Friday, July 29, 2022

Six Reasons You May Not Be In a Biblical Church

Six Reasons You May Not Be In a Biblical Church

Reason 1: The Bible Must Be The Only Rule of Faith and Practice

If your “church” accepts anything, and I do mean anything, other than the Bible as the Word of God and rule for the Christian life, you are not in a Biblical Church.

Here are some examples, If the pastor, founder or leader is called a prophet, or an apostle and claims to receive direct revelation from God outside of or in contradiction to the Bible, then that is not Biblical.

People like, Ellen G. White who founded the 7th Day Adventists, claimed to have received over 2,000 visions and dreams from God.

The founder of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith said he saw Jesus, or an angel, or Jesu and God, in a vision and was given a Golden Book, containing the Book of Mormon.

Mary Baker Eddy the founder of Christian Science published "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" She claimed it was the final revelation of God to mankind and asserted that her work was inspired of God.

You must also understand that the tongues, Pentecostal, and Charismatic movements all fall into this category and in fact are the most successful and flagrant disregarders of God’s word.

When, the church practices tongues, signs, prophetic utterances, etc. that are all extra-Biblical. This “personal revelation” from God can and often does supersede and ignore the teaching of the Word.

Instead of one founder or leader thinking they are hearing directly from God now an entire “church” believes they have a direct pipeline of pure revelation. Accordingly there is no longer a need to study the Bible according to the principles of hermeneutics or even read the Bible since tongues, visions, feelings and prophecies are a much faster, fresher and direct channel to God.

Rule: The Bible Must Be The Only Authority For A Believer

The Bible is the final authority in all matters of belief and practice because the Bible is God's very word and carries the absolute authority of God Himself. Where the Bible speaks we must speak and where it is silent we should be silent. What it commands we must do. What it prohibits we must avoid. There is no authority equal to the Bible and no person or group may change, add to, override or contradict that  authority. It was completed with the book of Revelation and is true in every word and thought.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

2 Peter 1:20, 21 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Jude 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Matthew 5:17-19 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Proverbs 30:6  Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

Reason 2: Only Local Church Authority

If your “church” is not a Holy Spirit led democracy but instead the pastor, elders or a board govern the church, over and above the members of the church, you aren’t in a Biblical church.

Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Catholics all believe that the local church has no authority and that all local churches are under the power of the “Church Hierarchy.” A Pope, or Bishops, or Elders or Presbytery control and dictate to the local churches.  In addition any pastor within a local church who usurps the authority of that body is no longer leading a Biblical church.

Rule: The Local Church Is Independent and Autonomous

A true, Biblical church is an independent body accountable only to the Lord Jesus Christ, who founded it and is its head. All authority for governing the local church resides within the local church itself. The church is autonomous, or self-governing. No religious power or hierarchy outside the local church may dictate a church's beliefs or practices. A true church may and should fellowship with other churches around mutual interests, but that church cannot be a "member" of any other body nor under the authority of any organization outside the church in matters of the Gospel and Great Commission.

Acts 5:29 - Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Colossians 1:18 - And he (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 19, 23 - Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:

Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.

Reason 3: A Direct Personal Relationship With God

If a “church” uses an intermediary between the believer and God, either in prayers or instruction then that is not a Biblical church.

In the Catholic church, priests take confession from members of the church and absolve them of their sin, rather than the individual going directly to God for forgiveness. It does not have to be as formal as a confessional booth however, In some “churches” a prophet, or pastor acts as God’s intermediary without ever donning a robe or lighting a candle. When any person stand between you and your direct relationship and prayers to God, you are not in a Biblical church.

Rule: Every Believer Is His Own Priest

Every true believer is a priest of God and may enter into His presence directly through our Great High Priest, Jesus Christ. No other mediator is needed between God and His people. As priests, we can study God's Word, pray for others, and offer spiritual worship to God. We all have equal access to God because each of us is indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God.

1 Peter 2:5, 9 - Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Revelation 5:9-10 - And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.

Hebrews 4:14-16 - Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Rom 8:26-27 - Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Reason 4: Church Ordinances and Offices Not In The Bible

If you are a member of a group of people who call themselves a church but who have rituals, practices, offices or ordinances that were not in the first church founded by Jesus Christ, then you are probably not a member of a Biblical Church.

The examples of these extra-biblical false practices are everywhere among religious people. Practices such as the Catholic Mass and their Seven Sacraments,  the Mormon church’s Baptism for the dead, even the infant baptism of the Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians is not found in scripture and has been added by the wisdom of men rather than the revelation of God in His word.

Rule: There Are Only Two Ordinances

The local church should practice two and only two ordinances, the baptism of believers by immersion in water, identifying the individual with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and The Lord’s Supper, a memorial of His death upon the cross for us. These ordinances are purely symbolic and have no saving or sustaining merit in themselves.

Matthew 28:19 – 20 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:  Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you I, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

1 Corinthians 11:23-26 - For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Rule: There Are Only Two Offices In The Church

The Bible mandates only two offices in the church--pastor and deacon. The terms pastor, elder, bishop, or overseer all refer to the same office. The two offices of pastor and deacon exist within the local church, and are elected or removed by the authority of the local church and only the local church.

1 Timothy 3:1,8 - This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work..

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;

Acts 20:17, 28 - And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood

Philippians 1:1-2  Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:  Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Reason 5 Freedom of Conscience aka Liberty of the Soul

If the organization you belong to has ever held the same power as the civil government or state  and if that power was used to dictate what anyone should or must believe, then you are not in a Biblical church. If your “church” is or ever was a “state” church, it is not a Bible based church.

The historic examples like the Holy Roman Empire, the Lutheran Church of German, the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, the Anglican Church of England all show us historically the danger of such organizations and the Bible shows us the doctrinal error.

Rule: Individual Soul Liberty

Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the his own heart as regards spiritual truth. No one should be forced to profess a belief against his own convictions or will.

