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Author:Rev. George van Popta
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Congregation:Jubilee Canadian Reformed Church
 Ottawa, Ontario
Preached At:Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church
 Ancaster, Ontario
Title:Step up, young man!
Text:Psalms 119:9-16 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: 1 John 3:1-10

Text: Psalm 119:9-16

Singing: Ps. 135:1,2,9,10; Ps. 1:1; Hy. 54; Ps. 119:4,5,6; Ps. 25:2,3,6
* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

Beloved congregation of the Lord Jesus Christ:

An expression that has become quite popular of late is: Step up to the plate. In all kinds of different contexts we are told that we need to step up to the plate. It's a baseball term. To step up to the plate refers to taking your turn up at bat-to hit a home run, of course. To score a point. To be in control of the situation and hit the ball out of the park.

Psalm 119:9 calls us, and especially the young men of the congregation, to step up to the plate. To stand up and be counted. To stand up for the LORD, for his Word, for obedience, for purity.

The young men of this congregation are tomorrows leaders. A society will only be as strong as its men. A congregation as strong as its men. A family as strong as its father. A marriage as strong as the husband.

Weak men will result in a weak marriage, family, church and society. The young men need to prepare, be prepared, and prepare themselves, for leadership roles.

What does it mean to be a leader? Recently, when new office bearers were ordained, we spoke about what leadership is. We said it is qualified by service. Strong, self-confident, faithful service that seeks the good and well-being of the other person.

Here we touch on the same matter, but from another angle. The matter of leadership. Especially as it relates to how the young men are called to leadership.

What kind of qualities must a young man have? We all, of course, but it is addressed especially to the young man in the congregation? The quality of purity.

I preach to you the Word of God about:


1. The need; 2. The way ; The promise ... to be pure

1. To say that we live in an impure society is to state the obvious. We need think only of the recent court decision to allow homosexuals and lesbians to marry to demonstrate that we live in an impure society. The highest court in Ontario struck down the law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman as discriminating against homosexual people. The law was declare to be unconstitutional.

Since the definition of marriage is the responsibility of the federal government, the government had the choice of appealing the Ontario decision to the SCC. Sadly, they did not. Rather, they acquiesced to the court decision. The government has abrogated its responsibility and is fostering impurity.

In BC 36, we have a great summary of the responsibility of government:

We believe that, because of the depravity of mankind, our gracious God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers. He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies, in order that the licentiousness of men be restrained and that everything be conducted among them in good order.

The government is not doing this. In fact, it is doing the opposite: promoting licentiousness rather than restraining it.

We live in a very liberal culture. It is so hard for us not to be affected by it. Perhaps nearly impossible. It begins to wear us down. We begin to get used to things.

We can also think about the impurity as it comes to us through contemporary media. Evening TV programming that contains nudity and foul language. What Paul, in Eph. 4, calls: Obscenity, unwholesome talk and coarse joking.

Of course, this is not a recent problem. The legislated redefinition of marriage is a recent problem. Canada is joining only two other countries in the world, the Netherlands and Belgium, in defining marriage as including same-sex unions. That is new. Never before in the history of man has marriage been defined as including a relationship between two persons of the same sex. But the matter of depravity, of impurity, is not new. Impurity has been around ever since we fell into sin, back in the Garden. And it dwells in the hearts and flesh of us all. By nature we are all prone to every manner of impurity. It can only be driven out by the blood and Spirit of Christ.

The author of Psalm 119 wrote about the human condition. About his experience and knowledge of the wickedness of man. If you read through the Psalm you will see that he wrote about the oppression of the evil one; about being surrounded by wickedness; about being pursued by the proud and arrogant.

Today as well we live in the midst of that. We ourselves are, by nature, inclined to depravity and impurity. It is only through faith in Christ that we are forgiven our own impurity. It is only by the Spirit of Christ that we can wage the battle against our impure lusts and desires. It is only by the Holy Spirit that we, people redeemed by Christ, can stand in the midst of the stream of foul transgression that wants to sweep us away.

How are we going to stand firm?

You cannot help but notice (as has already been pointed out) that it is especially the young man who is asked this question. The need for purity extends to all of us-old, young, male, female. None are exempt. An old man has to fight against sin no less than a young woman. An elderly woman no less than a boy.

And yet, notice please-young men!-notice please that the question is directed especially to the young man in the congregation: How can a young man keep his way pure? Young man: You are called to purity!

The temptations of youth are many and frequent. The youth of the church are tempted no less than the youth of the world. The world makes is very easy for the youth of the church to fall prey to temptation. The world tells you that it is impossible to have a proper party without drinking. You begin to believe it. The world tells you that drugs such as marijuana are good. The government recently decriminalized marijuana. How enlightened! As tobacco comes closer to being criminal, marijuana becomes decriminalized. Not that we can be in favour of tobacco use-we are not. But it shows the insanity of our culture.

The world may start to take a positive view of marijuana, but as far as the Bible is concerned, nothing has changed. The command to be filled with the Spirit rather than anything else still holds.

The call to purity goes out to you, and it's up to you to obey it or not. But then be prepared to face the eternal consequences. At your parties; on your social activities-school trips; group outings; when you go out on dates; in your time of engagement-you need to be pure, to keep yourself pure.

You man, young woman: Do you want to see Jesus? Do you look forward to seeing him? If you want to see the Lord Jesus, if you look forward to his return, you will see the need for purity. You will purify yourself. Like John wrote: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ... ... we are children of God, and ... when [Christ appears], we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Do you have in you the hope of seeing Christ? Is seeing Christ your hope? If you do, then you will purify yourself. If you have no interest in purifying yourself of sin, then the only conclusion that can be drawn is that you do not want to see Christ. That you have no interest in seeing him.

