Psalm 119:3 – “They do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways.”
The 176 day journey continues today with Psalm 119:3.
Over the past couple of days we have read about those who are blessed by God. They are the ones who keep His commands.
In verse three of Psalm 119 we read that these people do nothing wrong; they walk in His ways. How cool would it to be one who does nothing wrong?
I can hardly grasp that concept. It seems like not a day goes by that I am not presented by hundreds of opportunities to do wrong. And not a day goes by where I get it right all day long. And yet, this passage suggests that those who walk according to the law; those who seek Christ with all of their heart, are capable of doing nothing wrong.
And, if we could really live life in this type of perfection then we would be God. And, we can’t. So, again, maybe the point is that apart from His strength and His power working through us, we are capable of doing nothing right.
You may say, “But what about those who don’t love Christ? They do good things.”
Yes, they do. But if it is not done for God’s ultimate glory, it is not done for the right reason. God created us for His pleasure and for His glory. Our lives are to be lived as a sacrifice of worship to Him. So, we are incapable of doing right when we walk apart from His ways.
1 John 3:9 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”
1 John 5:18 says, “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.”
Do Christians sin?
So, how do we reconcile these verses that say that no one who is born of God will continue to sin? These verses have always bothered me. Because, I know that I am a Christian, and I know that I sin.
In 1978, Paul Van Gorder wrote a book entitled, In The Family – Studies in First John. What follows is a long excerpt from that book, but it describes, I believe very well, in great detail this struggle that we have as Christians between our old nature (sin) and our new nature (godliness).
“Consider, please, what this verse (1 John 3:9) does not say. It does not say that a person who is born of God never commits an occasional act of sin, but he does not make it his trade or practice, the course of his life. Again the verb ‘commit’ is in the present tense, indicating continuous action. J.N. Darby translates this verse, ‘Whoever has been begotten of God does not practice sin.; This in now way conflicts with John’s previous statement, ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us’ (1 John 1:8). There is a difference between having sin and doing sin.
Here is the question: Why does the believer not practice sin? John says it is because ‘His seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.’ The new nature dwells in every Christian. Some translations capitalize the word ‘His,’ implying that it is God’s seed that remains in the believer. This seed is the new nature, the new man formed within the soul at salvation. That which is born of God in the believer, the new man, cannot sin. God’s seed abides within the believer; it cannot become defective.
I wonder if something else might be true here also? In 1 Peter 1:23 we read, ‘Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.’ The same truth is declared by James, ‘Of His own will begot He us with the word of truth . . .’ (James 1:18). The Lord Jesus Himself described the character of those who do not believe on Him: ‘And ye have not His word abiding in you’ (John 5:38). This is the engrafted word by which we have been made partakers of the divine nature (James 1:21). Nothing grows out of a carrot seed except a carrot; an apple seed brings forth an apple tree. So James inquires, ‘Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain yield both salt water and fresh’ (James 3:12). Because God’s seed remains in the believer, it is impossible for a true Christian to practice sin. He no longer desires it. To live a wicked life, therefore, is foreign to true conversion.
Now, I am not ignoring the fact that the old nature is still within the believer. ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh’ (John 3:6). Nor am I denying that ‘the carnal mind is enmity against God’ (Romans 8:7). This old nature is sinful, and it can produce nothing else. But the new nature is of the Lord, for we are ‘partakers of the divine nature.’ It is as incapable of sin as God is. When the Christian recognizes that he has a dual nature – one of sin and the other of God – he will be able to face life realistically. He will not want to dishonor his Heavenly Father by allowing anything to remain in his life that does not proceed from the new life. When on occasion the old nature asserts itself, and the believer lapses and allows an act of sin by thought, word, or deed, he can immediately do as 1 John 1:9 instructs, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.'”
I told you it was a long one! But did you catch the power in Van Gorder’s words at towards the end of the last paragraph? “When the Christian recognizes that he has a dual nature – one of sin and the other of God – he will be able to face life realistically. He will not want to dishonor his Heavenly Father by allowing anything to remain in his life that does not proceed from the new life.” That’s what these verses in Psalm 119 have been about the past three days. Those who walk with God will want to please Him. We want to give back to the God who has so lavishly loved us. We want to adore Him. We want to not continue in a pattern of sin.
May it be so.
May it be so.
And, may we do nothing wrong.
That word nothing is a tough one. Because, I know that I am so guilty of doing many things that displease you. Thank you for the reminder that your Spirit dwells in me. Your seed dwells within me. I have been born anew. Help me to live like it. Help me to allow you to reign.
Thank you that nothing is impossible for You — even transforming me.
In Jesus’ name,