by Mike Ratliff
Aleph. Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me! (Psalms 119:1-8)
About a year ago I had a discussion at work with a co-worker about the upcoming publication of Walking the Walk by Faith and the contract I just received from my publisher for Possessing the Treasure. This co-worker has always been supportive of my writing because she is an avid reader. However, she is also a non-believer even though she does not see things that way. She believes salvation is universal because God loves everyone too much to send anyone to hell. She believes my stance on my Puritan doctrines is silly. I tried to explain the attributes of God to her and our part in walking this walk and she laughed as she left my cubicle and went back to hers. Those of us who are Spirit-led know better…don’t we?
The Spirit-led know there is only one-way to walk this walk. What is it? We must walk in God’s truth. Walking in God’s truth means we must know what it is and we must live by it in all areas of our lives. Where do we find God’s truth? The Word of God is His wonderful gift to us. It reveals God to Man. It shows us plainly who He is and who we are. It shows us we must live our lives in worship of Him. We must live for His glory.
I placed the first stanza of Psalms 119, entitled “Aleph,” at the beginning of this chapter. Let us go through it one line at a time. We are pursuing Christ-likeness. How do we attain it? God must draw us into the processes that will reshape our hearts into this level of spiritual maturity. When we obey Him in total surrender to His cleansing fires, we grow. Our faith is built up. We grow in Christ. This growth is a work of God not a result of our will power or intelligence. God will use our prayer, obedience, and His Word as the main tools to mature us unto Christ-likeness. So…let’s dig.
The first line is, “Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD!” The Hebrew word translated “Blessed” is an exclamation of how happy someone is. It describes someone who was most happy. For example, “Look how happy they are!” Who is that happy? Those who are blameless, that’s who. The word “blameless” can also mean “undefiled,” “complete,” or “perfect.” The picture the psalmist is giving us is, “Look how blessed the undefiled are!” The Spirit-led understand this very well. Why? A clear conscience is a wonderful part of this walk! No blame, no shame! It is a joyful experience to realize God dynamically loves and blesses us as we seek Him with all we have. When we are defiled, we cannot experience that at that level. The last part of this sentence shows us who are blameless. Who? Those who walk in the law of the LORD are blameless and, therefore, blessed. I like the exclusivity of that statement. I believe we could also turn this statement around and say, “How sad are those who are defiled, who don’t walk in the law of the LORD!” That gives us a different view of it doesn’t it? The psalmist is telling us God blesses to the max those who give up self-focus while surrendering to the Lord in all things, living for His glory and walking according to the Word of God. Why?
Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in his ways! You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. (Psalms 128:1-2)
We must start by fearing God. It brings us into the proper perspective of our relationship with Him. The Soul-led do not understand this concept. Their fear of God is a fear powered by guilt. How could that bless anyone? However, the Spirit-led know the proper fear of God, that which is born of knowledge of God, brings blessedness beyond compare. The proper fear of God generates obedience. When we walk this way, what does God do for us? He blesses our walk. What more could we want? When we walk this way, we are walking for His glory not ours. It is God's will for us to do this. The Mature Christian walks this way. The Adult Christian is learning to walk this way.
The second line in this stanza is, “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart…” The one who can walk blameless is the one who seeks the Lord with their whole heart. This is speaking of our daily walk praying continually and worshipping Him in spirit and in truth. That means we do not give God lip service by singing hymns in Church once a week, instead we make our entire life an act of worship of our Lord. When we do this, we are obedient. This walk keeps our hearts blameless and undefiled. This is a life on the altar.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
To become a blessing, God must become the focus of our entire being. All of our worship must be God-focused, never Man-focused. Do you want to show the Lord how much you love Him? If you are Spirit-led, you want this more than life itself. To show the Lord how much you love Him then live for His glory and to bless Him should be our heart’s desire.
The third line in this stanza is, “…who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!” This is a concept we seem to have a hard time grasping. When we are walking in the Spirit, we do not sin. When we stop walking in the Spirit, we are walking in sin.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17)
We seem to think we can take time off in our Spirit-led walk and not sin. Wrong! The moment we leave the presence of God, we are walking in the flesh. That is sin. God’s desire for each of us is to walk in the Spirit continuously. Why? Only then are we blameless. When we do this, God is glorified. Whenever we step back into Soul-led behavior, we are walking according to the flesh. That does not glorify God at all. Be warned! We can do Church in Soul-led mode very easily. This is serving God perfunctorily and that is nothing but more pursuit of self-gratification. That is sin.
