationship with God. At the heart of the disobedience of Adam was a lack of belief that God really loved him, and conversely, Adam showed a lack of a deep, heartfelt love and respect for His Creator. He was more concerned about his relationship with Eve than His relationship with God.

Adam tried to cover this transgression in the presence of God. The word “covered” in the Hebrew means “to conceal and to hide.” God saw Adam’s heart, and he could not hide his transgression from Him. Adam showed no respect for God’s authority and tried to conceal the rebellious purposes and desires of his heart from God Almighty. Adam tried to make his transgression look good by rationalizing his disobedience to God and then blaming God for the evil consequences. The sin nature seems to have a bent toward trying to make good look evil and evil look good. Adam became a rebel against the goodness of God.

The second word used to describe Adam’s disobedience is “iniquity.” This word in the Hebrew means: perversity, depravity, and crookedness, and comes from a verb meaning to bend or to twist. It is a twisting of the standard and deviating from it. It is to distort and twist God’s standard, deviating from His righteous design and purpose. It is rebellion from a twisted condition of the human heart. It is disobedience due to thinking and reasoning that is crooked or perverse. Adam had twisted God’s righteous standard and distorted the way of God. He deviated from God’s commandment by crooked reasoning, and his heart became twisted and turned away from God. Then Adam tried to conceal his iniquity in his heart from God. God saw right thorough Adam’s twisted logic and got to the heart of the matter. The sin nature specializes in twisted and distorted logic that deviates from the heart of God. The whole idea that God is not good and causes evil is twisted and distorted logic. God’s goodness is perfect, whole, pure, and without any distortion or evil deformities.

Deuteronomy sets forth in great simplicity what God wanted Adam and Eve to do yet they failed miserably.

Deuteronomy 13:4 (Holman Christian Standard Bible):

You must follow the Lord your God and fear
(reverence, respect) Him. You must keep His
commands and listen to His voice; you must
worship Him and remain faithful to Him.

John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart, describes the heart of God:

I am convinced beyond a doubt of this:
God wants to be loved. He wants to be a
priority to someone. How could we have
missed this? From cover to cover, from
beginning to end, the cry of God’s heart
is, “Why won’t you choose me?” It is
amazing to me how humble, how
vulnerable God is on this point. “You
will…find me,” says the Lord, “when
you seek me with all your heart” (Jer.
29:13). In other words, “Look for me,
pursue me-I want you to pursue me.”
Amazing. As Tozer said, “God wants
to be wanted.”

Adam and Eve failed to keep God’s commands and listen to His voice. They failed to remain faithful to God by putting Him first above all else. They failed to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They failed to choose God, and ultimately Adam and Eve did not want God. This is just heartrending. Tragically, as a result, sin and death entered into the human race.

Romans 5:12 (Amplified);

Therefore, as sin came into the world through
one man, and death as the result of sin, so
death spread to all men, [no one being able
to stop it or to escape its power] because all
men sinned.

New Living Translation:

When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire
human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so
death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

Message Bible:

You know the story of how Adam landed us in
the dilemma we’re in, first sin, then death,
and no one exempt from either sin or death.
That sin disturbed relations with God in
everything and everyone…

Adam introduced sin into God’s creation, and it corrupted all forms of life. The curse of sin and death passed on to all of Adam’s progeny. No human could stop the infiltration of the sin nature or escape its power. Death, which had not existed in any form before, became the strong ally of sin, as every human born on this earth was subject to death. This was not only physical death, but spiritual death also.

E.W. Kenyon, in The Bible in Light of our Redemption, writes:

Sin has ruled as king in the realm of spiritual
death, where man lives under the cruel Emperor,
Satan. Every effort of man has to failed to eradicate
the power of sin. Education has failed. History
confesses that every single rise in civilization has
been accompanied by a decline in morals. War
has dominated in every period of the life of every
nation, destroying the youth and strength of humanity.
It has brought untold suffering to man. Its cruelty is
but a manifestation of Satanic Dominion at work in
its destruction of man. Man has been unable to strike
at the root and the cause of sin, sickness and death.
The law of disease has fastened itself upon the
human body, blighting and scourging humanity.
Death is the supreme problem that all men at all
periods have faced. It casts its shadow on upon
every happiness born in the sense of man. Man,
lying in the embrace of Satan, cries in agony against
this vain struggle which only ends in a hopeless
death and doom…He is born to die…Spiritual death,
the nature of Satan, is the soil out of which has
grown sin, sickness, physical death and every sorrow
that has darkened the life of God’s man.

Sin and spiritual death brought enormous consequences upon the human race. Every type of suffering, pain, misery, sickness, affliction, torment, and anguish began to grow and flourish upon the earth because of sin and spiritual death. A great separation and barrier now existed between God and men, women, and children. The human race’s relationship with God was thrown into chaos and confusion. It was like a thick, iron door was shut on a person’s access, communion, and fellowship with God. Adam and Eve had become alienated from the life and presence of God, and their understanding became darkened. They were like blindfolded people wandering aimless in a fog of darkness. The light and spiritual life within them was extinguished, and it left a great void of hunger and need for their loving Creator. Adam had sealed the fate of the human race, and now the great cry was for a Redeemer, a Savior, and a Liberator. No matter how smart, how talented, how strong, how powerful, or how rich a person may be, no one could free themselves from the bondage of their birth nature of sin and their condition of spiritual death.

The word “sin” in Romans 5:12 in the Greek means: to miss or fail to hit the mark, like when someone fails to hit the target with a bow and arrow; to fall short of any goal, purpose, or standard, and a failure or aberration from a prescribed law or duty. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, states that the word means “a falling and missing the true end and scope of our lives which is God.” Wuest, in Word Studies in the Greek New Testament, says it means “missing the divinely appointed goal, a deviation of what is pleasing to God, doing what is opposed to God’s will…a missing of the goal conformable to and fixed by God.” In A Critical Lexicon and Concordance of the English and Greek New Testament, Bullinger gives some great insight into the history of this word as:

A duct or canal by which water flows down to
any place… and which implies an evil influence…
in which it has the idea of turbidity and excitement,
muddy confusion in water, acetous fermentation
in wine, bitumen arising from hot natural springs,
collection of mud brought down by tumultuous
waters, bitter and brackish waters, etc…and then
is the defiling influence and bitter principle of
disturbance which has flowed down upon the
creation of God.

God had a wonderful divinely appointed purpose for Adam and Eve and all their progeny when He blessed them in the Garden of Eden. He had a great plan of goodness for Adam and Eve and their children, desiring to bring them into the full accomplishment of His destiny for them. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin poured into their nature, causing them to miss the purpose and goal that God had designed for their lives. Their entire relationship with God was defiled and disturbed as bitterness, hostility, separation, and enmity against God flowed into their nature like raw sewage or muddy contaminated waters. Adam and Eve now had a sin nature that was against God and His will having the dominant characteristic of continuously missing the standard of God, like a reckless archer who can never hit the target. The affections, desires, motives, reasoning, and thoughts coming from the sin nature were in rebellion against God and His authority. The sin nature is inherently grounded in a hostility against walking with God, trusting God and relying on God as its only sufficiency. The heart and soul of the human race became polluted with the sin nature, which is twisted to an enmity toward all the things of God, all the goodness of God, and all the words of God.

In Romans 5:12, “sin” is in the singular, and the word “the” is before the word “sin” in the Greek text. “The sin” does not describe the acts or deeds of sin, but the root cause: the totally depraved nature, or the basic active principal of sin. PreceptAustin gives us some valuable insight on their website:

What Paul is doing by using the phrase “The Sin”
is to use this word not to describe the actions or
results of sin (sins [plural] which are committed)
but to describe the underlying root cause, the
basic principle or, in medical terms,…the
“virus” that killed (first spiritually and then
physically) Adam and which has infected
all men for all men can trace their physical
lineage to Adam. Think of The Sin as analogous
to a highly contagious, 100% lethal virus which
every man, woman and child has contracted
because every person alive is related to Adam,
the first man, who himself was infected. Or
think of The Sin as analogous to an abnormal
“gene” which transmits a defective moral/ethical
“DNA code” to all of Adam’s offspring, this
defective code explaining why every individual
commits sins (plural)…The Sin is man’s Adamic
SIN(inherent) nature (that every baby inherits
from his spiritual father Adam) in distinction to
“SINS” one commits each day, these being a natural
outworking of the (inherent) SIN nature in every
man, woman and child. PERSONAL SINS then
are those sins we commit because we are by nature
SINNERS having inherited THE SIN “virus” that
entered the garden from our first spiritual “father”
Adam.

Romans 5:12 declares that this sin nature, this deadly virus, this defective gene that directs a person’s life away from what is pleasing to God, entered into the world through Adam’s disobedience to God. The word “entered” in the Greek literally means: to come into and contains the force of distribution, meaning it made its way to each individual member of the human race.” The word is in the indicative mood, the mood of certainty, which states that the action is factual and certainly occurred. The word “world” is kosmos in the Greek which in this verse means: the harmonious arrangement and order of God’s creation. It was the creation in perfect order and harmony before the entrance of sin. The word “spread” in the Greek means: to go or pass through; to send out in all directions like a highly contagious virus disseminating and spreading completely through an entire population.” Sin and death certainly spread to every member of the human race and ruined God’s original perfect order and harmony of His creation. No one had a pass; no one was exempt; no one was immune; we all inherent this sin nature from Adam.

