how can a young man keep his way pure? by guarding it according to your word. with my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! [psalm 119:9-10]
God alone can purify the human soul.
through the work of Jesus Christ, we are purified, made right with God. we are given the holiness of God and declared holy as we trust our soul to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. however, we all know we are not yet fully what God has declared we are in Christ. we have been declared holy AND God is continuing to make us holy. and we are called to submit ourselves to God’s work in us as he continues this process of sanctifying our soul, making us fully holy in Christ, purifying us. (see fridays writing – in the presence of God – 48.)
how do we submit ourselves to God as he continues to purify our soul, transforming us into the image of Christ?
one way, we come in ongoing confession and repentance, bringing our sin before God so he can cleanse us from all unrighteousness. in Christ, the believer is promised unending mercy and forgiveness. (1 john 1:9)
another way, we pursue purity and holiness through the ongoing soul changing work of God’s word. let’s allow the scripture to explain, and then let’s pursue holiness together today.
psalm 119:9 asks the question, “how can a young man keep his way pure?” the phrase “keep his way pure” carries with it the idea of – guarding purity by not sinning. that is, one of the ways we keep our way pure is by avoiding sin and living in the “commandments” of God (that are pure, holy). as we sit in his presence, God reveals our sin to us and his holy commands. avoiding sin, running from sin, is a call from God. four times in the new testament God tells us to flee from sin (1 cor 6:18, 10:14, 1 tim 6:11, 2 tim 2:22). as we avoid wandering from his commandments as ps 119:10 says, we “guard” the holy life God has given us and the holy life he is calling us to in Christ.
but the phrase, “how can a young man keep his way pure?” … carries with it another idea.
we also keep our way pure by seeking after God. running from, avoiding sin only occurs in a life changing, sanctifying / purifying way if we are doing what ps 119:10 says at the beginning of that verse, “with my whole heart i seek you.” what does this mean? if we are examining the word, just to know what not do to, we might change an outward action here or there, but we will not see God transform our heart. when we examine the word to pursue God, wanting more of his holiness, his righteousness in us, transformation continues. ongoing purification, ongoing sanctification is a two part process in your soul. 1) we must pursue God’s righteousness, knowing him and his holiness. we must long for him with our whole heart as the psalmist says. 2) then, we walk in his commands, avoiding, fleeing sin.
how do you hunger for God as ps 119 tells us. all over God’s word is direction, wisdom, and instruction. read these passages today, and ask God to give you a hunger to seek him with your whole heart. what a prayer! imagine what God could do in you today! begin here by being in his presence as you read his word. enjoy!
i waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. [ps 40:1]
as a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, o God. my soul thirsts for God, for the living God. [ps 42:1-2]
o God, you are my God; earnestly i seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. so i have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. [ps 63:1-3]
give me understanding, that i may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. [ps 119:34]
and samuel said to all the house of israel, “if you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, [1 sam 7:3]
yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. [is 26:8]
no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. [matt 6:24]
“if anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” [john 7:37-38]
we love because he first loved us. [1 john 4:19]
o LORD, give us clean hands and pure hearts that do not lift our souls to worship another. may we seek you with our whole heart, may we long to know you, knowing that in Christ, you know us fully and have accepted us fully. o LORD, teach us to wait on you, increase our affection for you, and in so doing, more and more and more – transform us into the holy and righteous image of your Son. in Jesus name, amen!
~ john ryan