"TAKE HEED"

Psalm 119.9

EXPOSITION:

1. I hold in my hand a Bible. So that we may be synchronized and looking at the same page of the play book, let me make some comments about the book I hold in my hand and the book that you hold in your hand.

2. I will make no attempt this morning to be technical, but practical, and will try to answer some questions and perhaps to put to rest some fears and hesitations you have concerning the Bible. Three items:

1A. First, CONCERNING THE WORD "BIBLE"

The word "Bible" is never found in the Bible, so why do we refer to this book as "the Bible"?

1B. The Word "Bible" Refers To The Collection Of Sacred Writings Of The Christian Religion, Comprising The Old And New Testaments.

1C. What we refer to as the Old Testament is a collection of 39 books written primarily in Hebrew, consisting of historical books such as Genesis and Exodus, poetical books such as the Psalms and Proverbs, and prophetical books such as Isaiah and Jeremiah.

2C. Of course, there are poetical and prophetical portions in the historical books, just as there are historical and prophetical portions in the poetical books, and historical and poetical portions in the prophetical books. But historical books are generally history, just as poetical books are generally poetry and prophetical books are generally prophecy.

3C. What we refer to as the New Testament is a collection of 27 books written in Greek, consisting of the Gospels (which are a unique writing form unknown in any other type of literature anywhere in the world), the book of Acts (which is the best example of classic history in existence), the epistles (which are letters titled by who they are addressed to, such as Romans or Titus, or who there were written by, James and Jude), and the Revelation, which is an apocalyptic prophecy.

4C. As with the Old Testament, there is a mixture in the New Testament, with frequent intermingling of history and prophecy, but also including direct quotations from the Old Testament and allusions to Old Testament passages.

2B. But Where Did We Get The Word "Bible" From If "Bible" Is Found Nowhere In The Bible?

1C. Letís work backwards in history and the development of the word. Our English word "Bible" translates the Greek word "biblion."

2C. But the Greek word "biblion" actually refers to a strip or sheet made of papyrus, which was the ancient material that was written on long before paper was known to the middle east. This sheet was made from a papyrus reed and processed into a strip that could be written on and rolled up into a scroll.

3C. But it doesnít stop there. The word "biblion" is itself derived from another word, the word "Biblos," which was the name of an ancient Phoenician port city on the Mediterranean Sea.

4C. So, why was the name of the city given to this material made from papyrus into scrolls for writing? Because that city was the place were the stuff was commercially fabricated and then shipped to the rest of the world.

5C. So, just as Xerox gave its name to photocopying because they invented the process, the city where the forerunner of paper was made lent its name to the product, which started out as a scroll, and was developed over time into what we know as a book, and now "Bible" refers to the Book of books.

2A. Now, CONCERNING THE SUBSTANCE OF THE "BIBLE"

If you read the Bible you should rather quickly become aware of two things:

1B. First, The Bible Is A Record Of Statements God Has Made And A Catalog Of Things God Has Done In The Past And Will Do In The Future

1C. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." That is the first sentence in the Bible. Read on and you will come to the descriptions of the origin of the human race, the fall of the human race into sin, the judgment of God for manís sin.

2C. Continue reading the Bible and you will see explanations given for every aspect of manís current condition and conduct, as well as predictions about future things, even including eternity.

2B. But Thatís Not All. In Addition To These Descriptions That Are Found Throughout The Bible We Also Find Certain Kinds Of Declarations In The Bible About The Bible.

1C. I call your attention to Romans 1.2, where this book is first referred to by the apostle Paul as "the holy scriptures."

2C. But I want you to read for yourself Second Timothy 3.16: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness."

3C. Many, many sermons and long and involved Bible studies can be devoted to this single verse, but I want you to see the one, overriding, truth that Paul here conveys: The Bible is a beneficial book, "profitable" to use Paulís word, that comes from God. This is Godís Book I hold in my hand.

