My dad gave me my first Bible when I went to Grade 1. On the first page he wrote Psalm 119:9. A verse that has since become one of my favourites:
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11 ESV
I guess, if you are reading this, there is one thing you have a desire for — to have a life that is pure before the Lord. I guess all of us — at different levels — struggle with a pure walk, fall into sin from time to time — not to mention the fact that we probably sin daily.
This desire, to be pure, has always been strong with me and I regularly read this verse. But, even though I loved the verse I think I always looked at it slightly the wrong way. For a long time it was mysterious to me. Then it became kind of obvious to me that if I kept God’s word, his instructions and rules, my life would be pure. The problem always was, and still is, I don’t have it in me to be 100% obedient all the time.
Spending time in God’s Word
Then a week or so ago I sinned in a way that I had to go before my wife and before the Lord and ask their forgiveness. I was downtrodden and distraught. The next morning the Lord gave me this verse from Psalm 119 again and I heard him say: You are not spending enough time in my Word, that is why you sin.
It was an epiphany: How can I obey God’s Word if I don’t keep close to God’s Word? It wasn’t about simply obeying all the rules — it was more about keeping God’s Word in my heart and thinking about it.
If you continue down the chapter and you read verse 11 it says it even more clearly: I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Beautiful! The ESV reads I have stored up your word in my heart.
To hide or store up
What does it mean to hide/store?
To hide or to store something is to keep it safe and to think about it often. In Luke 2 Mary treasured up the things of Jesus so she could ponder about them.
In Psalm 1 it reads: Oh the joys of those who delight in the Law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit every season.
Psalm 37:31 The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.
Receiving with meekness
A few days later I came across a piece from Andrew Murray and he quotes this verse from James 1:21: …and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
He is saying that God wants to plant his Word into your life, and that this will save your soul. This will prevent you from sinning. And you need to receive it with humility, with meekness. The only or best way to receive God’s word into your life, is through humility.
Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God is alive. And John 1 says the Word became alive in the form of Jesus. More than anything else this living Word has the power to transform your life as you receive it into your heart.
A humble heart is a heart contrite and broken before the Lord. Willing to receive correction and instruction from the Lord. A heart that listens because he knows he has much to learn. A heart that knows without the Lord’s help he doesn’t have what it takes to complete the job. A heart that needs and cries out to the Lord.
Reflection on your walk of faith
Is the word of God central to your own personal walk of faith? Have you been storing it up in your heart or simply shelving it?
What will prevent us, as individuals and as a body, to keep from sinning? It will not be our church or cell group attendance. It will not be our own knowledge, our friends, our work or our community.
What will keep us pure is if we allow Jesus to implant his living word in our hearts, to make scripture a priority, to read it, to meditate on it, and to keep it in our hearts.