Romans 14:5, 12-13 - One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

2 Corinthians 4:2 - But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

Titus 1:9 - Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Rule: Separation of Church and State

God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government's purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and the church's purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christian influence should be exerted through opinion and the election of moral leaders by involved Christians as well as praying for our leaders but the line between influence and control must be clearly understood.

Romans 13:1-7 - Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.   For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.     Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

Matthew 22:15-22 - Then went the Pharisees and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?   Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s. When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Reason 6 Salvation and Church membership

If a “church” makes a person a member by any other means than by a profession of faith and voluntary submission to baptism and the church, then that church is not a Biblical church.

Example: Infant baptism makes a baby a member of the church even before it can talk. A person is considered a member of a church because of their parents, nationality or background.

Rule: Only The Saved and Scripturally Baptized Can Be Church Members

Local church membership is restricted to individuals who give a believable testimony of personal faith in Christ and have publicly identified themselves with Him in believer's baptism. Salvation is by grace through faith and is once for all. Salvation cannot be earned but only received as a gift of God through faith. Once a person truly believes, they can never be lost again, they are eternally secure by the power of God. Membership in the church is based upon baptism by immersion of an individual old enough to understand the consequences of sin and the choice they must make in Christ.

Acts 2:41-47 - Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

2 Corinthians 6:14 - Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Ephesians 4:3-4 - Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

Matthew 3:13-16 - Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Acts 8:36-39 - And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.


There are millions and millions of good people good Christians in organization that do lots of good things and yet they are not members of a church according to the rules and examples we see in scripture. You don’t have to be a member of a Biblical church to be saved, but the odds of knowing how to be saved in a counterfeit church will not in your favor. If they are so wrong about so much then they are probably wrong so vital a truth as how to be saved by grace through faith.   

If you are saved, then find a church that meets the Bible standards we studied. If you are depending on your church and your connection to it, to save you, then you really are not in a true church and a lot more is at stake than just these teaching points.

Accept Jesus as your personal savior, and by faith accept His death upon the cross as God’s gift of grace. This is salvation and when salvation is real, then finding the real church will be a lot easier with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and God’s word.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Psalms Through the Summer 10 A Psalms of Self - Psalms 39:1-13

Psalms Through the Summer 10 A Psalms of Self
- Psalms 39:1-13

You know something that is really great about being a Christian? Yes, there are a lot of great things about Christianity. Things like a home in heaven and eternal life are ours just by putting our faith in Jesus as our savior and that is really great. But, this morning I want to look at something that is great but doesn’t wait until we die in order to begin. This great thing is possible because God is a God of forgiveness, of second chances and second winds. This means that even the most defeated, devastated and depleted Christian can turn to God after failing miserably and completely and God forgives and says, “Okay, let’s take what you’ve learned and go on from here.” Now that is really is great.

It’s a little like the story of the man who was working his first day on the job. He was a truck driver for a glassware company.  He was pulling out of the factory with his first load, when he lost control of his truck and ran into a side-swiped a brick wall right outside the factory gate. All the glass came loose from the truck and crashed into the street.  All the traffic stopped and because it was a busy downtown street a crowd gathered around.  The truck driver got out and looked at the mess knowing he was in trouble.  

A well-dressed older gentleman walked out from the crowd and walked up to the driver.   “Son, are you alright?” he asked.  “Yes, sir,” the driver replied.  “What do you think is going to happen because you wrecked this truck?”  “Well, sir,” I guess I’m going to lose my job.”   

The old man turned to the crowd, quite large by now and said, “Good people, this man is going to lose his job because of the unfortunate wreck he had today. I wonder if all of us could put just a little in the hat to help him out.”  With that he threw in a $50 bill. The rest of the people were so moved by the example of  kindly old man that they generously gave. When the hat was return there was over $1000 dollars for the driver.

“Here, the man said, Give this to your supervisor, tell him what happened and you won’t get fired.” Then he handed the money to the driver, put on his hat and walked away.

One of the bystanders walked up to the driver and said, “That sure was a kind-hearted man.”

“Yes, replied the driver, “And he’s a pretty smart boss, too!”

That’s the way it is with our God.  I can mess things up terribly but in Him I am still able to find victory in defeat, strength in weakness and success in failure.  

The Path of the Summer Psalms So Far (Background and Review)

I thought I would be out of the 30s last week, but then I read Psalm 39 and its theme seemed  relevant to us as well-meaning but fallible humans, it is another Psalms that has that supernatural ability to show me myself and in spite of my mistakes and failures give me hope.

This is the 10th sermon in the series. Look back for a moment at what we discovered in the books of Psalms.

In Psalms 1 we were given the theme to the overall collection of the 5 books of the Psalms and in a sense the theme of our life as a child of God. Psalms 1:1-2  Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

In Psalms 8 we learned who and what man is through a personal relationship with his creator. Psalms 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Then in Psalms 20 We saw the importance of remembering and trusting in God. Psalms 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.

Psalms 23 was a song of praise for the protection the Lord Our Shepherd. Psalms 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

Next we jumped all the way to Psalms 127 to celebrate Father’s day and our children’s dedication. 

Psalms 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

Psalms 27 was a Psalms about overcoming fear, Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalm 33 was about God and our country Psalms 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Psalm 32 was a Psalms of Forgiveness, Psalms 32:1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

And then last week we were in Psalm 31 which dealt with both our fear and our faith, existing at the same time in us.  Psalms 31:1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed.

Introduction to Psalms 39 This morning we are in Psalms 39. Let me give you a little background. The Psalms is written to “Jeduthun” whose name occurs in the superscriptions of psalms 39; 62 and 77. He was one of David’s three chief musicians, the other two being Asaph and Heman. It may be that David sent the Psalms to Jeduthun, who was also known as Ethan, in order for him to set it to music or to prepare it for singing by the Levitical choir in the Temple.