Romans 5:17 says that “death reigned,” and Romans 5:21 says that “sin reigned” over the whole human race. The word “reigned” means: to rule with the authority and power of a king, to possess regal authority to reign, and to exercise the highest influence
and control. The human race was now subject to the rule of two great kings, namely sin and death. The power and authority of sin and death wreaked havoc and destruction on all peoples of the earth, and no one could break free of its rule nor escape its power. They exercised kingly authority, not to liberate its subjects but to bring them into bondage. People became slaves to sin and its consequences, as they desperately needed a deliverer who would conquer the twin kings of sin and death.

Before Adam fell into sin, he had a nature perfectly suited to bearing the image of God and representing His goodness. The sin nature was not part of our humanity as God had originally designed it. Adam was designed to represent His Maker, and God gave him a divine nature in which he shared some of the attributes and qualities of His Creator. Characteristics of God, such as love, joy, goodness, peace, kindness, faithfulness, and wisdom must have been abundant in Adam, as he was a son of God and bore His image. He had every godly quality necessary for him to exercise his dominion upon the earth. There was nothing in his nature that caused him to act contrary to the will of God.

When Adam fell into sin in the Garden of Eden, this perfect image of God’s character that he represented was shattered into pieces. Sin was now mixed into this nature like a virus in the blood, and the image of God inside us was greatly dimmed. These great qualities that God had designed intrinsically in men and women became mixed with sin which obscured and obstructed their demonstration in the world. This sin nature is not an intrinsic part of who God designed you to be, but is a contamination and intrusion into our lives that caused physical and spiritual death. We still see great acts of compassion, courage, creativity, and kindness that exhibit that we were made in the image of God. However, qualities of selfishness, hatred, cruelty, lust, indifference, violence, and idolatry all flow out of this sin nature and obscure and suffocate these godly qualities. The sin nature is very strong and dominates over the image of God, so no one has exhibited an ability to habitually be free of its impulses and characteristics. Man’s relationship with God was broken and separated by sin, which made it even more difficult to exhibit the qualities and attributes of God, our Creator.

The sin nature energized the thoughts, reason, will, and emotions, as Adam and Eve were living in a state of separation from God. The sin nature is absolutely rooted in selfishness and intrinsically pushes people to glorify themselves rather than God. The sin nature drives one to habitually act and speak in a manner that satisfies its evil desires. Adam turned the image of God into an image of sinful man, as the world throughout all ages of history has not lived up to the image of God. No one can break free of the ultimate consequence of sin, which is death, without the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be the liberator, the deliverer, the conqueror, and the Savior from the kings of sin and death and all their evil consequences.

The sin nature within us does not mean that God has not designed us for a wonderful purpose and given us qualities and talents that we can use to glorify Him. The dim image of God that comes forth at times is a reminder of man’s original destiny and purpose that had God had designed. Man and woman were meant for so much more than an enslaved obedience to the sin nature. We retain a shadow of the image of God in ourselves, but the primary nature is this fallen nature of Adam. The human nature has fallen, and the original image has been marred. Humans struggle with a nature that has been crippled by the loss and continued absence of a relationship with God. The sin nature, like a deadly disease, is lethal to life. The sin nature brings no meaning, purpose, goodness, or blessing to life. In Mark Cosgrove’s, Foundations of Christian Thought, he states:

The result of the Fall could be called, not selfishness
but self-centeredness…they (Adam and Eve) became
the center of their own experience or existence, rather
than God being the center of their lives…it is clear that
after the Fall they, and everyone born after them,
seemed bent inward on self and prone to selfishness.
Isolation and emptiness of soul…What the fall of
human nature into sin means practically speaking
is that while human beings are possesses with
great potential and desire from the image of God in
them, at the same time, they are incapable of
reaching this potential and happiness.

There is great emptiness of soul and meaningless in life without God. Mankind has lost their true heart, their true destiny, and their true purpose. David Needham, in Birthright, Christian Do You Know Who You Are?, gives a vivid illustration of the emptiness and meaninglessness of the sin nature:

Try to imagine for a moment the entire human
race as though it were an art gallery full of
picture frames. Long, long halls. Billions of
picture frames-without any pictures! Empty
can you visualize it? Some of the frames are
very carefully carved. Some boast very delicate
gold leaf, others are rather gaudily painted. A
few are dirty, chipped. But every frame is
wrapped around-nothing-emptiness. Is it
possible the human race is seen in such a
way by God? An art gallery with no paintings!
Each human being was intended to frame an
inimitable, individual masterpiece of God’s
own reflected glory. But where God should
be, there is only emptiness, a bare patch of
wall. Since the frames are conscious, however,
the fact of emptiness is simply too devastating-
too self-destructive-to acknowledge. And so
human kind becomes obsessed with the only
thing left to it: its own flesh. The frame. Life,
if it is to be found at all, must be found in each
one’s own frame, and the frames around him.
So, ingeniously and carefully, man lights the
gallery, carpets and air-conditions the halls,
creates all sorts of special displays, and
leads community crusades to clean up the
dirty and broken frames…No wait. It wasn’t
suppose to work out this way! We thought
all our inventions and progress would solve
the difficulties and…if only we had more
time. But the air is getting foul. Lights are
beginning to flicker. Sounds of confusion
are coming from every corner. And anyway-
there are no pictures. We all know that.
Emptiness. Everywhere emptiness. What
difference does it all make anyway? Oh,
the tragedy of Eden! Rejecting dependence
upon the will and character of God, Adam
and Eve rejected life! Looking for fullness,
they found instead a fathomless despair.
Even in some twisted sense they fulfilled
by sinning what they were-sinners-they still
were missing the destiny for which God had
created them. There one bridge to meaning,
their fundamental reason for existing, lay
collapsed in hopeless ruin before them. Man’s
essential nature was now “in the flesh.” And
the Bible says that “those who are in the flesh
cannot please God.”
So, by his very nature, man is a sinner.
Cut off from his Creator.
Cut off from any hope of meaning.
A rebel trapped in futility
That is what sin is all about…
So it was, long ago in the Garden, human
beings forced upon themselves the task of self
fulfillment without any hope of success. Authentic
meaning, significance, and purpose lay always
beyond their grasp. It is this fact that underlies
the darkness of evil. This then, is sin-a tragedy
for human beings and an offense to God. Apart
from God’s intervening miracle of changing us,
there is no hope.

Emptiness, meaninglessness, hopelessness, and lifelessness became the destiny of the human race because of their rejection of God in the Garden. The beautiful, breathtaking picture and exquisite masterpiece that God desired for every person became broken, stained, marred, and shattered. The picture was lost and the frame was empty and without true meaning. A bare patch of wall with a blank piece of backboard now was the focal point of the frame. No vibrant colors, no living images, no spectacular scenes of beauty, and no inspiring reflections, but only an image of emptiness. Oh, if we would only listen and obey the words of the prophet Isaiah.

Isaiah 44:22: (New International Reader’s Version):

I will sweep your sins away as if they were
a cloud. I will blow them away as if they
were the morning mist. Return to me.
Then I will set you free.

The sin nature will never bring meaning to life. It does not want a relationship with God, but desires to follow the course set by the god of this world. God had such goodness planned for the human race, but they turned their backs on Him and fell into ruin. John Eldridge, in Epic: The Story God is Telling and the Role that is Yours to Play, describes the human race after the Fall of Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin into the world:

Something has gone wrong with the human
race, and we know it. Better said, something
has gone wrong within the human race.
It doesn’t take a theologian or a psychologist
to tell you that. Read a newspaper…Most
of the misery we suffer on this planet is
the fruit of the human heart gone bad. This
glorious treasure has been stained, marred,
infected. Sin enters the story and spreads
like a computer virus…Any honest person
knows this. We know we are not what we
were meant to be…Something has gone
wrong. We know that much. Whatever else
we know, whatever else our convictions
may be, we know that something has gone
terribly wrong with the world, with us, with
life. Haven’t you ever wondered , if only for
a moment, why life comes nowhere close to
the desires that are written in your heart?
Where are the beauty, intimacy and adventure?
Why can’t we make these things last? The poet
George Herbert declared, “I cried when I was
born and every day shows why.” Dear God-
what has happened to our world?

The human heart desperately cries out for the goodness of God. Yet, it has become contaminated and hardened by sin and dull to the heartbeat of God. The relentless onslaught of the god of this world exercising dominion upon the earth has further driven the human heart away from its loving Creator. Tragically, some people live their entire lives without ever tasting and experiencing the goodness of God.

Job 21:25 (New American Standard):

While another dies with a bitter soul,
Never even tasting anything good.

(NIV) :

Another man dies in bitterness of soul,
never having enjoyed anything good.

(Moffatt Translation):

Another man dies, broken-hearted, and
never gets the good of life.

With the infusion of the sin nature, bitterness took root in the human heart. Most people live with bitterness dominating some portion of their heart and soul throughout their entire life. Bitterness breaks and cripples the human heart. The goodness of God melts away all bitterness of the soul and brings release, freedom, and deliverance from the oppression of bitterness. The devil wants your heart to be in a constant state of bitterness. New Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies explains that bitterness in the Hebrew means “to be bitter of soul is to be exasperated, angry, disgusted, uneasy, discontented, and exceedingly sorrowful.” There is great anguish, fierce resentment, and heart-crushing despair at the center of bitterness. Without God, a person’s life becomes a story of bitterness and ravaging disappointment. God desires with every ounce of His being for you to taste and enjoy His goodness. What a travesty to live your entire life and never taste, never experience, and never enjoy the goodness of God. Every day another soul has died in great bitterness, broken by life, and completely alienated from the goodness of God. Only by the power of God and the healing redemption available in the Lord Jesus Christ will the bondage of bitterness be obliterated in a person’s life. Yet Adam set the pattern of the human race in turning away from God and trying to find meaning and purpose in life in our own vain and futile efforts.

