The Road Less Traveled
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his Ninety-five Theses on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg, listing 95 inconsistencies with what the Roman Catholic Church practiced and what the Bible taught. Thus igniting the spark that began the Protestant Reformation.
· While teaching the Bible at the University of Wittenberg, this Augustinian monk came to a true understanding of the gospel of God's grace in Romans 1:17 which reads, “The just shall live by faith."
· Luther believed upon the perfect merit of Christ's righteousness – a righteousness that he termed a foreign righteousness that which was outside himself, or an alien righteousness – and was justified by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
· This newly converted monk would describe the doctrine of justification by faith the article of faith by which the church stands or falls. Thus, the book of Romans is forever identified with Luther and the Reformation.
But what is often overlooked is the fact that Luther was first dramatically impacted by another book of Scripture, a book that gave him the courage to stand alone against the world if need be. That book was Psalms.
· On August 16, 1513, Luther began lecturing on the book of Psalms and it would profoundly impact his life.
· While Romans would later formulate Luther’s doctrinal convictions regarding salvation, Psalms gave him the courage to fearlessly stand against the world, if need be, for the authority of God's Word.
· The Psalms instilled within Luther such a high view of God that he was infused with a devil-defying boldness to preach the glorious truth of the gospel.
It was these two books of Scripture – Romans and Psalms – which so radically affected him and altered the direction of his life.
· In the midst of Luther's greatest and most intense turmoil, this Reformer found his greatest strength in the Psalms.
· It is my hope that our study this morning of the Psalms and the subsequent weeks will fills us with such a passion for God and an unwavering confidence in His word that, even if we face the greatest threat, we could say with Luther “Here I stand…”
I can think of no better place to being our series in Psalms than to begin where the book of Psalms begins – Psalm 1
1. Purpose of Psalm
a. Adaptability to life: whether you are up or down, soaring or struggling, there is a psalm that speaks directly to the spiritual state of your heart.
b. God centered: its focus is God-centered and it directs our hearts to find our satisfaction in Him.
2. Psalm 1: The Gateway
a. Psalm 1-14 were probably gathered together during the early days of the Jewish monarchy by either David or Solomon.
b. Psalm 1 is an anonymous psalm that serves as the logical introduction to the entire book of Psalms
3. Teaching Psalm
a. Different types of Psalms which we will explore in the subsequent weeks,
b. Provides practical guidelines for godly living and give pointed direction for righteous living in pursuit of God’s will
c. This teaching Psalms point: there are only two roads taken – the path of the righteous and the path of the wicked. The challenge this morning to you is to assess which path you are on.
STAND & READ
This morning we will examine two eternal roads (only 2) so that we can assess which path we are traveling.
I. The Way of the Righteous (1:1-3)
A. He is satisfied in the Lord (v.1a) (5:00)
“How blessed is the man”
This Psalm begins with the emphatic declaration that God’s abundant favor will rest upon the person who lives a truly God-centered life.
The word blessed (esher) means an overflowing joy and full contentment in God. It is a satisfaction and happiness in the Lord.
· the noun occurs 44 times in the OT, over half of them are found in Psalms
· The word happy is a good synonym, although it must be understood that the word conveys far more then feelings.
· This noun describes one who is favored by God and fulfilled in God.
In the original language, the word blessed is repeated. This is the Hebrew method of indicating the plural, intensifying its meaning.
· Thus, the phrase should read: “O how very happy”.
· C.H. Spurgeon “the multiplicity of blessing which shall rest upon the man of God”
The person who is satisfied in the Lord, has found
· Psalm 16:11 “in your presence is fullness of joy; in your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”
· Psalm 21:6 (speaking of David) “For you make him most blessed forever; you make him joyful with gladness in your presence”
· Psalm 34:8 “O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him”
To get a better understanding of the soul satisfying happiness this is, turn to Matthew 5:3-12.
· The NT equivalent to this Hebrew word blessed in Psalm 1 is the Greek word makarios which is essential to the Beatitudes. The promise of blessing or true happiness is precisely what Jesus announced in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12)
· The blessedness is not deserved; it is a gift of God. It is not dependent upon our circumstances, but upon the vitality of our relationship with God.