The 39th Psalms is a confession psalm though it is not counted in the seven “Penitential Psalms” we talked about before. In this Psalms, David begins by trying to do something right but that despite his best intentions, he fails. And though that failure he learns a great deal about himself and about his Lord. Look at vss. 1-3

Self-Righteous Failure - Psalm 39:1-3

I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred.  My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue.

David’s Intention Inverted

David set himself good goal. He was determined to do something good, something for the Lord. It’s here in vs. 1, I said, I will take heed to my ways so that I won’t sin with my speech. I will control my words while in the presence of unbelievers, the wicked.

Now that is a good goal, that is something admirable. Every child of God should understand that our speech is a reflection of us and our God to a lost world and be careful with our words.
Many places in the Bible teach this truth. Just take a glance at one place in the book of Proverbs.

Proverbs 12:16-19 A fool's wrath is presently known: but a prudent man covereth shame.

He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit.

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.

The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

So David understood this and he wanted to speak and act right. So far, so good, but I want you to notice the use of the first person in David’s goal.

I will take heed, I will keep my mouth.

His intentions were good, but in relying upon himself ultimately, he failed.

You can see the result of David’s reliance on his own self-righteousness in vs. 2. He says, “I was dumb with silence, I held my peace even from good and my sorrow was stirred.” That is not the result he was looking for. He didn’t want to become mute and unable to say anything, even something good or praiseworthy.

Ultimately, in this task he set for himself he fails. In vs. 3 we read, “My heart was hot within me, then spoke I with my tongue.” The very thing he said he wouldn’t do, he did. He couldn’t hold it in and so when the self-control of his tongue got to be too much, he lost control of his speech and failed in the good goal he had set for himself.

Trying and Failing

Now doesn’t that sound familiar? Isn’t that like us? We are determined to do good but too often we fail. Our own attempts at setting goals and trying to do what is good and right, instead are turned upside down and inside out.

Yes, you have the best of intentions, the highest ideals that you want to achieve.

It might be like David’s watching what I say, not speaking in anger, or profanity or taking the name of the Lord God in vain.

James in his epistle speaks strongly about this, James 3:5-6, 9-10 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. … Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

But our goal for good can be something else beside our speech that we are trying to control. It could be a sinful habit. A sinful habit is one that has the potential to destroy your reputation, your family, your walk with God or even your body. It can be something like smoking, or alcohol, or pornography, or drugs or sexual immorality or maybe just laziness. What the Bible calls being a sluggard. (There’s a word you don’t need a theological dictionary to understand.)

It might also be a character flaw that causes sin, like anger, gossip, or bitterness.

It could even be our own soul’s salvation.  Either in trying to obtain it or trying to keep it by my own goodness or self-righteousness.

If we determine as David did, that in my own power I will do this or I will do this, then also like David we will fail. Like the poet and King of Israel, the best we can come to is a paralysis of our self, unable to do anything good or bad. Can I give you another good word that fits here. We become moribund, in a state of dying. Finally, in our frustration, we just quit trying and we fail. I’ve been there, you have been there and many children of God having arrived at this state of dying, just give up and quit. That is not the result David arrived at, it is surely not what God intends.

It is not the goal that was wrong, it was the way we tried to get to the goal. We simply can’t find victory or salvation in our own power, our own self-righteousness.

Paul teaches about this very aspect of the believer’s struggle in Romans 7:13-15 Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.

The idea of bringing about good or being good by your own self-righteousness is what the Pharisees believed. And look at what Jesus said to them in Matthew 23.

Matt. 23:25-28  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

If you could fool yourself into thinking you can do good and great things for God in your own power and righteousness, that is a form of legalism and Jesus condemned the Pharisees for that very flaw.

Kill The Spider

Once there was a man who always prayed the same “full of good intentions” prayer, “Oh, Lord, I need to sweep the cobwebs of sin out of my life” and then he would name various sin cobwebs that kept cluttering up his life. Finally, one day he was in a prayer meeting next to an old deacon of the church, who had heard this “cobwebs of sin” prayer for years and when the man said, “Lord, I need to sweep the cobwebs of sin out of my life,” the deacon interrupted and said, “Lord if you don’t mind, would you just kill that lousy spider.”

What we need to understand is that only the Lord can defeat sin, on my own it will always defeat me, just like it did David.

And that brings us to the next part of this psalm about self. We must understand that we will fail if we try in our own self-righteousness, our own power or our own goodness. When we know that, then we can move on to find real fulfillment through an honest self-evaluation.

Self-Evaluation Fulfillment - Psalms 39:4-6

LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. Surely every man walketh in a vain shew: surely they are disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.

David’s Inward Inspection

After his failure David does some soul searching, some self-evaluation. He turns to the Lord and prays, “Make me to know my end, the measure of my days, how frail I am.” He asks God to help him understand how weak and impotent he is. David, see this as God reveals how short life is.

He then comes to the self-realization about himself and an understanding about God. He says in vs. 5, “thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state (as good as he ever can be) is altogether vanity.”

Everything that man can do, all his accomplishments, all his riches are just empty because life is short. Riches are heaped up and left for someone else.

Again, James echoes this same truth in James 4:13-14, “ye say, To day or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

That is the truth that David’s self-evaluation showed him. From the perspective of eternity, from the perspective of God in relationship to him, his power and goodness cannot compare to God’s power and goodness. Our goodness compared to God is like our life on this earth compared to God’s eternity. Now David understands this and in turning his failure over to God, he finds the fulfillment he originally sought by trying to good. It wasn’t in his goodness for God, but it his surrender to God.

Searching and Finding

Most of us, most of the time can’t, don’t or won’t examine ourselves correctly and truthfully and because we can’t see ourselves as God sees us we can’t overcome the things that cause us to fail even when we have the best of intentions to do what is right.