Romans 3:12 (New Living Translation):

All have turned away; all have become
useless. No one does good, not a single
one.

(Wuest):

All turned aside; all to a man became
useless. There is not one who habitually
does goodness; there is not as much as
one.

The words “turned aside” in the Greek means: to turn aside or away from; to shun; to bend away from the right course; to steer clear of; to stay away from, and to avoid. It was used to describe a soldier running the wrong way or deserting. The Greek word is in the active voice, which indicates that the turning away is a deliberate choice and not an accidental losing of their way. This sin nature of man drives a person away from the heart of God. All of us have at sometime deserted God and shunned Him. We all at some time made a deliberate choice to turn away from God and avoid Him at all costs. All of us at some time in our lives have rejected the goodness of God. It is simply amazing when one sees the goodness, faithfulness, and love of God, how anyone would ever want to turn away from Him. Yet the history of the world is largely a chronicle of people turning their backs on their loving Creator and following their own destructive paths.

Every single member of the human race became useless without God. The word “useless” is an enlightening word as to the nature of man without God. In the Greek, it means: to be worthless; to be useless; to be unprofitable; to render unserviceable, and to be unfit for any useful purpose. The Hebrew word used in the same verse in Psalm 14:3 means: to go bad and to become sour like milk. When I was a teenager, one of my first jobs was working at a fabric warehouse, and one day I noticed a refrigerator in the basement. I opened the door hoping there might be some food or drink, and there was a carton of milk sitting on the shelf. When I eagerly opened the carton, the most disgusting smell I had ever experienced filled my nostrils, and I became extremely nauseated. The milk had soured and was good for nothing. I could not even look at a glass of milk for months after that episode.

God vividly says that a person without God under the power and influence of the sin nature is like a carton of sour milk. Sour milk is worthless for any good use and cannot be used for its intended purpose. The highest and best the human race has to offer in society, government, academics, arts, and every other category amounts to nothing more than sour milk without God. Every life, every purpose, every idea, and every goal lived apart from the truth of God and His Word is wasted and worthless.

How mankind has often exalted ourselves in great arrogance against God. The human race has throughout its history been flooded with countless examples of unbridled pride and conceit. I remember taking numerous classes in world history in college, and the pompous nature of so many people, kingdoms, and rulers is astounding. I wonder how they would react if they knew that God Almighty, the Creator of the heavens and earth, thought they were no better than spoiled, rotten milk. Without God, a person can never fulfill their true purpose and destiny, as their lives begin to rot and waste away.

Spurgeon, in the Treasury of David, says, “The fallen race of man, left to its own energy, has not produced a single lover of God or doer of holiness, nor will it ever do so. Grace must interpose or not one specimen of humanity will be found to follow after the good and true.” The contamination of the sin nature, along with the turning aside from God, turned Adam and Eve’s once glorious lives into sour milk that was putrid and offensive to the true purpose and will of God. Sin rendered men and women unfit for what God had intended for them. Like a piece of rotten fruit that had gone bad, the human race desperately needed a Savior and Redeemer to restore all that Adam had lost in the Garden of Eden.

The word “good” in the Greek means: goodness in its widest sense with the idea of usefulness; kindness; the goodness of God’s divine attributes showing itself in benevolence to man; moral goodness and integrity; genuine goodness and generosity of heart, and goodness expressed in action and deed. Trench, in Synonyms of the New Testament, defines it as “ a beautiful word, as it is the expression of a beautiful grace…a grace of word and countenance, it is one pervading and penetrating the whole nature, mellowing there all which would have been harsh and austere…a goodness that has no edge, no sharpness in it.” The Tyndale Bible Dictionary defines it as “the state of being that includes the attributes of loving affection, sympathy, friendliness, patience, pleasantness, gentleness, and goodness. It is more volitional than emotional.” The word “do” in the Greek means: to make, form, produce or bring about the accomplishment of something. As Wuest indicates in this verse, it is in the sense of a habitual doing or making, producing, forming, and building something on a habitual and continuous basis.

Not one single person on the earth after the Fall of Adam habitually produces works of goodness, kindness, integrity, graciousness, generosity, love, gentleness, and compassion out of a heart loyal to honoring and serving God. The sin nature of a man or woman cannot produce anything good that glorifies God. The sin nature is inherently harsh, unforgiving, cruel, selfish, deceitful, arrogant, evil, hateful, jealous, and immoral and produces these types of words and actions. The image of God reflects all the attributes of His goodness, love, tenderheartedness, gentleness, grace, and compassion. However, because the human race is now under the power and control of sin and living in a world controlled and dominated by the god of this world, the devil, no natural man or woman without Christ can do, make, build, and produce great works of goodness that bring glory and praise to God Almighty. There is not one ounce or drop of goodness in the sin nature that poured into the heart and soul of the human race because of Adam’s disobedience. If you live by the sin nature and under its control, you will never accomplish the good purpose and design that God wants for your life. It is like building your life on sinking sand. It is living a life of very little meaning or purpose, and it becomes an exercise of futility and disappointment.

Romans 7:18 (NIV):

I know nothing good lives in me,
that is, in my sinful nature. For I

have the desire to do what is good,
but I cannot carry it out.

New Living Translation:

I know I am rotten through and through
so far as my old sinful nature is concerned.
No matter which way I turn, I can’t make
myself do right. I want to, but I can’t.

Wuest:

For I positively know that there does not
dwell in me, that is, in my flesh, good; for
the being desirous is constantly with me;
but the doing of the good, not.

God’s goodness does not make its home in the sin nature. God’s goodness does not live or abide in the sin nature. God is not responsible for the sin nature or the fruit, deeds, and actions that proceed from it. No matter where the sin nature turns or what it does, it is absolutely impossible for it to produce works and deeds that reflect and demonstrate God’s goodness. The sin nature and God’s goodness are polar opposites. The sin nature produces words, deeds, and actions that are evil. I like the Wuest translation, which sounds like a modern, hip vernacular: “but the doing of the good, NOT.” The word “doing” in the Greek means: to labor, work or engage in activity involving considerable expenditure of effort to bring a result or end to successful completion; to work out fully and thoroughly; it represents the full and final bringing of an enterprise to a successful conclusion; to carry something out to its ultimate goal and to do, accomplish or perform something successfully. The sin nature, no matter how much effort is expended, cannot successfully bring about a work of God’s goodness as its accomplished goal.

The word “good” (a different Greek word than in Romans 3) means: that which is inherently excellent or intrinsically good, beautiful, honorable, admirable or precious and provides some special or superior benefit. It is something morally excellent and worthy of recognition. It is the beautiful, noble and honorable impression made by good as it manifests itself. It is goodness that is visible to the eye and radiates beauty and harmonious perfection that is pleasing to God. It is goodness that is excellent in its nature and characteristics. The sin nature through hard work cannot produce anything intrinsically good or beautiful that has any special or superior benefit to the kingdom of God. Nothing morally excellent or worthy of recognition comes out of the sin nature of a human being. The fruit of our sin nature never benefits God or promotes His kingdom in any way, shape, or form. No matter how wise, or how rich, or how connected a person may be, they have no ability in this corrupt sin nature to accomplish anything that reflects the beauty, loveliness, honor, wholeness, and perfection of the goodness of God.

The heart and soul are lost and wounded in the wilderness of this world, battered by sin and in desperate need of God’s healing redemption. John Eldridge, in Wild at Heart, Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, describes the long and vicious war of sin and the waging spiritual battle for the human heart:

Its June 6, 1944..You are soldier on the third wave
at Omaha Beach. Thousands of men have gone
before you and now its your turn. As you jump out
of the Higgins boat and wade to the beach, you see
the bodies of soldiers everywhere-floating on the
water, tossing in the surf, lying on the beach.
Moving up the sand you encounter hundreds of
wounded men. Some are limping toward the bluffs
with you, looking for shelter. Others are barely
crawling. Snipers on the cliffs above continue to
take them out. Everywhere you look, there are pain
and brokenness. The damage is almost overwhelming…
this is one brutal war…But we do not think so closely
about life and I’m not sure why…Men (and women)
are being taken out right and left. Scattered across
the neighborhood lie the shattered lives of men and
women who have died at a soul-level from the wounds
they have taken. You’ve heard the expression, “he’s a
shell of a man?” They have lost heart. Many more
are alive but they are badly wounded. They are trying
to crawl forward, but are having an awful time getting
there lives together, they seem to be taking hits. You
know others who are already captives, languishing in
prisons of despair, addiction, idleness, or boredom.
The place looks like a battlefield, the Omaha beach
of the soul. And that is precisely what it is. We are
in the late stages of the long and vicious war against
the human heart…We were born into a world at war.

The battle for the human heart is fierce, as both God and the devil are at war for the soul of mankind. Even though the human race is spiritually dead in trespasses and sins and all the consequences of sin poured into God’s creation, God promised a coming Redeemer who would crush the serpent and break the power and penalty of sin. He would be the victorious captain of our soul, and our triumphant general in the battle for the human heart.

