Radiant and Right (Authoritative)

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Psalm 19:8

INTRODUCTION: Our series is called the Magnificent Word of God, and we are looking at various aspects of God’s word as presented in Psalm 19. Psalm 19 teaches us that God’s word is inspired, infallible, authoritative, everlasting, priceless and sanctifying. So far in this series we have looked at the inspiration of Scripture, which means that all Scripture comes from God and that what Scripture says, God says. We have looked at the infallibility of Scripture which simply means that Scripture is true in all that it affirms, that there are no errors in God’s word and that you can trust everything God’s word says. Today we look at the Scripture’s authority. The Bible is the authoritative word of God. (Read Psalm 19:8 and pray.)

There is a lot of confusion today about what is right and what is wrong. Some people even maintain that there is no such thing as right or wrong, that everything is cultural or relative and that each person gets to decide for themselves. So when we begin to talk about the authority of God’s word, this is a challenging subject for many of us.

The truth of the matter is that without God’s word we are lost in the dark and morally confused. Without an absolute standard of right and wrong, each person has to make up their own moral code. The problem is that when each person does what is right in their own eyes, it is rarely right in their neighbor’s eyes as well.

We need a standard; we need a guide; and we have that in the Scriptures because the Bible is the inspired, infallible, authoritative word of God. “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (Psalm 19:8)

I want us to look at three things in particular relating to the authority of God’s word this morning. 1) God’s word is not only true but right. 2) God’s word has authority because God has authority. 3) God’s way is not only right but best.

I. God’s word is not only true but right

So first of all, God’s word is not only true but right. Look at Psalm 19:8: “The precepts of the LORD are right.” (Psalm 19:8a)

The precepts of the Lord have to do with our obligations to God. The word translated “precepts” is a word that means “directions, orders, detailed rules for life and conduct.” Did you know that life comes with directions? Praise God, because if your life is anything like mine, then you probably came with a big notice saying: “Assembly Required.” Life is messy. The different parts of your life don’t come together automatically. You don’t come complete out of the box. Your life comes together slowly, piece by piece. And so God gives you directions in his word.

God’s word is not only true but right. There are many books out there that are factually true. There are any number of textbooks that are full of facts about math or science or history. But God’s word is not only true but right. It not only distinguishes truth from error, but right from wrong. The Bible is both factually true and morally right. Or as Alistair Begg puts it: “The Bible teaches us what to believe and how to live … it involves both our belief and our behavior.”

   A. God’s word gives us moral absolutes
      – 2 Samuel 12:9; Isaiah 5:20

As such God’s word gives us moral absolutes. Psalm 19 says: “The precepts of the Lord are right.” (Psalm 19:8a) That word translated “right” is a word that means “straight, upright, pleasing.” Just like you need a straight edge to draw a straight line, so you need God’s precepts to know God’s righteous standards for living. God’s precepts provide a norm, an absolute, a straight edge to correct our crooked ways.

Contrary to what so many people will tell you today, there is such a thing as right and wrong. There are moral absolutes. There are things that are always right or wrong for all people in all places at all times. It is always wrong to dishonor your parents. It is always wrong to murder. It is always wrong to commit adultery. It is always wrong to steal. It is always wrong to lie.

When David in the Bible committed adultery with Bathsheba, God sent his prophet to ask him: “Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes?” (2 Samuel 12:9) The precepts of the Lord are right. When you go against what God says in his word, you are doing evil in God’s eyes.

Isaiah 5:20 says: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Isaiah 5:20) God calls them as he sees them. And God always sees them right. When God calls something evil, it is evil. When God calls something good, it is good. And yet people are constantly rejecting God’s word and making up their own moral codes instead. We have a whole generation that is currently trying to rewrite God’s laws for life and society.

Psalm 19:8 says: “The precepts of the Lord are right.” (Psalm 19:8a) God’s word gives us moral absolutes.

