“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:9-11).
Those who believe in God have a desire to live their lives in a way that pleases God. Once a man asks the all-important question, “How do can I live a pure life?” Religion steps forward with a long list of rules and regulations that are based upon tradition rather the Scripture. The Psalmist tells us how we can live holy and godly lives.
O to live a clean life! Only someone who is truly tired of sin has such a desire as this. How many times have we vowed that we would live a holy life unto the Lord, but find we quickly break that promise? How often we find ourselves confessing exactly the same sins day after day, week after week, until years go by without any resolution to them. The desire of the Psalmist is to find victory over besetting sin (see Hebrews 12:1). The stain of sin leaves its dirty mark on our lives and reveals just how short we are of God’s glory, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), so we cry out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).
The answer to the sin problem in our lives is found in obedience to the word of God. What about the blood of Christ? The blood of Christ does cleanse the repentant sinner from his sin, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), but God intends for us to live free from sin in the first place. If we would but obey His word, then we would not fall into sin. The Scriptures have the ability to keep us clean from the filth of the world. “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3) … “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26).
We do not just use detergent to clean up dirt and grime, but also to prevent germs spreading. Modern disinfectants can kill up to 99% of all known germs, but God’s word is powerful enough to destroy 100% of our sin. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
We have to decide to follow the teachings of God’s word. This means that we have to put our whole heart into it. Those who teach that holiness and purity are automatic virtues in the Christian life do not know the Scriptures. “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (2 Peter 1:5-9). Surely not to do so is to play the hypocrite!
The decision to follow God requires full surrender on our part. “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6). There can be no half measures here.
God’s word hidden in our hearts and minds is a great defence against all the temptations that come our way. “No cure for sin in the life is equal to the Word in the heart. There is no hiding from sin unless we hide the truth in our souls” (Charles H. Spurgeon). God has equipped us with all that is needed so that we do not fall back into Satan’s snares. He has planned for our victory rather than our defeat. He has only given us one offensive weapon, and that is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Therefore the Scriptures are given both to defend us and to offend evil. No wonder then that the devil does not want us to trust in it.
If we long to be clean then we must use the means that God has given us. Sin will keep us from the Bible, but the Bible will also keep us from sin. “I have laid it up in my mind like a choice treasure, to be ready upon all occasions to counsel, quicken or caution me” (John Wesley).