Paul speaks of the need for self-evaluation, self-examination twice in his letters to the church at Corinth. In 1 Corinthians 11:28 speaking about the Lord’s supper he says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” Later in the second letter to the church he writes in 2 Corinthians 13:5, Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”

Well, how do we “examine” ourselves as believers, as Christians? The Bible tells us that the heart is desperately wicked and so we can’t depend on our feelings or even our own conscience. What we need is an outside arbitrator, an unbiased appraisal, and the only place we can find that is in the Word of God. There we can see ourselves as God sees us and then the Holy Spirit can show us who we really are.

In Hebrews 4:12-13 Paul tells us, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” That sword that divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow. That sword that discerns thought and intents, that sword will not allow any to hide from God’s eyes is meant to be used upon ourselves. As we read it, as we study it, as we hear it the Holy Spirit wields that sword and shows us ourselves through God’s eyes.

And the Sword of God’s Word reveals so much.

It tells us we are sinful. Psalms 14: 2-3  The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

It tells us as it did David, that we are weak, life is short and we waste it if we fight God, Psalms 90: 9-12 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath

The Bible tells us that we need God and if we call, He will save.  Psalms 61:1-4 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.

Self-examination from God’s perspective, through God’s word, is eternally imperative. Yet, many refuse to see the truth of who they are, the truth of who we all are. The truth from God’s viewpoint is that we are sinful, weak and we cannot help ourselves. And there can be no change, no help until we see ourselves in that truth. Face the truth for there is salvation and hope on the other side of that examination.

I once had a man in my church, he was my song leader and a sweet, sweet man, but he was also often afraid of facing some truths in his own life. Not spiritual truths in this case but let me give you an example of what I mean. He once came to me for prayer because he was afraid he might have cancer. So, we talked and we prayed and I asked him what the doctor had said. He replied, “Oh I haven’t gone to the doctor.” I asked, “Well why in the world haven’t you gone to the doctor? He said, “Because If I go to the doctor,  I’m afraid he’ll tell me I really do have cancer!” Now this was before the internet where you can look up all manner of diseases to give yourself without seeing a doctor.

Another time he asked the church to prayer for his eyes because he thought he was going blind. This went on for weeks, maybe months. We put him on the church prayer list for his deteriorating eyes. Then one day he came to church full of joy and with a big ol’ smile on his face and he had a great smile. He told us that God had answered the prayers about his eyes. It turned out, he exclaimed, he only needed new glasses! Yes, that’s right. He was so afraid of being told he was going blind that he wouldn’t go in for an eye exam and instead walked around in fear for months squinting at everything.

Now we can see the humor in that situation but when it comes to seeing ourselves in the light of God’s word and eternity, that is not something we can afford to laugh at. Its not something we dare ignore or delay. “Exam yourself” in God’s word now.

So now, David tried in his own righteousness, and he failed. But, in that failure he turns to God and asks, “Lord, make me to know my end and the measure of my days. Show me who I am in light of your eternity.”  What’s next after David’s journey of self-discovery? Look at vss. 7-13 where David comes to a finale of self-realization, the last stanza of this Psalm and the finish line for a child of God.

Self-Realization Finale - Psalms 39:7-13

And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee. Deliver me from all my transgressions: make me not the reproach of the foolish. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it. Remove thy stroke away from me: I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity. Selah. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

David’s Indestructible Identity

David comes to this realization, this truth, this reality, that his only hope is in the Lord. Psalms 39:7 “Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.”

David after his failure and through examining himself, calls upon God.

He now knows his own strength will fail. He understands that his best intentions will collapse. That there is no hope in himself but in God there was a deep and vast well of hope that would never run dry. When David sees himself in God then he is indestructible.

In vss 8-11 he confesses his sin and recounts how God works even through failure, to show the reality of who he is. Then, using his own experience, David says this is true for all men. Psalms 39:11 “When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty (his pride, his strength, his goodness) to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity.” Every man, no except to this rule, every man is nothing.
Now we come to the final part of David’s self-discovery and this is what he realizes about himself. That in order to discover and know himself, David must go outside himself to God.

Look at vss. 12-13 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

He sees himself and he calls out in sorrow “at my tears,” he calls out in loneliness “a stranger and a sojourner and he calls out in weakness “that I may recover strength.”

What did David finally realize? That there was nothing in himself without God. That the only power, goodness or strength in David had to come through God, “What wait I for? My hope is in Thee.”  

Confessing and Understanding

I don’t have to tell you that confessing is an essential element in the Christian life and in our relationship with God. Here is what I must confess after I try and fail, “My hope is in Thee.”

Oh, yes, I am weak, but God is powerful. I’m no good but God is utterly holy. I will fail over and over again, but God has never lost a single battle or made a single mistake. I am nothing and I can offer nothing but in God, though Jesus Christ, I have all things.

2 Peter 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Yet, this does not come passively to my life. It is not an automatic infusion. No, for in order to find the strength, goodness and the victory in myself, I must call upon God. This is exactly what David did here in, Psalms 39:12 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry. That is exactly what I must do.

It’s also what the blind man on the Jericho Road did. He had no pretense of anything he could do. He just needed Jesus.

The Blind Man on the Jericho Road. Mark 10:46-52

And they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 48  And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 49  And Jesus stood still and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus in the way.
The best Bartimaeus could do was sit by the side of the road that ran from Jericho to Jerusalem and beg. He couldn’t be a dedicated farmer, he couldn’t be a brave soldier, he couldn’t be a wise scribe. His best was just to be a beggar. Until he heard that Jesus was passing by, and he knew that if things were to change, if he would have sight, then he had to call out to Jesus. No matter how much they told him to be quiet, he just called out louder, a deal more,  “Jesus, Messiah, Son of David have mercy on me!”

When they brought him to Jesus, he found everything he did not have and could never have. It was all right there, found in Jesus.  