 

Genesis 3″15 contains the greatest promise of the goodness of God in the Bible. When it seemed that all was lost and the devil had succeeded in ruining Adam and Eve, God promised a coming Savior, who will redeem mankind from the penalty of sin and ultimately crush the devil into oblivion. This was a promise of hope, goodness, and salvation, as God would not leave the world helpless, but would give them His only begotten Son. What a God of love and goodness to promise this to His children who had just committed high treason against Him. God threw the glorious light of His Word right back at the serpent, as the coming redeemer would not only restore everything Adam and Eve lost in the garden, but utterly destroy the devil and all his works. This was the final death blow of the curse of God on the devil that was boldly pronounced in the garden. God heralded forth this good promise so every fallen angel, including the devil himself, would hear about His magnificent goodness and shudder about their ultimate defeat.

Genesis 3:15 (Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible):

And enmity shall I put between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,-
He shall crush thy head, but thou shall crush
his heel.

This is a declaration of war! This verse sets forth the fulcrum point of all history and defines the ceaseless battle that has raged since Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden. This verse is the central theme of all scriptures, as the red thread of the coming Redeemer is interwoven into every book of the Old Testament. Its message is even written in the heavens, as each night the stars proclaim the sufferings and glorious triumph of Christ.

Who is the seed of the woman? In conception the seed comes from the male, but God’s Word clearly refers to the woman’s seed here. Seed implies birth, and this verse indicates a virgin birth of a man who would crush the arch-enemy of God. This man is the Savior, the Redeemer, the Liberator, the Messiah, the Second Adam, and the Conqueror over sin and death. This man is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Adam as a fallen man could not conquer death or sin, but was a slave to them. Adam or Eve could not of their own power crush and destroy the devil. Adam and Eve could not redeem themselves and pay the penalty of sin that hangs over the human race. They were in desperate need of the seed of the woman, the Redeemer, to free them from the curse of their disobedience. There was great hope in this promise of goodness.

God proclaims that the destiny of this seed of the women is to destroy the devil and all his works. God promises the destiny of the serpent is utter destruction at the hands of this man. The Second Adam will “crush the head of the serpent.” The word “crush” in the Hebrew means: to break or smite in pieces and to greatly injure or wound. E. W.
Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, states:

When it is said (v.15), “He shall crush thy head,”
it means something more than a skull of bone, and
brain and hair. It means all Satan’s plans and plots,
policy and purposes, will one day be finally crushed
and ended, never more to mar or to hinder the
purposes of God.

Charles Spurgeon continues in his sermon on The Serpent’s Sentence:

We now observe his FINAL DOOM…Here is the
end of the great conflict. Satan who heads the
powers of evil in the world, is to fight it out with
all his cunning and strength… but in the end the
Seed of the woman is to bruise his head…Hallelujah,
Hallelujah, He has cast the Prince of Darkness from
his high places…What can he do with a broken
head? This bruise upon the head of the Evil One is
a mortal stroke. If he had been bruised upon the tail
or upon the neck he might have survived. But the
Lord shall utterly slay the kingdom of evil and crush
its power.

In this great battle, the serpent will inflict some temporary damage as he will “crush the heel” of the seed of the woman. E.W. Bullinger, in The Companion Bible, explains:

It cannot mean his literal heel of flesh and blood,
but suffering, more temporary in nature…The
bruising of Christ’s heel is the most eloquent and
impressive way of foretelling the most solemn
events; and to point out that the effort made by
Satan to evade his doom, then threatened, would
become the very means of insuring its
accomplishment; for it was through the death of
Christ that he who had the power of death would
be destroyed; and all Satan’s power and policy
brought to an end, and all his works destroyed…
What literal words could portray these literal
facts so wonderfully as these expressive figures
of speech.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon The Serpent’s Sentence, expounds on this truth:

We see in the text THE LIMITED ACHIEVEMENT
of the old serpent. What will be accomplished by all
his schemes? “You shall bruise his heel.” That is
all…That bruised heel is painful enough…He was
betrayed, bound, accused, buffeted, scourged, spit
upon. He was nailed to the Cross. He hung there
in thirst and fever and darkness and desertion.
They pierced His hands and feet…Satan by death
death bruised the heel of the woman’s seed…but
when our Lord thought of the Resurrection, the
salvation of His chosen and the conquest of the
world, it seemed to him to be a light thing-”He
endured the Cross, despising the shame.”…Make
the best of it Satan, it does not come to much. All
that you are at your greatest is but a heel-nibbler
and nothing more.

This is the essence of the battle of good and evil throughout all history. The seed of the woman represents all of God’s goodness, and the serpent and his seed represent everything that is evil. The most intense war the world has ever known is about to begin. It is more fierce, more violent, more brutal, more ferocious, and more severe than all of the wars of human history combined. At the very root of this warfare is deep-seated enmity between good and evil, between God and His people and the serpent and his people, and between the Word of God and the word of Satan. This is a spiritual battle, an invisible war for the heart and soul of all peoples on Earth.

God states that there will be great enmity between the serpent and the second Adam, Christ. The word “enmity” in the Hebrew means: hatred and hostility with a desire to injure. There is no truce in this battle. There is no peace agreement. As long as Satan’s kingdom operates upon the earth, it will be opposed vigorously by Christ. Jesus Christ is the absolute pinnacle of God’s goodness, and he represents everything that is good in the heart and purposes of God. Christ represents God’s goodness, mercy, grace, love, righteousness, justice, holiness, faithfulness, truth, life, and peace. Satan has great hostility to the goodness of God and everything that Christ represents, as he tries to
suppress the knowledge and understanding of God’s goodness in the hearts and minds of people. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about how good God is and the great salvation and deliverance available through Jesus Christ. He fervently desires to injure, hurt, destroy, harm, wound, impair, mar, impede, obstruct, hinder, frustrate, and discourage God’s people, God’s Word and God’s purposes. He does everything he can to turn people away from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Satan has raging hostility toward the second Adam, for he knows that his head will be crushed by him. This is a fatal blow from which there is no recovery. Once a serpent’s head is crushed, he cannot inject his poison into the world anymore or operate his schemes and deceptions on all mankind. The devil knew that there was a genealogical Christ line that would pass through Eve, as the seed of the woman would have to be born. Later, the Word of God was more specific that this Christ line would pass through

Abraham and King David. The entire Old Testament is a record of the fierce attempts of
the devil to wipe out the Christ line, and prevent Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, from ever being born. It is a record of God’s magnificent works and actions that repeatedly delivered the Christ line from extinction. Sometimes the survival of the Christ line rested on the faith of one individual like Noah, Joseph, Abraham, and Esther. Read the Old Testament with this truth in mind, and the Word of God will come alive in new and wonderful ways.

There is not enough space in this book to go into detail of the countless schemes and plots of the devil to destroy this Christ line, and God’s miraculous protection of it. The salvation and redemption of the human race depended on the preservation of the Christ line. The devil started with the murder of Abel and was absolutely relentless to try to destroy the Seed of the woman who would utterly crush and defeat him. He was not going to go out without a vicious and violent battle where he marshaled all his evil forces to bring about the destruction of the Christ line. The devil even tried to genetically corrupt the entire human race with nephilim, or giants of wickedness, (see Genesis 6) so that the Christ line could never come. This was a serious all out attack on the human race to prevent the coming of the Redeemer. The devil also tried floods, famines, warfare, idolatry, politics, religion, people, philosophies, and countless schemes throughout the Old Testament to destroy the true knowledge of God, and obliterate the genealogical line from which Christ would be born. But Satan was foiled again and again. He even tried to devour the infant Jesus through Herod’s decree of death, but God was always one step ahead of the devil in the preservation of His promise of the Seed of the woman.

The book of Romans sets forth the importance of this one man, the second Adam, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race for all who believe.

Romans 5:15,17,18 (Amplified Bible):

But God’s free gift is not all to be compared
to the trespass [His grace is out of all
proportion to the fall of man]. For if many
died through one man’s falling away (his
lapse, his offense), much more profusely
did God’s grace and the free gift that comes
through the undeserved favor of the one
Man Jesus Christ abound and overflow to
and for the benefit of many.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse,
offense) death reigned through that one,
much more surely will those who receive
God’s overflowing grace (unmerited favor)
and the free gift of righteousness [putting
them into right standing with Himself] reign
as kings in life through the one Man Jesus
Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One.)

Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s
false step and falling away led] to condemnation
for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness
leads to acquittal and right standing with God
and life for all men.

God revealed His ultimate plan of grace with the Seed of the woman, the second Adam, Jesus Christ, who by His death and resurrection made available the free gift of righteousness leading to acquittal from the penalty of sin and right standing again with God. The court of God legally pronounces the declaration of acquittal when a man or woman confesses Jesus Christ as their Lord and believes God raised Jesus from the dead. Sin and death reign in this world because of Adam’s one act of disobedience, but now through the obedience of one man, Jesus Christ, and his sacrifice, we can reign as kings in this life and the one to come.

