God’s Decrees and our Delight
“The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.” Psalm 19:9
“God is holy and He has made holiness the moral condition necessary to the health of the universe.” A. W. Tozer
After an excellent sermon, a young pastor recently called for those who were unsaved to come to the altar to find their Savior. His moving words went something like this: “Come. God loves you. He is not mad at you.” Now, being a Pastor of many years, I know what it is like to say something in the pressure of the moment and wished I could retract what I had said. So, my purpose here is not to critique the words of this very godly young man. My only hope is that by God’s grace, God in his own mysterious ways used my blubber and bluster through the years to glorify Himself in the hearts of my church family. I made enough theological misstatements to fill several volumes of works I would entitle, “Words I Wished I Had Never Said.”
That being said, it is my firm belief that although we will never get to the place where we are able to cross all of our theological “t’s” and dot all of our theological “I’s”, God’s revelation of his unique holiness demands that we pursue that “perfection” with a passion until the time we die or until he returns for his Bride. Theology matters because it shapes and forms our idea of God and our response to him. It is possible to follow and pursue a God who is something less than the glorious and mysterious God of the Bible. That is why we must find our knowledge of God in a passionate pursuit of his Word, written in the Bible. Current trends in the world or the church must never attain ascendancy in determining what we believe and what we proclaim. Only God’s Word is sufficient for that.
As wonderful as it is to know that God does love us and has a wonderful plan for his children, it is also true, though not as comforting, that God hates sin and is angry with sinners. Psalm issues this startling truth: “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.” [Ps 7:11] And, lest you think this is just an Old Testament characteristic of God, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” [John 3:35-36] The apostle Paul adds, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” [Rom 1:18-19]
The wrath of God toward sin is just as sure as his desire to forgive sinners. It is a message that is not heard much these days and our children suffer because of it. A husband in this day can leave the wife of his youth for no biblical reason and think, he, being a Christian, can go on with his life and God’s anger will not fall upon him even though he consciously and willfully chose to disobey God’s clear law. What he refuses to hear is that God has a passion to glorify himself in our lives, and sin, whatever form it takes, is the arch enemy of that unchanging, eternal commitment of God. It may comfort some to say God’s wrath is only directed toward unbelievers and God’s discipline is directed toward believers. But, the results are both painful and dishonoring to God. And for the believer, our disobedience displays a total lack of love and gratefulness to God who gave all that we might be free from the power of sin and death. Our God can love and at the same time be angry. His holiness demands that he deal with sin in our lives. His graciousness calls out for our repentance and obedience. Our God is a holy God.
EXPOSITION: “The ordinances of the Lord are sure and altogether righteous.”
The ordinances are the righteous decrees of a just judge. They are “sure” in that they are right because they are the edicts of the only One who is holy and just in all that he is. They are “sure” in that they are not subject to the judgment of any other authority. They are not open for discussion nor are they determined or modified by popular opinion or practice. In John 17: 17, Jesus prays to the Father: “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” He does not say sanctify them by the truth for your word is true. He says, “your word is truth.” He is saying that God’s Word proceeding from God’s mouth is what determines what is true because God is Truth.
So, by hearing, trusting and obeying God’s ordinances, we are put in line with God’s blessing. Holiness is the condition for wholeness in the world God has created. To be healthy is to be holy. To be happy is to be holy. That is why the psalmist goes on to say, “They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalm 19:10-11
I think, more than at any other time in the history of America, we Christians are under assault. We have always been the subject of the devil’s hatred and always had to fight the compromising forces of the world and the flesh. But, today, because of the secularization of our nation, and the proliferation of sensuous materials into our media, we are in a hand-to-hand combat with the enemy of our souls. There was a time that when a man or woman who wanted to satisfy the sensual desires of their sinful heart had to go to a seedy part of town to partake of the sewage. It took time, energy and very determined will to go to that extreme. Now, we find that stuff coming right into our homes. All we need to do is turn on the cable or bring home the video or open a web site. We don’t have to leave the confines of our home. And the subtle force pushing us in that destructive direction is our regular TV programming that is purposefully and deliberately attempting to break down the “puritanical” trappings that have “held us back from satisfying all of our desires we so richly deserve.”
Although written over a century ago, Charles Spurgeon’s charge is just as timely now as it was when it was written.
“I charge you, not only by your ancestry, but by your posterity, that you seek to win the commendation of your master, that though you dwell where Satan’s seat is, you yet hold fast his name, and do not deny the faith. God grant us faithfulness, for the sake of souls around us! How is the world to be saved if the church is false to her Lord? How are we to lift up the masses if our fulcrum is removed? If our gospel is uncertain, what remains but increasing misery and despair? Stand fast, my beloved, in the same God! I, your brother in Christ, entreat you to abide in the truth. Quit yourselves like men, be strong. The Lord sustain you for Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
Only as we know God’s ordinances and seek his power through prayer, can we escape the corruption in this world and become “like God in true holiness and righteousness.” [Ephesians 4:24]. Pick up the Bible and receive his ordinances. They are sure and will surely keep you from sin and give you great joy.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Dr. Gary Rieben. © Give Me That Book. Email: Grieben@aol.com. Website: www.GiveMeThatBook.org. Postal: GMTB | P.O. Box 1045| La Quinta, CA 92247 USA | 619.829.2390
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