And what of us this morning? Isn’t David’s Psalm of good intentions but ultimate failure our Psalm also? Isn’t Bartimaeus life of blindness our life as well? Then shouldn’t David’s prayer and Bartimaeus cry also be ours?

“What hope have I? My hope is in thee. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Monday, July 18, 2022

Psalms Through the Summer #9 A Psalms of Confidence and Doubt - Psalm 31

Psalms Through the Summer #9
A Psalms of Confidence and Doubt - Psalm 31

Do you remember the story of Jesus and the father whose son was possed by a terrible demon? It's in Mark 9:21-24 And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. – Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

The honesty and turmoil of that father is also glimpsed in Psalm 31. It is a psalm about confidence and doubt, trust and worry, faith and fear. Because just like the father in Mark 9, if we are honest with ourselves and with God, we will confess that yes we trust God but we still afraid. We have faith but that does not mean doubt and fear no longer exist. This is one of the elements that makes Psalms such a window into the human condition and the reality of a believer’s life and struggles. Some of our most fierce and frequent battles are within ourselves between faith and fear.

So, let’s look at Psalms 31 and see how David fought this battle in his own heart.

Trust In Thee  Psalms 31:1-8

1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; Let me never be ashamed: Deliver me in thy righteousness. 2 Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: Be thou my strong rock, For an house of defence to save me. 3 For thou art my rock and my fortress; Therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. 4 Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: For thou art my strength. 5 Into thine hand I commit my spirit: Thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth. 6 I have hated them that regard lying vanities: But I trust in the LORD. 7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: For thou hast considered my trouble; Thou hast known my soul in adversities; 8 And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: Thou hast set my feet in a large room.

The King’s Call

David calls out in faith, “In Thee, O Lord Jehovah, do I put my trust.” And then this statement of faith is tinged with worry. In Thee, O Lord, I put my faith, please don’t let me be ashamed.”  
His faith is based not in a cause or a creed or an abstract idea but in the someone. Someone he knew and trusted. His faith was placed in the person and character of God.

His call to God is a plea and you can hear the struggle that David is going through as he calls out to his God. We don’t know the reason that David wrote this Psalms, it could have been during any of the hard times that he fought through. Perhaps when he was running from Saul and hiding, or as an outcast in Ziklag. It could have been written during the worst time of David’s life when his son Absalom led a coupe against him and David had to flee his own capital city. They conspired against him and even his own advisor Ahithophel, one of David’s closest advisor turned against him.

No wonder we can hear brokenness and the anxiety in David’s voice throughout this Psalm. Always believing who God is, always trusting in God’s power but still fearful because of what was happening in his life. He calls out, Jehovah, Bow down thine ear and hear me. Lord, deliver me quickly, God, be my strong Rock and fortress. Lord, can you hear me, I need help and I need it now, I need you to rise to my defense.

But that fear does not in any way deny his faith. We hear David’s faith as he declares, “You are my rock and fortress, there is nowhere else I can find refuge. I’m trusting in you and pleading that for thy names sake, your character, your love, your greatness, lead me and guide me. You are my strength.”

Then in vs 5 we hear a very familiar phrase, for the first time in the Bible it is uttered here, “ Into thine hand I commit my spirit.” He had committed the spark of life, his spirit, into the care and keeping of God’s strong hand. The word “commit” p̱âqaḏ in the Hebrew, here means to deposit or leave in owns care, to give in trust or charge, to place in another’s custody.
David looks to God and says, I give myself, my life, my hope to you, my God. He knew that God had redeemed him and now in these dire straits of his life, he was calling out in faith, despite the fear trusting that God would save him again.

He finishes this first stanza of the Psalms with his own personal statement of faith and declaration of hope. Psalms 31:6-8 I trust in the LORD. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room. God will not let my enemies hem me in, not let them surround me, He has given me breathing room, maneuvering room. My enemies tried to trap me, but God has freed me from the trap.

The Christian’s Call

I’ve never been on the run physically as David might have been here. I’ve never had my family or friends conspire against me. (Though I had a board of deacons do that.) Though I’ve never been in the exact situation, David was in, I hear his words echo in my own heart as if they were mine. When those times of trouble come to me and to you, even as children of God, believers in Jesus Christ, I still must face the reality of my faith in God mixed with my fear of what might or might not happen.

I pray to God. I talk to God. I may even weep before God. Yes, I confirm my faith. God I put my trust in you. You are my rock, my fortress. I have none other but thee. And even with those pleas of faith, there is fear in my voice as it was in David’s. God, are you listening? Don’t let me down now.

You know, we can’t deny the anxiety, the fear and the worry, but what we must do is counter that fear with something that is just as real and more powerful, our faith in our almighty God. We must what David did, commit our spirit, deposit ourselves into the care and keeping of the Lord.

We must deposit ourselves in First Universal Bank and Trust of Jehovah, Athens Texas branch. When I deposit money in the bank, I am showing my faith in that bank. I believe it is safe, I don’t worry about that money. (Now, I worry about not having enough money but that’s a sermon for another day.)

To make through our own dire straits, our own troubles and problems,  I must fully commit, myself into God’s love, mercy, strength and grace. My worries, fears, doubts, troubles, pain and guilt must be committed to God.

Often when I pray during troubling times, I picture myself bowing before the throne of grace and whatever it is that is causing the doubts and fears. I picture as a burden that I place at the feet of the One on the Throne. I give it to him and then I turn and walk away, believing that He can and will deal with the things that had overwhelmed me.

Christ's Call On The Cross

Do you know why the phrase “Into thy hands I commit my spirit” is so familiar? It because we hear it from the lips of Jesus, our savior on the cross. In Luke 23:44-46 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit. In Greek it is the same word, to place in one’s care, to deposit for safe keeping. That is what Jesus did. That is what David did. And through the years how many precious saints with their last breaths have whispered those same words? "Into thy hands I commit my spirit. "

God the Father didn’t fail Jesus, His son. He didn’t fail His King, David. I don’t believe He ever failed a single saint thoughout the centuries and I know he won’t fail you or I.