The person on the path of righteousness finds his satisfaction, approval, pleasure, happiness, fulfillment, contentment – not in the praise or accolades or visible men or materials, but in the invisible Living God.
B. He is separated from the world (v. 1) (7:30)
…who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
The God blessed life is here described negatively, or what he godly person does not practice.
The godly man separates himself from the world, by:
1. refusing secular beliefs
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
The righteous man refuses the secular philosophy and humanistic values of the godless. He refuses the worldview the places man at the center of the universe and entices him to live by his own standards of morality.
· Secular Humanism: a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual's dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason.
· Postmodernism: truth cannot be known, therefore there is not absolute truth – so it is relative to your beliefs and circumstances. “If that works for you”. Truth becomes subjugated to the whims and desires of men.
· Psychology: the truth is within you. The ability to change is within your power.
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed, by the renewing of your mind – so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”
How might you be in danger of walking in the counsel of the wicked?
2. refusing sinful behavior
Nor stand in the path of sinners
His personal behavior resists the lure of the crowds to participate in activities that would contradict the commands of Scriptures.
1 John 2:12-13 “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but from the world.”
3. refusing scoffing relationships
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers
He avoids close relationships with people who oppose God, who mock God, who scoff at the truth of God.
This is not an injunction for isolationism:
“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. Not to go out of the world” (1 Cor. 5:9-10)
What the Psalmist prohibits is to sit or align yourself in a close relationship with those who mock God.
In what way may you be standing in the path of sinners?
Walking, standing to sitting:
· it’s a downward spiral
· walk: refers to the series of steps that the ungodly person takes in life, the decisions he makes, the direction he pursues
· stand: pictures the commitments a person makes to various causes.
· Sit: represents settled attitudes of the heart, the fixed disposition of the heat
This downhill slide begins with the “counsel of the wicked” or ungodly thinking, digresses to “the way of sinners” practicing ungodly beliefs, and arrives at “the seat of mockers” – aligning oneself with the company of those who mock God. It’s a slippery slope – begins subtlety…
C. He is Saturated with the Word (v. 2-3) (10 min)
What does it mean to be “saturated” with the Word?
1. Delighting in the Word (2a)
But His delight is in the law of the Lord
The person who knows genuine joy reads and relishes God’s word. This hunger for the Bible is a clear indication of the new birth as his new nature longs for the truths of God.
1 Peter 2:2 “like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation”.
2. Dwelling on the Word (2b)
And in His law he meditates day and night
This new appetite for God and His truth leads the righteous man to meditate on the Scriptures or dwell on them day and night.
The Word of God is continually on the forefront of your mind. The Pharisees provide a somewhat comical illustration of this…
The word “meditate” in Hebrew denotes a low sound such as muttering, murmuring, or moaning. The word is found primarily in Psalms and Isaiah. Some interpreters believe that “ thinking” of “meditating” on Scripture meant that they were to read audibly to help people process and ponder the message.
3. Drawing from the Word (3)
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
The person who delights in God’s law will be like a tree planted by streams of water which draws it’s life sustaining nourishment from a stream flowing through its roots. The God centered life draws vitality from God’s word which is compared to many streams
Streams is plural, representing the abundant, overflowing supply of strength an sustaining grace conveyed in God’s word. The godly sets down deep roots in a reservoir which will never run dry – one that refreshes, revives, renews, cleanses and satisfies those who draw on it
· Psalm 19:7-10
Like a tree. Stable
Yields its fruit in season. This pictures continual fruitfulness in every season of life, whether good times of bad times, triumphs or trials.
· John 15:4 - “Abide in Me, as I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in ME.
· The water tanks leaking over by Dunne. In the midst of the brown dead grass are these flourishing bushes and plants.
What fruit is being born in my life as a direct result of the study of God’s Word?
Not financial - seeking happiness in prosperity is like chasing a soap bubble, once you catch it, it bursts-
He will enjoy a spiritually enriched life, the fullest life imaginable.
II. The Way of the Ungodly (v.4-6)
- \\ A. He is condemned judicially (4-5)*
The wicked are not so, but they are like the chaff which the wind drives away
Unlike the righteous who are like a tree whose leaf does not wither, the wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Chaff: this word pictures the threshing floor at the time of the grain harvest. The threshing floors of Palestine were located on hills that received the best breezes. The grain would be gathered together and brought up the hill to the threshing floor and subsequently crushed by animals pulling heavy instruments over it. Then the grain would be pitched high into the air, and the wind would blow the chaff, consisting of husks (corn) and broken straw, leaving the heavier grain to fall back to the threshing floor.
