Purity in an impure world

Last week I discussed Psalms 119:1-8. If in fact it is a psalm of David, this helps understand his inner tensions with his own impurity and his pursuit of living such a life. For David, the key to achieving a blameless life is by obeying God’s law. It is the same key to achieving and maintaining moral purity.

In verses 9-16 of this Psalm, how to maintain the moral purity of a legally blameless life is the question answered.

How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
 

As we saw last week, the key to achieving a blameless life begins with seeking to know God. It is a genuine relationship with God that results in true holiness. That is, no human can become like God with knowing, learning from, and emulating God. Just as kids emulate parents attitudes and behaviors, so it is by imitating God.

David repeats it in verse 10:

With all my heart I have sought you;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.
 

How in the world can anyone seriously expect to emulate God who they can not see? The answer to that question was answered by Jesus of Nazareth. As you have seen me you have seen the Father. (Jo. 12:45; 14:7-15) Jesus also said what he saw the Father doing, he did likewise. What God his Father taught him, that was what he taught others. The life of Jesus demonstrated was the holiness and everlasting of God. Therefore, we should emulate it too.

There remains a problem. After his resurrection, Jesus ascended to the throne of God. Since then, no one has seen or heard Jesus emulating God. The good news is the problem of no visible example of God-likeness is resolved by the succession of followers of Jesus. Apostle Paul told the followers of Christ to “[b]e imitators of me, just as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) Dr. Jon Young, pastor of Dayton Avenue Baptist Church, extends this is all followers of Christ. As we obey and live out the word of God, our lives will be living translations of the likeness of God and His way.

The point here is that Jesus did not come into the world to abolish the law (word) of God. He came to fulfill it. (Mt. 5:14-20) This was repeated by John, who put it this way: “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” (1 Jo. 5:3) Paul expressed essentially the same thing when he wrote: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal. 5:14)

That is how purity once achieved is maintained.

As David answers the question in verse 1, purity is maintained by:

Seeking God and his righteousness with all your heart, soul, and strength; (v.10; Mat. 6:33; Deut. 6:5)
 
Safe guarding the treasures of God’s word in your heart; (v. 11; Mat. 6:19-21)
 
Speaking about how God has made the law and promises a reality; (v. 12-13; Dt. 6:5-7; Mat. 10:31-32)
 
Rejoicing in the rich adventure and process of the word made life; (v. 14; Mat. 13: 45-46; Prov. 3:13-24)
 
Meditating on the word in order to continue learning and to remember. (v. 15-16; Deut. 6:8-9; Jo. 7-11)
 

The underlying current of the above is religious or ritual practices; it is love. Those who love God commit to seeking God, learning of God, treasuring shared experiences with God, and the rejoicing with God in them. It is a personal life shared with God and Jesus. It is shared because it is the loving relationship initiated by God (1 Jo 4:10) and continued by our response and continued commitment to that God who first loved us.

Psalms 119: 1-16 is the expression of love towards God. The life of Israel and the Jews began as an expression of God’s love leading to freedom. David is here returning that love through his desire to live faithfully in that relationship. Prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah spoke of the failure of Israel to do likewise. They envisioned the day of a New Covenant in which love and faithfulness would be the enduring reality of God’s chosen people. Jesus has furthered that new covenant to all peoples of all races, languages, and nations. For he is that covenant spoken of by the prophet Isaiah. (Isa. 49:6; 53:1-12) Now, all who keep the commandments of God and Christ show their abiding love for the true and living God.

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