Now in vss 9-18 David continues his plea but it subtly changes. He now calls out for God’s mercy.

Mercy From Thee  Psalms 31:9-18

9 Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: Mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

Depths of David’s Despair

He calls out, “ Oh, God have mercy on me.” Then he reveals the true depths of his hurt condition. Listen, “Mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. 10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: My strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed. 11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, But especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: They that did see me without fled from me. 12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. 13 For I have heard the slander of many: Fear was on every side: While they took counsel together against me, They devised to take away my life.

His troubles had caused his strength to collapse. There was simply nothing in David left. He was empty. There was no one, there was no power left in himself for this battle. “I am like a broken vessel.”

Where could David go now, in such a state of weakness and brokenness? It seems as though the battle was over and David had lost. But that isn't what happened. David won back his throne, won back his kingdom and the reason is in the next few verses.  

Again listen to David’s voice in Psalms 31:14-16 But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake.

David’s despair, his seeming defeat drove him deeper into God’s grace and mercy. He says my times, my life’s boundaries, its beginning and end are in your hands, my God. He once again declares the reality of his trust and bases that trust on God’s mercy. “Save me for thy mercies sake.”

This word “mercy” we talked several times in our series on the Psalms. It is "hesed" in Hebrew it speaks of God’s kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, His lovingkindness, His mercy. And David says that’s all I’m asking for, just show me mercy and grace.

Driven Deeper To The Depths of God’s Grace

Do you know one of the landmarks of Christian growth and maturity is realizing the purpose of trails in our life, the reason that God that allows pain, sorrow and loss in our walk with Him. It is not because He can’t take the pain away. Nor is it because He doesn’t love us. The reason is actually because He loves us and wants us to experience the depths of His love even through the depths of despair.

This is one of the great themes of the New Testament.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul wrote, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Peter in his epistle wrote in 1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

When I struggle. Even when I am broken and beaten it is at those times that I am driven by that suffering further into the arms of Jesus. Jesus, who knows true suffering. Jesus who took on the pain of the world. Jesus who was tortured, persecuted, tormented and humiliated. Jesus who even died and endured separation from His Father while on the cross. Jesus knows and He has the grace and mercy that are my only recourse, my only hope in this world. Like David I must be driven deeper and flee further into His mercy, grace and love.

I must come to that place as David did, “God my life’s boundaries are in your hand. It is only by you that I live or die.”

Pressed Out.

Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length.
Pressed so intensely it seems beyond strength;
Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,
Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll;
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends,
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.
Yet, Pressed into loving the staff and the rod,
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings,
Pressed into faith for impossible things,
Pressed into living a life in the Lord;
Pressed into living a Christ-life out poured! - Walter B. Knight

There is one last stanza of this heart Psalms. It is that praise that could only be written by someone who had gone through what David had endure and found God’s grace at the end of that trial. That struggle ends in Praise.

Praise Unto Thee - Psalms 31: 19-22

19 Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; Which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee Before the sons of men! 20 Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. 21 Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city. 22 For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: Nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.

Past The Pain Is Praise

Even before he experiences deliverance, David praises God for His promises. He says How great is your goodness. Goodness that You have laid up in promise for them that trust you.” That goodness, mercy, grace is already there waiting just waiting for God people to appropriate. Just waiting for them to reach out and make it their own through faith.

David says, you will hide them in the secret of thy presence. How inspired is that thought?

He confesses his fear, “ I said in my haste, I am cut off.” David admits even his doubts even while he was praying, but God is greater than doubts. Doubts and fears cannot stop the loving kindness of God. “Nevertheless, Despite the doubts you heard the voice of my plea when I cried out to you. “

Prepare For Praise

The 31st Psalm, though written by David, speaks for me as I read it and can’t you hear your voice there as well? Here is my faith, laid right beside my fear. Its utterly true but I also know as true that past the pain is the promise of praise. I may doubt and fear like the disciples when Jesus was dead and buried but also like the disciples, I have the promises that Jesus gave and after those dark days they learned what praise and power truly were.
My doubts and fears are real, but they cannot overpower the promises of God. Listen to the almost 100 year old, last living apostle John talking to his children in the faith in 1 John 3:19-21. “And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.”  
Aren’t you glad? Isn’t it worthy of praise? That God is greater than our hearts, greater than out doubts, greater than our fear. Greater than our brokenness and emptiness. Praise and deliverance doesn’t depend on me, it depends on God and He has never been and never will be broken or empty.

Through It All

I've had many tears and sorrows
I've had questions for tomorrow
There's been times I didn't know right from wrong
But in every situation
God gave blessed consolation
That He only gave trials to only make me strong

Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to trust in Jesus
I've learned to trust in God
Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to depend upon His Word

I thank God for the mountains
And I thank Him for the valleys
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through
For if I'd never had a problem
How would I know God could solve them
How would I know what faith in God could do

Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to trust in Jesus
I've learned to trust in God

Through it all
Through it all
I've learned to depend upon His Word
Oh I’ve learned to depend upon His world

Conclusion – Psalm 31:23-24

23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints: For the LORD preserveth the faithful, And plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. 24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, All ye that hope in the LORD.

At the end of a trial of faith, or the end of the trail of our life, hold on to what David says in this last verse. Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart. Everyone, all of us that hope in the Lord. Be of good courage.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Psalms Through the Summer #8: Blessed Is The Forgiven – Ps 32

Psalms Through the Summer #8: Blessed Is The Forgiven – Ps 32

 Psalms 32 is a “penitential” psalm, a psalms of repentance and seeking God’s forgiveness. This is the second of the seven penitential or repentance psalms. The penitential psalms are Psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143.

