Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #293 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 119:1-24 today and our focus is on How Can We Sin Less and Obey God More? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Psalm 119 – the single longest chapter in the Bible, and one of the most profound. It is all about how we can and should delight in God’s Word – His commands, His decrees and His teachings. The focus of the Psalmist in this longest of Psalms is on God’s Word, and it’s power. One of my heroes, William Wilberforce, memorized this Psalm, and would recite it and meditate on it as he walked around his home, which is pretty remarkable, considering this Psalm has almost 2500 words, and takes up almost 8 full pages. WIlberforce was a strong Christian and the British member of Parliament who led the charge to abolish slavery in England, several decades before the United States abolished slavery.
An issue that is raised at the very beginning of this Psalm is: How can we sin less? That is a very strange question to grapple with, but a most important one for anybody who wants to please God, knowing that our sins hinder, at best, our relationship with God, as we see in passages like Isaiah 59:2
But your iniquities are separating you
from your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you
so that he does not listen.
Sin is dangerous in so many ways, but, if we are being honest – it is hard for us to sin less or to stop sinning. Most would advocate some sort of self-control, or self-discipline, and I believe there can be some benefit there, as self-control is most certainly a fruit of the Spirit, which means that, the more we abide in Jesus and His Word, the more the fruit of self-control will manifest in our lives. Our Psalm today is going to give us a means to win the war against sin, but not by our might or power, but by something much stronger than we are and even much stronger than sin. Here is the key:
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping your word.
10 I have sought you with all my heart;
don’t let me wander from your commands.
11 I have treasured your word in my heart
so that I may not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11
In keeping God’s Word – listening to it, remembering it, honoring it, treasuring it, and obeying it, we can walk in greater purity, says our Psalm today. Further, this Psalm by an unknown author, tells us that by treasuring God’s Word in our heart, it will help us not sin against God.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is yet another one of my heroes. He was a German pastor who utterly opposed Nazism and the rise of Adolf Hitler in the years leading up to World War 2, which ultimately cost him his life. Bonhoeffer wrote a commentary on Psalm 119 and said:
: “Therefore, it is never sufficient simply to have read God’s Word. It must penetrate deep within us, dwell in us, like the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary, so that we do not sin in thought, word or deed”
Bonhoeffer’s life showed the fruit of this practice – it wasn’t just words for him. In fact, Bonhoeffer’s years of Scripture meditation may have benefited him in his final years, months and days in prison. Even when he knew he would be executed, he continued to be characterized by joy and peace. Bonhoeffer’s outlook was witnessed by British officer Captain S. Payne Best. Best was captured by the Gestapo in 1939. They were fellow prisoners during Bonhoeffer’s final weeks. Best wrote that Bonhoeffer: “was all humility and sweetness; he always seemed to diffuse an atmosphere of happiness, of joy in the very smallest event in life, and a deep gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive…He was one of the very few men I have ever met to whom his God was real and ever close to him“ In a letter to Bonhoeffer’s family, Captain Best wrote that “Bonhoeffer was different (from the other prisoners); just quite calm and normal, seemingly perfect at ease…his soul really shone in the dark desperation of our prison.
The Word of God in us transforms us…but it must be INSIDE of us, so says the great poet and hymnodist William Cowper, who wrote:
There is great difference between Christians and worldlings. The worldling hath his treasure in jewels without him; the Christian hath them within. Neither indeed is there any receptacle wherein to receive and keep the word of consolation but the heart only. If thou have it in thy mouth only, it shall be taken from thee; if thou have it in thy book only, thou shall miss it when thou hast most to do with it; but if thou lay it up in thy heart, as Mary did the words of the angel, no enemy shall ever be able to take it from thee, and thou shalt find it a comfortable treasure in the time of thy need…Among many excellent virtues of the word of God, this is one; that if we keep it in our heart, it keeps us from sin, which is against God and against ourselves. We may mark it by experience, that the word is first stolen either out of the mind of man, and the remembrance of it is away; or at least out of the affection of man; so that the reverence of it is gone, before that a man can be drawn to the committing of a sin. So long as Eve kept by faith the word of the Lord, she resisted Satan; but from the time she doubted of that, which God made most certain by his word, at once she was snared.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David: Psalms 111-119, vol. 5 (London; Edinburgh; New York: Marshall Brothers, n.d.), 165–166.
A warning that must be heeded – let’s read the beginning of our Psalm.
Bible Memory passage for the month of October: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
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