You Are Righteous and We Aren’t

Psalm 119:137-144

Last time talked about wonder => obedience => understanding => greater desire => greater love => freedom => blessing => sorrow. If we are making forward and upward progress along that spiral, will be made increasingly aware of some things: character of God… and his Word… and ours. The closer we get to God – by studying his word, works, ways – clearer we see him… and ourselves. Gain better grasp on God’s perfection, beauty, holiness, and our imperfections and lack of holiness.

Because of who God is, he is the standard, sets the standard, communicates the standard for everything else. Everything God does follows his standard, unlike us and much of his creation since the Fall. Psalmist in this section elaborates on that theme and relationship between God and his word, the struggles we have, and help that God’s word is to us.

A. God does because he is (137)

Righteous in Essence = Who He Is

WSC 4 “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

if any of that changes, no longer God – remember he is “unchangeable”; add it all up, he’s perfect and perfect standard of what is right and good and true

God’s actions flow out of his character – his actions reveal his character, his character determines his actions

Righteous in Execution = What He Does

is important to start with what God has concretely revealed – for us, means starting with the Bible, what it says about God

is much about God’s actions we’ll never understand anyway; to put right spin on what God does, must grasp who he is first

for example: may be time when following God’s judgments / rules appears to not be best way; if God is righteous, he does what is righteous incl. giving righteous rules for us to follow

knowing his character, knowing God first gives us confidence to trust him and his ways; same principle extends to his Word

B. Because God is righteous, his word is (138, 140)

Created in Righteousness

had a good and right purpose when he communicated through human authors – not a game for God, didn’t put what he did in Bible just because he could or felt like it or wanted to see how we would respond

follows an absolute moral and ethical standard – not a sliding or flexible scale of right/wrong, has universal application – all places, people, time, situations

Carried out in Faithfulness

if God is faithful and won’t let his people down, same is true of his word – we can have same confidence of success from following its principles as original hearers

God has so overseen and preserved his word that we can be certain of having his infallible, inerrant word in our Bibles

God’s word just as certain to carry out God’s purpose today as any day – gives confidence for living and communicating

means we don’t have to try and come up with new spin, reinterpretation to make it relevant for modern audience

don’t need to “Re-Imagine the World”, “Re-Imagine Church” – simply need to take what God’s word says and apply

don’t need to doubt power of Gospel as expressed in Bible to transform people, the power of God’s word to change lives

Characterized by Absolute Purity

you’ve had experience: eating or drinking something and encountered a surprise – an “ingredient” that didn’t belong – then follows predictable response

might even be traumatic enough experience you decide never to patronize that business, buy that product again

will never be true of God’s Word – is even better than Ivory Soap: 99 and 44/100 percent pure clean; has nothing that will distort or diminish its content or value

Causes the Response of Love

but not in everyone: not just a statement of personal witness (3rd person, “your servant” = “I”), a theological proposition

one who is not a servant of God will not love his word, especially because of its purity – purity of God’s word emphasizes lack of purity in one who looks into it, makes one alienated from God uncomfortable

one who is a servant of God will love his word, especially because of its purity and its ability to make a willing student pure

here’s another important reason: because it is pure, it accurately reflects and communicates truth about God whom we love

is essential resource God uses to make us more like Jesus, make us useful in this life, make us ready for next life

C. Since we are not righteous we (139, 141, 143)

Struggle with Culture (Zeal for Righteousness vs. Prevailing Dullness) / Victory Thru the Word (:139)

repeated theme from v.136 – sorrow and frustration with majority of world around us who forget / ignore / reject God’s truth

even in best of times (or good ol’ days as we imagine them) culture is in conflict with God and his people

the world will always have a different value system – primarily influenced by sin and Satan, at odds with the righteous

the more we conform to principles and lifestyle commended in Bible, less comfortable and welcome we will be in culture

notice: works in two directions – closer we come to God’s standard, more conformed to image of Christ, more awkward and out-of-place we feel in “worldly” situations

more like Christ we become, even without saying or doing anything out of ordinary (just being who we are) – makes unbelievers feel awkward, ashamed, resentful

presence of Christ is like a searchlight – exposing sinful attitudes and actions for what they are: John 3:20“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

note: must be careful in how we respond to frustration with the world and its bad behavior, recognize real enemy… right solution

people and culture are tools of sin and Satan; only solution is power and proper application of Gospel from God’s word

is still a struggle – living life well in sinful world around sinful people without losing our way; strong deep roots in Bible are vital, will equip and enable us to be victorious

