Psalm 119:1-3

The Biblical Christian

All sermons preached by the webmaster may be freely copied, printed and distributed. We ask only that the site name and homepage URL be included in all copies distributed. Thankyou. This sermon was preached on Sunday 2/11/01 Am, by Kevin Matthews. It was the first part of a continuing series on Psalm 119.

 

 

‘Everywhere there is apathy. Nobody cares whether that which is preached is true or false. A sermon is a sermon whatever the subject; only, the shorter it is the better.’

C.H. Spurgeon

 

These are the words of one of the greatest preachers that ever lived, from just over a century ago. How relevant they still are today; only the situation is much worse. Everywhere exists indifference to God’s Word, even among those who profess to believe it. It suits Christians to ignore the words of Scripture when it doesn’t suit their own practices, or their own views on doctrine, rather than submit to Scripture. These people place themselves above it.

Today we have various forms of Christians getting about. There are those who go to church, and there are those who do not. There are those who read their Bibles and there are those that do not. There are those who are serious about living the Christian life and there are those who are not. And you could add to this list all manner of modern day Christian types - but the fact remains that the Bible knows of only one sort of Christian, the Biblical sort.

I have entitled the sermon this morning as ‘The Biblical Christian.’ We will be looking at the first three verses of Psalm 119 today as we investigate just what the Bible owns as a Christian, the Biblical Christian.

Psalm 119 reflects upon the circumstances and providences of David’s walk before God, as they came to him in the course of his everyday life, and how God’s Word bears upon each and every one of those circumstances and providences, excluding none.

In short, Psalm 119 gives us instruction on how a person professing to be a Christian will react to the varying situations of life. In other words, how the Biblical Christian lives in this world.

Psalm 119 is an acrostic Psalm, meaning that it has 22 stanzas according to the Hebrew alphabet, with each stanza beginning with the corresponding letter of that alphabet. In other words, it is an alphabet of different thoughts and reflections upon the Psalmist's life and experiences, and how the Word of God impacts upon each one. It is God’s acrostic answer to the question of how seriously a Christian should take his walk before Him, and how serious a part the Word of God has in it.

As a professing Christian today, you need to study this Psalm. Today we tend to be moved by earthly values, our own appetites, our ambitions, by money, by personal security, by position, and not by the values that are laid down in the Word of God. Worldliness has invaded the church and has captured many. The behaviour of professing Christians is more influenced by the latest peer standards of fun and pleasure than by what accords to godliness, as outlined in the Bible.

Many professing Christians therefore stand at a crossroads, where the choice is either God’s way or their own way. Hence it is important this morning that you study this Psalm with me, that both you and I may ascertain just what it is that God calls a Biblical Christian.

There are three points to consider this morning:

  1. The Biblical Christian is Saved (V1a).
  2. The Biblical Christian Lives for God (Vv1b,2).
  3. The Biblical Christian Forsakes Sin (V3).

 

#1. The Biblical Christian is Saved (V1a)

This first section of Psalm 119 is a preface, and therefore it introduces to us the distinguishing characteristics of a Christian, with the rest of the Psalm expanding upon these thoughts. These marks we would expect to find in every Christian without exception.

The most primary and obvious mark is so obvious and simple that we could almost miss it.‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD (119:1)!’

There are two ways to live in this world. ‘And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others (Eph 2:1-3),' slaves to sin. We had ‘no hope in this world,' ‘But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries (Heb 10:27).’ By nature we were doomed to eternal punishment in Hell, sinners polluted with the contagion of original sin, so that everything we did was stained by sin. This is the way of all that have never called on God for salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ - This is you if you are without the Lord Jesus Christ.

The other way is God’s way, an ‘undefiled way.’ Undefiled not because we are without sin but because we are considered as blameless by virtue of our union with the Lord Jesus Christ who is without sin. ‘ For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor 5:21).’We are undefiled in the way because we are clothed with the righteousness of Christ, being justified by faith (Rom 5:1-5).

Do you see then why the person in Psalm 119 is described as blessed, or perfectly happy? It’s because he is righteous in Christ, and looks forward to an eternity with his God.

Now does that mean that everyone who says, ‘yes I’m a Christian, I believe’ is a Christian? The answer to that of course is no!

The foundation of our acceptance with God is Christ alone, but the fruit and proof of our being in Christ is a life that lives for God, and that forsakes sin. These two things are distinguishing characteristics that are so tied up with being in Christ, that they cannot be divorced from Him. This is why David describes the one blessed as being ‘undefiled in the way,’ as those who keep God’s testimonies with the whole heart, and as those who do no iniquity - these are the evidences of being a Biblical Christian.

Be not deceived then - by simply going to church, professing the name of a Christian, and doing other ‘Christian’ things does not mean that you are a Christian in the Biblical sense - yes it might be today’s definition, but you may yet hear ‘depart from Me, I never knew you.’

So I hope you can see why I think we are at an important crossroads then - because some think that they can live any way they want and still have a mansion in heaven. Please heed the warning of Matthew 7:21-23, ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’

If you do not believe in Jesus Christ for you’re salvation, then I plead with you this morning to end the charade and repent, believe the gospel!

 

#2. The Biblical Christian Lives For God (Vv 1b,2)

So having dealt with the first point, lets look a little closer at these two distinguishing marks of the Biblical Christian. Firstly, the Biblical Christian lives for God.‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart (1:1,2)!’ What David does here in a very concise way is to describe the mindset of a Christian. He is not saying that he is perfect, for the rest of the Psalm points out that that is not so. But he is one ‘who walks in the way of the Lord.’

So what does this mean then?