Ray Pritchard in his Commentary on Romans explains:

Death reigned. That’s our heritage from Adam.
Death reigns on the earth because of Adam’s
sin…Ah, but that’s only part of the story. There
is a way out. There is a way to reverse what
Adam did…It comes, Paul says to those who
receive God’s abundant provision of grace and
the gift of righteousness…But notice the result
of receiving the gift of righteousness. Those
who receive this free gift now reign in life.
On one hand, death reigns; on the other hand,
those who know Jesus Christ as Savior reign
as kings right now, in this life and in the life
to come. We live in dying world, but in this
realm of death, we may through Jesus Christ
reign as kings. And in the life to come, we
shall reign forever, rising from the dead,
clothed with immortality. Only God could
take a slave and transform him into a king.
But that is what God has done through Jesus
Christ. So what Jesus did is far greater than
what Adam did. Greater in its nature. Greater
in its power. Greater in its effect.

The goodness of God has its ultimate triumph in the Lord Jesus Christ. Evil has its sentence of doom and ultimate destruction in the Lord Jesus Christ. What Jesus Christ accomplished at Calvary is so magnificent, so awesome and so astounding, that it
permanently crippled Satan’s kingdom and one day will obliterate every remnant of it from off the face of the earth. The death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important event in all of human history, because he broke the curse of sin and death that hangs over the world like a dark cloud. He regained everything that Adam and Eve had lost on that tragic day in the Garden of Eden and so much more. He paid the price for the complete redemption and salvation of the soul of every person who comes to Him. Through Jesus Christ, righteousness is restored to a person so that they can stand in the presence of God without any sense of fear, shortcoming, guilt, or unworthiness. The ability to have deep fellowship and communion with the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ has been recovered and given as a gift to all those who confess Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

The Court of God has wiped our slate clean; we are as white as snow, as our redeemer has paid the ransom and penalty for our sin. We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, fear, worry, sickness, disease, poverty, misery, hatred, selfishness, and ignorance, for we reign as kings in life through the Lord Jesus Christ. We can walk in great power, wreaking havoc in Satan’s kingdom on the earth as we touch people with the great healing love and wholeness available in Jesus Christ. You are a super-conqueror; you are a new creation; you are a glorious son or daughter of God with all the dignity that comes with God’s calling through Jesus Christ.

Colossians further elaborates on this head crushing of the serpent by the Seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:14,15 (Message):

When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life,
you were incapable of responding to God. God
brought you alive-right along with Christ! Think
of it! All sins forgive, the slate wiped clean, that
old arrest warrant canceled and nailed to Christ’s
cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants of the
universe of their sham authority at the Cross and
marched them naked through the streets.

Verse 15 (Phillips):

And having drawn the sting of all powers ranged
against us, he exposed them, shattered, empty
and defeated, in his final glorious triumphant act.

Lightfoot:

Taking on him our human nature, he stripped off
and cast aside all the powers of evil which clung
to it like a poisonous garment. As a mighty conqueror
he displayed these his fallen enemies to an astonished
world, leading them in triumph on his cross.

Weymouth:

And the hostile princes and rulers He shook off from
Himself, and boldly displayed them as His conquests,
when by the cross he triumphed over them.

Moffatt Translation:

When he cut away the angelic Rulers and Powers
from us, exposing them to all the world and triumphing
over them in the cross.

At Calvary, Jesus Christ stripped and disarmed the power and authority of the devil’s kingdom for every born again believer. No devil spirit in the devil’s kingdom, no matter what its rank, can defeat you when you stand in the strength of the Lord’s redemptive work for you at the cross. The picture Paul is painting is of a triumphant general who has routed the enemy and leads the captive foes and spoils of his victory behind his chariot in a grand public procession through the city.

In the Roman world, this was the highest honor that could be bestowed upon a victorious Roman general. It was called “the triumph.” There must have been at least 5,000 enemy soldiers killed, and there must have been a gain of Roman territory in the conquest. It was an awesome display of the power, strength, and might of the Roman Empire. It was a spectacle that few would forget its images, as the triumph declared to the world that the enemy had been overwhelmed and crushed, now to be publicly humiliated through the streets of the city.

How much greater is the triumph of Christ as the captain of our salvation? What a triumph on the cross! What a victory against the forces of darkness! What a crushing
blow to Satan’s kingdom! What a public display of victory to all those who have eyes to see and ears to hear! You become identified and in vital union with this triumph on the cross and all its far-reaching glorious effects when you become a new creation in Christ at the new birth. You are marching right beside Jesus Christ in this magnificent victory march with every wretched captive in chains under your feet. With great freedom, the power of the old sin nature has been stripped off and crippled, and the power of Christ in you flows and energizes every cell of your human body. You are a super conqueror who always triumphs in Christ. Jesus Christ cut away Satan’s firm grip on us and smashed the kingdom of darkness’s authority, control, and rule over our lives. No longer must we be a slave to sin or the bondage of this world. Jesus Christ victoriously led captivity captive for every Christian, according to the book of Ephesians, as he crushed and defeated every form of mental, physical, or spiritual bondage. What a triumph on the cross! What a
victory in Christ!

He rescued us from the power of darkness and gave us full legal rights as a son or daughter of God. The word “power” in Colossians means: the exercised power to do something; liberty of action to do as one pleases; the delegated authority and power to act, and the right to exercise power. The devil and his kingdom no longer have the liberty or power to do what they please in your life when you stand upon the triumph of the cross. The devil no longer has the right to act freely with authority and power over you. We have been set free. He must flee when we stand against him. God has given us the full armor of God to stand firm against the onslaughts of the Evil One.

Hebrew 2:14,15 (Wuest):

Therefore since the children share in common
with one another blood and flesh, He himself
also partook with them in the same, in order
that through the aforementioned death He might
render inoperative the one having the dominion
of death, that is the devil, and effect the release
of those, as many as who by reason of fear of
death through the entire course of their lives
were held in bondage.

Verse 14(b)(Moffatt):

So that by dying he might crush him who
wields the power of death (that is to say, the devil)

English Standard Version:

That through death he might destroy the one who
has the power of death, that is the devil.

Since the fall of Adam in the garden, the devil has wielded the power of death. Part of his dominion over the human race was in the form of death. Death has been an incredible weapon of destruction for Satan on the human race. Death is an enemy to every human being on the earth, and with its companion sin, the devil has held the human race in his firm grasp. The human race needed a Savior to be released from the bondage of sin and death. God in His goodness sent the Seed of the woman, His only begotten Son, to destroy death and its ruler, the devil.

The words “render inoperative” in verse 14 in the Greek mean: to render powerless; to make the force or power of something ineffective, crushing its power, and to nullify or void. It denotes a nonphysical destruction by a superior force coming in to
replace the force previously in effect. The word “dominion” in the Greek means:
strength, might, force, manifested power, and power in the sense of dominion. This brutal and horrible dominion of death, utilized so effectively by the devil, was broken at Calvary. The strength and might of death that the devil has used relentlessly as a weapon in every age of history was declared null and void. The major kingpin of his dominion and authority over the earth has been trampled under the feet of the Lord Jesus. God also promises in I Corinthians 15, and in the book of Revelation, that there is a day coming when this last enemy, death, will be completely destroyed off the face of the earth, and its sorrow, bondage, and destruction will be no more. There will absolutely be no death in the new heavens and earth promised in Revelation 21 and I Peter 3. This was all made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who crushed the serpent’s head.

I Timothy 1:10 (Amplified):

It is that purpose and grace which He has
now made known and has fully disclosed
and made real to us through the appearing
of our Savior Christ Jesus, Who annulled
death and made it of no effect and brought
life and immortality (immunity from eternal
death) to light through the Gospel.

New Living Translation:

And now he has made all of this plain to us
by the appearing of Christ Jesus, our Savior.
He broke the power of death and illuminated
the way to life and immortality through the
Good News.

The born again believer who has put his faith in Christ as his Savior cannot be defeated by spiritual or physical death. We have been reconciled to God in the new birth and made alive spiritually in Christ. We have been given the sure promise of everlasting life and spiritual death has been obliterated by Jesus Christ. Even if we die physically,
the Lord has promised that at the Rapture, he will raise us from the dead and give us a new glorious immortal body that is not subject to the jaws of death. The devil’s main tool in the battle between good and evil, the power of death, has been absolutely mortally wounded and crushed at the cross.

This dominion of death is completely inoperable, ineffective, and powerless against the Christian believer. We have been completely set free from the bondage of death. This does not mean that if the Lord tarries, that a Christian believer will not die, but that a Christian believer cannot be held captive or conquered by death. Physical death cannot hold your body in the grave, for there is a day coming when the Lord of glory is coming back; he will break the power of the grave and raise the physical body as incorruptible. Then we will be forever with the Lord throughout all eternity. Death will
never again raise its ugly head, as it is forever destroyed at the end of the great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20. In the new heavens and earth of Revelation 21, there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain. All of these things are gone forever. What a gospel! How good is the truth about the Seed of the woman, Jesus Christ! Death, the hated enemy, the feared enemy, the loathsome enemy, the painful enemy, the sorrowful enemy, and the wicked enemy has been broken and defeated by the Lord Jesus Christ. He swallowed up death in victory.

Romans 5:21 (Phillips):

The whole outlook changes-sin use to be the
master of men and in the end handed them
over to death: now grace is the ruling factor,
with righteousness as its purpose and
at its end the bringing of men to the eternal
life of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Corinthians 15:20-28; 51-57 (Message):

But the truth is Christ has been raised up,
the first in a long legacy of those who are
going to leave the cemeteries.