Struggle with Insignificance / Victory Through the Word (:141)

“I am small and despised, Yet I do not forget Thy precepts”

search for significance something everyone deals with at some point – not talking about deep philosophical discussion about “meaning of life”

this is highly personal: what is meaning of my life, what makes me and my life significant, is it limited to this life only

not talking about being a big deal, celebrity; this is down at level of self-image and self-worth in everyday life

is great contrast between what loud voices from the world say and what Bible declares to be true

world says: what you have, what you contribute gives you value and significance – appearance, wealth, talent

Bible says: who you are determines that – image-bearer, designed for relationship with God; esp., child of God, member of body

given opportunity, world’s voices try to drown out God’s voice – causes struggle at times, world/Satan often very persuasive

only long-term effective help/solution – fill minds, meditate on, become saturated with objective truth from Bible

requires firm commitment to some things – regular teaching/preaching, contact with God’s people, time to study/meditate

Struggle with Trouble / Victory Thru the Word (:143)

who has escaped “distress and hardship” NET? “Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) trouble/hardship an inescapable part of life, more at some periods than others

come in all different forms: single, oppressive weight w/no relief; “death by a thousand cuts” – little things, no single one insurmountable but taken all together…

can be physical issues, financial hardship, relational difficulties (perhaps result of struggle w/Culture or Significance), spiritual challenges (God seems far away, hard to pray, little joy from Bible or God’s people)

this one a little “trickier” than previous two struggles: human element can be important / helpful part of total solution

e.g., medical professionals, financial advisors, older wiser Christians are often resources through whom God works

notice how that’s stated: God works through human agents to bring about his purpose – means we start with God and his Word, then human helpers

must view our circumstances through framework of Bible truth: recognize God will be with us in our troubles, will carry us through our troubles, has a purpose in our troubles, has good in store beyond our troubles

D. Praise God for permanence and truth (142, 144)

here’s great encouragement for all circumstances – the anchor for our soul that is outside the boat

Permanence of God’s Righteousness

God’s righteousness is unchanging and never-ending – can never outlast God’s “commitment” to doing what is right

never have to wonder if the rules have changed – if Bible says “this is right”, “that is wrong”, take it for what it says and act accordingly

Absolute Truth of God’s Word

truth exists: it is not relative, is not negotiable, it is knowable; in fact, absolute truth can be known with absolute certainty, is found in Bible

don’t buy into lies that say otherwise – no metanarrative, your truth/my truth, can’t be known – truth is nobody lives that way

even if people don’t think about it, take at least some things as given; otherwise, could never do anything or move on

Permanence of God’s Righteous Word

God’s word is true and right for every generation and will never change; God’s word is never abrogated – he never says “that doesn’t apply any more, do this instead because I say so” (like Allah, Quran)

some “rules”, especially for worship, do not apply to us… because their purpose has been fulfilled – don’t stay in shadows that point to reality once it has come

wrong won’t be an issue in heaven but standard will be the same then as now: God’s righteousness as revealed in his Word

Prayer for Understanding

if our goal / purpose in life to be like Jesus, participate in eternal life he guarantees to his people, need to know how to live

only sure way to understand and know that is by illuminating influence of Holy Spirit – shining light on God’s Word, helping make connections, then on aspect of our lives, helping make application, directing thoughts and informing our understanding

cannot take Holy Spirit’s help for granted – need to approach life and Bible with prayer and dependence on God


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