Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Psalm 119:1-8 NIV (A Personal Closer Look)

1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.
4 You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
6 Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
7 I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.
8 I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.

I've been talking with a guy who is a close friend of mine and he's been kind of struggling with his own perception of right and wrong. Everyone has standards for his or her own life. It's like a person's own line in the sand. Example: I'll get super mad at my Mom and be disrespectful, but I won't hit someone in anger. Or: I'll drive five miles over the speed limit, but I won't make illegal left turns. Personal perception of right and wrong and all the varying degrees therein.

I'm hearing someone think, "So what?" Well, we've just identified a form of "law". Only this law is human law, carnal law, Sam's law of relatively bad behavior. And this kind of law gives us trouble!

My friend was considering doing something, and was running into some difficulty going ahead with it with a clear and easy heart. One reason for worry was that he was concerned with what others would think, what others would say. Another reason for worry, an even bigger one in my opinion, was that he wasn't sure whether God considered what he was about to do a sin. Frustrated, he said, "I wish there was a list of do's and don'ts! Then I wouldn't have to worry about anything!"

I've felt like that before. We get into this formulaic mindset, where all we want is a list of rules. Just a list of rules, so that it's easy. Don't have to think about it, don't have to go ask God about anything, just consult the list and go on living our own lives.

Ps. 119:
1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord.
2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.
3 They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.

The problem with wanting a list like that is that it isn't easy. The Israelites could tell us how NOT easy it was. Things happen, and there are so many variables to deal with in actual, real life situations that a concrete rule can't allow for. When we're rules focused we're also sin conscious, so we're missing it there too!

Man! Harsh!

There is hope though! In Galatians 5:1 it says: "It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yolk of slavery." What were we set free from? Sin and death!! And what was the yolk that harnessed us to our sins? LAW!! The law condemned us. So what did God do? He didn't just make a bunch of add-ons and adjustments to the law, He sent Jesus to take the punishment in our place, and gave us a new law, a simpler law, a law that established grace, mercy, and relationship as the rule!!

How many of you hate when you call customer service and get those automated things? "For problems with the billing department, press one. For the claims department, press 2." I get SO frustrated when my problem doesn't fit their list!! I'm always so RELIEVED to talk to a live person, I end up being so sweet and nice, I almost don't get my issue resolved!! Think of your life like that. God wanted to take out the inflexibility of "The LAW" and instead deal with you one-on-one!

Paul said it like this:
Galatians 5:4-6 You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Galatians 5:16
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

My advice to my friend? Talk to God!! Get to know God!! Ask Him what is good and upright. Seek Him, get to know Him, learn to love Him, and then you won't be asking for a list! You'll be naturally serving God and doing what is right.

Ephesians 5:8-9
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.