The fourth line in this stanza is, “You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.” Sometimes I get discouraged when I get self-focused and believe I am preaching a message that few will grasp and no one will want to do. However, that is Soul-led garbage and I hate it when I go there. The Lord has commanded us to keep the Word of God diligently! That means when we do not walk by the Word of God we are being disobedient. Do I feel vindicated when I read this verse? No, I do not. I know the message God has given me to give to the Church. This is it. My responsibility is in getting this message to the Church. That is why I write and teach. That is my responsibility. Another warning! You now know the truth. You now know God has commanded us to seek Him with our entire being, walking in the Spirit and according to the Word of God all the time. The Spirit-led already know this don’t they? Sure, this is the very process they use to walk their walk by faith. This is how they lay up their eternal treasure. This is how they live for His glory.
The fifth line in this stanza is, “Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!” This is my cry everyday. Why? I know the more I am Spirit-led the more mature I am. When I waiver, when I am not steadfast I am walking is Soul-led mode. That does not glorify God and I am walking in sin. Bah! The cry of my heart is this statement. This is my prayer everyday. It should be yours as well. This is what makes all the difference. The more successful we are at being steadfast the more mature we are and the more our lives glorify the Master. This verse speaks of consistency. Remember; never forget this, this Spirit-led walk is empowered by God. Our will power cannot produce this. We would never be able to maintain this walk in our own strength. God’s grace empowers us to do this. What is our part? Obedience is our calling. We must pray this everyday, throughout the day and obey whatever the Lord in all things.
The sixth line in this stanza is, “Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.” When we are steadfast in walking the Walk by Faith what happens? Again, our conscience is clear. It is constantly sending fulfillment from God into our Souls. When we walk this way, we are in His presence and He is feeding us from His table. What is He feeding us? He gives us spiritual food. That is His truth. Then we must walk in it. This spiritual food is the Word of God itself. Who is the Word? The Lord Jesus Christ is the Word!
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever. (John 6:52-58)
Living in the Word of God is feasting on God while fasting from the flesh. I cannot say this enough. This is the very thing God used to draw me into this Spirit-led walk. I remember very well the day He circumcised my heart. I was living in the Word of God while eating and drinking from it continuously and He did a mighty work in my heart through all of that. It was as if He drove out all of my spiritual blindness. I could see clearly. I could see this clearly, because God wrote his Word on my heart. He cut through and crushed the hardness there. What an awesome day! I had a clear conscience for the first time in a long time. The joy and blessedness was and still is incredible.
The seventh line in this stanza is, “I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules.” This statement is precious to me. I did not really learn how to worship and praise my Lord until He circumcised my heart. It was not until I had a clear and undefiled conscience that I learned the absolute best place to be. Where is that? It is in the throne room of our Lord on my face in complete worship and adoration of Him. I live for that. Why? Our worship in spirit and truth blesses Him. In return, He fills us with joy and peace as He blesses us. I have tried to focus on blessing the Lord alone and not seek what He gives me, but I cannot out-give Him. I have tried, but I cannot do it. His truth is awesome. It is perfect. It is holy. It is what the Lord uses to sanctify you and me. When we learn what it is all about, we must turn and seek His face and bless Him with our praise and worship. That is the proper result of digging into the Word of God. We must seek to live by it.
The eighth line in this stanza is, “I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!” At first, this statement seems out of place here. Prior to this statement, we see blessings and closeness with the Lord as we stay in the Word and seek to walk in His Truth. However, this statement appears to say there is a possibility the Lord will forsake us even when we do things right. That really is not what this is saying. What the psalmist is trying to say is this total submission to the Lordship of the Lord leaves us vulnerable to those who are not doing that. When we commit to walking in His truth, we stand out like a sore thumb. We do not take advantage of anyone or any situation. Instead, we walk by faith not by sight. Those in the world who are out for self and self alone will see us as weak and stupid. In fact, they will persecute or take advantage of us.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:10-16)
The eighth line in this stanza implies that this level of commitment will result in persecution from those who refuse to do so. That is true. It will happen. However, who do we love above all? The Spirit-led love the Lord above all. We must never revert to self-love or self-focus. When we do we our persecution by the world may end, but we will be ashamed. When we live our lives in Spirit-led mode, walking in the truth, we are exactly where the Lord wants us to be and we need Him to uphold us no matter how evil those around us become.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.