WFW: The Fear of the Lord is Clean
Psalm 19:9 "The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether." If you remember, we had "theorized" that if the fear of the Lord is clean, it follows that if we fear the Lord, we are clean. I'd like to start this week by looking at Psalm 51; it is an excellent chapter and it brings out many of the points that I will be talking about today. For a quick background, David had just commited adultery. On his face in repentance to God, he said these words: Psalm 51-- "Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. WASH ME thoroughly from my iniquity, And CLEANSE me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight-That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom. Purge me with HYSSOP, and I shall be CLEAN; WASH me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins, And blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a CLEAN HEART, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, The God of my salvation, And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise. For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-These, O God, You will not despise. Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar." It is interesting that David mentions hyssop, because Hebrews 9 (vs. 19-28) states: "For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, scarlet wool, and HYSSOP, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, 'This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.' Then likewise he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry. And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and WITHOUT SHEDDING OF BLOOD THERE IS NO REMISSION. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another-- He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." (It's also interesting that when Jesus was hanging on the cross, he was offered a drink on HYSSOP...) To sum up what Hebrews is saying, Peter said that we are "redeemed .... with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:19). In David's prayer, he says, "Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice. ... The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart-These, O God, You will not despise" (vs 8, 17). David was chastened by the Lord; the Lord told him that He was going to take his son as payment for his sin. This was when David fully realized the error of his ways and fell on his face before God. He fully understood what Job said (5:18), "For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole." From these Scriptures, we see that a part of cleansing is chastening. Jesus mentioned chastening in John 15:1-4: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He PRUNES, that it may bear more fruit. You are already CLEAN because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." Pruning is cutting off (breaking) parts of the tree, the purpose of which Jesus said was to "bear much fruit." Interestingly, the word "prunes" in this passage means, "to cleanse, to expiate." "Expiate" means " to suffer for wrongdoing." This makes perfect sense when you consider that Jesus also said, "You shall be perfect as Your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). And I would like to point out that just because chastening helps to make you pure, that doesn't mean that we WANT to be chastened; however, we know that if we heed correction, we will be heading in the right direction. Paul said, "Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but PAINFUL; nevertheless, afterward it yields the PEACEABLE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS to those who have been trained by it" (Heb 12:11). In the same chapter (a few verses before), Paul also says, " If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons." In Romans, it says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God." Therefore, it follows that if we are following our flesh and not the Spirit, we are going to need some correcting." It is going to be painful, but the neat thing about it is that, in the end, if we take heed to the reproof, we will "bear much fruit" -- we will become better people, people who "have [our] fruit to holiness." But in order to be holy, we also need to heed God's Word and do it, resulting in our holiness. John 15:3 says that we are clean "BECAUSE OF the Word which I have spoken to you." God's Word, which is the truth, makes us clean, and this is one way that we know when we need to make some changes. In John 17:16-19 Jesus said, "They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. SANCTIFY them BY YOUR TRUTH. YOUR WORD IS TRUTH. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth." Psalm 12:6 states, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." (According to Bible numerics, seven is the perfect number.) Psalm 9:8, the verse right before our opening Scripture, says, "...the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes." (SEE LAST WEEK'S WFW on keeping God's commandments) This seems to fit Proverbs 30:5 which states, "EVERY WORD of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him." Every word of God is pure, including His commandments, His chastening, His Word. Actually, it gives new meaning to Proverbs 12:15, which states, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise." When God gives you counsel, you better listen if you want to be wise -- if you want to be pure. The Bible has plenty to say about being holy, so let's look at a few of those passages... Titus 2:11-14 "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might REDEEM us from all iniquity, and PURIFY unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." Romans 12:1-2 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, HOLY, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Ephesians 4:20-24 "But you have not so learned Christ,if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be RENEWED IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND, and that you put on the NEW man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and HOLINESS." 1 Peter 1:13-25 "Therefore GIRD UP THE LOINS OF YOUR MIND, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,Because it is written, BE HOLY FOR I AM HOLY. And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have PURIFIED your souls in obeying the TRUTH through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, through the WORD OF GOD which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever.'" It's interesting that Peter mentions that we are not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold, because in Proverbs chapter 3 (vs 13-14), wisdom is referred to in this way: "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold." Add to that this Scripture: "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us WISDOM from God--and righteousness and SANCTIFICATION and redemption..." (1 Cor 1:30). Isaiah 40:8 "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God STANDS FOREVER."