It is probable that David wrote the 32 Psalms after confessing his sin with Bathsheba. He was guilty of adultery, murder, and covering up the sin. But of course you cannot hide sin from God.  Some commentators say that God gave David a year to confess and repent but he did not. It was not until the prophet Nathan told David a story about a poor shepherd whose treasured lamb was stolen and killed by a rich neighbor that David was forced to confront his own sin. When he condemned the man in the story, Nathan pointed at the King and said those famous words, “Thou art the man!”

In Psalms 51:13 David vows  to God, “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

When God forgave David, David promised to teach transgressors the way and sinners shall be converted, turned around. Psalm 32 could be seen as a partial fulfillment of David's vow to teach sinners.

This is also the first “Maschil” psalm. The others are in Psalm 42, 44, 45, 52–55, 74, 78, 88, 89, 142. This is one of those Hebrew words that are difficult to interpret because the only context we have for the word is that it is found as a label on those Psalm. The word is understood in several different ways. It is called “a skillful song, or a song of instruction, or a contemplative poem.” The word means “instruction” and is translated that way in verse 8. However, Maschil may be a musical direction, the meaning of which is still unknown.

Psalms 32 is recited by Jewish worshippers on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is also seen as linked to Psalms 33 that we used as our text last week. Psalm 32 is about personal rejoicing for forgiveness, while Psalm 33 is about national rejoicing for God’s grace.

The Blessedness of Forgiveness. – Psalm 32:1-4

​ Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

David Is Blessed By God’s Forgiveness

David begins with this proclamation, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgive, whose sin is covered, whom God imputes no iniquity and whose spririt is guileless. The word blessed you already know mean happy and to be envied. Here we would read it, “Oh, the happiness of the forgiven!”

David uses three words to describe his and our sin,

(1) transgression from the Hebrew, פֶּשַׁע p̱eša‘; which means a revolt,  rebellion, sin, transgression, trespass. (2) sin is ḥăṭâ’â; which is an offence, it is the missing God’s way; and (3) iniquity which comes from  עָוֹן ‘âôn; or עָווֹן ‘avown  aw-vone; from which means perversity, moral evil, fault, iniquity, mischief, distortion, and crookedness.

David uses no euphemisms to minimize the depth of sin. He doesn’t say, “Oh, sorry, I guess I made a mistake.” Don’t you hate the phrase, “My bad.” Well David doesn’t tell God, “My Bad.” No, he makes it clear what sin really is. David rebelled against God. He missed God’s way because he walked away from God’s way and he committed the worst kind of  iniquity. What he did was perverse and evil in the sight of God and man.

But this Psalms is not about sin and its repugnance to God, it is about sin and its forgiveness by God.

David now uses three words that deal with forgiveness.

The word (1) forgiven, this is the Hebrew word, “נָשָׂא nâśâ’; it literally means to lift and here it would mean that God has lifted David’s burden, he guilt and sin, away. He says that his sin has been (2) covered. This is כָּסָה ḵâsâ and it means covering the offense from sight  and (3) imputeth not. חָשַׁב ḥâšaḇ, to be released legally from a debt.

For David this state of forgiveness is a blessing. He is blessed because God covered his sin and released him from its full spiritual accounting. “Psalms 32:1 Blessed is the person whose transgression is forgiven,”

David can appreciate his now blessed state because he had been in just the opposite state, a condition of cursedness, for a year while he tried to ignore his own guilt and hide his sin from God.

In vss. 3-4 we can see his state before he was forgiven. Psalms 32:3-4, He says, When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long.
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.

He was affected physically by his refusal to deal with his sin, he seemed to feel old and ached in his bones. Because of that pain, he roared or groaned all day long. Day and night felt like God chastising him it was as if God was pressing him down with his hand. He felt dried up like a man in the midst of a drought.

Finding The Blessing of Forgiveness

If you are a child of God, you can’t be happy, you can’t be blessed if you sin and refuse to seek God’s forgiveness through confession of that sin. David tried and it broke him. The truth is that unconfessed sin will break us all.

Charles Spurgeon said this, “God does not permit His children to sin successfully.”

John Donne wrote, “Sin is a serpent, and he that covers sin does but keep it warm, that it may sting the more fiercely, and disperse the venom and malignity thereof the more effectually.”

God won’t let his children dwell in sin. We will feel the pressure of his chastening hand upon our life. Unconfronted, hidden sin in our life, separates us from God.

This is what Isiah said, in Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:  But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”

Sin separates us from our Heavenly Father and because He is a loving father then he will do that which will bring us back to His love, back to himself and back to being blessed.

As long as we choose sin instead of God then we will suffer its consequences and the chastisement of God.

David learned the painful lesson of unconfessed sin and the joy of forgiveness. The apostle John wrote his first epistle with this same lesson as its theme.

1 John 1:6-10 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

If you are a child of God and have unconfessed sin that you are ignoring or refusing to deal with then know this. God already knows you have sinned, that sin is not hidden from Him and he will not be allow you to ignore or deny it. Don’t dwell in the misery of being separated from the God who loves you by your sin. Don’t sink into the joyless life of someone who is living in the shadows of sin instead of stepping into the sunshine of God’s great forgiveness.

The Blessing of Confession.  – Psalms 32:5-7

I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

David Unburdened

Now in vss 5-7 David shares the relief, the unburdening, that came when he confessed his sin. Once again, he uses those three words, transgressions, iniquity and sin to express the fullness of his guilt and the heaviness of what lay on his soul.

He says, I will confess unto the Lord and then switches to second person, and you, speaking directly now to the Lord. And you forgave the iniquity of my sin.

In Psalms 51:8-10, David prayed, “Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Vs.12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation!”

Sin had robbed him of that joy he shared with the Lord. Instead of joy he was left with a burden, a burden that had cost him his joy, his health and worst of all, the closeness of his relationship with God. But in confession he found forgiveness and restoration.

