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[Psalm 1]

Who ever said theology would be simple?  The writer C. S. Lewis once noted, "We can expect it [theology] to be at least as complicated as physics”.  Ironically, it is modern thinkers and modern theologians who are simplistic.  Ask a traditional theologian whether killing is wrong or whether it is just that someone should be poor, and his first response will be, "what are the circumstances?"  It's the modern thinker who makes blanket simplistic statements like "killing is wrong" or "poverty is wrong".

Theology comes from two words:  “Theos”, meaning God, and “Logos” which means “word”.  The term Λογος is applied to Christ only in John 1:1,14; Revelation 19:13; 1 John 1:1.  It comes from λεγω (lego), which is an old word meaning to lay by, to collect, to put words side by side, to speak, to express an opinion.  Λογος is common for reason as well as speech.  The Stoics employed it for the soul of the world and Marcus Aurelius used σπερματικος λογος/spermatikos logos for the generative principle in nature.  Heraclitus used it for the principle that controls the universe.

Theology, from “God” and “word”, means the study of God’s word, or more properly, the doctrine of God.  The doctrine of salvation, which is called soteriology, is simple; it’s as simple as anything can be.  “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”  Theology is not simple.  In Hebrews 5, Jesus is being called a high priest after the order of Melchisedec, and Paul says in verse 11, “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered [difficult to be translated in order to make you understand; hard of interpretation; why is it hard to make them understand?], seeing ye are dull of hearing.”  “You’ve grown dull in your hearing.”  It implies deterioration on the hearer’s part.  Plato used the same word to say, “When they have to face study, they are stupid [dull of hearing] and cannot remember”.  In [2 Peter], it’s talking about Paul and the wisdom that was given unto him, [2 Peter 3:16].

The doctrine of salvation is so simple a four-year-old can understand it.  Theology, or the study of God’s Word is not simple.  That’s what we’ve been looking at.  We’ve been studying line upon line and precept upon precept, as we’re instructed to do in Isaiah 28:10, and comparing scripture to scripture to get a more thorough understanding and a deeper and more accurate understanding of the things of God.

I want us to do a quick review, so we can get up to speed on where we left off.  We started last week with looking at Psalm 1 and how it is a good preface for the entire book of Psalms.  In this passage, the character and condition, and the present and future destiny, of both the pious and the wicked are described and contrasted.  This is teaching that true piety is the source of ultimate happiness, and sin is the source of misery.

Most people look at this Psalm, and in fact, they look at most passages in Scripture as comparing those who are either lost or saved, and they are in error when they look at it that way.  Don’t look on the ungodly in this Psalm as someone who is lost, look at the ungodly person as if he’s a wicked or ungodly saved person.  I want you to look at this Psalm in that light, because obviously, if you are saved, you know you should not take counsel or advice from someone who is not saved.  And failing to recognize that a saved person could still be ungodly could lead you into grievous error.  It is the attitudes and thoughts that define whether a person is godly or ungodly, not simply whether or not they are saved.

Verse 1 talks about the extreme happiness involved in the phrase that follows.  It says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”  You can see a clear digression here; a gradation of evil:  Walking, standing, and then sitting.  Marching after them, continuing with them, then you’re one of them.

Obviously, a person who is a child of God should not go up to a prison and look for counsel and wisdom from inmates.  But, if you are a person who wants to walk after God’s heart, you could go to someone who is saved, looking for advice, but that person may not have the life you have, and that is the key.  If you know truths pertaining to the coming Kingdom, Scriptures tell you that you have eyes to see and ears to hear.  When you go to someone who doesn’t have eyes to see and ears to hear, you are not going to get the counsel you really need.  It’s like the saying about the blind leading the blind.  It makes a real difference from whom you get counsel, when you seek it.  Many, many people who have known Kingdom truths have moved away from those truths because they have received the wrong counsel from people who have good intentions!

If you’re a child of God, you should not march after the wicked or ungodly saved, you should not sit with, or continue with those who offend, and you should not sit in judgment with those who are mockers of the things of God.  You have accountability for your actions, and some actions could cost you dearly.

[2 Corinthians 10:4-5]  What are the strongholds?  The strongholds are the advice and ways of those who are well meaning.  The stronghold is being included in the ways and lifestyle of the teacher that is giving you the wrong counsel.  You need to cast down imagination and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.

That is something that needs to be important in your life!  You don’t need to be concerned with the imaginations or the high things or the high opinions of others.  You need to be more interested in the knowledge of God, because that is what stands.  High opinions and high thoughts of man are not going to stand.  Take the Word of God, take the Scriptures, and bring your thoughts into captivity, so you will not be led astray by some other person, whether that person is truly wicked and ungodly, or just a well-meaning but misguided child of God.

