I read the words of the old songwriter and it brings to mind the words of the old preacher.
I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep Your word.
~ The Psalmist (Psalm 119:101 ESV)
Sin will keep you from the Word, or the Word will keep you from sin.
~ D.L. Moody
As I chew on it, I do think it’s an “either/or” thing not a “both/and” thing. If you’re into one, the Bible, it’ll keep from you being into the other, sin. But if you’re indulging the way of our fallen world, it’s gonna keep you from the way of God’s word.
The songwriter says, I hold back my feet from every evil way. I refuse to walk that path. “I watch my steps,” as Peterson paraphrases it, “avoiding the ditches and ruts of evil.” I restrain my feet from walking in the way of folly. How come? I want to keep God’s word.
It’s starts with wanting to be obedient. And that starts with believing that the way to thrive and flourish in life is to walk in a manner worthy of our calling — the way of God’s word. When I’m convinced that His ways should be my ways, then I’m gonna be careful of behaviors which compete with that pursuit. Experience bears it out, following after fleshly unrighteousness compromises a holy hunger and thirst for righteousness. The pleasures of sin are but cheap, fleeting, junk food which have a way of taking away our appetite for that which truly nourishes the soul and prepares for eternity.
But feast on the Word and the appetite for the things of the flesh has a way of diminishing. Kind of how sanctification works. We read the Word, we study the Word, me meditate on the Word, and it’s gonna make us wanna walk in the Word. Transformed by the renewing of our minds. Conformed increasingly into the likeness of Jesus. Less appetite for sin.
And, when we do slip up and trip up, and we all slip up and trip up, it puts a bad taste in our mouth and doesn’t sit well in our gut. The remedy for which we should be very familiar — to walk that well worn path to the cross. To confess every evil way. To be cleansed of all sin’s defilement. To be reminded afresh that we have the power to walk in newness of life because of the finished work of the Son, and the unfailing, steadfast love of the Father.
Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalm 119:104-15 ESV)
Yup. Pretty sure it’s an either/or thing. Not a perfect thing, at least not on my part. But the perfect way. The way of desired obedience. Saying no to sin that I might say yes to His word. Diligently, consistently in His word, thus curbing the appetite for sin.
By His grace. For His glory.