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Bible Passage

Holy Living 3: God’s Method for Holy Living

  • Tony Raker
Date preached

Psalm 119 is an instruction how, in the midst of cultural upheaval, to stand firm as does God and His Word in the Heavens.

Psalm 119:9: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word”

  • Grammatical Usage: “Pure” or in the Hebrew, “zakah” means, “clean; clear”; “living” means “observe; give heed; keep, guard”
  • Literal Interpretation: “How can a young man keep his way both clean and clear? By observing, heeding, keeping and guarding according to your word
  • Contextual/Comparison: God keeps His Word: God continually uses His Word. The Bible has the answer to every question that is vitally important to us in this life and the life to come.  The psalmist, who was deeply concerned about personal purity, cried out, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.”  We might re-phrase the question: What is the answer to personal, practical holiness?  For example:
  1. In Psalm 51:10 we read of a pure heart. But how can we have this?
  2. In Isaiah 52:11 we learn of the importance of being pure before God can use us. But how can we be pure?
  3. In Jeremiah 17:9 we read of the deceitfulness and wickedness of our hearts. But how can our hearts be cleansed and changed?
  4. In Matthew 5:8 we read about the pure in heart. But how can we gain this purity?
  5. In Romans 7:18-24 we have a description of a struggle with sin that every one of us experiences. But how can we gain the victory?
  6. In 2 Corinthians 7:1 we read of the importance of cleansing. But how can this be effected?
  7. In 1 Timothy 5:22 we read of the importance of personal purity. But how…?
  8. THE QUESTION: How can my life be pure?

There are three things to notice:-

  1. It is a plain question. It means exactly what it says. Here is a young man, his heart is sinful, his life is offensive, his thoughts are impure, his habits are dirty, his conversation is foul, his relationships are immoral – how can this young man become clean? Look up Mark 1:40-41. Whether we are young or old, we know what the question means because it touches our deepest need.
  2. It is a priority question. This does not have to do with education, a career, success, marriage, popularity or security; it has to do with the purifying of the heart, mind and life. By nature we are sinful, surrounded by evil forces. Our eyes, lips, feet, hands, ears – they all want to sin. How can I be clean?
  3. It is a practical question. It calls for action, and our verse is the testimony of a man who knew his need of cleansing and how that need could be met.

This great question contains: (1) an admission of need; (2) a confession of desire; (3) a suggestion of urgency. Do you have (1)…and (2)…and do you recognize (3)? Well, what is God’s method for holy living?

  1. THE ANSWER: Seriously engaging God’s Word

Look at our verse: “By living according to your word”.  Examine this sentence carefully and you will see three things which you must do to gain cleansing:

  1. Stop in your tracks. Note the word “way”, which has in it the meaning of “rut” or “track” – the kind of track that would be made by a large wheel. You must stop in your tracks and obey the injunction of Haggai 1:7.
  2. Take yourself in hand. How easy it is to drift, to get more and more entangled in all the sordidness of sin. Do you read impure literature? Do you indulge in unclean habits? Do you foster unclean thoughts? Do you refuse to forgive?
  3. Apply the remedy. Take the Bible and apply it to every part of your life and conduct. That is the way to be cleaned up spiritually and physically.

But how can we enter into this experience of cleansing, and be kept clean and pleasing to God each day? Psalm 119:9-16 gives us the answer. Notice in particular vv. 10-16:

  1. Verse 10: Search your Bible and be ready to obey all that God commands. Immediately you will begin to experience cleansing – look up John 15:3.
  2. Verse 11: Let God’s Word enter right into you. It not only has the power to cleanse but also to keep you clean, and it is most important that your heart is kept clean – look up Proverbs 4:23 and see why.
  3. Verse 12: Be humble, teachable and submissive. Notice the words “teach me” here. You must do what Mary did (Luke 10:39); see Matthew 11:29.
  4. Verse 13: Declare the truth of God’s Word in your daily walk and at your work. This will help you to exert a cleansing and purifying influence.
  5. Verse 14: Rejoice in God’s Word and treasure it above everything else. Riches and possessions disappear; God’s Word abides (1 Peter 1:23-25).
  6. Verse 15: Learn, mark and inwardly digest God’s Word and never question what it says. To “meditate” means “to chew over”, and as you “consider your ways” submit to the fact that God knows the way that is best.
  7. Verse 16: Keep on with this daily process of taking God’s Word and applying it to your life in obedience and practice.

If the Bible is truly God’s Word, then we should cherish it, study it, obey it, and fully trust it. If the Bible is the Word of God, then to dismiss it is to dismiss God Himself.

  • Conclusion: How do you treat God’s Word? Your answer explains your state of life.