“I obey Your precepts and Your statutes, for all my ways are known to You.” -Psalm 119:168
Doctrine and practice are both kept faithfully by the psalmist. The Christian life does not end with head knowledge of Biblical principles, but begins here. Out of the overflow of this grace given to each Christian in varying measure, we obey in practice what God the Spirit has taught us. Obedience is not for the sake of outward moral reform, but born out of a love for God. True obedience from the heart looks like this. The psalmist recognizes that only God can see his true motives. His obedience is not a method for earning God’s favor, or winning praise from others, but the cause of his devotion to the Lord.
The psalmist ends this octave confessing God’s omniscience. He can confidently say he makes his life a practice of holiness to the Lord since God knows this man’s every word, thought and action. Nothing is hidden from our Lord’s sight. This should be quite the motivation for every believer in how we live. For me it is indeed. And yet I can err to the side of striving for sinless perfection (legalism) when I forget the doctrines of grace. This is why coming to feast on God’s Word is vital for every Christian. I have to come here again and again to remember the truth of who I am in Christ- not perfect, but forgiven. Remembering who you are in Christ should be part of daily living, like breathing. Satan will take every opportunity to accuse, create doubt and fear, presenting temptation to sin as the only option. The Gospel is our armor against these attacks.
I met with a dear friend recently to discuss 1 John. We both studied this letter and wanted to share what God had taught us, for mutual encouragement and challenge. I mentioned how the litmus test in 1 John for assurance of one’s salvation can leave me discouraged and condemned at times. My sin nature gets in the way and I fall short of God’s standard. She gently reminded me that the Christian life does not mean sinless perfection this side of Heaven. It is our practice of holiness that matters. We strive to reflect the character of Christ, but because we are born with a sinful nature, many battles must be fought and won during our time on earth. God is gracious to root out what is not of Him, sanctifying His children with truth. The Bible Study Fellowship commentary on 1 John notes that sinful people can have fellowship with a holy God because we as believers are in Christ.
It is a comfort to know and rest in God’s power, goodness and permanent forgiveness toward redeemed sinners. Jesus took on God’s wrath which we deserve, so now the Christian is free. Free to live a life of holiness, not out of fear, but love and eternal gratitude. Paul writes to Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). When we are diligent to live out God’s commands from the truth we know, God is faithful to confirm we do belong to Him. Our works are not the means of salvation but the fruit of what God has done and is doing in the heart of every believer. It is in this way, we grow in grace and love toward our Father in Heaven.
Grace upon grace,
Growing deeper: John 17:13-19; Philippians 1:6; 1 John
Further encouragement: ‘WordGo’ app is a helpful and free Bible study resource created by Bible Study Fellowship. You can find it by searching the ‘App Store’ icon and create an account- FOR FREE!
One thought on “Practice, not Perfect”
“Old too soon , smart too late”. Keep reading daily in God’s Word. You are right, we must remember who we are in Christ. Live each day with that knowledge of power and responsibility . Good article.!