Bottom Line Message
The Ninth Benefit of Studying the Bible:
Be Liberated from the Burdens of Sin and
In our continuing series on the benefits of studying the Bible, we look at the benefit of being liberated from the burdens of sin and personal obsessions.
For you have set my heart free.
Let no sin rule over me.
—Psalm 119:32b, 133b (NIV)
Brothers and Lovers
Cain and Abel (Genesis 4)
Adam and Eve had been expelled from the Garden of Eden and their first two sons were born. Time passed and the two sons brought offerings to God. Cain brought an offering of fruit, and Abel brought the firstborn of his flock. We won't attempt to delve into the reasons why, but God respected Abel and not Cain. This caused Cain to be angry, and God cautioned him about his anger.
So the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." —Genesis 4:6-7 (NKJV, emphasis ours)
It's a remarkable turn of phrase to say that sin's desire is for you, as though sin was a person capable of desire, but rather than listen to God's cautionary words, he obsessed over his anger, and it didn't take long before Cain's anger turned to murderous rage.
Cain did not have the Bible to study or meditate on, but he did have five sentences uttered by God directly to him to think about. Imagine that! If he had listened and acted on God's counsel, his life would have been completely different, and he would not have murdered his brother.
David and Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11 and 12)
David knew firsthand what it means to be shackled by sin and ruled by an obsession, but unlike Cain, he also knew the glorious liberation from sin that comes from studying and meditating on God's Word and allowing it to take root in his heart and mind and change his life.
King David had always led his warriors to battle. But one year, he didn't. What caused David to stay home that fateful spring? What events led up to David walking out onto his roof and seeing Bathsheba? Scripture does not tell us why David stayed behind. But the events paint a vivid picture of a man being consumed with personal obsessions and sin.
Coveting another man's wife, having an affair leading to a pregnancy, being consumed by murderous thoughts leading to murderous acts . . . what on earth possessed David to act in this way?
David, who is known for his Psalms (songs), which are so rich in prayer and praise to God and the joy of meditating on God's Word, is remarkably silent during this season of his life. Is this a clue to his path of destructive choices? Was prayerlessness and a lack of meditating on God's Word part of the reason for David becoming consumed by sin and personal obsession?
Throughout 2 Samuel 11, there is no evidence of David spending any time with God in prayer, or studying or meditating on God's Word. In chapter 12, it is only after Nathan confronted David that David acknowledged his sin, and then he fasted and pled with God for the life of the child. In fact, after seven days of fasting and pleading, he was so desperate for God to spare his child that his servants feared to tell him when the child died lest he do himself harm. After he was told that his child was dead, he did something rather startling, he worshipped God and had a meal.
So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. —2 Samuel 12:20 (NKJV)
Tragically, it took being confronted by Nathan and the death of his child for David renew his relationship with God. It's not hard to imagine God uttering the very same words spoken to Cain to David, prior to David stepping out onto his roof,
"And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." —Genesis 4:7b (NKJV)
As we near the end of this series of ten articles, we find that the very Psalm that inspired this series is the place to turn for clues about being liberated.
My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.
I have declared my ways, and You answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.
Make me understand the way of Your precepts;
So shall I meditate on Your wonderful works.
My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me Your law graciously.
I have chosen the way of truth;
Your judgments I have laid before me.
I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!
I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart.
Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul keeps them.
The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
I opened my mouth and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.
Look upon me and be merciful to me,
As Your custom is toward those who love Your name.
Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.
Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.
Rivers of water run down from my eyes,
Because men do not keep Your law. —Psalm 119:25-32, 129-136 (NKJV)
The Power of God's Word to Liberate Us
The passages above outline a series of things the Psalmist called out to God to do and was confident that God would do through His Word, and a series of things we can do to keep the power of God's Word working in our lives.
We can each call upon God to:
- Teach us His statutes
- Revive and strengthen us according to His Word
- Make us understand the way of His precepts
- Remove lying from us and grant us His law graciously
- Direct our steps by His Word
- Give light through the entrance of His Words
- Give understanding through His Word
What each of us can do:
- Declare our ways (confess our sins)
- Meditate on God's Word and His works
- Melt (keep a soft soul toward God)
- Choose the way of truth (make it a conscious choice)
- Pant and long for God's Commandments (have a continuing desire for God's Word)
- Lay it before us (keep reading and meditating on God's Word)
- Cling to God's Word (treasure it)
- Keep God's Word and precepts (obey it)
- Weep over sin
As we examine the lives of Cain and David, we can see the stark contrast of the power of knowing and acting on God's Word. Cain ignored God's counsel and allowed the passion of his anger to grow until he murdered his own brother and was sentenced to be a fugitive and vagabond (Genesis 4:12). Compare that to David, who after committing the sins of adultery and murder, had the integrity and humility to repent and worship God. In 1 Kings, God spoke to Solomon, David's son, and described David as a man who walked in integrity and uprightness.
Now if you walk before Me as your father David walked, in integrity of heart and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep My statutes and My judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, "You shall not fail to have a man on the throne of Israel." 1 Kings 9:4-5 (NKJV)
Both Cain and David were burdened by sin and personal obsession, but David repented. He valued God's Word. He studied and meditated on God's Word. He prayed and worshipped God.
Through God's Word, David was able to walk uprightly and with integrity. May we each follow David's example. Through studying and meditating on God's Word, may we each know liberation from sin and personal obsessions.
Scripture quotations marked "NIV" are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations marked "NKJVTM" are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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