Those who do not want to see Christ will not get their wish. They will still see him, but in his wrath rather than his grace.

We should take the warnings of scripture to heart. (Eph 5:5 NIV) For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure ... person has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Rev 21:27 NIV) Nothing impure will ever enter [the kingdom of heaven], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life. 1 Th 4:7 NIV) ... God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.

The need for purity, beloved. Let the need for purity-in all of its dimensions-be pressed upon you.

2. The way to purity.

The question is: How can a young man keep his way pure? And the answer is: By living according to [God's] Word. We need to incline ourselves towards the Word of God. We need a proper inclination. We need information, but even more do we need inclination.

The next verses, 10-16, speak about what it means to live according to God's Word.

a. It means, first, to seek the Lord with all your heart. Do you seek him? He has sought you out. Sought and singled you out. He called your name out in church when you were baptized. He began to call you then, and has never quit calling you. Do you, now, seek him out? Seek out the one who sought you out?

In Psalm 27 King David wrote: One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Is that your desire?

When you seek the Lord with all your heart-when you love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul and strength-then you will not (v. 10) stray from God's commands. God's commands, in v. 10, are the very practical applications of God's word for daily life. Every day we must make so many choices-that either please God or dismay him. As you seek the Lord you will more and more bring your life in tune with God's word.

b. To live according to God's Word means, second, to hide God's word in your heart. You seek the Lord with your heart, and finding the one who first found you, you hide his word in your heart. "Word" in v. 11 refers to the spoken Word of God. God has spoken, in the OT through Moses and the prophets. In the NT through the evangelists and apostles. We hide that living, active and powerful Word of God in our hearts.

It keeps us from sinning against God. You want to live a pure life? Then internalize God's word in your heart. Meditate on it (v. 15). Meditate on the precepts. A precept is the living and active Word of God applied in a very practical way to our lives. The way the Lord would have us live.

Treasure the word in your heart. Let it become part of who you are. Eat the Word, chew on it, and you will know how to live in a way pleasing to the Lord.

c. And then, third, speak the Word. We are speaking about living according to the Word. Part of living according to the Word, that is, living purely, is to speak the Word of God. Vv 12,13: Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.

The Word that is in your heart needs to come out of your mouth. In Luke 6:45 the Lord Jesus said: The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. If you treasure the good Word of God in your heart, then that Word will come out of your mouth. Your mouth proves what is in your heart. If filthy talk comes out of your mouth, that shows that your heart is full of impurity.

The "decrees" of v. 12 and the "laws" of v. 13 refer to God's righteous judgments that he makes. His determination of what is right and what is wrong. The one who strives for purity will be a person who praises the LORD, who recounts with his mouth that law that has come from God's mouth. He will speak the same things God has spoken. Will speak in the same way. We will speak God's thoughts and words after him.

d. And then, fourth and finally, the one who lives according to God's word will rejoice in following the Lord's statutes and delight in his decrees. These words bring us into the realm of God's covenant. We are called to covenant loyalty. To live according to God's statutes and decrees.

How do you view your status as a covenant child? Let me address, again, especially the youth of the congregation. That you are covenant youth, how do you view that fact? That you are in covenant with God?

In v. 14 the author wrote: I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. Imagine someone gave you a great treasure. Or a wonderful gift: a beautiful car or a fast motorbike. You would be very happy with that. V. 14 says: I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. Would you be able to say that? LORD, I rejoice in following your statutes as I would rejoice if someone gave me a hot car or a fast bike.

If we then tie this together, we learn that the one who would purify himself by living according to God's Word: * seeks the Lord; * hides the Word of God in his heart; * lets the Word spill out of his heart and out of his mouth; * and rejoices in his status as a covenant child of God.

Does this describe you? Old and young, does it describe you?

Young man, do you see yourself in this? As this passage of scripture is held up to you like a mirror, do you see yourself in this?

We spoke about the need to be pure; the way to be pure...

3. The promise to be pure.

This passage ends with a promise. The author of the Psalm makes a promise: I will not neglect your word! He will treasure the word, speak the word, rejoice in the word. In this way he will strive to live purely. He promises that he will not neglect the word.

Young man, is that your promise too? Do not neglect the Word of God. Pay attention to it. Work with it. Love it and obey it.

It's time for the young men of the church to "to step up to the plate." As was said at the outset of this sermon: * A society will only be as strong as its men. * A marriage will only be as strong as the husband. * A family will be as strong as the father. * A congregation will be as strong as the men of the congregation. Husbands, father's, men, must show leadership. Gentle, loving, kind, patient, strong and decisive leadership. You boys and young men are tomorrow's leaders: in marriages, families and congregations. You need to step forward now, to live pure lives according to the word of God.

You need to help each other. To be accountable to each other. To help each other strive for purity, and call each other to account when it's not happening. More often than not we keep our mouths shut when we see something inappropriate happening among our peers. An inappropriate party; use of drugs; abuse of alcohol; or something else we know is wrong. Everyone knows something not right is happening, but we do not say anything. We just let it go. Maybe we don't get involved in the activity, but we just let it go. A conspiracy of silence. A sinful conspiracy.

Don't just let it go. Keep each other accountable. Step up! Step forward! Young man, step up to the plate! Promise that you will not neglect God's word. Make that promise. That you will not ignore it. That you, rather, will love the word and work with it. That you will treasure it and speak it. That you will seek the Lord with all your heart. Seek him and seek to do his will. Be a man, a real man.

Then you will keep your way pure. Out of love for the one who purified you-for the sake of Jesus Christ who purified you with his blood and Spirit-you will purify yourself. You will purify yourself even as Christ Jesus is pure.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. George van Popta, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2003, Rev. George van Popta

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