INTRO: From time to time I have heard people described as having no moral compass. What is a compass? What is its function? Well, it provides a standard by which to accurately determine direction. Without a compass, or some other standard, a person simply wanders ... lost. From a moral and spiritual viewpoint I would say that the world is wandering. There is mass confusion in matters moral and spiritual. In fact, I recall words from the book of Judgeswhich could well describe our time: every man did that which was right in his own eyes (Judg 21:25). The disorder typical of our time can only lead to criminality, depression, unhappiness, broken homes and families, despair. The prayer of the psalmist in our text is still the answer for humanity!
I. HERE, HE FIRST ASKS FOR GODS MERCY
A. Sin will take away our joy in the Lord
1. Ps 51:12 - he had sinned against man and God
2. he had heard those fateful words of Nathan, Thou art the man
3. the sensitive heart of this man who knew and loved God was doubtless crushed by the blow of those words - the joy was gone!
B. Our prayers for mercy must be accompanied by true repentance
1. true repentance means a change of actions and heart
2. to simply stop a sinful activity while mentally wishing you could continue is not penitence - think of Ps 139:23,24
3. to order our steps in the word requires more than a ritual obedience!
C. The psalmist refers to Gods history of forgiving penitent people
1. he seeks no special favor ... just what God is accustomed to doing
2. Lk 7:47,48 - Her sins, which are many, are forgiven...
3. I take great pleasure in knowing Gods history of forgiveness of people whose sins...are many - I ask no more than this and am confident of it because there is a history
D. Before steps can be ordered by the word, we must correct our relationship with God!
II. HE PLEADS FOR THE ORDERING OF HIS STEPSIN THY WORD
A. A general statement: lives need structure!
1. we may envy lives which seem free and lived with abandon
2. those people seem to have so much fun, etc.
3. these people get so much attention - our lives seem hum drum
4. but are they satisfied? content? productive? responsible? likely, not
B. The structure must come from recognizing, conforming to a standard
1. the compass provides a standard for navigation - the word of God provides the standard for moral & spiritual direction
2. Ps 73:24 - Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel...
3. Ps 37:23,31 - The law of his God is in his heart...
4. Col 3:16 -
C. Structure comes from having a single standard for life
1. a problem with structure is our listening to too many voices
2. Hos 10:2 - divided hearts caused the people of Israel to both become accepting of and participants in idolatry! too many voices
3. moral and spiritual direction become confused because we listen to peers, to society, to culture, to scholars, to philosophers, to inner desires
4. Ps 86:11 - ...unite my heart... - truly an appropriate plea!
III. HE PLEADS FOR THE WILL TO KEEP FROM SIN
A. Knowing the word, knowing about sin, etc. are one thing...
1. but do we have the will to keep from sinning?
2. perhaps this goes back to the idea of truly repenting, of abhorring sin, of sins being distasteful to us
3. if we continue to look longingly at sin, no matter what we know in our minds, we will very likely return to that sin (think about Mt 5:27,28)
B. Rom 6:11-16 - Some helpful, important truths...
1. first, each day we must remember we are dead to sin
2. second, each day we must remember our lives are Gods
3. third, whether or not sin reigns over us is our decision
4. fourth, using our bodies, our lives to do righteousness will have a tendency to mold our habits away from sin
5. fifth, a life under sins dominion leads to eternal death!
C. So, it would be so appropriate for us, too, to pray for Gods help here!
CLOSE: Seek Gods forgiveness. Live your life in keeping with the direction of His word. Devote yourself to righteous behavior and activity. And I believe you will be happy and contented!
Cecil A. Hutson
April 10, 2005
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)