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Guarding the Way of Life

The bible says that humans were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). At some level this remarkable statement means that we were intended to mirror God’s perfection – or completeness – in our created roles as his image bearers on Earth (Matthew 5:48). In other words, we bear his image as a means of representing his goodness. But when Adam and Eve fell, we lost our ability to bear that image properly. In fact, the whole meaning of human sin is that we fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The end result of our salvation from that fallen state is to make us like Jesus, and thereby restore our image to its originally intended completeness for our revived roles on a new Earth that we’ll one day inhabit (Ephesians 4:22-24, 1 Corinthians 11:1, 1 Peter 2:21, Romans 8:29, and Revelation 21:1-7, 2 Peter 3:13).

It’s against the backdrop of that profound truth that the psalmist gives us some very practical instruction on how to achieve and maintain a standard of personal righteousness, and thus more properly bear the image of God. In Psalm 119:9-11 he argues that if a young person wants to keep his way pure, then he will do three things. But before he discussed those three things, it’s important to note that he recognized the power of doing those things while one is still young. Of course, those three things apply to every person regardless of age, but their power is maximized by beginning while one is young (Proverbs 22:6).

First, he’ll guard his way with the word of God. This means that all of the paths that his life might take will be first surveyed through the lens of what the scriptures say. For instance, should I marry this person? Does she love God? If she doesn’t, then the answer is no (Deuteronomy 7:3-4, 1 Kings 11:1-12, 2 Corinthians 6:14). If you guard your life in this way, then you will plainly see the intentions of God for the lives of men.

Secondly, the person interested in keeping his way pure will seek after the lord with his whole heart. This means that the person will be continually looking for God in every life domain. As much as is within his ability, he will commit his entire inner self to look for God everywhere. Since “the heart” in Hebrew thought was the seat of the intellect, the emotions, and the will, then according to this wisdom, a person should intentionally apply his mind and his feelings in the search for God’s place in his life. If you do this, then you will be able to receive God’s goodness more readily, and you will also be motivated to respect and apply his commandments.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a person interested in righteousness will fill up his heart with God’s word. Such a person will continually put God’s word at the center of his will, his intellect and his emotions in such a way that he is overflowing with God’s divinely spoken goodness. When you do this, it will automatically come out of you in your words, and your deeds, and your spirit when you are pressed into compromising, tempting, or challenging times (Luke 6:45). When those times come – and they will – then you’ll be inclined toward purity rather than defilement. You’ll look like Jesus, and properly bear the image of God.

How are you guarding your way of life?

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