August 25-27, 2012
Pastor Timothy J. Spaude
Text: Psalm 1
ONLY TWO WAYS!
1. The way of the righteous.
2. The way of the wicked.
Psalm 1 (NIV 1984) “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”
Have you ever taken a personality test? There are all kinds of them. Maybe you have heard of someone described as a Type A of Type B personality. Football fans know how all the potential NFL draft picks are given the Wonderlic test. I’ve taken a few. Some get surprisingly close to what you really seem to be like. Today God’s Word for our further study sets before us a spirituality test of sorts that leads each one of us to ask, “Which one am I?”
The very first Psalm as God starts out His comforting book of Psalms presents to us that fact that there are only two ways to live, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. “God wants me to be happy!” Do you know how often that phrase is used to justify sin? God wants me to be happy, doesn’t he? So if I feel like this immoral relationship will make me happy I should do it. God wants me to be happy so if it makes me happy I have the right to get drunk, cuss, you name it. Well it is true that God wants us to be happy. But the way of happiness isn’t through sinning. God tells us the right way. “Blessed is the man,” God says. Literally it means made happy. Who is blessed and made happy?
God says, God says, “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” God sets before us the way of the righteous.
And the first truth that describes the righteous is they resist sin. Temptations come to all people, righteous and wicked alike. It’s what you do with them that matters. The righteous resist sin. Fight against it. They don’t embrace it. Do you know how to boil a frog alive? No, kids I haven’t done that and only those who are evil or sick in the head would. But I have been told that the way to get a live frog to willingly allow itself to be boiled is to put it in a cool pot of water and raise the temperature one degree at a time. It’s a gradual progression so the frog doesn’t realize the danger until it’s too late. The Lord lays out such a gradual progression for wickedness. Did you follow it? Walk. Stand. Sit. Walk in the counsel of the wicked. Stand in the way of sinners. Sit in the seat of mockers. Some examples will make that clear. The young student wants to fit in with the cool group so he tries to walk with them at school. He hears their foul language and he stands there and talks that way with them to fit in. On the weekend he sits with them sinfully drinking and doing drugs. Walk. Stand. Sit. The embezzler has access to someone else’s money. They are just short a little bit. They will borrow and pay back. Walk. Can’t quite make it. Take some more and gamble to try to win big and pay it back. Stand. Lose it and have to try again and again and again. Sit. The righteous do not do that. Little froggy, if you do not want to get boiled, stay out of the pot. Person if you don’t want to progress in sin you must resist sin. The righteous do.
They also love God’s Word. “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” God’s word is a delight. Something that makes one smile. Thinking about it day and night. You know this year at St. Jacobi we have been emphasizing honor God with Word and Worship. We have asked that all of us try to increase the ways we show God we honor Him by being zealous for public worship and committing to a daily use of God’s word. How are you doing with that? Could someone follow you around for a week and say, “He/she loves God’s Word?” 168. Do you know what that number represents? That’s the number of hours in a week. 24 X 7. Can we really expect to have the strength to resist sin if we only spend one hour a week around God’s Word and 167 on sleeping, working and entertaining ourselves. The righteous loves God’s Word.
Finally the righteous produce fruits of faith.” He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” The Lord uses the familiar picture of a fruit tree for a believer. Nourished and fed by water and soil a fruit tree produces fruit. Nourished and fed by word and sacrament believers produce fruits of faith, good works, things don’t out of love for God, willing obedience to his commands. That’s the way God built us to be happy. That’s the way of the righteous.
How about the way of the wicked?” Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.” Lo Cain! That’s Hebrew. In our Bibles it comes out, “Not so!” Two words some up the way of the wicked as a stark contrast to the way of the righteous. The wicked do not resist sin, they love it. They do not delight in God’s Word. They hate it and stay away from it. They produce no fruits of faith for there is no love of God and so all the things they do that look good on the outside aren’t. Not so!
And so like chaff they are blown away. For us non farmers the chaff is the coating around the grain that was separated during threshing. It was worthless. It was blown away, dust in the wind. Those who follow the way of the wicked have a similar fate. Though you may not see it here on earth, though they may even seem to prosper financially and in popularity when it comes to judgment day they will not be able to stand before God because they stand alone and not with the only Savior Jesus Christ defending and acquitting them.
Now remember that this word of God presented to us a spiritual personality test of sorts. You can’t just listen to this word of God and let it sit there. You have to do something with it. You have to look at those two ways and say, “Which one am I following? Which one of these am I?” Do I resist sin? Do I love God’s Word? Do I produce fruits of faith? Or am I Lo Cain, Not So! Honesty forces us to admit that while we do resist sin, we don’t always or at least not wholeheartedly and successfully. Do I always love God’s Word and meditate on it? Doesn’t always show. Fruits of faith? Sometimes much, sometimes little. So who am I? Righteous or wicked? What does the test reveal?
Both. Both. Because we have both sinful natures and Christian natures we are both but thanks be to God in the end Jesus wins. We have our struggles now but if we are still living when Jesus comes again in glory He will separate our sinful natures for good. If we die before, God will kill off our sinful nature for good. Because Jesus covers us with His righteous living because He paid for our sins our spiritual personality test reveals we are the righteous. Isn’t that neat? Only God could do that and He did with Jesus. By His grace we are counted among the righteous. So let’s go from here with joy in our hearts, motivated to look like what God has made us to be, the righteous. People who resist sin, who love God’s Word and who produce fruits of faith, who get to be comforted and not scared when God says, “The Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Amen.