David praises God in vs.6, because this forgiveness is for all of God’s people. Psalms 32:6 “For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him.”

And after forgiveness, David experienced the restoration of his walk with God. “Psalms 32:7, “Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance”

Isn’t that a wonderful way, a beautiful way, to express forgiveness? “You will surround me completely with songs of deliverance!” Deliverance means victory, victory over the sin that had tried to enslave him and to separate him from His loving Lord. But God would not let him go. His love was too great, and He did what was needed to restore His child to Himself and give that child the victory of forgiveness instead of the burden of guilt and shame.

Take Your Burden To the Lord

Listen to what the Bible tells us, listen to what David experienced. The sin is real, the burden is real, therefore confession must be real and then the lifting of that burden will be real. Its sin, don’t deny it, ignore it, whitewash it or sugar coat it. Its sin and you committed it. That sin has separated you in some way, small or great, from God and in place of the joy of your salvation you now carry the burden of guilt and shame. You know in your heart its wrong, but you won’t confront it. Even though the Holy Spirit convicts you, you won’t confess it. Even though God was never unaware of your transgression you act as though you are ignorant of it and refuse to act.

God won’t let you stay in that condition. He loves you too much.

Hebrews 12:5-6 My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

You don’t have to stay under that burden, take it to the Lord, confess your sin and leave that burden for the blood of Christ to cover once more.

 1 John 2:1-2 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation (the payment) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Pilgrim’s burden falls.

In the story of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, Pilgrim is still carrying his burden though he has passed through the beautiful gate and put his faith for salvation in Christ. But in the story he has not yet learned to leave the burden of sin with Christ. In the story is this wonderful illustration of  when that happens.

“Now I saw in my dream, that the highway up which Christian was to go, was fenced on either side with a wall, and that wall was called Salvation. Up this way, therefore, did burdened Christian run, but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

He ran thus till be came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

He took his burden to the Lord and if fell from his shoulders into the empty tomb. That is what happens at salvation, but it is also what happens whenever we confess our sin and repent. That burden we have been carrying falls from our shoulders and the power of Jesus over sin and death swallows it up.

This is what happened to David and because of his vow and because of his desire to share what he has learned through this ordeal of unconfessed sin, he says in vss. 7-10

The Blessing of Wisdom.  – Psalms 32:7-10

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about.

David Shares The Way Back To Blessing

David wants all of God’s people to learn from his experience. It is what he must do in response to what God has done for him. He says let me teach you, don’t go through what I had to go through. Don’t be like a stubborn horse or mule, they can’t understand these things and have to be forcibly guided by bit and bridle.

You are not an animal, and you are not the wicked. They will have many sorrow, but you are God’s people, you trust in the Lord Jehovah and His mercy will surround you. Don’t suffer under the burden of sin, repent, confess, and experience the mercy, the forgiveness, the joy of God and His love.

In Psalms 51:15-17, David expressed it like this, “O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

That is the way of forgiveness, it’s the way of salvation, it is the Gospel in the New Testament.

David says, Its not sacrifice, something that I bring, something that I give or a work I can do. God’s takes no delight in burnt offering that a man can bring to the temple. No the sacrifice God accepts is a broken spirit and a contrite heart, repentance and confession that come from our heart and soul.

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus said it this way quoting the book of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

God’s Blessing Must Be Shared

The last lesson we learn from Psalm 32 is that we who have been forgiven, have experience God’s grace, not just once but over and over and over again. We need to teach the way back to God, just as David did. We need to “preach deliverance to the captives” just as Jesus did.

There is no joy, like the joy of forgiveness. There is no comfort like the protection of the Lord. There is no hope like the promises we have in Christ. We can’t keep that to ourselves. David told God, I will instruct the sinners. He could because he was a sinner. We are commissioned by our Lord in Mark 16:15 to, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel (the good news) to every creature.” The good news that Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross, proved His power of sin in the tomb and promises the joy of forgiveness by grace through faith. And that promise doesn’t end at salvation but is there every time sin tries to reclaim us. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I don’t deserve such a blessing, but it is mine. The world filled with sinners they don’t deserve such a blessing, but that is what grace is, undeserved love from God through Jesus Christ. What a blessing and if you have experienced then you have to share it.

When God Dips His Pen Of Love In My heart

Have you ever heard the song, When God dips His Pen of Love In my Heart? It’s not your typical hymn. It an old black spiritual and if you listen to bluegrass music you’ll hear it song from time to time. It illustrates our compulsion to tell others of God’s forgiveness and grace.

When God dips His pen of love in my heart
And writes my soul a message, He wants me to know
His spirit all divine fills this sinful soul of mine
When God dips His love in my heart

Well, I said I wouldn't tell it to a livin' soul
How He brought salvation when He made me whole
But I found I couldn't hide such love as Jesus did impart
Well, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry
It sets my sinful soul on fire
When God dips His love in my heart

Now we come to the last verse and here as it was in Psalm 33 and in many of the Psalms, the last verse acts as its own conclusion and summary.

Conclusion - Psalm 32:11

Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Be Glad In The LORD Jehovah

Now that is a great conclusion, short to the point and it says it all. Be glad in the Lord, rejoice and shout for joy. You are God’s people, you are His children and you have experienced forgiveness and are promised a never ending supply of His love and grace. If that doesn’t make you glad, what will? If that doesn’t make you rejoice? What can? If that doesn’t make you shout for joy and tell others then as the saying goes, “Your church bell is missing its ringer, your dancing shoes are missing their soles and your lighthouse is missing its keeper.” Yes, I made that saying up for this sermon.

But you know what I didn’t make up? The joy of forgiveness. You can’t make that up, it’s real and it yours and mine when we get serious with God, serious about our sin, serious about the burden we carry and then repent and confess. When that happens then we really will shout for joy.