Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

What goes through your mind when someone says to you, “God bless you?” When you consider God’s blessings, what do you equate with those blessings? I am sure that different people have different ideas of what constitutes blessings depending on their frame of reference or perspective. No doubt, many people construe God’s blessings as health and wealth, thanks to the widespread preaching of the “prosperity gospel”. Others might conclude that blessings are an insulation of sorts against reality, while others may believe that blessings from above indicate how deserving and special they are in the scheme of things. Of course, none of these viewpoints is valid in that they are satanically inspired and worldly in nature, not to mention contrary to what God’s Word reveals about His blessings.

God’s blessings come with a price. In other words, blessings, like God’s promises, are conditional. Psalm 1:1says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” This is a powerful verse upon which to meditate concerning the three positions of walking, standing and sitting. Concerning our walk, we can conclude that God is aware of everyone who rejects ungodly counsel in his or her daily walk, or manner of living, which reveals wisdom and depth of character. The influences of ungodly counsel are with us from the cradle to the grave. If a child’s parents claim to be Christians, but conduct their lives according to the spirit of this world, the “counsel” they give is ungodly, hypocritical and meaningless because it is not backed up with action. What exactly is the “spirit of this world?” The answer is, any goal, philosophy, lifestyle, emphasis, agenda, or belief system that elevates the flesh, and minimizes, ignores, repudiates, or resists the Spirit of God is of this world.

To me, one of the most inspiring, amazing and miraculous things in our day and age is a young person who is totally sold out to God, and living to please Him. When you consider the myriad of ungodly influences our youth are continually exposed to—evil assaults and temptations from the enemy through the media, educational system, Hollywood’s filth, satanic music, drugs, porn, peer pressure, and political propaganda—it is a downright miracle that any young person can wade through it all and come out making the right decisions. The counsel of the ungodly is to walk in the course of this world, which is the broad path to destruction. This path seems so natural and right. After all, it beckons and calls with enticing promises of fame and fortune. But, Proverbs 14:12warns, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Trying to circumvent God’s ways is as disastrous as parking on a railroad track in front of a train going 60 mph, or jumping from a jet over the ocean, without a parachute.

Since, in our modern time, ungodly counsel and propaganda continually bombard us, how can we maintain an upright walk before God? The Lord Himself has provided the answer in His Word. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” John 14:15. “Keep” means to obey. “He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” John 14:24. The first thing we must do is to love Jesus. How can we love and obey someone we do not know? If we would know and love Jesus, we must get into His Word, and get His Word into us and spend time with Him in prayer, and worship. As we walk in obedience, we will then experience God’s presence in our lives. (John 14:23.)

       Next, to walk in a godly fashion, we must have the mind of Christ, in all humility. Philippians 2:5-8, “Let this mind be in you, which also was in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 4:8 also tells us upon what we are to think. As you study this verse and apply it to your life, you will be amazed at how clearly you can begin to see even the most subtle deviations from God’s character and ways.

Resisting walking in the counsel of the ungodly is impossible if we fail to heed Jesus’ words in Luke 9:23, 24. He said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”Either we are following after Jesus in our daily walk (manner of living) or we are following after the ungodly counsel of the world, the flesh and the devil. There is no middle ground. After all, how can “two walk together, except they be agreed” Amos 3:3? “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other . . .” Matthew 6:24.

Finally, the Apostle Paul gives us this incredible insight into his life in Christ in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”  Such a person, one in whom the Spirit of God dwells, will have no inclination or desire to walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Such would be contrary to his or her regenerated heart and soul. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore, we can conclude that if we are to be blessed in our walk, we must walk in the Spirit, not the flesh. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” Romans 8:14. Such people are not “walking in the counsel of the ungodly,” but rather, walking in the counsel of God. Concerning walking in truth, the Apostle John wrote, “I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. And this is love, that wewalk after his commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” 2 John 4:4, 6; 3 John 4. [Emphasis added.]  This is a blessed life indeed!