There is a nice symmetry to this: Death
initially came by a man, and resurrection
from death came by a man.

Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes
alive in Christ.

But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first,
then those with him at his Coming, the grand
consummation when, after crushing the
opposition, he hands over his kingdom to
God the Father.

He won’t let up until the last enemy is down-
and the very last enemy is death.

As the psalmist said “He laid them low,
one and all; he walked all over them.”

When Scripture says that “he walked all
over them,” its obvious that he couldn’t at the same time be walked on.

When everything and everyone is finally
under God’s rule, the Son will step down,
taking his place with everyone else, showing
that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive-
a perfect ending.

But let me tell you something wonderful…
On signal from that trumpet from heaven,
the dead will be up and out of the graves,
beyond the reach of death, never to die again.

At that same moment and in the same way,
we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme
of things, this has to happen: everything perishable
take off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable,
this mortal replaced by the immortal.

Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by
triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh Death?
Oh Death, whose afraid of you now?

It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code
guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power.
But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three-
Sin, guilt, death are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus
Christ. Thank God!

Death is the personal enemy of every human upon the face of the earth, and there is no deliverance from the power and strength of the grave without the Lord Jesus Christ. Death cannot be conquered by science; death cannot be overcome by a political decree; death cannot be eradicated by a vaccine, and death cannot be defeated by any earthly power. There will never be a fountain of youth or some magical spell or potion to obtain
eternal life. Death is the cruelest, most vicious, most sorrowful, most brutal, and most lethal curse on the human race. This curse of death pulsates through every cell of the human body like a corrupt virus, as no one can escape its power through their own strength, philosophy, or wisdom. Death does not bring you into some higher state of consciousness or being, but throws you into the decay and corruption of the grave. It is a life destroyer, happiness destroyer, family destroyer, society destroyer, and it has ripped the human heart to shreds with fear, sorrow, and pain since Adam’s high treason and the entrance of sin into the world. Death does not allow you to float around as a ghost and have free movement while you haunt or help people. Death does not bring you into a reincarnated new life form. This is a most certain truth-death does not bring life in any way, shape, or form. Without the Savior Jesus Christ, death is the end of all humanity.

Death cannot produce, generate, or refine life. Death is the end of life.

Do you see why death is such a curse and lethal enemy according to Scripture? Once you understand the brutal and permanent nature of death, you can really appreciate the total victory that Jesus Christ accomplished with his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is the master over death and the conqueror of the grave. Immortality only comes with the good news of Jesus Christ.

Death was not the only work of the devil that Jesus Christ destroyed. The purpose of the Son of God as the Seed of the Woman, and the second Adam was to crush the works, policies, purposes, schemes, plots, and designs of the devil.

I John 3:8 (b) (New King James):

For this purpose was the Son of God manifested,
that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Amplified:

The reason the Son of God was made manifest
(visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and
dissolve) the works the devil has done.

Phillips:

Now the Son of God came to earth with the express
purpose of undoing the devil’s work.

Wuest:

For this purpose there was manifested the Son of
God, in order that He might bring to naught the
works of the devil.

This is why the devil has such hatred and hostility toward Jesus for he came for the express purpose of destroying, undoing, dissolving, and bringing to naught the works of the devil. God sent His Son to a dying world for the glorious mission of obliterating the curse of sin, death, and bondage that corrupted the human race in the Garden of Eden. He was sent to restore God’s magnificent purpose and destiny for men, women, and children. God wanted to bring children into His family again who would be fully righteous, justified, sanctified, and redeemed and have complete, vital, and intimate communion and fellowship with Him. God wanted mankind to once again enjoy all the full blessings of the goodness of God. Jesus Christ was the ambassador of the goodness of God and paid the price for whomever wills to come and enjoy all the benefits of His goodness.

The word “destroy” is the Greek word luo, which means: to loose something tied
or bound, to break up that which is compacted together, to dissolve, to sever, to break in pieces, to set free, to melt and to demolish. The word means “a destruction by undoing or dissolving that which forms the bond of cohesion.” Jesus Christ came to loosen people from the works of the devil and set them free. We all had a bond of cohesion to Satan’s kingdom through sin and death, but Jesus Christ dissolved the bond, and we broke free. The word luo is used in the gospels when John the Baptist said that he was not worthy to unloose (luo) the thong or strap of Jesus’ sandals. This gives a great mind picture of Jesus unloosening the works of the devil in people’s lives, like un-strapping a sandal, so that the works can be thrown off of the body, heart, and soul of a person and one can enjoy true freedom.

The Greek word luo is used again in Acts 27:41 when the ship taking the Apostle Paul to Rome was “broken (luo) on the violence of the waves.” This was a huge boat with enough room for 276 people, yet the fierce strength of the waves shattered the hinder part of the boat into pieces. Many of the soldiers were saved by grabbing onto a broken piece of the ship and floating to shore. This should paint a vivid picture for you. Jesus Christ shattered the devil’s works into a million pieces by the awesome power of God. Like a ship helplessly run into the ground and continuously beat with the relentless pounding of the waves, Jesus Christ continually pounded the schemes, deceptions, and purposes of the devil with the great force of the Word of God. He was relentless in his destruction of the devil’s works, as the boat of Satan’s kingdom could not escape the light and truth of His purpose upon the earth. Jesus Christ shook and shattered the devil’s kingdom into broken pieces.

The Greek word luo is also used in II Peter 3:10,12 when the present heaven, earth and elements melt (luo) with fervent heat and dissolve (luo) by fire at the time of the last judgments described in the Book of Revelation. What a mind picture! For something to melt, you have to apply intense heat to it. It requires energy to melt anything. When increasing temperature is applied to an element and it melts, the energy being applied to it is greater than the energy holding it together. The heat overcomes the internal forces of attraction within the solid to transform it into a liquid. Thus it begins to change form and melt.

Jesus Christ put intense heat on the purposes, works, and schemes of the devil and melted and dissolved them. Jesus Christ operated spiritual power, and when this spiritual energy of God was applied to the works of the devil, it was greater than any force holding his works together. The power of God disintegrates any plot, scheme, or purpose of Satan and no matter how attractively it is held together by evil, it cannot overcome the energy and dynamic power that rest in God. Jesus Christ put the intense heat of the truth of the Word of God right upon the kingdom of darkness, and it shined as a brilliant light, exposing the wicked works of the Evil One. This white hot heat of God’s Word melted the hardened and callous hearts of many and melted the devil’s evil foothold of bondage that robs people of joy, peace, love, and wholeness.

Interestingly, this same Greek word, luo, is also used in John 10:35, when it declares, “the scripture cannot be broken (luo).” The devil can never break, dissolve, melt, or demolish the Word of God. I Peter 1:23 says that “the word of God lives and abides forever.” The Word of God is life. The Word of God is good, pure, powerful, and faithful. It cannot be dissolved away into nothing. No matter how much heat or pressure the devil applies to the Word, it does not melt under the burning heat. Satan does not have enough energy or power to break the Word of God. Jesus Christ is the living Word. The devil does not have enough energy or power to break or shatter the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Word of God is so powerful and so energetic that it dissolves and melts every evil work of Satan. Jesus Christ believed, obeyed, trusted, spoke, lived, studied, and knew the Word of God intimately and deeply. Jesus Christ’s main weapon in the destruction of the devil’s works is the Word of God. The Word was his sword of the Spirit. The devil cannot overcome the “It is written” mentality that Jesus Christ demonstrated during his temptations in the wilderness and throughout his ministry. Jesus Christ’s confrontation with the seed of the serpent was clearly defined in their first head to head battle in the wilderness, as Jesus Christ used the Word of God to back the devil down and defeat his temptations.

One of the devil’s main tools in his battle with the Seed of the woman is ignorance. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the great truths of the Bible. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the goodness and wonderful character of God. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the devil’s wicked kingdom on earth and his exercise of authority as the god of this age. Satan wants to keep people in the dark about the great victory of redemption, wholeness, healing, peace, and everlasting life available in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The devil loves to counterfeit the truth and goodness of God. The devil loves to deceive, to camouflage, to mislead, to masquerade, to impersonate, to lie, and to distract people away from the truth of God’s Word and the goodness of God. The devil counterfeits God’s Word with false religion, creeds, and philosophies to divert a person’s
attention away from a true knowledge of God. He masquerades evil as good and good as evil. He paints a picture of the true God as a cruel, vicious, uncaring, and evil God, responsible for all the calamity of the world. He makes people turn their back on God in disgust. He makes God seem distant, heartless, cold, and indifferent. He makes people
think the devil is an illusion of religious thought, a fictitious bogeyman, a myth for religious control, and simply non-existent.

Jesus Christ declared in the Gospel of John that “there is no truth in him (devil)” and he is “the father of lies.” Jesus Christ calls him “a murderer” and “a thief,” as all his works are set up to steal, kill, and destroy a person from receiving the life and goodness of God and the truth of His mighty Word. Jesus Christ exposed the snare of the devil and made known all his wicked works. Jesus Christ also made known God and His goodness in such a dynamic way, opening the eyes of those who had ears to hear and eyes to see. Jesus Christ came so that all His followers could know the truth of the Word of God and that this truth would set them free.

Acts 10:38 (English Standard Version):

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power. He went
about doing good and healing all that
were oppressed of the devil, for God
was with him.

