© 2018 Annie Perkins Ministries, Inc.

#blessed: Lesson 4

April 8, 2018

We are knee deep in our study of blessedness, and I am so excited to shift gears this week and begin studying Psalm 1:1-3!

 

BACKGROUND

Last week we learned that esher and makarios blessedness can be described as a state of happiness or contentment which is had regardless of circumstances due to an understanding of our divinely favored (blessed) well-being.

 

Esher is the word used to open the passage in the Psalm we’re studying, and today we’re going to start with the first verse. This is truly where my study on blessedness began:

 

Blessed [how happy!] 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. (Psalm 1:1, NIV)

 

APPLICATION

Okay, let’s acknowledge something right up front: “do not’s” are NOT super popular in today’s culture.

 

In fact, Christianity itself is first and foremost about the pursuit of a relationship with our Creator. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He answered like this:

 

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NIV)

 

When we love God with all we are, then He has the freedom to work within our heart, soul, and mind to make us into the person He created us to be. So although Christianity  is not about obsessing over a list of “do’s and don’ts,” we must not fail to acknowledge that when we enter into a relationship with God, our "do’s and don’ts” should naturally change as we change:

 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, BSB)

 

In an era of trending cultural “morality,” it is more important than ever to KNOW God if we want to know truth. Through relationship with God, He teaches us to discern what is His good, pleasing, and perfect will.

 

We should never be so stubbornly settled into our opinions and ideals that we shut them off from being changed, shifted, or spoken into by God; for God is the AUTHOR of morality.

 

On the contrary, our prayer should continuously be like David:

 

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139: 23-24, NIV)

 

Let’s look at Psalm 1:1 again:

 

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. (Psalm 1:1, NIV)

 

I don’t know about you, but I want to know what this person does not do because I want as much blessedness on this side of Heaven as I can get!

 

So here we go. We’ll start by looking at the definitions of the three verbs:

 

  • walk - “to come and go, to walk, to behave”

  • stand - “to take one’s stand, to stand”

  • sit - “to sit, remain, to dwell”

 

These verbs alone display such a true synopsis of the subtle advancement of sin. First we sort of just walk around in and out of the sin, coming and going, doing it (or thinking about it!) here and there. Many times this is where we make a conscious decision to defy our better judgement in order to condone our choices. Before we know it, because we’ve practiced the art of mentally abandoning our convictions, we are no longer walking in and out of the sin, but we stop and stay a while, we take a stand in the sin. Then, eventually we realize we are settled into, or sometimes stuck, sitting in the sin.

 

Okay, let’s keep going and start with the first “does not”:

 

  • walk in the counsel of the wicked

 

The Hebrew word translated counsel here can be defined as “plans, strategies, or purposes.” Basically, this word describes a mindset, and the phrase depicts a person who behaves out of a mindset of the wicked.

 

Wow. The realization of what this verse is saying struck me in a big way:

 

Our mindset determines our walk.

 

How many of us fully grasp the gravity of this truth? The weight Scripture places on the state of our minds is nothing to be taken lightly. Remember the verse in Romans we read in the beginning of this lesson regarding our transformation as Christians:

 

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:2, BSB)

 

God says we are transformed by the renewing of our mind - from the inside out. THEN, it says, we will be able to discern the will of God.

 

Jesus says it like this:

 

For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23, ESV)

 

I love how Helps Word Studies defines the word defile: “treating what is sacred as common or ordinary (i.e. "not special").”

 

Remember, when we are in Christ we are blessed - consecrated to God for divine purposes and made holy. We are sacred! We are not meant to be common or ordinary. We are sacred, and we are supposed to live like it!

 

Let’s look at this verse and really think about some of the things Jesus included in this list. Most would agree that sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, etc. are negative and sinful. I mean, two of those four are against the law. But what about some of the other things on the list, some of the things which may seem to us like “lesser” sins. Let's talk about some of those.

 

Coveting - “greediness, desiring advantage, or desiring to have more.”

 

Wow.

 

Envy - depicting jealousy, rivalry, and intensely desiring something someone else has.

 

Although coveting and envying seem similar, envy involves another person. So let’s make it practical. Someone else got something you wanted, something you felt you deserved - a career opportunity, a promotion, a relationship, a child, or some other sort of success. The discontent consumes your thoughts and preoccupies your every waking moment, until one day you realize you are walking around consumed with negative thoughts about the other person because you so intensely want what they have. Which leads us to the next one in the list...

 

Slander - “abusive language.”