Isaiah 33:6 tells us that wisdom and knowledge will provide you with stability.  Where do you find true wisdom and knowledge?  Right here.

[Matthew 6:13] shows us another characteristic of the blessed man of God, and that is that he prays.  This passage fits into the practices of a blessed person of God.  The key phrase is, “deliver us from evil.”  Literally, deliver us from the wicked one.  Deliver us from the counsel, way, and seat of the evil and wicked one.  Deliver us from the one who offends us, or causes us to stumble.

The word translated as “evil” is interesting.  It is literally, “the evil one”.  Although it can possibly refer to the devil, it generally refers to the evil person who seeks to do us ill, whoever he may be.  The word “ponEros” is curious in that it comes from “ponos”, which means “toil” and “poneO”, which means “to work”.  It reflects the idea that either work is bad, or this particular work is bad, and so the bad idea drives out the good in work or toil.  This is a perfect example of human depravity.  Our works are as filthy rags.

Psalm 1 helps us understand the thought of being delivered from the evil one in Matthew 6:13.  What is at stake if we take the counsel of the wicked?  What can we lose out on?  Ruling and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ!  That’s what is at stake if we take the wrong counsel!  When it says, “Thine is”, this is, of course, a reference to God.  Thine is the Kingdom.  Thine is the Power.  Thine is the Glory!

God has a glory, but a Christian can also have glory.  What is the glory for a child of God?  We have the hope of glory.  Do we hope that we are saved?  You should know that you are saved!  Acts 16:31 says simply, “Believe (aorist; an event, not a process like justification) on the Lord Jesus and you will (not may) be saved.”  The hope of glory has to do with the hope of ruling and reigning in the coming Kingdom.  It’s the hope of ruling in the millennial age!  We need to be seeking first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness!

“Hope” as a verb means, “to look forward to something, with implication of confidence about something coming to pass, to hope, or to hope for; to look forward to something in view of the measures one takes to ensure fulfillment; expect”.  The noun form is defined as, “the looking forward to something with some reason for confidence respecting fulfillment, hope, expectation, that which is the basis for hoping, foundation of hope, that for which one hopes, something hoped for”.

We find hope used in Colossians 1:26-27, which says, [Verse 26-27:  Even the mystery [secret; has to do with initiation] which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory glorious riches of this mystery (Paul’s gospel) among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:]  This mystery has been hid; it was concealed from ages and from generations.  Was salvation a mystery?  No!  But this mystery is now made manifest to his saints.  It was made manifest to those who were already saved; those who were living holy, separated lives!  This mystery is not being made manifest to lost people; it’s being made manifest to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear!

This passage was written to those who had a hope and were living their lives accordingly.  They are interested in ruling and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ.  They were brethren.  They lived their lives in obedience to God.  Matthew 7:21 says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  It’s talking about entering into the Kingdom of the Heavens, not simply salvation.

They hope that they will stand approved before the Lord Jesus Christ.  They have a hope of glory; they have a hope of sharing in the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ in the coming Kingdom.  But, many have taken the words of the Bible and have changed their meaning.  Many say that hope is a sure thing, and that’s just simply not the case.  That contradicts Greek scholars, Greek lexicons, and most importantly, it contradicts Scripture.

[Luke 23]  The Bible is consistent and the Bible is inerrant.  If that’s not true, then it’s confusing, and God is not the author of confusion.  [Luke 23:8-9; we see Herod judging Jesus and it says…]  We see Herod’s desire is successful.  He desired to see Jesus, and he did!  But when he hoped to see a miracle, that hope failed.  Hope in the Bible is not a sure thing.  We also have in Acts 24:26, which says, “He (Felix) hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him.”  Felix released Paul in the hopes that he might receive money, and he didn’t receive it.  Hope is not a sure thing.  (The object of that hope is assured.  The Bible specifically says that it is laid up for us.)

Hebrews 10:22 says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Assurance.  Some things are a sure thing.  Hebrews 6:11 says, “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end.  Works.  If you show diligence, you may be assured of this hope and you may be assured that it has been laid up for you.  It’s not salvation; salvation itself is assured, and it is not acquired by works.  Works have to do with being faithful.  Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  There’s no assurance that we will be faithful.  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of the glory:”

What is the hope of a Christian?  It’s the hope of the glory; it’s the hope of ruling and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ; it has to do with the coming Kingdom.  And that’s what the man in [Psalm 1] is seeking.

[Psalm 1:1, 2]  Verse 2 defines whom the godly are; it tells us the lifestyle of the godly.  It says that, “his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”  The word “delight” has to do with purpose, pleasure, and desire.  His purpose, pleasure, and desire are found in the Word of God.  He meditates in that word day and night.

