The Psalmist describes the blessed man as he whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” (Ps. 1:2). And the Apostle Paul himself declares that he “delight[s] in the law of God according to the inward man”(Rom. 7:22). Yet a large portion of the professing Christian church today would instantly condemn anyone who delights in the law as a “legalist.” The very idea that the Psalmist and the Apostle were guilty of legalism is on its very face preposterous. But let me further put this idea to rest with a simple truth. The legalist does not, indeed cannot delight in the law of God, for whenever the law of God is misused and abused as a means of procuring favor with God it is an unbearable burden! That is why legalism inevitably twists, truncates and manipulates the law of God into something that it is not, something that the legalist is able to fulfill, at least in his own mind.
Undoubtedly, the reason behind the disdain so many professing Christians hold toward the law of God stems from the fact that they have never bowed the knee to King Jesus. They have entered the “church” by means of an easy-believism “gospel” and have never surrendered their hearts and lives to the dominion and Lordship of their rightful King. They sit securely upon the throne of their own heart and sternly reject the right of anyone, including the God who holds their life in His hands, to tell them how they must live. Every time they are confronted with the law of God their conscience is reminded of the fact that they owe obedience to one greater than themselves and therefore they reject and despise it. There is only one solution for anyone in this frame of mind: Repent and believe. Surrender your life to the King of kings and Lord of lords and trust in Him alone to save you from your sin. Give yourself to Him, take His yoke upon you, for it is indeed light, and He will carry you to glory.
How Can I Delight in that which Brings Guilt and Shame?
I want to focus, however, on a question that others may have. Even those who have truly been converted and love the Lord Jesus may still wonder at times “How can I delight in the law of God? It is the law that brings my sin to mind. It reminds me of how much I fail my Lord and it fills my conscience with guilt and shame. How can I delight in something that does that?” I believe the answer to this question will not be difficult for us if we just look at the conscience from a Biblical perspective.
Unregenerate sinners have various unbiblical means of dealing with guilt, and unfortunately, these habits are not instantly eliminated from our minds at the moment of conversion. We need to consciously recognize and reject them. I will focus on two primary ways that the world deals with guilt and then contrast these with the means the Bible gives us for dealing with it.
Balance Guilt with Blame
One of the most common things unbelievers do with a guilty conscience is to shift the blame from themselves by concentrating the focus of their energy on someone else doing something that they consider to be so much worse. Perhaps the clearest example of this in our society is the strange marriage of pro-abortion advocacy with animal rights advocacy. It seems so illogical that those who have no concern for the rights of a human being as long as that human being resides within the womb of its mother should at the very same time spent their time and energy fighting for the “rights” of anything and everything within the animal kingdom. Until you realize that this principle is at work. The guilt they have for advocating murder in some cases is somehow, in their conscience, relieved by focusing on someone else doing something cruel to something else. The Christian is not immune to this principle however. How often, when faced with the guilt of our own sin, do we instinctively point to someone else doing something worse instead of dealing with our sin Biblically?
Pretend it isn’t Sin
The second of the two most common ways that the world deals with the guilt of sin is simply to pretend it isn’t sin. This stands out the most in our society in the homosexual agenda. The fight for “gay marriage” isn’t about “marriage equality” at all. It is about sinners trying to quiet their consciences. They know what they do is wrong, but they want to do it anyway. They fight to convince themselves and are able at times to quiet their stubborn consciences. They do everything in their might to remove every reminder that what they love to do is in fact sin. But every time they are confronted with someone who holds to the Biblical truth their conscience is again disquieted and this opposing view must be silenced so that they can return to their slumber! That is why the simple truth that according to the Bible homosexuality is sin, is being outlawed as “hate-speech” in place after place. Again, unfortunately, Christians are not immune to this practice. We have certain sins we are quite comfortable with, and when our conscience is awakened by the law of God our first reaction can be that we don’t want to hear it. Keep the law to yourself so I can go on in my blissful ignorance! Well, needless to say this is not how Christians should deal with guilt.
Dealing with Guilt Biblically
Before looking at how we should deal with guilt according to the word of God, I just want to point out one important thing about both of these worldly ways of dealing with it. Neither of them does anything at all to actually deal with the problem of guilt. They are both nothing but mind games! They are means of self-deception, nothing more. The Bible provides us with the one and only means of dealing with guilt that actually fixes the problem! What is that? Short answer: Christ.
When the law confronts us with the guilt of our sin, there is only one thing to do: Flee to Christ. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Don’t hide from your sin, don’t cling to your sin, take your sin to Christ! Confess and forsake your sin and leave it at the foot of the cross. He is faithful, not only to forgive you and cleanse you from the guilt of your sins. But he is also faithful to cleanse you from that sin. It is Christ and Christ alone who can give you the strength to forsake that sin, to cause you to see it the way He sees it and flee from it in disgust.
If you allow the law of God to work in your heart in this way it will inevitably become a delight to you. Allow the law to test your heart, to go down to the very depths of your soul and shine it’s light upon you. Let it expose your most intimate and secret sins, those you have been hiding even from yourself. But when you come face to face with the wickedness of your own heart in the mirror of God’s holy law do not despair. Do not be overcome with the dreadfulness and despicableness that you will inevitably find. For no matter how vile and putrid it is, the blood of Christ has more than enough power to wash you white as snow. Take it directly to the foot of the cross and lay it before your compassionate Savior. Oh what a Sweet Savior He is, for He will draw you unto Himself and cover you with His undying love.
The Question Reversed
So you see I must reverse the question. Dear Christian, how can you fail to delight in the law of the Lord. How can you not delight in that which constantly draws you to the foot of the cross and causes you to lay hold of your Savior afresh and cling to Him with all of your might? The great delight of the law of God is that it enables us to find our greatest delight in Christ Himself!
In part two I will share a number of further thoughts to help enable us to be that blessed man of Psalm 1, constantly delighting in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.
His Throne is Forever and Ever!