 

Do you speak abusively about people - or about A person? Do you think abusively about a person? Maybe your mind is naturally drawn to criticism, or maybe your critical thoughts toward someone are the result of an offense or a hurt. Either way, Jesus includes it in His list of things which defile us.

 

Let’s make it practical again. Have you ever experienced an emotional wound which seemed to physically knock the wind out of you, threatening to steal your breath morning after morning? Have you replayed the offense, rehearsing what you feel entitled to say over and over again - day after day, month after month, maybe even year after year - until before you know it you are completely obsessed with hateful, unforgiving, slanderous thoughts toward the person who hurt you?

 

I say these things with so much compassion and love because they are from my own experiences - I’ve been there! If the devil can’t get us with overt sin, then he’ll try to get us with more subtle sin. Either way, the bottom line is these things steal our ability to discern the will of God, and they steal our state of blessedness right out from under us!

 

We have to be incredibly purposeful with our minds. We have a real enemy with a real agenda:

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness. (John 10:10, ESV)

 

God’s agenda is to give us life in all its fullness. Satan is a thief, with an agenda to steal that life from us, kill our dreams, and destroy our potential. Satan’s agenda is to steal our ability to walk in blessedness.

 

Why?

 

Because blessedness produces fruit!

 

Satan knows our mindset determines our walk. So if he can get our minds consumed with any of the things on the list above, then he knows our walk won’t be producing fruit!

 

Okay, let’s continue on to the next “does not”:

 

  • stand in the way of sinners

 

We already discussed the meaning of the word stand, so now we are going to see what it is that we are not to stand in - the way of sinners. This word way means just that - “the path, the journey, or the manner of.”

 

Sinners.

 

We are all born sinners in need of a Savior. However, when we encounter the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we are justified (made righteous) by that grace (Romans 3:22-24). So we are no longer called sinners, we are called righteous! (2 Corinthians 5:21)

 

This word sinners carries implications of a criminal and refers to a person who is found guilty. If we have been saved through the grace of Jesus Christ, we are no longer found guilty because Jesus paid the price for our sin! (Ephesians 1:7)

 

We are not supposed to stand around in the manner of those who do not know Christ. We are not supposed to look like the rest of the world - we are supposed to be different! We should be transformed by the renewing of our minds into the image of Jesus, to show the world around us Who He is. Jesus says in John 8:12 that He is “the light of the world.” He goes on to say, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” The light of Jesus is to shine so brightly within us that, as He says in Matthew 5:14, we become “the light of the world.”

 

In order to be a light in the darkness, we have to stand out!

 

We are to stand in the way of Christ rather than stand in the way of the world.

 

In closing the verse, the author shows us the ultimate toll sin takes against our character:

  • sit in the seat of mockers

The word translated mocker here implies that the person is actually anti-godliness. This is a person who would ridicule or mock religion and spirituality. To sit in the seat of this person means “to settle in or to dwell,” to essentially become this person.

 

When we allow sin to creep into our lives, before we know it we are in a place we may have never wanted to be, slowly becoming someone we may have never thought we would become. OR, we are not becoming someone we always thought we would become.

 

The good news is, just as sin slowly changes our character, so does godliness! We’ll get to study more on that next week.

 

God is not up there demanding control of our lives in order to steal our earthly happiness. On the contrary, God is up there flooding us with promises of happiness and purpose, just waiting to fulfill them if we will give Him control.

 

Remember how the verse in Psalm began?

 

Blessed. Esher blessed.

 

We’ll close by going back to something we uncovered last week. Do you remember the word esher is derived from the Hebrew root word ashar, which means “to go on, to go straight, and to advance?”

 

Unless we want to walk in circles, forward movement will always result in a growing distance from the starting point.

 

There will be mindsets, values, habits, hobbies, or even people we have to leave behind in order to walk into the fullness of the life God has created us for. But oh, how it’s worth it! Blessedness is about living the fullest life God created us to live - with unrivaled peace, fulfillment, and purpose!

 

#blessed

 

PRAYER

Oh Lord, show me the areas of my life, and of my mind, which I need to give up or give to You. Make me more like You every single day, from the inside out, that I may walk in the blessedness You created me for to be the light in the darkness You created me to be!

 

PONDER

1.  As you read through today’s lesson, were there any areas of your thought life God revealed to you that you need to give to Him?

 

2.  As you read through today’s lesson, were there any behaviors God revealed to you that He wants you to give to Him?

 

3.  As you read through today’s lesson, are there any other things you feel God might be calling you to give up or leave behind in order to advance in who He’s calling you to be and what He’s calling you to do?

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