4C. Being Godís Book, we must recognize that this Book, the Bible, being given to us by God for our benefit, is our only legitimate rule of faith and practice, telling us what ought to be believed and informing us how we ought to behave.

3A. Finally, THE BIBLEíS COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE

There are many sources of information within the Bible that teach us concerning the nature of this Book, concerning the giving of this Book to us, concerning the application of this Book to our lives, and so on. But there is one particular portion of the Bible which seems to stand tall as a unique monument to the Bible, Godís Word. I speak of the 119th Psalm. A couple of comments about the 119th Psalm.

1B. This Psalm Has Several Peculiarities

1C. It is divided into twenty-two parts or stanzas, denoted by the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Aleph, Beth and so on. Incidentally, Aleph and Beth are the two letters combined from which our word alphabet was derived.

2C. Each stanza of this psalm contains eight verses, and the first letter of each verse is that which gives name to the stanza. So, the first word of verse one begins with the letter Aleph. The first word of verse 9 begins with the letter Beth. And so on for all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

3C. Its contents are mainly praises of Godís Word, exhortations to study Godís Word, reverence for Godís Word, prayers for the Bibleís proper influence, and criticism of the wicked for despising Scripture.

4C. Thus, in this psalm the Bible is called His word, as that which He has spoken to us; His law, given as the rule of our life; His commandments and precepts, laid upon us to be kept; His statutes, established as the laws of His kingdom; His judgments, as His decisions concerning our duty and destiny; His testimonies, as to His authoritative declaration of truth; and His way, in which we are to walk.

2B. I Conclude With The Psalmís Particular Use

1C. The 119th Psalm does not appear to have any relation to any special occasion or interest of the Jewish nation. In other words, it is unlike other psalms that were written to commemorate a critical time in Davidís life or to be used for a certain type of Temple worship. Rather, the 119th Psalm simply stands as a monument to the Word of God.

2C. It may very well be that the alphabetized stanzas were designed to aid in memorizing the Psalm. And this should be no surprise, since there was once a time a man could not be ordained to the Gospel ministry who did not have all the Psalms committed to memory, according to Charles Spurgeon. So we see how important the Psalms, generally, have been though to be down through history.

3C. More than any other Psalm, the 119th Psalm was evidently written to exalt Godís Word and was intended to be a manual for spiritual meditation and for instructing the young. It is for instruction that we will use a portion of this Psalm today.

CONCLUSION:

1. I have rehearsed for you some basic information and foundational truths concerning the Bible for two reasons: First, I want each of you to be reminded of what a great treasure from heaven you hold in your hand. James 1.17 declares to us that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above," and how true that statement is of the Bible, Godís holy Word.

2. But more than simply treasuring the Bible, we need to pay attention to the Bible. We need to read it, to study it, to rightly divide it, to meditate upon it, to search it, to obey it, to do it, to hide it in our hearts, and to heed it.

3. Your relationship to the Bible will, in great measure, set the tone for your relationship to God. For it is in Godís Word, the Bible, that we find the truths about God we could never discover for ourselves, that we find truths about ourselves that we would never otherwise admit to ourselves, and that we find in words the portrait of the glorious Savior of sinful menís souls Who must be looked to with the eyes of faith for salvation from sins and reconciliation to this God with Whom we have to do.

4. Consider just what it is you hold in your hand, how important it is, where it came from, Who it came from, and how best to use it to prepare for eternity.

5. Now, brother Isenberger comes to lead us in a song before this morningís sermon.

INTRODUCTION:

1. Turn in your Bible to Psalm 119.9 and stand for the reading of Godís Word: "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word."

2. By way of introduction, let me comment about the "young man" this verse is addressed to, so you will not make the mistake of thinking this verse does not apply most particularly to you.

3. When this portion of Godís Word was written, some 3000 years ago, and until about 100 to 150 years ago, mankind lived in what we could safely call the pre-technological age, before science and technology had made an appreciable impact on a personís longevity and life span.