   B. God’s word shows you the right way to live
      – Psalm 43:3; Psalm 119:105, 130

God’s word not only gives us moral absolutes, God’s word also shows you the right way to live. Look at the second half of verse 8: “The commands of the LORD are radiant.” (Psalm 19:8b) That word translated “radiant” is a word that means “clean, pure, or bright.” (The same word is translated “bright” in Song of Solomon: “Who is this who looks down like the dawn, beautiful as the moon, bright as the sun?” – Song of Solomon 6:10) God’s commands are radiant. There is a right path and a wrong path, and God’s word shows you the right way to live.

Have you ever been lost in the woods? You get nervous at first, then you begin to worry, then you begin to panic. You look around for familiar signs or landmarks. And then when you finally find the trail again, clearly marked, you feel a sense of joy and relief to be back on the right path.

Well, life without God’s word is like that except it’s even worse. It’s like being lost in the woods at night. You can’t even see your way to find your way. But that’s where God’s word comes in. The commands of the Lord are radiant, showing you the right way to live.

This is a truth we find all throughout Scripture, and it is a common theme in the Psalms. Psalm 43:3 says: “Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell.” (Psalm 43:3) Psalm 119:105 says: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) Psalm 119:130 says: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” (Psalm 119:130)

God’s word shows you the right way to live. As William Ward writes: “It is not enough to own a Bible; we must read it. It is not enough to read it; we must let it speak to us. It is not enough to let it speak to us; we must believe it. It is not enough to believe it; we must live it.” (William A. Ward)

God’s word is not only true but right. The precepts of the Lord are right – God’s word gives you moral absolutes. The commands of the Lord are radiant – God’s word shows you the right way to live. That’s our first point this morning. God’s word is not only true but right.

II. God’s word has authority because God has authority

Our second point is this: God’s word has authority because God has authority. Remember, the Bible is God’s inspired word. That means it comes from God. And so just as God’s word is infallible because God is infallible, so God’s word has authority because God has authority. It is his word, and so it carries the same authority as God.

   A. God created you, so he has authority over you
      – Ecclesiastes 12:1,13-14; John 5:24

In case you somehow forgot that God has authority over you, let me give you a quick refresher course. First of all, God has authority over you because he created you. You owe your whole life to him. You wouldn’t be here without him. God created you, so he has authority over you.

Ecclesiastes 12 says this: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth … Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:1,13-14) And so God is both your Creator and Judge. In fact he is your judge because he is your creator and because he has authority over you.

When we speak of God’s authority, we are not only speaking of God the Father but also Jesus the Son. The Bible tells us that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were all involved in creation, and so all of who God is has authority over your life. That’s why Jesus could say in John 5:24: “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned.” (John 5:24) If you follow Jesus, you will not be condemned. If you do not follow Jesus, you will be condemned. Jesus has authority over you because he is God.

   B. One day every person will confess that Jesus is Lord
      – Philippians 2:9-11

Which leads us to the second part of our refresher course on God’s authority over you. One day every person will confess that Jesus is Lord. We read in Philippians 2: “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) You may not bow to his authority now, but you will then. Everyone will. There will be no exceptions. One day you will bow before Jesus your Creator and Judge.

God’s word has authority because God has authority. God created you, so he has authority over you. One day ever person will confess that Jesus is Lord. That’s our second point this morning. God’s word has authority because God has authority.

III. God’s way is not only right but best

1) God’s word is not only true but right. 2) God’s word has authority because God has authority. And then our third point is this: 3) God’s way is not only right but best. Look at Psalm 19:8 again: “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (Psalm 19:8) Remember these descriptions of God’s word here in Psalm 19 not only tell us what God’s word is but also what God’s word does. And here we find that God’s word gives joy to the heart and light to the eyes.

