Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Psalm 119:1-8 Turning Values into Virtues

KEY THOT: Ps 119:1-4 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.

KEY THOT: Who are the blessed ones? Those who way is “blameless,” who “walk”, “keep”, “seek”, “do”! It’s not just believing the law of the Lord (Word of God) that makes us blameless, but it’s the walking, keeping, seeking and doing the law of the Lord that make us blameless. While we are made righteous by faith (righteousness imputed), we become righteous by obedience (righteousness imparted). It’s not good enough to believe in biblical values; we have to take it one step further so that we can become blameless, turning our values into virtues: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue” (2 Peter 1:5). The way to acquire virtues is a commitment to “walk in his ways”, for God has commanded his precepts “to be kept diligently.”

This call to be blameless (virtuous) is not just an old covenant command, but also a new covenant command. Consider the following:
  • Eph 1:4 he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
  • Col 1:22-23 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 
  • 1 Thess 2:10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.
  • 1 Thess 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 1 Tim 3:10-11 And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless
To be blameless means to be faultless—that is, being transparent and ethical in our dealings with others, free from hypocrisy and dishonesty. While there are 613 commands under the old covenant, there are about 1,050 commands under the new covenant! To become blameless, we have to “make every effort” to keep these commands. Keeping the 1,050 commands will not save us, but it will make us blameless, i.e. virtuous. And thankfully, we can summarize all these 1,050 commands under two main categories: Love God and love others.

We are not just called to defend biblical values; we are called to keep them. And when we do, we become virtuous or blameless. A virtuous life is our goal as believers. And a virtuous life does not come without putting in efforts. But yet in a paradoxical way, it’s only when we put in the effort that we possess these virtues through the power of the Spirit: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col 1:29). Just as Peter would never experience walking on water so long as he stayed in the boat, so we would never grow in virtue if we make no effort to get our butt out of the boat. 

Keeping God’s commands is not a burden if we learn to walk by the Spirit. It’s not a matter of self-will or self-effort but Spirit-inspired and energized efforts: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Jesus’ burden is light and his yoke is easy--but not effortless.

Father, thank You that Your commands are not a burden but a joy. You have given us Your Spirit so that Your yoke may be easy, though it is not effortless. You require us to be diligent in keeping them. Amen.

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