The second admonition in Psalm 1:1 concerns not standing “in the way of sinners.” What does this mean? To me, stand conjures up a mental picture of a young person loitering around with purposeless peers, trying to fit in or be one of the gang, and open for anything. Of course, this spells trouble. Proverbs 1:15, 16 warns, “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.” Proverbs 4:14, 15 plainly states, “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”

       Another meaning to “stand” is being established or planted on a certain premise, or belief. It gives the impression of belligerence and defiance towards anything that may present a challenge. People in this position are those who, when challenged regarding their attitudes, disposition, or lifestyle, will justify it. People standing in the way of sinners are ready to defend their position, and have no intention of backing down. Jesus said of such,“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” John 3:19, 20.

If a person continually stands with sinners, one can conclude that it is because they agree with them, or are like-minded. After all, “deep calls unto deep” (Psalm 42:7). The tragedy is, if a person stands with sinners, he or she will receive the same judgment and condemnation. Ezekiel 18:20a declares, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.”  Instead, how much better it is to be standing upon the Rock of Ages, the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul admonished in Ephesians 6:14-18, “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”

       Concerning evil associations, King Solomon wrote, “My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path. Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men” Proverbs 1:15; 4:14.These verses remind me of the utter devastation caused by “standing in the way of sinners.” Back in the early 80’s, the brother-in-law of a woman I knew was the head chaplain of the women’s prisons in Arizona. He procured admission passes for us for the women’s prison in the Phoenix area. We went on several occasions as part of his ministry and there we heard more than one tragic story from women incarcerated for terrible crimes because of their evil associations. One was in prison for killing her biker boyfriend in self-defense because he was beating her with chains. Another was incarcerated for being with her boyfriend when he committed murder. We learned the story behind many ruined lives simply because of the company the women kept. They were in the wrong place, with the wrong people, at the wrong time.

How much better it is to stand established in the way of righteousness and eternal life than to stand with sinners in this life, only to be lost in the next. How blessed is the person who refuses to stand, or be associated, with the ways of the world, the flesh and the devil! Psalm 16:8, 9 says, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.” Standing in the way of sinners offers no hope. To stand on one’s own concepts, ideas, conclusions and perceptions instead of receiving a love for truth results in delusion and death. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:10, 11.)

The third part of Psalm 1:1 concerns those who sit in the “seat of the scornful.” Here we get a picture of those who have made themselves at home with people who scorn God and His Word. Settled into this position of complacency and judgment, they have no desire for change. Proverbs 1:22 gives us this insight into such people:“How long, yes simple ones, will ye love simplicity? And the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?” The “simple” in this verse means “silly (i.e. seducible): foolish. This is a description of those who lack substance and character, preferring to remain immature, undisciplined, undiscerning, unwise, and vain (worthless). Such are “scorners” who delight in mocking and holding in derision those who are wise, righteous, and walking after God. Such are “fools” who “hate knowledge.”

You do not have to go farther than your TV or newspaper to witness fools and scorners in action, mocking all that is moral, decent, righteous and godly. You can see it with your eyes, hear it with your ears, and perceive it in your heart as hypocritical leaders, from the top down, heap judgment upon themselves as they proceed to tear apart the Christian foundation of this nation. Such people walk “in the counsel of the ungodly,” stand “in the way of sinners, and sit “in the seat of the scornful” as they reward the enemies of Israel and America (with our tax dollars) and play God over the nations. Nevertheless, God has the last laugh. He says, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, [Jesus] saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure” Psalm 2:1-5.

Where are you today? Are you avoiding the counsel of the ungodly, shunning the company of sinners, and separating from the scornful? Or, are you drawn to worldly counsel, worldly living, and worldly conclusions about God and His truth because it feeds your flesh and serves your purpose? If so, you are heaping judgment and damnation upon your soul. You need to flee such things, and repent. Time is short.

The beautiful thing is God tells us how we can be blessed, and what those blessings are in Psalm 1:2-6. “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, [of the righteous] nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”

May God help us to walk, stand and sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus! Amen.