Prone to Wander 

Beth How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. 10 With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! 11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. 12 Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. 13 With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. —Psalm 119:9-13 

We see two important things in verse one today. The first is that a person’s way, or manner of living, needs to be cleansed. The second is that the Bible is the only source from which we can obtain that cleansing, or moral purity, in our lives. Paul said the same thing: “For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Rom 7:15). Have you ever sworn that you’d never do something again and then found yourself doing that very thing? That’s what both Paul and our psalmist are saying. Even though our hearts are fully committed to the Lord, we still live in bodies of flesh that are committed to ourselves, much like the hymn writer who wrote, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the Lord I love. Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.” 

We need to hide God’s Word in our hearts—not just practicing religion, or “doing” good works, following rituals, or even attending church. What God wants is for His Word to penetrate our hearts and govern our lives so that everything we do is committed to Him first and done simply because we love Him. We need to make certain that His will and purposes direct us, letting His Word alone define for us what is pure and right. In Ephesians, Paul writes, “You once were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light . . . , finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (vv. 5:8-11). “Darkness” and “light” are synonyms for evil and good, so walking as “children of light” requires finding out what is truly acceptable to the Lord.

Is there a place where we can learn how to walk in and live by what pleases God? As believers, we ourselves are already acceptable to God because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. But how do we make our lives pleasing to God on a day-to-day basis as His children? It would require that we understand what such a lifestyle would entail. Today many truly believe that we’re morally accountable to ourselves alone, with each person determining what’s right and what’s wrong for himself. But the psalmist makes a point here when He says that He hides God’s Word in his heart that he might not sin against Him. This tells us that the One Book contains a single moral standard for all cultures and generations, which is of critical importance, undoing all subjectivism and universal moral absolutes. 

All sin is against God. Sins aren’t measured differently from one culture to another, or in one generation compared to the next. “For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob” (Mal 3:6). People hate the idea of a single set of moral absolutes that pertain to everyone for all time, but it’s not only necessary, it’s the best thing! Imagine if, under a system where everyone lived by his or her own moral code, one person believed in monogamy and the other spouse didn’t. Who’s right? Does one person’s moral code give them the right to break the heart of their mate through infidelity because they believe it’s okay? 

Under a single moral code, right is right and wrong is wrong. There’s only one place where we find the standard set and meant to be lived by, and that’s in the Bible. When all is said and done, this is God’s planet. We’re His creation, and He knows what’s best. He designed a single moral code to cover every situation, and it’s our responsibility to live by it and not wander around in our self-made cocoons doing whatever we “feel” is right. Prone to wander? Prone to leave the Lord you love? You, too, can ask Him to “take your heart and seal it,” and then let Him do it! 

Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.

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