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How Can A Young Person Keep His Way Pure?

I asked some of the teens at New Covenant the following question recently in a Sunday school class: how can a young person keep his way pure? When you look at today’s culture, the question seems very relevant. Young people are surrounded by temptation. Music, movies, television shows, computers, smartphones, and even real people called friends can all begin to draw the heart of a young person toward impurity.

At this point, you might think this is going to be an article about pornography or sexual impurity, but it isn’t. While this question sounds like it fits perfectly for a young person from 2013, the question was written thousands of years ago. The psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 asked this same question in verse 9, and he gives the answer. “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” The answer is God’s Word.

Psalm 119 is not a Psalm primarily about purity that teaches to read your Bible more if you want to be pure. Rather, Psalm 119 is a massive, beautiful Psalm about God’s Word. The entire Psalm highlights the importance of God’s Word through describing it’s value, effects, commands, and benefits. And one of the benefits or effects is purity.

The Bible is vitally important in the life of a believer. That’s Christianity 101, right? We all know that the Bible should be important to us. But at times we grow complacent or cold toward God and His Word. Maybe right now, you can look back to times when you were refreshed by reading God’s Word, but lately it just seems dry and even a little boring. Then, the less time you spend with God in his Word, the less you desire it. And the downward spiral begins.

How do I guard my way according to God’s Word? Psalm 119 has so many things to say about the Scriptures (there are 176 verses). But I will just write about two things that will help cultivate in us an increased love for God and his Word.

1. Pray for God to give you a love for His Word.
I think sometimes we feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask God to help us to love the Bible. But the psalmist models this for us many times. In verse 18, he cries out to God saying, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Verse 36 is a prayer that says, “Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain.” We need to beg God to open our eyes. His Word is filled with wondrous things, but sometimes we don’t see it. When our vision is blurred by the cares of this world, or busy lives, or our pride, we lose the wonder.

Our hearts at times are leaning toward selfishness, and we need to cry out to God that he would incline our hearts toward his Word. We need to ask God to bend our affections back toward him and his Word. Verses 14, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 143, and 174 all speak of the writer’s delight in God’s Word.

2. Memorize God’s Word
My guess is that some of you were just tempted to skip down to the end. Maybe you thought that I must be talking about young people again because only kids memorize Scripture. I’m thrilled that my sons memorize God’s Word. They enjoy getting the prizes or Awana bucks, but I try to remind them that the main goal shouldn’t be the prizes. I tell them that it’s important to memorize God’s Word to know God, not just to get prizes.

Ironically, some of those very times that I’ve had those conversations with my sons have been times when I’ve not been memorizing Scripture. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Verses 23, 27, 48, 78, and 148 all talk about meditating on God’s Word. One of the best ways to meditate on God’s Word is to work on memorizing it. When we begin to store up the Scriptures in our minds, we can then meditate on it throughout the day.

Hopefully, it is clear that this article isn’t only for young people who want to be pure. All of us need to be a people consumed with God’s Word. When you have about 20 minutes, sit down and read through Psalm 119. Ask God to refresh your soul with His Word. Ask God to open your eyes and show you wonderful things. Ask God to incline your heart toward his Word. I long for us all to be able to say what the writer said in verse 97, “Oh how I love your law! it is my meditation all the day.”

Fixing our eyes on God in his Word,
Dan Leeper