The ‘Law of the Lord’ in this verse is the word translated from the Hebrew ‘torah.’ It is a word that is used to describe the whole body of God’s Word. In other words it is a general description for the whole counsel of God.

So when a person is described as one who ‘walks in the way of the Lord,’ the thought is that of moving onward in a path of obedience, submission, and trust, to the will of God as expressed in the written Word of God, without exception.

He is also described as one ‘who keeps His testimonies.’ And by this word testimonies, the Psalmist means the whole declaration of God’s will, teaching, commands, examples, promises, and so on.

Ask yourselves, ‘Am I governing my life according to the expressed will of God as revealed in the Bible? Am I believing what the Word of God actually teaches, or am I following some traditional idea that was passed onto me long ago?’ What is it with you?

In other words the Christian in the Biblical sense is the one who has a concern to do all that God says, to believe all that God teaches, and that without reservation. For here the passage continues with, ‘that seek him with the whole heart!’

The Christian is not just following a set of rules then, though he does indeed live by the Book; for in doing what he does he is demonstrating a determination, a devotion and a passion for God. He wants God, He goes after God, and that with all that he is - seeking Him with a heart that burns for God. Ask yourselves, ‘Am I offering myself up as a living sacrifice unto God?’

So what then does this mean for you’re life?

Firstly it means that there are no time outs in living the Christian life. The Biblical Christian does not clock in and clock out from living the Christian life each day. In every situation, and at every moment, the Christian strives to live for God with a holy passion from the heart.

When you think about attending a party or a function, do you think about how you are expected to behave there as a member of God’s Kingdom? You should. When you think about what direction your future will take, do you submit that future to the teaching of the Word of God? You should.

There is to be no Christian mask that you just take off and put on at your own fancy - No, the Biblical Christian choses to live for Christ in every situation all of the time.

Secondly it means that the Christian does not pick and choose. The Biblical Christian isn’t interested in setting aside parts of God’s Word that may be considered culturally irrelevant, inconsistent with his/her system of belief, that impinges on his/her fun, that is perceived to be out-dated, and so on. The Christian’s desire is to keep the whole of God’s Word, and to not go against any of it.

Thirdly, the Biblical Christian wants to learn God’s Word, so that he/she can walk in God’s way for God. ‘Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee (119:11).’

The Christian’s desire and determination is to set aside a time each day when he/she can read and study the Word. He lives for God from his heart, and burning within is this desire to be in the Word, to learn more and more. And by this I mean not just a quick 2-minute devotional time that yields no real spiritual food, but a real digging into the Word. You wouldn’t spend a mere 2 minutes each day seeking to sustain your physical body, and so you ought not to spend a mere minute or two feeding the spiritual - it simply is not enough, and is a reflection on how seriously you regard you’re walk with the Lord.

This then is the first distinguishing characteristic of the Biblical Christian - that he lives for God.

 

#3. The Biblical Christian Forsakes Sin (V3)

Not only does the Biblical Christian live for God, he also forsakes what he once was. In other words his life is marked by a continuing attitude of repentance, determining to be done with sin. ‘They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways (Ps 119:3).’

The Psalm says that Christians ‘also do no iniquity.’ Yet we know that though we are determined to be done with sin, we are not perfect - we sin. Why then does this passage say that Christian’s ‘also do no iniquity?’

It is here that we need to remember that this passage is a preface to the Psalm, and that it is purposely giving us a very brief and concise statement or summary of the Christian life, and that here with this phrase it gives us a very brief and concise summary of the Christian’s attitude toward sin.

So what is it saying then? The passage is telling us that we are no longer defiled because we are regarded as being in Christ, covered with His righteousness and having had our sin debt met in Him. Our way is God’s way, and it is therefore not the way of sin, so we do not deliberately move to sin. In short, the passage is describing the Christian’s governing attitude toward sin - no sin. Sin ought not to be the thing that highlights the life of a Christian.

‘For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin (Rom 7:22-25).’

The Biblical view is that the Christian seeks God’s way, and not that of sin. The passage is describing the overall bent of the Christian, to not sin.

So what does this mean for the Biblical Christian? Firstly it means that we will give no occasion for the flesh. ‘And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof (Rom 13:11-14).’

There are many situations, many circumstances, and even people that seem to stir sin up within us - it might be television viewing, the beach, and people who always use bad language, and so on. Because the Christian is for God we strive to eliminate from our lives those situations that influence us to sin - we flee from them as Joseph did from Potipher’s wife.

You know what these things are for you - surely it is better to enter into the kingdom maimed then to attempt to enter it with these things still hanging from us.

Secondly, and this follows on from the previous thought very closely, we desire to be done with sin. ‘For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live (Rom 8:13).’ ‘That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts (Eph 4:22).’

When we see sin rise up within us, we are determined to stamp it out, to kill it off. And this is so whether it be a formally loved sin, a small sin, a recurring sin, a funny sin, or whatever sort of sin it might be - we see these as an offence against God, and therefore we seek to destroy them.

We ask the Lord’s forgiveness, and the Holy Spirit’s ability and enablement to deal with the sin. Search the Word of God for ammunition against the sin, batter it with prayer and Scripture, and refuse to yield to it - want nothing more to do with it.

So this is what it means to be a Biblical Christian - the preface to Psalm 119 challenges us who profess Christ to therefore follow through that profession by following Christ in every situation.

And those here this morning who may be kidding themselves with some other form of Christianity I confront you with the claims of Scripture, and plead with you to examine yourself in the light of Scripture - for if you continue with a profession of Christianity removed from that which Scripture describes, the words ‘Depart from Me for I never knew you’ do indeed await you.

"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God (Jn 3:18-21)."

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UPDATED: 19 April 2014

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