There are a lot of people looking for enlightenment these days. Let me tell you, you don’t have to go far. You don’t need to go to a sweat lodge, or meditate on a butterfly, or climb a high mountain looking for the swami at the top of the hill. All the enlightenment you need is right here in God’s word. “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (Psalm 19:8)

   A. God created you, so he knows what is best for you.
      – Proverbs 6:23; Isaiah 8:20

Earlier we learned that God created you, so he has authority over you. But there is another aspect to this that comes in here. God created you, so he knows what is best for you. God created us, so he has authority over us. He is not only your creator but also your judge, and you are accountable to him for how you live your life. But because God created us, God also knows what is best for us. His commands are not burdensome, because he knows the right path and the best way to live.

The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. Proverbs 6:23 says this about God’s word: “For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life.” (Proverbs 6:23) God’s word corrects you when you’re wrong and puts you on the path of life.

Isaiah 8:30 says: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” (Isaiah 8:20) There are lots of people who think they know what is best for you, but are they following God’s word? If not, don’t listen to them! Isaiah says they have no light of dawn. God knows what’s best for you, so don’t listen to anyone who is not listening to God’s word.

I can’t tell you how many times I counsel with people who are ignoring God’s word in their lives and then they wonder why their life is so off track. I point them back to God’s word and remind them that God’s way is not only right but best. I encourage them to recommit their life to Christ, to start reading their Bibles, to come back to church and to follow God’s way instead of the world’s way. But instead, they leave my office and go right back to doing what they were doing; months or years pass, and then they are back in my office again.

God’s way is not only right but best. God created you, so he knows what is best for you.

   B. True joy comes only from following God’s Word.
      – Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-3; Luke 11:28

Which is why when it comes right down to it, true joy comes only from following God’s word. “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.” (Psalm 19:8) You will not find lasting joy in life outside of this book.

Joshua 1:8 tells us: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)

Or we read in Psalm 1: “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. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 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.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

Or perhaps Jesus put it the simplest of all. “Blessed … are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28) Do you want joy in your heart? True joy comes only from following God’s word.

   C. We cannot pick and choose – we must obey all of it.
      – Deuteronomy 12:32; 1 Timothy 6:3-4; 1 John 5:3-5

And if we are truly going to follow God’s word, if we are truly going to accept it as the authority for our lives, then we cannot pick and choose – we must obey all of it.

God says in Deuteronomy 12: “See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:32) Anytime you add or take away from God’s commands, you are making yourself the authority instead of God and his word.

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6: “If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing.” (1 Timothy 6:3-4) You may not agree with everything the Bible says. That’s your prerogative. But just remember that when you disagree with God’s word, you are disagreeing with God. It’s his word! And if you disagree with God about what he says in his word, then Paul says you are conceited. He says you understand nothing. And you know what? If you think about it, he’s absolutely right. It is pretty conceited for us to think that we know more than God.

As someone said, the Bible is not a bag of trail mix. You can’t just pick out the pieces you like and ignore the rest.

bible_trail_mix

If I only obey the parts that I like, then I am not submitting to God’s authority at all, but I am really making myself the authority. Instead of letting God’s book stand over me, I make myself stand over God’s book.

And whatever excuses I might make, if I am not obeying God, then I am not loving God. 1 John 5 says: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world … Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:3-5)

God’s way is not only right but best. God created you, so he knows what is best for you. True joy comes only from following God’s word. We cannot pick and choose – we must obey all of it.

CONCLUSION: 1) God’s word is not only true but right. 2) God’s word has authority because God has authority. 3) God’s way is not only right but best.

And so you have a decision to make this morning. Will you accept the Bible as God’s inspired, infallible, authoritative word in your life? Or will you go your own way and choose your own rules and leave God’s path far behind? I pray that you will accept God’s word as authoritative in your life, that you will come to know God’s word as the absolute standard for right and wrong, and that you will desire to follow God’s word as your rule of life.

Because when it comes right down to it, either God is the authority or you are the authority. Either God can do a better job directing your life, or you can do a better job directing your life.

Psalm 19:8 teaches us that God’s way is right and best. All God’s ways are good ways, and all his paths are peace. “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (Psalm 19:8)

© Ray Fowler

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