The fight against sin is a brutal fight. Jesus was serious about killing sin (Matthew 5:29-30). If you’re like me, you have tried to “cut off” certain aspects of your life to obtain some victory over that sin (e.g., burn the DVDs, CDs, and get rid of the internet). Though that may help, it doesn’t address the heart of the problem (Jeremiah 17:9-10; Matthew 15:19). Ultimately, you and I have a heart problem, and it needs to be addressed on a daily basis.
In Psalm 119:9 the Psalmist asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” Then answers it: “By keeping it according to your word.” Basically, “by being obedient to God.” However, I have found it impossible to keep a perfectly pure and obedient life. Thankfully, God took care of that for me in Jesus Christ. He sent Christ to die for my sins and made me alive together with Him (Ephesians 2:4-9). I have to constantly remind myself of this truth. However, because I’m not completely free of this sinful flesh (until heaven), what can be done to become less sinful? Thankfully the Psalmist didn’t stop with verse 9. He goes on and gives at least three principles that I have to constantly put into practice.
First, I must seek God.
My daily routine usually begins between 5 and 5:30 a.m. where I’ll spend an hour in reading and memorizing Scripture. I’ll then go for a walk, praying and expressing gratitude for all that God has given me, asking Him for help in the day and praying through the text I read or memorized. Then my whole day is sometimes spent reminding myself of those truths.
Psalm 119:10 says, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” The Psalmist understood that ultimately the end is not God’s Word but rather God himself. The greatest command is that we should love God with everything (Deuteronomy 6:5). All the commands for obedience hang on this (Matthew 22:40). The Psalmist understood this. So how did he do that? He did that simply by praying (the whole Psalm is to God) and asking God to keep him from wandering. Also, by reading, meditating and treasuring God’s Word.
Second, God must teach me.
The Psalmist continues to say, “Blessed are You, O LORD; teach me your statutes” (119:12). It is important to understand that if I am to grow, God must teach me. The only teaching that comes from God is teaching from His Word. Therefore, I fully engage myself in a church (Sunday service, Bible studies, serving, etc.) that teaches and preaches from the Word of God. Because when the Word is preached, then I know God will teach me, and my faith will grow (Romans 10:17; 14:23). By doing this, I’m spending time with people instead of by myself. God’s people are amazing. Despite their sin (note: they are growing, too!) they are constantly turning me back to God with little reminders of His truth.
Third, I must actively fight.
Finally, the Psalmist expresses his involvement in the process. Not just in verses 9-16, but the whole Psalm. He says, “With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth” (v. 13). He also repeatedly says, “I will” (vv. 14-16). He fully engaged himself in the process. So also, I have to get myself off the couch, away from the TV, away from the video games and away from doing whatever pleases me. Like the Psalmist, I can then share the love of God with others (v. 13).
Amazing things happen when one evangelizes. I have walked away many times feeling so full of Christ. I wonder sometimes if evangelism is more about filling me up rather than about others (probably both). I also engage myself in meditation and fixing my eyes upon His Word (Psalm 119:15). All these activities require my participation.
Finally, fighting sin is a fight for joy!
Ultimately, my joy — my eternal joy — is at stake. This is why the Psalmist says, “In the way of your testimonies I delight” (v. 14) and “I will delight in your statutes” (v. 16). When I begin to engage myself in this fight in the way the Psalmist expresses it, I find the fight to be a joyful fight to know God. Though this doesn’t make me sin-free, the pursuit has changed me and continues to change me from the inside out. The key is to be faithful.
Will you also do the same?
Frank Martens grew up the oldest of nine and works full time as an IT Specialist in Los Angeles.
If you would like to contribute a post to the Boundless blog’s “Your Turn” Friday feature, see “Writers Wanted” for more details.