Diet and Discipline


Psalm 119:9-16


“B (bet) shows that sanctification produces satisfaction. This is a satisfaction that affects every area of our life, and it grows into delight and joy that makes a person feel better than the wealthiest people alive.”


Answer to lasting satisfaction given in our text is absolutely counter-cultural. Even the question would be ridiculed in most settings – “How can a young person maintain a pure lifestyle?” Seriously? What young person would even think about such a thing? Apparently the psalmist did, and with God’s help found the right answer. By God’s grace, he wrote it down, it has been preserved and translated for us. Just that in itself is amazing!


Let’s take just few moments to backtrack: this week, “sanctification produces satisfaction”. Last week, “Mission Impossible: Happiness Without Holiness”. If both are true, holiness is essential to both happiness and satisfaction. Cannot be happy without it, it is what produces satisfaction. Key question – how to get holiness. Psalmist adds another essential: God’s Word.


Sola Scriptura was one of the principles central to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. Clear expression of what it meant to the reformers given by Martin Luther at his heresy trial in April of 1521:


Luther replied, “Since then Your Majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason — I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other — my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me. Amen.”


The fight not simply about authorship of the Bible, or even inerrancy of the Bible. Real fight was about authority – who has authority over individual conscience. Is it pope, council, church? Luther and those who stood with him declared that sole authority to be Word of God. They saw Bible as far more than a good book, an owner’s manual, fascinating literature. They believed the Bible to be the very word of God, carrying the full weight of God’s authority.


Psalmist declaring same thing here in verse 9: answers opening question – how can I acquire and maintain and grow in holiness? Answer – by submitting to the authority of God’s Word. Same answer applies to us today, just as much as to psalmist and Luther. Will get eventually to verse 89: “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven.” Expectations and benefits from God haven’t changed!


Growing in holiness / sanctification that actually produces satisfaction requires the right diet and consistent discipline. Neither one by itself will achieve the goal – whether it’s nutrition for our bodies or for our souls; must have both. And, goal for our souls must be right one too – Christ-likeness. And…must not lose sight of Christ in our quest to be like him, to grow in holiness.


A. Diet


1. God’s Word (9,11,16)


the Bible in general, portions that teach about God and truth, that show by history / example what is pleasing to God


2. God’s commandments (10)


613 Mitzvot, doesn’t include NT ones! God’s law, summarized in ten commandments, further in 2 (love God / neighbor) and then one (royal law of love James 2:8) as a rule of life


“For the Christian the law is not an enemy, but a friend whose directions we love; and it brings freedom, not bondage, because the royal law of love now controls us. Remember, the whole of the Old Testament is for our instruction. Far from law and love being opposites, the law actually defines and describes love.” Day One


3. God’s statutes (12,16)


in particular – civil law – how people should treat one another: employer/employee, citizen/alien, neighbor to neighbor


4. God’s judgments (13)


those times when God has made declarations in his capacity as judge – Gen. 3:14-19; 4:11-12, 15; Daniel 5


5. God’s testimonies (14)


those portions of God’s word where he makes his will clear to his people – “come buy without money” (Isa. 55:1ff); “come to me…” (Matt. 11:28-30)


6. God’s precepts / ways (15)


principles of godly living – the Beatitudes (Old and New Testament! Psa. 1; Matt. 5) as well as places where communication is by example – Ananias & Sapphira, Acts 5:1-11


B. Discipline


1. keeping watch (9)


to do a good job, must watch while coloring: stay inside the lines! same for making parachutes – follow the pattern; and for navigating – listen to / watch the GPS


also true for daily life and growth in holiness – need to continually compare our position to location God has mapped out for us


requires attentive study – can’t just read and expect to absorb; must do whatever it takes to process what it says, make personal application, change as needed to bring thought/word/deed into conformity


requires repetition – more in a few minutes; one reading doesn’t make for lifelong retention; must refresh understanding regularly


2. seeking (10)


not casual glancing around, is full-on intensive searching with single goal in mind: God, satisfied with nothing less


important to note: God’s commands are designed to lead us to him, not some other destination; they do that 2 ways


reveal and reflect God’s character – what God approves is consistent with who God is and what he does; what God forbids is foreign to him and offensive to his character


by their high demands, show us quickly and clearly our inability to satisfy them on our own; like psalmist, must depend on God for his help – “let me not wander”


3. treasuring (11)


God’s word is to be at home, to have a home in our heart – comes to stay and take root, not simply visit and leave


goes way beyond simply memorizing Bible verses – is storing God’s word up like a treasure


presence of God’s word in the heart changes who we are, what we believe, and how we behave – put there for that purpose


question we should ask when reading God’s word: how should I change in response to this text? Then by God’s word, his grace and his Spirit, do it!


4. learning (12)


two words that express so much, will never be overlooked by loving Heavenly Father – “teach me”


thirst for learning more from God will be satisfied; being taught by God is life-changing – remember disciples on road to Emmaus


And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?”Luke 24:32


“Man’s teaching makes us more learned; God’s teaching makes us more holy.” – desire for more holiness should be what fuels our desire for more teaching from God


5. testifying (13)


if God’s Word has power to change your life, has power to change others’ lives also; if Word is important and pleasant to you, should have desire to share it with others


we talk about what gets us excited; should be spending enough time with God and his Word that we are excited by it, desire to speak it to others


when we spend time with God and his Word so it becomes part of us, at home in our heart, is what will come out when we speak


Luke 6:45“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”


6. rejoicing (14)


used to be song in hymnal: “There is joy in serving Jesus, As I journey on my way, Joy that fills my heart with praises, Every hour and every day.”


what the psalmist is saying here: joy in living biblically, in way that pleases God and follows his expectations


provides level of joy and satisfaction that can be matched by nothing else – even total net worth of Bill Gates and Carlos Slim ($160 bn) – they will never leave this world with any of it


7. meditating (15)


like with treasuring v.11, meditating is not a quick visit; is taking a verse or principle or teaching from God’s Word, examining it from all sides, figuring out how it fits within knowledge base and applies to life


8. remembering (16)


our minds not made from PROM’s – program once, read back repeatedly; memories must be refreshed to be retained


means we must regularly spend time with God in his word, being taught, doing the review, keeping it alive and fresh


Want to go back to verse 10 for a minute: don’t lose sight of the goal. It is God and nothing else. Some folks spend lifetime mastering the text and ins and outs of the Bible; can recite huge portions from memory, know chapter and verse of countless texts, can dot all sorts of i’s and cross dozens of t’s. But…were seeking something other than God, have ended up far from him and thoroughly unlike him.


Heb. 4:12For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”


If we are to be changed by it, find God in it and be drawn closer to him by it, must not only spend time in and with it. Must submit to its authority. Get the right diet, exercise the right discipline, do all in total dependence on God that he by his Spirit would guide you into all truth and likeness to Christ.



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