Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word.”
The path of the righteous is a journey that is fraught with peril. Like a good book full of adventure and intrigue, the story is lined with dangers and pitfalls, and for those who choose this adventure they would be wise to take heed as to what lies ahead.
The Word of God is the map for traversing this journey, it outlines the troubles and joys that await, for anyone beginning this pathway and for all those who are now on it, maintaining a constant watch is imperative.
Pitfalls of Life
Psalm 24:3-4 “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”
How does the Word of God guide?
I know this sounds like an obvious question, but when I encourage someone to walk in purity I want to leave them with a plan that is practical.
Anyone can pick up the Bible and start reading it, matter of fact the viewpoint for many can vary greatly depending on the perspective. Reading the Bible with an eye toward navigating life is a perspective that is easier said than done. Sure, there are all kinds of encouraging words, reminders that God is in control, to strive for righteousness, and walking in humility, these all have their place, but moving past the encouragement into the realm of reality takes an ability to apply these truths in light of your circumstances.
Discipleship is the process of helping people do just that, taking biblical truth and applying it practically.
Even discipleship is often focused on the positive aspects of a christian walk. Learning how to see the world from a christian perspective must include both the positive side of walking in the joy of the Lord, and the not so pleasant side that looks like the everyday drudgery of striving to pay the bills, handling relationships, dealing with temptation, avoiding bad influences, and learning how to live a life that is different than you’ve ever done before.
The Word of God remains the guide for life and believe it or not there is more included in this book than you might have thought previously. Just for fun, lets see what some of the directives are for the subjects I listed previously.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”
If I’m encouraging a man to start considering the people he is hanging out with, this scripture isn’t a bad place to start. The idea of ‘bad company’ is founded on what the Bible says bad people do, if someone practices certain traits regularly in their life that conflicts with God’s Word, this should be a clue as for who to avoid.
There are lots of examples of people with bad morals, while there are other places you can find lists of attributes that describe these people.
Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
People who practice these things are people you want to avoid.
These attributes are the character qualities of people who live according to the flesh. Continue on in the 5th chapter of Galatians and you’ll see the attributes of people who live by the Spirit of God.
Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
The people who exhibit these characteristics are the people you want to associate with, the people you want to model your life after, and the ones who are trustworthy.
When you have friends that live by the Spirit, you have opportunity to encourage one another in the things of God. It doesn’t seem weird when you give them a bit of encouragement from God’s Word and you can hold each other accountable to the commitments you both hope to strive for.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
When a friend reminds you of a pattern of sin, it’s done from a heart of love. When an unbeliever reminds you of your sin, it’s usually done in mockery.
Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”
If the person your with continually loses their temper, they clearly don’t have a grip over their emotions. You’ll find yourself either trying to continually decompress the situation or getting caught up in the rash behavior that follows.
Proverbs 22:24-25 “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
People who practice unrighteousness typically look for validation. They want you to partake in their sin otherwise you appear to them as judgemental. What these irrational people don’t understand is that you live by God’s laws and yet they attribute your standard to self-righteousness. Sometimes these moments lend themselves to sharing the gospel, something this person really needed all along.
There are many, many examples of what good friendships look like, consider looking further into God’s Word to understand how to not only choose friends but be a good friend yourself.
When it comes to life, the older you get the more difficult it can be to maintain joy in what you do. Jobs get mundane, patterns become repetitious, and life can seem to trudge on at times, repeating the same functions every week.
How do people stay positive, enthusiastic, and joyful in all their endeavors?
Short answer: they don’t.
People put on good fronts when in reality everyone struggles with keeping a continuously positive perspective of life. The moment it seems everything is going great, a young punk cuts you off in traffic and leaves a gesture in his wake. You beebop into the store and before you know it, a lady runs into your kart and doesn’t say a word. There’s all kinds of rude people that invade your space at any given moment and disrupt your life without a thought.
1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
People who seem to always be abounding in their endeavors are people who understand how to maintain a steadfast spirit.
Psalm 112:5-7 “A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
Notice anything that stands out regarding a “good man”.
- His focus is on others, not himself.
- He is cautious regarding what he commits to.
- He doesn’t allow events or people to distract him from his purpose.
- Evil has no authority over him.
- His strength is in the Lord, thus he is steadfast in his heart.
Titus 2:2 “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.”
Character doesn’t come naturally, it is practiced and practiced until it becomes a pattern. The man who keeps his mind heavenward, desiring to please the Lord is the one who has an intimate relationship with the Lord already. The more a godly man walks in obedience, the more blessings of God he finds.
When it comes to temptation it’s important to remember a key point in the life of a believer—God doesn’t tempt you.
If God doesn’t tempt you, He likewise doesn’t lead you into temptation, thus if you are experiencing an increased level of temptation, guess who’s fault it is?
You guessed it, it’s your fault. If we are the ones responsible for subjecting ourselves to temptation, we need to look at the patterns of behavior that lead us there in the first place.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Praise be to God, even when we mess up and find ourselves in pitfalls of despair, He is faithful to lead us out if we will only follow. These pitfalls of life are common to everyone, your not alone in the daily battle for purity. I believe one of the common areas of failure is our ability to admit to ourselves our weaknesses and learning how to avoid them.
Listen to the encouragement Paul gives to the church in Ephesus.
Ephesians 4:25-32 “Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Notice how with each temptation, there is a remedy for how to counter that temptation. Paul understood people in his day and those people weren’t much different than you and I are today. We all need encouragement, we all need good godly friends to encourage us and in turn we encourage them. Life can be very difficult but it is easier when it is kept on the path of righteousness.
Following the way of life is not much different than keeping the Word of God close to your heart and living by its precepts. Stay in the Word, pray about it each day, and find time to meet with godly friends… you’ll find life can be much more simple and filled with joy.