Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Upright of Heart as a Metaphor for Integrity

Psalm 11.2 says that the wicked seek to destroy those who are “upright in heart” ( לְיִשְׁרֵי־לֵב). The LXX renders the Hebrew phrase as: τοὺς εὐθεῖς τῇ καρδίᾳ (“the straight ones [=upright] of heart”). The Aramaic Targum renders the phrase in its oft-expanded way:  תקיני  לתריצי לבא (“the firm stability of the upright ones in heart”). Why is this language used to speak about integrity? Why does this describe the godly?

I want to offer a few observations concerning this phrase.

1. This phrase refers to the godly person being one who is unbending and standing straight up for the Lord and for His Word.
The Hebrew root for “upright” (יָשָׁר) speaks of that which is straight and right. So then, the person who is upright in heart is one who is straight in his life, straight in his course, unbending in his convictions, unswerving in his conduct. Joshua was told not to turn away from the Law of God either to the right or the left (Josh 1.7; cf. Deut 5.32; 2 Kings 22.2). So then, this upright person is one who has a straight-course set before him on walking with God and not veering off the path of godliness.

2. This phrase includes the reality that one’s pattern of life is upright, straight, and consistently Godly.
Because the language speaks of one who is “upright” and unbending, unswerving, unalterable, it thus shows that this is more than a one-time act or decision. To be upright means that the length of one’s life is upright. It’s longer than a decision. It’s more durative than a choice. It consists of a pattern of life that is in perfect harmony with the standard of God’s holiness and righteousness. The Bible says in 2 Kings 22.2 in describing King Josiah of Judah, he did right ( הַיָּשָׁר) in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father David nor did he turn aside to the right or the left. This then speaks of the way Josiah lived, walked, conducted himself. In a word, he lived a godly life. That is contained in the idea of being “upright.”

3. This phrase forces the meaning of uprightness as beginning in the heart rather than focusing on mere externals.
Significantly, the entire phrase “upright of heart” ( לְיִשְׁרֵי־לֵב; Ps 11.2) shows that it is not mere externals or outward conduct alone that is most significant. The uprightness is sourced in the heart. It resides out of the heart. The uprightness of conduct is a result of being upright in one’s heart. One’s moral uprightness without internal uprightness is moralism and despicable in God’s eyes. God tests the “heart” (Ps 11.4-5).

This phrase occurs in the Psalms and those who are “upright in heart” are saved by God who is their shield (Ps 7.10). God continues His covenant-keeping lovingkindness and righteousness to the upright in heart (Ps 36.10). The upright in heart will glory in God because they rejoice in God and take refuge in God (Ps 64.10). The upright in heart follow God’s righteous judgment (Ps 94.15). And the upright in heart are called to rejoice in the Lord and shout for joy (Ps 32.11; 97:11).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

From John MacArthur:

Christians must remember that sanctification is God's priority for their lives. It is His will for them (1 Thess 4.3; cf. Heb 12.14) and the result of Christ's death on their behalf — "who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2.14). All believers are to live for sanctification. They have no other goal in life than to be like Jesus Christ: "The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 John 2.6).

From: John MacArthur, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, MNTC, p.210.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

What's the gospel?

Puritan Thomas Manton gives a very helpful summary:

"The sum of the gospel is this: that all those who by true repentance and faith do forsake the flesh, the world, and the devil, and give themselves up to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as their Creator, redeemer, and sanctifier shall find God as a Father, taking them for his reconciled children, and for Christ's sake pardoning their sin, and by his Spirit giving them his grace; and if they persevere in this course will finally glorify them and bestow upon them everlasting happiness; but will condemn the unbelievers impenitent and ungodly to everlasting punishment."

Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, II:102-3.

Monday, December 10, 2012

From JI Packer's introduction to John Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ:

There is no doubt that Evangelism today is in a state of perplexity and unsettlement. . . . Without realizing it we have during the past century bartered the gospel (the biblical gospel) for a substitute product which, though it looks similar enough in points of detail, is as a whole a decidedly different thing.

The new gospel conspicuously fails to produce deep reverence, deep repentance, deep humility, a spirit of worship, a concern for the church. Why? We would suggest that the reason lies in its own character in content. It fails to make men God-centered in their thoughts and God-fearing in their hearts because this is not primarily what it is trying to do. One way of stating the difference between it and the old gospel is to say that it is too exclusively concerned to be "helpful" to man — to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction — and too little concerned to glorify God. . . .

The old gospel was always and essentially a proclamation of divine sovereignty in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good, both in nature and in grace. Its center of reference was unambiguously God. But in the new gospel the center of reference is man. 

Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better.  The subject of the old gospel was God and His ways with men; the subject of the new is man and the help God gives him. There is a world of difference. The whole perspective and emphasis of gospel preaching has changed.

O may we be faithful to the [old] biblical gospel!

This lengthy quote from Packer is included in Bruce Bickel's book Light and Heat: The Puritan View of the Pulpit and The Focus of the Gospel in Puritan Preaching, pp. 90-91.
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