Pursuing Holiness Through Fellowship With God
While on my way to an appointment today, I listened to a Paul Washer sermon titled "Renew Your Mind." This sermon covers Psalm 1 and Romans 12. In this sermon, Washer covers pursuing holiness and the human capacity to sin. He shows that God's mercy renews every morning. Furthermore, he emphasizes distinguishing the voice of condemnation and God's voice. This post is going to focus on Psalm 1 and pursuing holiness.
"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law, he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but they are like chaff, which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish" (Psalm 1, NASB).
Sifting Through the Text
The Psalms are a unique book of the Bible. They are comprised of five books of songs and show a three-part story to Israel's redemption: monarchy, exile, and return. Psalms 1-41 comprise the first book.
The first thing that should have been noted while reading this was the way that God shows how to pursue holiness. Interestingly, He shows it by showing what not to do.Romans 12 reflects this by showing how to renew the mind and not to be transformed to this world. Psalm 1 shows how to accomplish this. The most important aspect to note from this text is that those who are converted and follow God's commandments will be blessed. It is very easy to not be in fellowship with God even while converted.
The pattern of this text shows that when we do not walk with the wicked, the mind will not be filled with their ways as bad company corrupts good morals, and the thoughts will not become actions. When the mind is filled with the truth of the Word, the soul and mind are nourished like a tree planted beside the water. It is only through the word and God's guidance that the pursuit of holiness is run.
Washer uses the examples of a man seemingly carrying out God's will by becoming a pastor of a church when he has only been a Christian for 14 months and a woman who states that God told her to evangelize a man who she is romantically pursuing when he is not a convert. He shows here that not every thought is of Christ and our own motives get in the way of what God's word states.
The first example is linked to 2 Timothy:
"and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil." 2 Timothy 3:6, NASB.
The second example is linked to 2 Corinthians:
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14.
The verse underscores that if you have romantic feelings for a person who is not saved, you are automatically disqualified from evangelizing to them. The best thing that can be done for this person in prayer. Take note that this does not mean men can't minister to women (in the presence of other believers to remain above reproach) and women can't evangelize to men (while in the presence of other believers to remain above reproach). What this is saying is to take caution when you think you are in God's will when what you are doing is contradicting God's word because judgment will come.
Nourishing the Mind and Soul
One thing I thought of while reading this was the trip to Alaska my husband and I went on last year. On one of the days, we went hiking with his brother and sister-in-law at Thunderbird Falls. At the end of one of the trails, there was a waterfall and a stream flowing from this fall. Around the water, the foliage was more green and lively as it was around the source of life (picture below taken from the trip). Our souls and minds are the same way. The second half of Psalm 1 shows the downfall of the wicked as their ways are in rebellion to Christ's ways.
The closing verses show the omnipresent aspect of Christ as he sees the ways of the righteous and the wicked.
In closing, Psalm 1 shows how one can be pursuing holiness and growing in Christlikeness. When God is pursued wholeheartedly, He will reveal purpose, sin, and triumph in a balanced holy way. As a person who struggles with sorting through the voice of condemnation, I hope that this scripture speaks to you and imparts wisdom as it has to me.
For more information about myths and truths of the Christian faith and pursuing holiness, please see the article "The Myths Complex."