In a previous post (read it here), I listed eight practical applications of the word of God to our life, as found in Psalm 119. A good friend challenged me to expand on each of these. There’s nothing I love more than a reason to go treasure-hunting, so I accept the challenge!
As a review, here are the eight I mentioned:
· The word keeps us from sin.
· The word keeps us from reproach and contempt.
· The word gives us good counsel, and brings us joy.
· The word revives and strengthens us when we are discouraged.
· The word produces a reverence for God.
· The word makes us wise.
· The word gives us direction for life.
· The word gives us peace.
In this post, let’s explore how God’s word can keep us from sin.
Psalm 119:11 – Your word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
The Old Testament Hebrew word for sin, as used here in verse 11, is chata’ (Strongs 2398). It means to miss, to sin, miss the goal or path of right and duty; to incur guilt, incur penalty by sin, forfeit.
The verb tense of the word “sin” in Psalm 119:11 is the imperfect tense. According to Blue Letter Bible, the imperfect expresses an action, process or condition which is incomplete; it is the kind of progression or imperfection and unfinished condition of an action which may consist in its frequent repetition. The imperfect follows particles expressing “transition”, “purpose”, “result” and so forth as, “in order that”, “lest”; e.g.
In other words, to sinis to miss the goal and incur a penalty or forfeit, and in context, this is something which has the possibility of continuing. The purpose of treasuring God’s word is so that we might not miss what we are aiming for – the path of right, or our duty as believers.
If you read the entire Psalm 119, you must agree with me that it is written by what we would define as a “true believer.” The psalmist is passionate about God’s word, and has determined with all his heart to obey it. He recognizes the grace and mercy of God repeatedly, and grieves when he even thinks about being unfaithful to God.
From our New Testament perspective, we know that the penalty of sin for a true believer has been paid. We are not in danger of losing our salvation if sin occurs in our life, because Christ paid for it in full. We also know that when we sin, we can be forgiven if we confess, and our relationship and fellowship with God is restored.
1 John 2:1-2 and 1:9 – My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for our sins only, but also for those of the whole world. … If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
So what is the penalty, or forfeit that we incur as a believer? We miss the goal of our lives – to bring glory to Christ.
To say it another way, when we fail to bring glory to Christ, it is sin.
Sin causes shame to be cast on our Savior, as we represent Him to an unbelieving world.
Sin disqualifies us from serving God in ways that He would desire to use us.
Sin brings pain and difficulty into our life, when God desires us to live in the abundance of His blessings.
Sin hurts others, as our selfishness spills into the lives of those we love.
Sin grieves the heart of God.
If God has given us the “answer” to keep us from sin, we should run to it and cling to it with everything we have!
Sin occurs in us, in two capacities: in our thoughts, and in our actions. God’s word speaks to both of these.
The word keeps us from sin in our actions, because it defines for us what is evil and what is good. How will I know what grieves God and brings Him shame, except that His word tells me? Scripture is filled with instruction. God has not left us to grope our way through life in darkness, relying on our own knowledge, trying to figure out what we should or should not do.
Colossians 1:9-10 – For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
The word also keeps us from sin in our thoughts, because it supernaturally and powerfully discerns the true motives of our hearts. It exposes our inner man so that we recognize our sin.
Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
The word keeps us from sin as it transforms our thoughts by renewing our minds. We have the mind of Christ, but the word of God is how we engage the mind of Christ –as we learn to think like Him, through His Spirit in us.
Romans 12:2 – And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (NOTE: Here we can see that the transforming of our mind affects our actions)
1 Corinthians 2:16 – For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.
So what does it mean to treasure the word?
Psalm 119:11 indicates that the power of the word to keep us from sin is relative to how much we value it. The psalmist says he treasures the word in his heart.
The Hebrew word for treasure(translated as “hid” in the KJV) is tsaphan (Strongs 6845), and means to hide, treasure, or store up. It has the idea of to lay up, or store, or reserve. The verb is used in the present tense, which indicates a completed action.
We can do this practically, as we memorize God’s word. We often quote 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
We quote this verse as it stands alone, and think that God will supernaturally show up just as we are tempted and give us the strength and wisdom to resist temptation and avoid sin. And YES, God does show up supernaturally, because if we are His child, His Spirit indwells us, and He is already there. But how does this happen?
Read the verse in context! 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 – Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
Our ability to resist temptation is directly related to learning from the failures of others, which we find written in the word of God. The context of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is preventive. By storing up a knowledge of God’s word (all of God’s word, not just our favorite parts), we are preparing ourselves for the day or moment of temptation. God supernaturally “shows up” as His Holy Spirit brings His word to our mind and heart, reminding us of what is good and what is evil, and exposing our deepest thoughts and the intentions of our motives.
My husband has a favorite saying: “The Spirit of God takes the word of God and shows us the will of God.”
This is certainly true as the word keeps us from sin!
Is this really practical? How does God’s word really keep us from sin?
Perhaps you are struggling with arguing with your husband. It seems that you just can’t see eye to eye on anything, and every conversation ends in debate. Your temper flares, his temper flares, and you both end up saying hurtful things you regret.
Instead of trying harder to get along, begin to memorize scripture that speaks directly to the issue. For example, Proverbs 15:1 says A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Hide these words deep in your heart. Post them on your bathroom mirror. Talk to your husband and together, commit to not saying harsh words. Pray for God to help you close your mouth when you are angry.
I promise that the next time you are in the middle of an argument, ready to spout unkind words you’re going to regret, the words of Proverbs 15:1 will come into your mind! God’s Spirit will bring it to you. Then, you have a choice. You can either grieve the Spirit and ignore what He is saying to you, and go on in your sin, or listen to Him, close your mouth, and stop.
As you practice hiding God’s word in your heart, reading it, pondering it, meditating on it, God’s Spirit will use it to make you aware of your sin, confront you in the middle of it, and cause you to hate it. I guarantee it!