An Either / Or Thing

I don’t recall hearing them as often. Those pithy sayings from the pulpit. Those succinct and powerful statements of divine truth that penetrate and literally stick with you throughout a lifetime. Perhaps it’s because I don’t get around as much as I used to. It’s been years since I’ve been in the spring conference scene or the summer camp scene. Might be that, since I’m a little older in the faith, the super impressionable clay of those early days is a little more set and fewer of those forceful expressions are having a lasting impact. Or, maybe it’s because, being older, I’m not a sharp as I once was in the cataloging and retrieving of such memorable quotes.

But though I may not encounter them as much now for whatever reason, one of those powerful targeted observations, that I probably first heard decades ago, came to mind this morning:

“The Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”

The quote is attributed to D.L. Moody. But apparently John Bunyan, who lived centuries before Moody, is reported to have written something similar in the cover of his bible: “Either this book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” Either way, I didn’t hear it from those stalwarts of the faith. Rather, somewhere along the way it came from the lips of some faithful preacher and the Spirit firmly implanted it in my heart and mind. And it was brought to mind this morning as I read the first Psalm.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night.    (Psalm 1:1-2  ESV)

Who wouldn’t want to head into the new year with the prospect of blessing in their lives. Apparently the original is a “plural noun” . . . the benefits promised here are manifold. And the promise of blessing pivots upon where we walk, upon what we stand, and upon where we sit.

True happiness will not be found in the advice and wisdom of those hostile towards God. It cannot come from joining the ranks of those who determine to pursue that which is contrary to holiness. Blessing, that is real blessing, will evade those who align themselves with the mocking of “sophisticated, learned men” who “who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4).

To walk in their counsel, to prefer to hang with them in their surroundings, to join with them in their mocking of that which is not seen, is not the means to the gracious blessing God desires for His people.

But . . . and here’s the “either or” of David’s assertion, the pivot point of the songwriter’s assertion . . . But, delight in the law of the Lord and you will know blessing.  Desire it . . . long for it . . . find good pleasure in it . . . and the fountain of heaven’s favor is opened up. Then meditate on the Word of God . . . chew on it . . . think about it . . . noodle on it . . . let it ignite your imagination . . . and a joy and contentment that transcends anything this world has to offer will be realized.

Drinking deep from God’s revelation of Himself will so satisfy our thirst that we won’t want to look anywhere else. Desiring and ingesting the word will keep us from listening to the wrong people, giving allegiance to the wrong crowds, or joining in with the wrong intellects.

But, to be sure, listen to the ungodly voice of this world and it will keep you from the life-giving Voice of heaven.

It’s kind of an either / or thing. Either living in the way of sinners, or delighting in the law of the Lord. Either meditating on God’s word or embracing the world’s ways.

Oh that 2016 would bring renewed vigor for the Word of God. Not that we might simply gain increased knowledge. Instead, that we might know more of the blessing promised those who heed His counsel . . . and stand in His way . . . and seat themselves at His table. That the word of God would abide in us so that we might continually abide in Him.

By His grace. For His glory.

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