By Nathanael Goh
“Your word I have hidden in my heart lest I sin against You” (Psa 119:11) is one of my favouriteverses in the bible. Being a Christian means that you’ve decided to follow Christ knowing that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. We ought to give up our previous life full of sin (Rom 6:6) and present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God (Rom 12:1). However, we are living in a world filled with many temptations and obstacles. Therefore, there will be many opportunities for us to sin if we are not careful. So, how do we deal with this challenging situation? The answer is simple: we ought to keep God’s word close to our heart. Here comes another question, why is keeping God’s word close to our hearts important for us?
WHY IS KEEPING GOD’S WORD CLOSE TO OUR HEART IMPORTANT FOR US?
1. TO LIVE A HOLY LIFE (Psa 119:9)
The Psalmist asked in Psalm 119:9, “How can a young man cleanse his way?” Then he answered it in the following sentence, “By taking heed according to Your word”. In order to live a holy life acceptable to God, we ought to read the word of God because it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (Psa 119:105). It is a guidebook on how we should live our life. Why is it important to follow this guide book? It teaches us about our purpose here on earth. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). We should take heed to God’s word and continue in them because it will save us and those who hear us. “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). There will be a judgement day someday whether we like it or not and we will have to give an account for ourselves. Hence, we ought make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
Paul and his companions exhorted, comforted and charged the Christians in Thessalonica to walk worthy of God (1 Thess 2:10-11). Similarly, we should walk worthy of God and encourage one another to do so because we are the light and salt of the world (Matt 5:13-16). Our conduct will either glorify our Father in heaven or bring shame to His name. Let us live in a manner that will glorify our Almighty God. In the book of Romans 12:9-21, we learn how a Christian should behave. Now that we are aware of this, let us ask ourselves how well are we applying these principles in our daily lives. I will not deny that it is truly a struggle to apply every single one of these principles, but we are now children of light. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Phi 2:14-15).
2. TO NOT DRIFT AWAY FROM THE TRUE AND LIVING GOD (Psa 119:10-11)
The Psalmist mentioned in Psalms 119:10 that he wholeheartedly seek God, then in the second half of the verse, he prayed to not depart from God’s commandments. Let us view this verse as a reminder for those who are fellow Christians to not forget why we searched for the truth and now that we’ve found it, do not wander from it! “With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!” (Psa 119:10). It’s truly saddening to see brethren to wander away from the truth and to dwell in lies. Let us who are spiritual restore them in a spirit of gentleness keeping in mind that if we are not careful, we might fall into the same trap. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).
I would like to emphasise on how important it is to restore such brethren because they will face harsher judgment if nothing is done. “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21). This does not only apply to those who fell away but it also serves as a warning to us in the church to be careful. Therefore, let us all help each other to be steadfast and immovable in the faith to obtain the crown of life together once our journey on earth has ended “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). God’s word serves both as a reminder and a warning to stay on the right track. “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him” (John 4:23).
By keeping God’s word close to our hearts, we are able to mature in our faith and exercise our senses to discern between good and evil. “Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You” (Psa 119:11). It is important to find out what is pleasing to God lest we sin against Him: finding out what is acceptable to the Lord (Eph 5:10). We can see that false teachers will cheat us through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (Colossians 2:8). It is critical not to follow these wicked people who can cause us to be rejected by Christ. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:21-23).
3. TO LEARN ABOUT GOD’S COMMANDMENTS (Psa 119:10-11)
We can see how eager the Psalmist was in wanting to know the commandments of God.
“Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.
With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches”
We should also be eager to learn God’s word and rejoice in it. We are really blessed to have the word of God and we should not take it for granted because the grace of God has allowed us to receive this wonderful gift. “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began  but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith-  to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).
It is very dangerous to be ignorant of God’s word. While faithful Christians look forward to receive rest when Christ comes again, those who do not know Him will be facing flaming fire just because they do not know God. The same goes for those who don’t obey the gospel. “and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Knowing God’s word is important for us to avoid being destroyed for lack of knowledge and being rejected by God. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6). The word of God is to complete us and equip us for every good work. “thatthe man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). It also acts as our armour against the wiles of the devil. “Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph 6:11).
Let us inculcate a habit of studying and meditating on a portion of God’s word (Psa 119:12-14; Phi 4:8-9) daily that we may draw closer to Him and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who ask us a reason of the hope that is in us, with meekness and fear.