4. In those days every child knew what death was, growing up with the experiences of losing several brothers and sisters to plagues, or influenza, or whooping cough, or small pox epidemics. It was also not uncommon for a woman to die in child birth, or to deliver several children in her lifetime who would die in infancy. And because of wars and diseases, those boys who made it to adulthood and found themselves surviving to the age of 40 considered themselves wonderfully blessed.

5. No such thing as silly little boys who thought of nothing but play in those days. No such thing as spoiled little girls who were pampered and shielded from hard work in those days. Not unless you were nobility. Almost no such thing as old men and old women in those days. There were only two kinds of fever back then, the kind you might live through and the kind that would definitely kill you.

6. Being a young man, then, was considered the very pinnacle of existence. The young man had survived childhood diseases and the sword point of any marauding invaders and raiders. And he was on the verge of facing the dangers that accompanied adulthood. Yet with all of his physical strength and endurance he was saddled with the inexperience and lack of wisdom that most characterizes young men.

7. What cautions and warnings are found in the Bible for young men, then, most certainly apply to everyone else. If you are younger than a young man you are even more foolish than a young man. If you are older than a young man you are closer to death than a young man; and no one was far from death in those days.

8. And if you are a woman, and no one has benefited from advances in science and technology and the universal application of legal protection more than women over the last few centuries, your life span used to be shorter, your susceptibility to the ravages of war and famine were greater, and the dangers you were exposed to simply by being a woman of child bearing age, made your existence even more precarious than a young manís.

9. But whatís my point? My point is that this verse applies to you if you are very young, and it applies to you if you are very old. It applies to you if you are a man and it applies to you if you are a woman. And it is a wise person, indeed, who receives instruction wherever it may be found.

10. These comments made, I have but three simple notions to get across to each of you today:

1A. First, THERE IS YOUR DEFILEMENT

"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?"

1B. By Defilement I Mean That You Are Spiritually Unclean, That You Are Morally Filthy, That Your Soul Is Nasty And Dirty.

1C. If you are a kid you may be able to fool yourself into thinking that you are not defiled, but even you are defiled and unclean in Godís sight. According to Godís Word you began your career of lying at the time you were born. And the reason you began to commit sins the moment you were born was because your soul was defiled before you were ever born. ". . . in sin did my mother conceive me," David wrote in Psalm 51.5. So, you are sinful on the inside, young person. You have been defiled since before you were born.

2C. "Pastor, what exactly do you mean when you say defiled?" I mean polluted. I mean rotten. I mean like the bottom of a dumpster behind a restaurant. That is physically what you are like to God spiritually. And just as no one gets into your momís house with shoes that are nasty and stinky and smelly and filthy, no one gets into Godís heaven with a soul that is defiled like yours.

3C. Though kids sometimes think they are clean and pure, actually believing what mommy says about them being good boys and girls, those of us who are older know better. Look back on your life and you will see years of wickedness, years of waste, years of profanity and swearing, years of vulgarity, years of ignoring God, years of speaking Christís name only when you were angry and couldnít think of anything else to say, or years of religious pretense.

4C. And as you get closer and closer to the end of your life you look back with regret, with sadness, and with a sense of loss. What a waste it was, wasnít it? You didnít really accomplish anything thatís lasting, did you? And you are getting more and more sorry, arenít you?

2B. This Word "Cleansed" Is A Somewhat Rare Word In The Bible, So Let Me Read 3 Of The 8 Verses Where Itís Found So You Can See That You Are, Indeed, Defiled

1C. Job 15.14: "What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?"

2C. Job 25.4: "How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?"

3C. Proverbs 20.9: "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?"

4C. You see, these are essentially rhetorical questions, asked to show that you are not clean, but rather defiled. So, the young man is, indeed, defiled. But so is the child, since before you were born. And so are you who are older, as you sadly recognize and acknowledge.