Every action, every word and every work of Jesus Christ upon the earth was good. Jesus Christ destroyed, broke, melted, and unloosed the works of the devil by the goodness of God. Jesus Christ loved, had compassion, touched, healed, and enlightened; he taught, understood, cared, and reached out like no human being ever had on the face of the earth. Jesus Christ’s character, his habitual action, his personality, and manner of life was to do good. He was the Christ, the Anointed One, who lived, moved, and acted in all the authority and power of the Spirit of God. He made God’s goodness known by his words and actions. He revealed the truth of God’s goodness, grace, mercy, and love to a degree that had not been known since the Garden of Eden. He also shined a spotlight on the devil and his kingdom, exposing its methods, operation, and existence, which had never been previously known in the history of the world. God was with Jesus Christ every step of the way as he showed the people just how good God was, is, and always will be.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus did good by healing all those who were oppressed of the devil. The word “oppressed” in the Greek means: to exercise harsh control over someone, to exploit, to exercise control or power over someone, to be overpowered, to oppress harshly, to tyrannize, and to dominate someone. The word “heal” in the Greek means “to cure, to make whole, to cause to live and to revive or recover from illness. It refers to both physical and spiritual healing. Jesus Christ melted and destroyed the works of the devil by healing, reviving, and making whole all those who had been dominated, overpowered, oppressed harshly, and exploited by the devil. This was all part of his crushing of the head of the serpent. Jesus Christ is the great healer and restorer. No matter how harshly a person is oppressed by the devil, no matter how much a person is tyrannized by the devil, and no matter how much a person is dominated by the devil, none of the devil’s works can overpower the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ
brought the goodness of God into manifestation by healing all those oppressed by the devil.

The goodness of God heals, restores, revitalizes, recovers, makes whole, cures, sets free, delivers, and revives. Jesus Christ did the ultimate act of goodness by giving his life for you and me on the cross. When Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross, he was doing good. When Jesus Christ was being savagely beaten, whipped, and crushed, he was doing good, because he was bruised for our iniquities, wounded for our transgressions,
and by his stripes we were healed. In our redemption through the death and resurrection
of Jesus Christ, lies the ultimate deliverance and healing from every single oppression, exploitation, domination, depression, tyranny, and work of the devil.

The fatal wound to the head of the serpent was delivered at Calvary and the empty tomb. The death sentence to both the devil and all his works was shouted out to the human race with three words at Calvary and three words at the empty tomb. Jesus Christ cried out, “It is finished” at Calvary, and the angel proclaimed, “He is risen” at the empty tomb. What a Savior who brought us back to the goodness of God!

Luke 4:18 (Weymouth):

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because
He has anointed me to proclaim Good News
to the poor; He sent me to announce release
to the prisoners of war and recovery of sight
to the blind; to send away free those whose
tyranny has crushed.

We no longer have to be prisoners of war in the spiritual battle that rages with the devil. Jesus Christ opened the prison door of every tyranny of mind, body, heart, and soul and set us free. He crushed every tyrannical work of the devil that had previously broke our heart and spirit. He delivers all those who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity.

The main goal of all of the devil’s works is to separate and keep us from the heart of God. The devil set up many roadblocks and obstructions, beginning with sin and its consequences, that corrupted people’s relationship with God. Jesus Christ unloosed all the obstructions and cleared the pathway to the heart of God. He melted the devil’s work of separation and deception, and widely opened the door of access to our loving Father. Jesus Christ made it available that we might know Him and have full communion and intimacy with Him to such a degree that it overwhelms the heart. The human race feels restless, empty, unfulfilled, useless, valueless, and incomplete without a deep, vibrant, and living relationship with their Creator God Almighty. To know his love, to know his goodness, to know his justice, to know his righteousness, to know his mercy, to know his truth, and to know his faithfulness is the ultimate rush and thrill in life. How exciting to have God as your closest friend, your trusted advisor, your loving parent, and your strong protector. The devil does everything in his power to prevent this. He steals, kills and destroys to keep people from getting to know God on an intimate basis and understand the greatness of his good character. He spiritually blinds people to the heart of God and goodness of God.

John 1:17,18 (Amplified):

For while the Law was given through Moses,
grace (unearned, undeserved favor and
spiritual blessing) and truth came through
Jesus Christ.

No man has ever seen God at any time,
the only unique Son, or the only begotten
of God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate
presence of] the Father, He has declared
Him [He has revealed Him and brought
Him out where He can been seen; He has
interpreted Him and He has made Him
known].

The word “declared” in the Greek means: to make known, to unfold, to lead the way, and to make known by expounding.” Jesus Christ unfolded the heart of God to mankind that had never been known before in all of history. He revealed and made known the heart of God as a Father and showed the world His goodness in a way that had not been previously known. Jesus Christ led the way to knowing the God of all goodness, all light, all love, all truth, and all grace in such a deep and wonderful way that his words astonished all of Israel and eventually all of the world. Jesus Christ brought the truth about God’s goodness and His character to a sick, dying, and lost world. He opened the eyes spiritually of all those who believe to the true heart of God as good. He exposed the devil and his kingdom as the true origin of evil and all its consequences in the world.

How exciting is the adventure of life with God when you really know Him and His character? How thrilling and awesome is living when you begin to understand the depth of His goodness? Jesus Christ made it available that we might be alive to God, in God and for God. Jesus Christ made it available that we can live our lives in a vibrant, living union with God on the most intimate level that you can ever imagine. We, as a Christian church, must wake up to our calling to know His character, His goodness, and His Word, and to reach out to the world with the great message of His goodness and love. His goodness is unfathomable; it is endless; it is eternal, and it is indestructible. Jesus Christ melted the path to this heart of God.

There is no place on Earth like being in the heart of God. It is in the heart of God that you will find your freedom, your purpose, your healing, your deliverance, and your destiny. God wants to wrap His arms around you and hold you tightly in His bosom. He wants you to have a freedom encounter in His presence, where all the cares, burdens, pressures, and hassles of this life will melt away from your heart, as fear is replaced with faith, sadness with joy, depression with hope, and weakness with strength. The works of the devil in any shape, in any form, and in any manner cannot hold you any longer in their grip. The more you know and understand the heart of God and His goodness, the stronger and more joyful you will become. There is rest, peace, and true freedom when you live in the heart of God. The heart of God is always good. Evil cannot dwell or exist in the heart of God. The heart of God is love. God’s goodness and love are intertwined
and forever bound together as indestructible partners. Every action, every word, and
every work from the heart of God is good and rooted in His love. Jesus Christ made known as no other that the heart of God is goodness and love always without exception. No one had seen God or known God in the depth and to the degree that Jesus Christ
unfolded Him to the human race

In the great victory of the Seed of the woman, once last truth that we must deal with is the new creation. The word “seed” implies that there will be progeny, children, a newly birthed people out of the finished work of Jesus Christ. What absolutely crushed the devil’s purposes and schemes for the human race and completely blindsided him was the new creation that a man or woman becomes in Christ. This truth is an enormous aspect of the goodness Jesus Christ accomplished in His death and resurrection.

II Corinthians 5:17 (NIV):

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is
a new creation; the old is gone; the new
has come.

What a breathtaking truth that in Christ we are a new creation; we have a new divine nature; we are new people created in the likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we are His seed. The word “creation” in the Greek means: to bring something into existence
that has not existed before; the act of founding, establishing, and building through creation, and refers to God’s creative action. The word “new” in the Greek means: that which is new in kind or quality, and is something unprecedented, novel, uncommon, and unheard of. It relates to something not previously present. This word “new” does not mean that something is simply renovated, but something that it is entirely new in species and character.

By the divine act and will of God, He founded, established, and built a new spiritual nature in all born again believers. This new creation is of perfect quality and character, because it originates from the creative heart of God. It is absolutely unprecedented in the nature of a person because it is a divine seed planted by God. We become partakers of the divine nature, and in Christ we have a dynamically powerful new spiritual nature. This is a spiritual birth and the seed of God within us is permanent, incorruptible, and indestructible. Once you are born of your earthly parents, you are
always their child because you have their seed within you. The same holds true for the spiritual new birth in Christ, as this incorruptible seed of God is created within you, and you forever become God’s new spiritual son or daughter of God.

Bullinger, in his article “A New Creation” expounds on this new creation:

What is it to create? Not to change, not to
renovate, not to reform, not to improve,
not the old nature adorned and beautified,
not the flesh with its corruptions and lust
trimmed and trained; but it is the new and
Divine nature imparted, with all its spiritual
blessings and holy privileges. It is not the
old Adam made clean or religious, clothed
and adorned. No! It is something altogether
NEW. Therefore in Christ Jesus, I am a partaker
of the Divine nature; I am a partaker of His
Resurrection-life, according to the Father’s
promise…A new Divine nature is not a mere
influence, is not a mere passing religious
feeling induced by ravishing music or pathetic
story, but a real existence in living union with
a crucified, risen, exalted, glorified, coming
Lord. What a glorious union!

