Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Secrets of Blessedness - Psalm 119 (part 1)

"How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the LORD.
How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
who seek Him with all their heart.
They also do no unrighteousness;
they walk in His ways.
Thou hast ordained Thy precepts,
that we should keep them diligently."
(Psalm 119:1-4)

I'm not much into "4 easy steps to blessedness". Honestly, I'm not even much into "4 hard steps to blessedness." To shoot perfectly straight, I'm just not much into "my" doing anything that will gain me favor or privilege or greater acceptance or anything from God.

One thing that I have learned in my two decades of being in Christ is that I really can't "do" anything in and of myself to grant peace or prosperity -ie. blessedness. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow" (James 1:17). My justification is a gift from Him (Eph 2:8). My sanctification is a gift from Him (1 Cor 1:30). My glorification is a gift from Him (Rom 8:30). Every "good" work I do has been prepared beforehand by Him for me to walk in (Eph 2:10). Except for my sin, it is all of Him.

Just to be perfectly clear and redundantly repetitive - I do NOT think I can do even one little thing to earn anything from God.

That said, the Christian walk is at times a grand paradox. We are taught that God is sovereign and yet man is responsible. We are told that Man is to walk in obedience to Christ and yet man is to rest in Christ. Contradictions? No! Not at all! Paradox? Yes! Absolutely!

We are to work - but our work is the fruit of our salvation and not the root of our salvation. We are to do all things through Christ who strengthens us knowing that apart from Him we can do nothing. Our walking is a graciously enabled response to His working in us. Philippians 2:12 tells us to "work out our salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."

Psalm 119:1-4 is a description to us of the blessings that will come from working out that salvation which God is working in us. These are not steps that will get us in tighter with God. They are not ways to get to God and to seize His blessings. They are the epitome of Paul's words in Ephesians 2 where we are to walk in the good works that God has prepared for us. These 4 verses show the secrets of living in the Spirit empowered blessedness that God has secured for us through His own means of grace - in this context particularly the means of grace is the Word.

So, with that preface made, look with me at these 4 verses and let us pray that the grace of the Father which is bestowed upon us through the work of Christ and is made effectual through the power of the Holy Spirit would grant us true blessedness.

First, David tells us that blessedness comes from blamelessness. "How blessed are those whose way is blameless."

OK - left to myself I have already struck out. Game over. I lose. I am NOT blameless. On the contrary I am quite blameFULL and that is a prime example of the paradox of the Christian faith. Blessedness comes from blamelessness and blamelessness comes from Christ. I must rest in Him and in His finished work on Calvary's cross in order to have a blameless way.

The first secret of blessedness is simply a declaration of our need for the gospel! Do you want to be blessed? Then you must believe the gospel call that you are a sinner in need of a Savior and that Savior is Jesus Christ. He alone is the blameless One. He alone is the spotless Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. He alone is the perfect and unblemished sacrifice.

Romans 3 puts it this way:

"There is none righteous, not even one.... all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.... But now...the righteousness of God has been manifested...through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith."

Here's the first secret my friends. To be blessed we must be blameless and the only way to be blameless is to have the blamelessness of Christ imputed to us. We must be clothed in His blamelessness. Praise God for Christ who, by grace through faith, has put His righteous robe on me. In Him I am MADE blameless. In Him I am declared righteous. Through His redeeming work on my behalf He has taken my sin upon Himself and has given me His righteousness. Indeed, I am blessed are you?!

Second, blessedness comes from obedience. How blessed are those who "walk in the law of the LORD" and "observe His testimonies".

Blessed are those who, by grace, live a life that is ruled, guided and guarded by the Word of God. That Word is the rule of faith and practice and in it's precepts true peace and joy are found. We are to do more than simply know it, cherish it, meditate upon it, and esteem it. We are to walk in it and observe it. It is to be our compass and we are to follow where it leads. We are to be not only hearers of the Word but doers as well. Are you among the blessed who are actively walking in the law of the Lord? May the Blameless Christ help us to walk in His ways and observe His testimonies. He has told us "If you love Me you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

Third, blessedness comes from fully searching after Christ. Blessed are those who "seek Him with all their heart."

Half-heartedness is not the stream from which blessedness flows. We are to have "a single eye to God as our chief good and our highest end" (Matthew Henry). Are we seeking Him above all else? Are we seeking HIM or are we seeking what He gives? I suppose to put it bluntly what do we want more HIM or blessedness? He is not a genie in a bottle. He is God and He Himself is our blessedness. Seek Him first. Seek Him wholeheartedly. Seek Him above all other things. Oh Christ, our blameless surety, make us to seek You and not merely your benefits!

Fourth, blessedness comes from staying far away from sin. Blessed are those who "do no unrighteousness."

In many ways this is merely the flip-side of the second secret. Here is a two-edged coin. We are to walk in His ways and we are NOT to walk in world's ways. We are to be clothed in Christ's righteousness and we are to at all costs avoid putting on the rags of unrighteousness. Avoid it, my friends! It will seek to trick you. Its counterfeit claims will seek to deceive you. Do not listen to the siren's song of sin. Unrighteousness seems pleasant for a season but then it rises up as a deadly viper and strikes its venomous blow crippling and crushing and destroying those who sought pleasure in its mesmerizing dance. Do you long for true blessedness? You will not find it in sin. Unrighteousness always leads to death and misery. Christ-righteousness always leads to life and blessing. (Romans 6:23)

Do you long to be blessed? Psalm 119 lets us in on the secrets of blessedness. Christ is the fount from which it flows. His Word is the path by which we follow the blessed stream. He Himself is the refreshing water which we seek. However, beware, there are sneaky, slithering serpents who would seek to muddy the waters of blessedness.

God "has ordained [His] precepts that we should keep them diligently." By grace, through faith, in the blameless power of Christ keep them diligently for in keeping them is the great reward of blessedness.

Blameless in Him, walking in His strength,

No comments:

Post a Comment