Like the worthless chaff had no value – Accordingly, the wicked were empty, void, futile, shallow, worthless and in the end , to be burned with fire.
thus, it was gathered and burned, so it would not be blown back into the grain. Those who do not believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ will face the same fate as the chaff as God’s judgment for their sin is exacted upon them.
- (speaking of what Jesus will do to the Pharisees)
- “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and Hw ill gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
- Verses 1-12 discuss the woe (see comments on 3:9) of judgment to come on people who live unrighteously, who are traitors to the truth. The destroyer was the Assyrian enemy, and the traitor probably refers to those within Judah who wanted to form alliances either with Egypt or with other powers to protect them from Assyria. None of them would succeed in their efforts, for the destroyer would be destroyed and the traitor betrayed.
- When the Lord would use the Assyrians against Judah, Judah’s plans for peace would come to nothing. It was as if the people gave birth like a mother to nothing but chaff and straw, which can easily be burned up
- “You have conceived chaff, you will give birth to stubble; My breath will consume you like a fire. “The peoples will be burned to lime, Like cut thorns which are burned in the fire." (Isaiah 33:11-12, NASB95)
Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
Those outside of a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ will not have God’s acceptance when they stand before him in the last day. Rather they will be exposed for what they truly are.
Those who have not confessed their sin and received forgiveness through believing on Christ will be justly condemned in their sin, sentences to eternal punishment in hell.
Such corrupt sinners will not be allowed to remain in the assembly of the righteous, but will be excluded from the joyful fellowship of the saints
Turn to Rev. 20:11-15
They will be condemned by a just judge and forever removed from the presence of those who have been forgiven forever.
B. He is damned eternally
For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
This last verse summarizes the two ways in life – the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked.
The LORD knows the way of the righteous
- He watches over those who belong to him
- It means far more than being informed about our ways. He has a personal, intimate relationship with those who have placed their faith in His Son.
- He is involved with us to guard us, guide, us and sustain us with His grace.
But the way of the wicked will perish
The person without Christ, “the wicked man” will be condemned in the final judgment and be damned forever.
To be damned eternally is terrifying and it’s locked up inside the word perish
- this Hebrew word (abad) means “to die” or “to undergo destruction”
- among the various words that speak about destruction, this is the most important
- When used of people, the word generally refers to death and the cessation of life
- Yet, abad was also used of eternal destruction of the wicked beyond physical death
- When used of destruction after death, abad was never used of a destruction that lead into complete annihilation (annihilationism). Rather, it spoke of an unending, eternal destruction of the wicked that would never cease.
That’s bad news…
he Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Every person must ask themselves the question, what road am I traveling?
- Have I entered through the narrow gate, as Jesus said, that leads to the path of the godly?
- Or am I traveling the broad road that leads to the destruction of the ungodly?
- Have In confessed that I am a sinner an received the forgiveness that Jesus Chris offers through faith in Him alone?
- Or, am trusting in my own efforts, belief systems, the counsel of others to secure my standing before God?
You must ask these critical self diagnostic questions today!
If you are on the broad road, the road that may travel – filled with people who have not repented of their sin and trusted in Christ, today is the day to take the off-ramp.
- It’s never too late to leave that path
- You know it’s destination,
- Jesus says, I am the way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father but through me. You can leave that path this morning! Jesus is calling you to believe in Him and follow him and join Him.
For those of you who believe you are on the road of the righteous, another set of questions need to be asked based upon what you heard this morning.
- How can I have assurance that I am on the path of the righteous?
- Assurance of salvation comes by watching the fruit of a life – not by some one time experience or commitment made to Jesus.
- “He who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me, and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love Him and disclose Myself to Him (John 14:21).
- Does your life resemble a life being satisfied in the Lord, separated from the world and saturated with His word?
The road less traveled by, the narrow road, the path of the righteous is that path traveled by those who believe and follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Jesus says that He is the way, the truth and the life and no one can com to the Father, but through Him