We looked at some of the meanings of meditate, including “mutter” (talking to yourself), “roar” (preach it!), “imagine”, “study”, “mourn” (emotion is involved; preach it out with emotion!).  Most importantly, biblical meditation is the opposite of New Age meditation.  New Age meditation requires you to empty your mind, which opens it to all sorts of demonic influences.  Biblical meditation requires you to fill your mind with the things of God and spend your time thinking, studying, emoting, and preaching the things of God.

Meditation helps us to think on the things of God, and helps bring our thoughts into captivity unto the obedience of Jesus Christ.  When your mind wanders, get into the Scriptures and start reading and meditating and force yourself to think on things that are right, pure, and clean.  During the night, when you can’t sleep, turn your thoughts to the Word of God.  You can make the decision to work on your life and attitude to help you have peace.

[Psalm 119:15-16]  Notice the “I wills” in these verses.  “I will meditate”, “I will delight”, “I will not forget”…  That is determination!  Think about Ezra. 

[Ezra 7:10]  You can’t do that without commitment, dedication, and preparation.  There is no debate about “hiding thy word in my heart that I might not sin against thee.”  If you are debating about whether you should meditate upon the Word; if you can’t make up your mind; then you are not determined; you are not committed.  Ezra “prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach”.  A lot of people today prepare in their hearts to seek the law of the Lord, and to teach it, but they will do it at a more convenient time.  Notice in this verse that “doing” comes last.  You can teach a lot of theory without practice, and that is what happens many times.

[Psalm 19]  This passage tells us what the Word of God will do for a godly man.  In verse 7, we’re told the law of the Lord is perfect or entire and complete.  [Psalm 19:7]  You don’t need anything else.  Now, if you have physical problems, you need a physician, just as Asa, a king of Judah did in 2 Chronicles 16:12, when he had a really bad problem with athlete’s foot.  There are times when the counsel of God is to go see a physician.

This verse tells us the law of the Lord converts or restores the soul or the lifestyle.  It’s the soul where we make decisions.  It’s the soul where you make the decision to turn to the right or the left or continue straight ahead.  The Word of God restores you back to the right path.

“The testimony of the Lord is sure…”  [It provides the support to maintain your walk with Him.]

The law of the Lord “makes wise the simple”.  The simple are those who are easily led astray. 

 “The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart…”  It is difficult to express the joy and rejoicing of the heart that you can experience in studying the Word of God.  As the Lord unfolds Truth, there is joy and excitement, as in finding a nugget of gold or a precious stone.  It’s joyful!

[Psalm 19:8-11]  We don’t put the value on the Word of God that we should.  I think everyone can appreciate the value of gold and what gold will provide; gold provides temporary security.  Gold is of no value unless you use it.  If it’s just sitting in a pile, it is of no use!  Turning our treasured possessions into cash turns our possessions into something we can use, and would be profitable in everyday living.  If you use cash, though, your supply is depleted; but, you can use the Word of God constantly, and it never diminishes.  You never run short when you are using the Word of God!

[Psalm 19:10]  It satisfies.  It doesn’t really take a lot of honey to satisfy, does it?  I bet you can’t sit down and just eat a jar of honey.  A bag of chips or a box of cookies, maybe, but you can’t eat an entire jar of honey, because it will make you sick.  A little honey goes a long way.  The Word of God is “here a little and there a little”, and it will provide complete satisfaction.

[Psalm 1:3]  Think about a tree.  A tree is something that is hard to move.  The godly man is not compared to a squash or a melon.  How long does it take to grow a squash?  Maybe three months.  You can step on a squash and just mash it.  You can’t do that to a tree.  A tree is stable and is hard to move.

This tree is planted by a river of water.  In other words, there is nourishment for that tree.  You may get down to a single, solitary leaf, but that’s no time to quit!  [We once had a fig tree that we simply could not get rid of.  It had just one or two leaves and was growing under the foundation of our house.  Yet, it would produce one fig after another all summer long!]  Your fruit is coming even with only one leaf.  Even with one leaf, you can still take courage that you are prospering.  Do not become discouraged, even if most of the leaves leave.  Keep in mind that fruit is seasonal.  A tree usually does not bear fruit continually.  There are seasons of rest.

[Jeremiah 17]  What does it mean to be fruitful?  [Jeremiah 17:7-8]  This passage is a parallel passage.  When trouble comes, it can be a time of anxiety and carefulness, but if you are planted where your roots can get the living water, you do not have to be careful in the year of drought.  Psalm 33:18-19 says, “Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.”  We need to be bearing fruit.

[John 15:5]  Judges 9:13 tells us what the fruit is.  Many people think the fruit of a Christian is another Christian.  That could be a byproduct of fruitbearing, but if you are a branch and all you produce is another branch, how fruitful are you?  Are branches the fruit of the vine?  If you had a branch on a grape vine and all it produced was sticks, what would you do?  You would cut it off and cultivate one that would bear grapes.

