A righteous life stems from a righteous heart

“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments!”

(Psalm 112:1)

God’s promise for us in Psalm 112 reveals that those who fear the Lord, who live in reverent awe of God, seeking to align their life with God’s will receive blessing from God.

The remainder of the Psalm goes on to highlight what it looks like to live as one who delights in God’s commandments, as one who is upright.

  • They are not greedy but generous (5a)
  • They are not unfair or unjust. Rather they deal justly in all their affairs (5b)
  • Bad news does not move them. Rather they continue to trust in the Lord (7).
  • They are not afraid of their enemy, instead they continue to trust in the Lord to vindicate (8).
  • They freely give to the poor, seeking to care for the marginalized and disadvantaged in the city (9).
  • They are able to give of their wealth and resources because they trust the Lord to provide for their needs, viewing their resources as those given by God whom they are to steward and use to meet the needs of the community in which God has placed them (9).

The psalms ends with a word about the wicked, who doesn’t desire the Lord’s commandments and thus is angry when he observes the righteous in action. The difference between the two characters is not external action but an internal desire. Those who fear God live a life aligned with God’s will and those who disdain God reject the will of the Lord.

The point being we can’t manufacture righteous actions. They do not spring forth from a heart that rejects the Lord. Our heart, our desires, our affections must first be given to God. Only if we have turned to the Lord can we truly live a righteous life. To say it another way, a righteous life cannot spring forth from a wicked well. The well must first be made righteous.

We cannot make ourselves righteous (Rom 3:9-20). Only the Lord can change our heart from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh that desires to live under His rule.

Ezekiel writes,

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

(Ezekiel 11:19-20)

Has the Lord changed your heart? Do you desire His rule? Are you living a righteous live in the power of the Holy Spirit or are you trying to live for God in your own power and strength?

If you are seeking God in your own power, it is most likely because you want something from Him or the community in which you live. You don’t want God for God. You are using God to meet your own desires. The righteous don’t use God. They are satisfied with God alone.

Rest, your sins are really forgiven

as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

Ps 103:12

Our God is a God who forgives. He does not hold our sins against us. If you are in Christ, you do not need to pay for your past sins, your current sin, or your future sins. God has forgiven you, not on the basis of your works. You are clearly sinful and need forgiveness. Rather, He has forgiven you based on Jesus’ work.

God’s forgiveness is not universal. It is, as the Psalmist goes on to say in the next verse:

as a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

Ps 103:13

In order to receive forgiveness, we must fear the Lord. Fear does not solely refer to fear of judgment, though God is our Judge. Fears primary use in this context is that of reverence for the Lord. To revere the Lord, we must recognize Him for who He is — our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Judge, Lord, all wise, loving, caring Father who shows steadfast love, but does not pardon the guilty.

Those who revere God desire to honor and glorify Him with their life by living according to His wisdom and purposes. They turn from self to God, understanding salvation is found in Him alone. Only Jesus could die in our place as our substitutionary sacrifice. Only Jesus could atone for our sins, repairing our relationship with the Father. Only Jesus could allow the Father to remain holy while He forgives our sins, not holding them against us, separating them from us as far as the East is from the West.

Do you fear the Lord? Or are you attempting to pay for your sins with your own works?

The Blessing of God’s Word

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law,

Psalm 94:12

Paul, in the New Testament, echoes the Psalmist when he tells Timothy to stick with God’s Word, not to move on from it or add anything alongside it. He tells Timothy to stick with the sacred writings (Scripture) because God’s Word is given to teach, reprove, correct, and train in righteousness (2 Tim 3:16-17).

With Paul’s thought in mind, if we return to the Psalmist, we learn that we are blessed for being taught and even disciplined by God’s Word. Certainly, Paul might have had this Scripture in mind when he penned his words to Timothy.

Why are we blessed when taught and disciplined by the Word of God?

We are blessed because God’s Word points us to God’s will and design for how we are to live in the world in which He created. When we live according to God’s will not pressing against the fabric of His design but flowing with it, things go well for us. The book of Proverbs is an excellent example. Following the wisdom of the world is folly, but following the wisdom of God is righteousness.

Of course, it is Proverbs, you have to balance it out with Ecclesiastes, which teaches us the righteous don’t always succeed in this world. But even if the righteous don’t succeed, they can experience joy even in the midst of trial if they are seeking God’s will in His Word (see James 1:2-4).

Church, allow God’s Word to teach, reprove, correct, and train you. It may be painful at times, but it is what is best. For God’s discipline through His Word is a blessing.