More Rules Please!

Connecting Points

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Today’s Topic: More Rules Please!                                                  

Today’s Text:  Psalm 119:20 (ESV) My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.

When was the last time you heard anyone say this – More rules please!”? Probably never, right? We are tired of rules. They contradict our inherent sin nature. Anarchy – that’s what we want. Let each one determine their own rules based on their own desires and preferences. That’s the nature of fallen humanity.

But it is NOT the nature of redeemed humans. Those who by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His resurrection have been saved from their sin have a totally different perspective on rules. Bring them on. Load me up. Teach me. I live best within the confines of God’s covenant. More rules please! These are the cries of a transformed heart.

Join me for a moment in reflecting on the nature of being consumed with longing for more rules. This requires a simple study of the meaning of the words. This may seem boring to some of you, but may I remind you that the meaning of words is critical to communication of any kind, so this is very important.

As I sought wisdom from the original Hebrew language using my extremely limited understanding, I discovered a significant truth. (I can’t wait for my friends Hebrew scholar friends Linn and Curt to bounce back their input on this.)  The word consumed is used only three other times in the Old Testament, and each time in the context of crushing. The soul here refers to any living creature having breath. It is the word used to describe the natural life of all animals and humans.  Longing, and its root form long, is a unique word to the author of this Psalm, and is used three times by him and nowhere else in Scripture. It means to desire. And finally, the word rules in its purest definition means verdict pronounced judicially based on the law.

Thanks for sticking around through that teaching in expectation of truth that will be revealed. Here is what God laid on my heart as a result of knowing His definition and inspiration of these words.

Almighty God, my flesh and its natural and sinful desires are being crushed with the desire to know more and more of your law so that I might be in agreement with the verdicts you pronounce on those who break them.

I believe that we believe that ignorance is bliss, and that we will not be judged based on what we don’t know. What we do not understand is that this belief completely denies the nature of God who is Just and Righteous in all His ways. It is not up to us to know only the ways of God that comply with our current choices. Rather, it is our privilege to know ALL the ways of God and conform our choices to His verdicts. In fact, within the very nature of our redemption is the longing to know God and His ways. So powerful is that longing that it consumes and crushes all desires of the flesh – or at least it could if we would surrender to it.

That’s the problem – we don’t surrender to the redeemed nature, but rather we continue to cling to it. Instead of crucifying the flesh daily, our old nature of sinful flesh has been given the right to reside in a state of self-declared coexistence with the nature of Christ. This may seem reasonable to us, but it is an impossibility with God. Daily the sinful desires are to be crushed under the longing for God that accompanies true salvation. Daily the desires to know Him, to know His rules, and to obey Him are to overwhelm the desires of the flesh. This is the power of the Holy Spirit in us, Whom Jesus sent to bring to our minds all the things that Jesus taught and to empower us to obey them. The Redeemer has sent His Spirit into our lives to resurrect the life of Jesus in us so that we might reflect His nature in all we do.

My friends, this is serious business. It is not to be declared too heavy or too deep and thereby ignored as insignificant. Look carefully at the rest of this portion of Psalm 119. Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law, as the Psalmist says in verse 18. I am a sojourner on the earth; hide not your commandments from me! Only then will I know how to represent you in a world where I do not reside nor belong. (verse 19) Your verdicts are just on those who disobey, and ignorance is disobedience. Therefore I will long for your commandments and not wander from the. (verses 21-22). No matter what people do to me, or how the circumstances of life pile up against  me, I will turn only to your statutes and meditate on them, knowing that solutions are not found in my heart, but in yours. (verse 23) My only hope for joy in this life and for guidance through this life is to be found in your Word, so I will delight in it. (verse 24)

“More rules please!”

3 thoughts on “More Rules Please!

  1. Since I have been “tagged” in this post, I will respond! :-) First, for the record, I am not an expert in Hebrew! It seems that Psalm 119 uses a number of different terms to talk about the law (instruction) of God: rules, commands, precepts, statutes, decrees, etc. Israel understood the law of God to be part of his providential care for them. In fact, it is the way of abundant life and fruitfulness (see Psalm 1, the introduction to the collection). Conversely, to ignore God’s law is to choose futility and destruction. The opening verses of Psalm 119 set the tone for this idea. According to v. 2, seeking God with all one’s heart is the same as living in obedience to him. True spirituality, therefore, has everything to do with the way we treat our fellow human beings, all created in the image of God. Another way to express this is to say that faith/belief is just as much a verb as it is a noun!

    Warm greetings to you, from Lalia and me, with thankfulness for your partnership in publishing the good news for Portuguese-speaking people around the world.

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  2. I love it when you get to the “root” of words! I also love hearing from you and the Lord especialy when He brings to mind something I need to take care of or work on.

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  3. The problem with rules is our perspective. Many of our rulers have created rules that only create fear and judgment for those they rule over. They are designed to elevate the ruler not for the good of their subjects. We naturally want to rebel from these kind of rules. When we remember that all of God’s rules can be boiled down to two, Love God and Love your neighbor the perspective changes. All of His rules are designed to bring us closer to our creator and those around us. They keep us safe and give us purpose. Who doesn’t want that? When we remember the nature of the ultimate Ruler we can gladly ask for more rules.

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