The fruit of the vine is grapes, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the vine.  So, the fruit of a Christian is definitely not another vine!  We don’t need another savior.  The fruit of the vine is the wine, and what does the wine do?

Judges 9:13 tells us, “and the vine said unto them, should I leave my wine [not my branches], which cheereth God and man?”  The fruit of the vine is the wine, and the wine cheers God and man.  The fruit of a Christian is that which helps to cheer God and man.

[Psalm 1:4]  Here, we have the ungodly defined.  The ungodly are not meditating in the Word of God day and night.  The ungodly are not like a tree planted by rivers of water.  The ungodly are not bearing fruit.  The ungodly are not pleasing God.  You don’t have to be evil to not please God.  If you make shipwreck of the faith, you are no longer pleasing God.  The ungodly man does not delight in the Word of God.  He is like the chaff.  As the wind blows, so goes the chaff.  The tree may bend, but it is not driven to and fro as is the chaff.

The ungodly are rebellious against the laws of the Lord.  [Isaiah 30:1-2]  The ungodly do not take counsel from the Lord, but from others that are just shadows as far as wisdom and strength are concerned.  The ungodly rebel against the Lord.

What about the chaff?  [Isaiah 5:24]  The ungodly are producing stubble and chaff from rotten roots.  The blossoms that would produce fruit turn to dust and no fruit is produced.  The ungodly person does not prosper because he is cast away from the law of the Lord, which would provide stability and control in his life.  The ungodly man despises the word of the Holy one of Israel.  Job esteemed the Word of God more than his necessary food and look at how he prospered before the Lord and his friends.

[Ephesians 4:14]  Those who are tossed to and fro are not grounded in doctrinal truth from the Word of God.  The ungodly can be easily deceived.

Who is the Prince of the Power of the Air?  Satan.  Satan can toss you to and fro if you are not rooted and grounded in the truth.  [The air can easily blow the chaff away.]  If you are grounded in the Word of God, Satan cannot toss you to and fro.  If the weapons of your warfare are in place, you do not move.  You do not take counsel from those who are not where you are in spiritual growth.  A teaching ministry will establish a man of God and allow him to become a fruitful tree.

[Psalm 1:5]  The word “stand” in this verse can be translated “to be raised up”.  The ungodly will not be raised up, but will receive judicial sentencing.  The word “judgment” has to do with judicial sentencing.  Neither will offenders be in the congregation of the just.  This brings to mind Matthew 13.

[Matthew 13:41-43]  Offenders will be removed.  The sinners who offend will be gathered out of His Kingdom.  There will be no place in the Kingdom for the ungodly; for those who offend.  The tares, who are saved, are part of the harvest and they are harvested first.  The tares are those in the family that offend those who are trying to bring forth fruit that glorifies the Father.  The tares are those who discourage the wheat.  The tares are a picture of those who are lawless.

He will cast them into a furnace of fire and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  [Matthew 13:43]  This furnace of fire is not permanent, but temporary.  This furnace is not the lake of fire, but a temporary judgment for those who are lawless and offend their fellow Christians.

[John 15:6]  There is a judgment coming for those who offend and hinder others from bearing fruit.  These who offend will not stand in the congregation of the righteous.

What about the righteous?  [Psalm 1:6]  In thinking about “the way”, we are thinking about the lifestyle of the just.  The lifestyle of the ungodly is going to perish.  The ungodly will not bring fruit, therefore they will be cast away.

[Hebrews 10:38]  The just live by faith.  The righteous people who are just need to live by faith.  They need to be seeking first the Kingdom of God.

[Matthew 6:33]  We should be taking counsel from those who are seeking first the Kingdom of God and the righteousness, which is by faith.  They have the right perspective in their lifestyle.

But, we should not be confronting the Lord.  Proverbs 21:30 tells us, “There is NO wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the Lord [confronting the Lord].”

The godly walk circumspectly.  [Ephesians 5:15-17]  You need to be walking circumspectly, and you do that by allowing the Word of God to shine on the counsel that we receive, and we need to reject the counsel that doesn’t agree with the Word of God.

The decision is ours to make, as to which counsel to accept; whether to follow the ungodly or the godly.  [Matthew 7:13-14]  Is this talking about salvation?  No.  That would be a salvation by works.  It has to do with our walk.

My exhortation is to not go the way of the ungodly, but in the way of the godly.  Don’t go the easy way, but go the right way.  You need to be careful with your lives.  You need to let the Word of God control your thoughts and your lifestyle.  Don’t let the counsel of the wicked control your thoughts and lifestyle!

The counsel today of many well meaning Christians is tradition, and not the Word of God.  If someone’s counsel does not line up with the Word of God, reject it!  May God help us to see the value of the counsel of the Word of God that we might be blessed!