3/14/12

Overcoming the Counsel of the Ungodly

It takes courage to be a woman (or man) of integrity in today's culture. So many influences ~ both overt and subtle ~ conspire to bring a woman down and encourage her to compromise her standards.

Integrity is the state of being whole or undivided, and it is usually associated with the quality of being honest and with strong moral principles.

One or the easiest places to compromise our principles is in the privacy of our own homes. As we watch television programs, download movies, read novels, or listen to music we have the opportunity to live out our core, biblical standards ... or succumb to the voices of the culture that lead us away from God and His plan and direction for our lives.

I found myself struggling in my spirit recently as I watched a sitcom. It was funny, no question about that, on a purely human level; but it couldn't be funny on a spiritual level, because it contradicted what God's Word says about purity, sex, and marriage. As the Lord brought a scripture to my mind ~ "I will set no worthless thing before my eyes" (Psalm 101:3) ~ I changed the channel, but not soon enough. I found that the images and conversations were unforgettable. I thought about them the next day and the next. I felt dirty.

I had allowed myself to listen to the foolishness of the world concerning these important issues of life. Psalm 1:1 (ESV) describes a better way to respond to the pull of the culture. "Blessed is the man (or woman)," it says, "who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers." God says that if I want to have a happy life and be blessed, I won't follow the advice of sinful people or join in with those who mock God with their humor and philosophies of life. I won't allow the worldview of the godless to take root in my heart. The truth is, much of the entertainment available today will corrupt and destroy my heart's sensitivity to the things of God.

God has always been concerned that His people avoid the counsel and wickedness of the ungodly. In Jeremiah 10:2, He told his people not to learn the way of the heathen. In Deuteronomy 18:9, He warned them that they would face temptations ~ various "abominations" of the nations ~ that would pit them against following Him faithfully.

The ungodly will always want to "counsel" us, believing in arrogance that their ways are better than the Word, will, and ways of God. They will seduce us, if we are not careful (Proverbs 12:26).

God's instruction to New Testament Christians, through the apostle Paul is to "come out from among them" and be separate from anything that is unclean (2 Corinthians 6:17). We have to guard our heart and mind, and then our eyes and ears, from even well-meaning voices in the culture that do not have a heart for God.

In Psalm 1:2, the Psalmist describes another way ~ a better way. He counsels us to delight in the law and instruction of the Lord (the Word of God) and meditate on what He says all day long. Then verse 3 lists the benefits of focusing on God's instruction rather than the advice of the world. We will be firmly planted, able to stand against the storms of life. We will produce life-giving "fruit" and prosper.

God wants us to see a clear contrast between what the world offers and what He wants to build into our lives. The wicked, He said, are temporal, and their lives lead to ruin (verses 4-6). They are unfit company for the Child of God.

The most convicting phrase to me in these verses is "The Lord knows [is fully acquainted with] the way of the righteous" (v. 6a). In other words, God is watching. He watches over me to care for me, but also, my Father watches to see whether I'm going to be a woman of integrity.

God was watching when I sat, too long, viewing that ungodly sitcom. God watches when I pay attention to the lies of the enemy, in whatever form they take. He observes whether I turn away from temptation or linger with the potential of becoming ensnared in the strongholds of sin.

His answer is so clear. God's Spirit will guide us in truth, but we have to listen to His words. Overcoming the counsel of the ungodly begins with a right focus. I must delight in His Word, in the same way that a woman focuses on her beloved ~ she can't see anyone or anything else. It's like putting horse blinders on so we see "straight ahead" and aren't distracted by sin and foolishness.

God wants us to read His Word, memorize it, meditate on it ~ mull it over ~ and apply it in all the circumstances of life. We "hide" God's Word in our hearts so we have it as ammunition to use in the battle against sin.

God wants us to have integrity, to act in accordance with the standards of holiness that we find in the scriptures. No excuses.

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