E. W. Kenyon, in The Bible in the Light of our Redemption, further elaborates on this new creation:

Down through the ages of human history, every step,
every dealing of God with man has been toward one
goal-a New Creation, a spiritual creation of man that
would free man completely from spiritual death and
satanic dominion…What a floodtide of human suffering
and misery has the reign of Satan brought to the human
heart…All human suffering is the result of Satan’s
lordship over humanity. Human suffering may be
caused by the cruelty and selfishness of others, by
our own sins, by sickness, by circumstance, but it may
all be traced to the reign of Satan. Therefore, man’s
difficulty centers in the need for a new Lord. Satan
is a hard taskmaster…The Lordship of Christ means
a New Nature, a New Family, a New Father. Christ
died and rose again that He might meet the need of
man for a new Lord…What a message of joy, what
glad tidings we have to bring to an unsaved world,
the message of this new Lord for man…By a man’s
calling unto this new Lord, the power and authority
of Satan will be broken over his life…Just as every
spiritual want of man centered in the lordship of
Satan over his life, every spiritual blessing centers
in the personal Lordship of Christ over a man’s
life. The man who has taken Jesus as Lord is blessed
with every spiritual blessing…The Lordship of Christ
means freedom from the reign of sin…Christ has
undone the works of Satan in the human heart. This
means that sin has absolutely lost its power over the
New Creation. . .

The sin nature has no power, no authority, and no mastery over the New Creation. Every spiritual blessing we have in Christ is wrapped up and inherent in this New Creation. No work of the devil can defeat or diminish or conquer this New Creation.

Satan had been the master of the human race from the Fall to the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, but in the resurrected and ascended Christ, a new day dawned for the world. The power of the great enemy, the crafty serpent, and deceitful slanderer has been permanently broken, crushed, and defeated in our wonderful Lord Jesus. We are a new people, a called out mighty seed, a glorious new creation clothed in righteousness, and holiness. We have a new Lord, who has ushered us into a new age of spiritual, mental, and physical freedom and the crushing of every yoke of bondage that has held us in its grasp. We have a new destiny, as sin and death are no longer our emperors and rulers to whom we must bow and serve.

David Needham, in Birthright, Christian, Do You Know Who You Are?, states:

I hope it will be clear that the answer to the problem
of sin and the despair of meaninglessness is found in
discovering the vast scope of the miracle God performed
when he saved you-a miracle that actually changed you…
By physical conception my parents gave me “flesh” birth.
It involved much more than me “getting something.” I
became a real, full-fledged, “flesh” person…Similarly
by the new birth, I became a brand-new kind of person…
The divine activity re-makes a man. He is born all over
again by the very Spirit of God…Perhaps this “new
personhood” idea seems far away from the daily activity
of your life. That still doesn’t change the basic fact. If
you have received the Savior, you simply are not the same
person you were before. When you were “in the flesh”
(Romans 8:9), life and meaning for you had to be found
right there-and there alone. Your brain, your emotions,
your senses, your creativity, your glands, your world
environment, your relationships-this was life. It could be
found nowhere else. But if you have been born again,
this is not so anymore, whether you know it or not.
You may weigh the same, look the same, feel the same
but you are not the same…God has not only justified
you and reconciled you, he has also birthed you…children
of God….Could this really be? “Children,” not by adoption,
but by birth. Yes, emphatically it is true…Even after it
was known the Savior had risen, seven weeks passed
before anyone grasped the pivotal importance of his death
and resurrection. Finally on the Day of Pentecost, the fire
fell; the Spirit came. From deep within “rivers of living
water” flowed…The risen Christ was dispensing LIFE.
By the new birth, realized in its fullness on the Day of
Pentecost, life was theirs as they never experienced it…
Life was now “resurrection life” The persons they use to
be, persons who only knew life in the flesh, had been
crucified with Christ. They were “risen with Christ,
“alive to God,” as they had never been alive…What does
all this mean? It means that by the new birth, you and I
are now participants in the ultimate new age of God’s
eternal purposes. We are living within the fulfillment of
the prophets’ aching dreams and God’s promised miracle.
We are now actually, the internally transformed citizens
in God’s kingdom of righteousness-where Jesus reigns,
within the kingdom of our hearts…Christ… is now
reproducing himself progressively in the lives of the
saints. .Now the last Adam [Christ]…is reproducing
his very life-his image-in us!…The image concept is
now more glorious than Adam, even in his innocence.
This is the new age. The consummation of all the ages
has begun. We are now by birth, by the Spirit, “the
children of God,” pulsating with the risen life of Jesus.
Some day, perhaps soon, it will reach its apex when
at last our “physical …bodies” will be transformed
into “spiritual bodies”-at the “redemption of our
bodies.”…The new aeon [age] which has dawned
with Christ, brings a new creation, the creation of
a new man…the union with Christ which brings
justification also brings new life…The believer
enters not just into a private relationship with Jesus,
but a new humanity in which he becomes a new
kind of man…Jesus Christ is no less than the
inaugurator of a new humanity. New age, new
humanity, new creation. We are both corporately
and individually-part of something which is the
capstone of everything God has or ever will do.

We are the blessed progeny, the new humanity, the new species, the seed of Christ, and children of the living God. We have the gift of holy spirit born within and the resurrection life of Jesus Christ pulsating and energizing every ounce of our being. We are infused with spiritual power from on high and the very divine nature of God. This is
what the human heart has been craving for since the fall of Adam: a new creation,
authored by God Almighty, that fundamentally changes who we are, and who we will be in the future. We have passed from death unto life, from sin unto righteousness, from condemnation to justification, from separation to reconciliation, and from enemies to
beloved children.

The first Adam’s disobedience produced a race of mortal people destined to die and to be ravaged by sin and its consequences. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, through his obedience, death, and resurrection is producing a race of people who will live forever and
be victorious over the terrible twins of sin and death and all their consequences. The first Adam produced a race of people born dead in sin and enslaved to the rule of Satan as the god of this world. The Last Adam made it available to all those who believe to be born again to life and to break the power of the devil’s kingdom in their lives. The last Adam is in the process of producing an everlasting race of perfect people who will one day live and reign with him forever upon a perfect earth. As sure as the sun rises every morning, the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, is coming back to establish his kingdom upon the earth. Nothing can stop it.

God’s original plan was to have many sons and daughters living in Paradise forever. The first Adam was supposed to be the father of such a perfect race, but he failed and sentenced the human race to sin and death when he disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. God’s dream, God’s intense desire, God’s ultimate plan after the Fall was to restore His original purpose of having birthed children live with Him forever on a perfect, beautiful, and amazing earth. The entire Bible points to Jesus Christ as being the agent, the mediator, the Savior, and the sacrifice that would bring about this restoration. The Last Adam, Jesus Christ, had to face the fierce enemies of sin, death, and the devil and he overwhelmingly conquered them all. He became the Head and Firstborn of all the redeemed born again believers whom he can rightfully call his brothers and sisters. He is not ashamed to do so, because he knows that they are birthed new creations in Him and sons and daughters of His heavenly Father.

We are new creations in Christ, because he set the pattern of who we become when we are born again in both resurrection life and a new glorious body at the Rapture, along with the power and ability to do his works and to walk like him in thought, deed, heart, and action. We have the mind of Christ, the heart of Christ, the ability of Christ, and the power of Christ born within us at the new birth. We can now touch and reach out to the world with the goodness of God. Our good works are rooted and grounded in Christ, and our new birth transformation. We can deeply affect the lives of so many people, because Jesus Christ lives through us. The goodness of God, the love of God, the mercies of God, the compassion of God, the tenderness of God, and the forgiveness of God are energized in us through Jesus Christ, so that we can go into all the world and preach the good news to every person.

Do you see where the battle lines are now drawn? Do you now understand in
more detail this battle of good and evil? Can you begin to see now that God is not the
originator or source of all the evils in this world? Can you see the goodness of God in providing for this wonderful new creation in Christ and not leaving the human race without hope?

In these chapters, we have studied in great detail the characteristics of the devil
and his authority that he exercises upon the earth. His hatred for God still rages and burns white hot, and his goal is to prevent as many people as he can from becoming new creations in Christ and having the guarantee of everlasting life. He wants them to remain under the penalty of sin and death without a Redeemer, Savior, or Liberator. He wants the
human race to worship him and all his false idols, and die in sin without ever coming to Christ. He does not want people to know the God of goodness or His amazing Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Last Adam. This battle for the heart and soul of every human on Earth explodes in intensity in every town, city, country, and continent. The devil does not want anyone to be touched by the goodness of the wonderful heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. He wants to turn people’s hearts and minds away from the goodness of God and the heart of God. Don’t let him do it. Don’t let evil triumph. Christians, we are on the front lines of this battle of good and evil. We must love like Jesus loved; we must touch the hearts of people like Jesus did; we must stand on the authority and power of the Word of God like Jesus did; we must have compassion like Jesus did; we must walk in spiritual power like Jesus did and in him continue to melt and destroy the works of the devil in our communities.

God needs you. God is relying on you. Take his message of goodness to the world. Show people just how good God really is and how much He cares for them. Testify to the greatness of His character, His majesty, and His love. Isn’t it about time as Christians that we put aside our petty bickering, our back stabbing, our judging, our selfishness, our hard hearts, our theological debates, and our hatred and reach out to others with the love of Christ? You can do it. You are a new creation in Christ. You are not the same person you were before Christ. Grow in Him. Grow in His goodness and love. Grow in your intimate union and fellowship with Him. Become rooted and grounded in His love and let Jesus dwell in every nook and cranny of your heart. We would absolutely revolutionize our communities and the world if we let Jesus live through us and reach out to people with his amazing love. The time is short; the day is at hand, and his coming is approaching closer each day. Make your heavenly Father and your Lord Jesus proud, as you stand up and fight the good fight of faith, proclaiming His goodness to a lost and desperate world.

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