2A. Next, THERE IS YOUR DANGER

1B. When people could be stricken by polio and small pox, and when whooping cough and influenza claimed millions, when women more frequently died in child birth and when tuberculosis and typhus claimed men of all ages, it wasnít so difficult to convince a person of his danger. People were intimately acquainted with death and the passage to eternity in days gone by, and few people scoffed at Hell and the lake of fire when death was so near.

2B. Even children took note of death, with every kid having known a friend who suddenly died or a brother or sister quickly taken. But now we live in a sterile and antiseptic culture, where death and dying take place out of sight, and children live their lives without having to face their own mortality.

3B. But whether you will die suddenly and soon or slowly and eventually, you will die. therefore, you are in danger. you are in danger because when you die you will go to hell, if you are not cleansed. you will go to hell, if you are still defiled when you die.

4B. But few people these days are aware of their danger. Eternal damnation is scoffed at and ridiculed. death and dying take place in hospitals and hospices and convalescent hospitals anymore, so that even most adults and the aged donít face the terror of death like they used to. Or face it alone and without bothering those who are younger.

5B. And thatís too bad. It enables people to deceive themselves. Children are able to ignore their own eternal destiny. The aged refuse to talk about it, as if refusing to talk about dying means you wonít die. But you will die, wonít you? And it wonít be too much longer before you die, will it? And as you face death you are in danger, arenít you? Because youíre not prepared to meet God when you die. You are defiled. And God is holy.

6B. When will you die? Whenever it is itís sooner than it was yesterday. Donít you think, in light of the danger you are in, that you should face up to it and deal with it? The danger of dying and what comes after you die will not go away, will it?

3A. Finally, THERE IS YOUR DELIVERANCE

"Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word."

1B. We have read verses which show the impossibility of you cleansing your way, the futility of you attempting to clean up your soulís defilement. But just because you have no remedy for your soulís ills does not mean there is no remedy.

2B. Our text, after all, asks how a young man is to cleanse his way, with the answer being to resort to the solution advanced in Scripture. To put it simply, "do what the Bible tells you to do. Apply the Biblical remedy for sin and defilement."

3B. Hey, kid. Do you want to cleanse your way? Then do what the Bible says you should do. You middle aged fellow, do you want to cleanse your way? Then do what the Bible says you should do. What if you are old and infirm, not long for this world, and you want to cleanse your way? Then do what the Bible says you should do. Thatís what "take heed" means. Do what the Bible says to do.

4B. But what does the Bible say to do? Of course, the Bible is a very long book and there is a great deal of information contained in it about all sorts of things. But what, particularly, does the Bible say to you who are unsaved about cleansing? Two essential details.

5B. First, the Gospel, First Corinthians 15.1-4:

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

1C. The gospel of Jesus Christ, gospel meaning good news, is the good news that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins according to the Bible, was buried, and that He arose from the dead in a glorified human body after 3 days and 3 nights according to the Bible.

2C. What Jesus did when He performed those supernatural feats was to shed His Own precious blood for the cleansing of our sins, so that "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin," First John 1.7.

6B. Second, the way a sinner gains the benefit of the saving work of Jesus Christ is by means of faith. And though it is certainly possible to believe in vain, since paul makes reference to it in First Corinthians 15.2, real faith, genuine faith, God-given faith, soul-saving faith in Jesus Christ will make any sinner the recipient and beneficiary of the salvation which Jesus secures, the soul cleansing that His blood provides. For in answer to the question, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailor, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," Acts 16.31.

CONCLUSION:

1. The Bible is where all the answers that God wants you to have are found. The Bible is where God explains to you everything He wants you to know about Himself, about yourself, about Jesus, about salvation, and about all the less important details of life.

2. Do you want to cleanse your way? And you must cleanse your way to escape Hell and gain heaven, to be reconciled to God and enjoy Him forever. Then you need the precious blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse you from all your sins.

3. I hope you will come to know Jesus as your Savior. But before that happens you must commit yourself to doing what Godís Word, the Bible, says to do. For if you do not "take heed" according to Godís Word your way will never be cleansed and you will die in your sins.

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