Personal Righteousness; July 3, 2021

Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.

This should be the daily prayer of every believer. David has just acknowledged that “no one living is righteous before You.” (verse 2) It is with that awareness of his own unrighteous bent that he asks for teaching and guidance. There are a few Psalms in which David seems convinced of his own personal righteousness, but this is far wiser than those! We certainly aren’t to wallow in sin, but never are we to think we’ve got everything down perfectly. We need to be like Paul, who not only famously proclaimed his own imperfection in Romans 7 and Philippians 3, he stated how each of us should be all the time: “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.” (1 Corinthians 4:4) God doesn’t show us all our faults at once. That would destroy us! Rather, He shows us things one or two at a time, so that we can deal with those issues and move on to the next. That’s what it is to have a clear conscience. Often, a clear conscience is an indication that God is ready to sharpen our spiritual vision so that we can see more things that need to be dealt with! It’s interesting that David speaks of God’s “good Spirit.” The term used in Japanese for “good” here isn’t simply the opposite of bad, but could be rendered, “deep of compassion and ultimate goodness.” David hadn’t been baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit as has been available to all believers since Pentecost, but he had tasted enough of Him to know He was good, and that was the kind of guide he wanted. We too need to be active in seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance, because there’s an awful lot of demonic “guidance” running around, seeking to lead us into swamps and off of cliffs. When we are following the Holy Spirit, we will certainly be doing God’s will.

I will never forget the time the Lord gave me the briefest glimpse of my own soul, back in 1972. I was totally wiped out! I couldn’t see details, but I could certainly tell it was a cesspool. (We don’t use that word much any more, but it means septic tank, or holding tank for a latrine.) Over the years He’s worked on and with me to get the “cess” out, but some of it has been pretty thick and crusted. I like another analogy that I think I learned first from Jack Hayford. That is of a field with a huge boulder in it. The field is our heart, and the boulder is our sin. At the moment of salvation the boulder is taken away by God, and we rightly rejoice. However, over time we discover that the field is dotted with head-sized rocks, and we are responsible for lugging those out of the field. Some are pretty heavy, and we have to get help. It’s at that point that we notice all the fist-sized rocks that are all over everywhere! We can pick those up and throw them out, but that can get very tiring. And of course, that brings us to all the gravel that is endemic throughout the field. That illustration has really been brought home to me with our vegetable garden. The area where we have it was low and flooded in rain, so when dirt was being removed from adjacent building sites, I asked for and received a few truck-loads. The problem was, mixed in with the dirt were not only rocks, but broken roof tile and sewer pipe, and assorted junk. This is the third year we have grown vegetables there, and I keep getting out more rocks and trash! It’s important that I keep adding appropriate fertilizer and minerals, but beets don’t do so well when they’re having to push rocks out of the way! My heart is the same way. I need to keep taking in the “fertilizer” of the Word, and be alert to the rocks and trash the Lord shows me is there, whether of long standing or recently blown in by the storms of life or tossed in by the devil. I want my heart to be level ground, rich soil to produce the harvest God desires.

Father, thank You for this clear illustration. Help me use Your words to express Your truth in love at all times, so that all who take it in may indeed be set free, (John 8:32) for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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