There is so much more here that can be said. All of the stories of the Old Testament faithful and their feats of courage, strength, devotion, and faith should be told over and over as we study through the Bible with our children and our friends. There is no end to what we can learn from the pages of Scripture and these brief glimpses of what God can and has accomplished with redeemed men and women is a blessing, and encouragement, and a motivation indeed to press on in the faith.
As we started looking at these few verses I wondered what all we would cover. I could never have the time I would like to spend going through these verses and the related passages in the Scripture, but as we have worked through them we have seen a common thread of course – faith in God.
Which is more important, the faith or the object of that faith? At first we often would answer that the object of our faith is more important. Yes God is bigger than our faith. But, we must remember too that faith is one of the means that God uses to reconcile us to Himself. It is His free gift of grace, given by the Spirit, so that we might believe the Word we have heard and be saved and sanctified, growing closer and closer to Him and looking more and more like His Son.
In taking a look at what more can be said about these faithful and the God in whom they put their trust, let’s look at Psalm 78. Did you know that David did not write all the Psalms? Asaph wrote Ps. 50, and 73-83. In fact, here is a list of the men other than David and Asaph who wrote Psalms, or sections of the Psalms: Solomon (Ps. 72, 127), Moses (Ps. 90), Jeremiah (Ps. 137), Zechariah (Ps. 147), Heman (Ps. 88), Ethan (Ps. 89), Haggai (Ps. 112), and the sons of Korah (Ps. 42-49 and 84-87).
In Psalm 78 we have recounted for us in a song about God’s grace and mercy to Israel, even when she was rebellious to Him. Many of the things we have studied are here in this Psalm. The foundation to this Psalm and an understanding of the history we have covered is that God is both in control and working through History to bring glory to Himself and salvation to His people. His plan all along has been to send the Savior to seek and save that which was lost. These stories that we have covered are faith-based, for as these men and women believed God He used them to unfold this plan of salvation.
The most terrible thing is recorded in verse 32. It says, “In spite of this they still sinned and did not believe in His wondrous works.” You see, while we have been studying the faithful we must also be reminded of the unfaithful. The prophets, judges, and kings that ministered to the Lord were used by Him to judge, condemn, break, and redeem His people. Even as He spoke to them and called them back to Himself they remained rebellious and still sinned.
What a commentary. They still sinned. The faithful were used to preach the truth and live the truth about grace and salvation. God did wonders. He provided and protected His people. Yet in light of all this, in the face of His mercy and grace, they still sinned.
Where then do we find encouragement from this Psalm and the stories we have studied? First we must keep these faithful in mind as they are a testimony to us of God’s greatness and grace. They are the cloud of witnesses that surround us in this pilgrimage home. Secondly, they show us what to do and where to turn when we ourselves find that we, too, still sin.
There is a topic truly in which there is more to be said. The church today needs to know what God’s Word says when we still sin. After salvation. After experiencing grace. After forgiveness. After redemption. After all God accomplishes in saving us, we still sin. The church, His bride, who is called to holiness just as He is holy, is still sinning.
What patience and longsuffering God has toward His people. I am so glad that the Psalms also tell us that the mercy of God is forever! We need it to be forever, for we are so weak, and so fragile in our faith, and so prone to wander and stray and sin. We do still sin often. What then?
We must understand that sin is a lack of faith. That sounds simple but it is true. “Whatever is not of faith is sin.” When we fail to trust and obey God, we when reject His Word, when we go our own way it is because we lack faith. We have chosen to sin, to abandon the truth, or perhaps we are simply ignorant – which is no excuse because we have been indwelt with the Holt Spirit and He has given us a conscience to warn us about sin. How often do we ignore the Word, the Spirit, and our conscience in the pursuit of our own pleasure and self gratification.
We, like Israel, are so prone to still sin. We are in a war. It is a fight to the death. Jesus died to free us from sin, and we still sin. So what are we to do? If it really is a lack of faith then what can we do to strengthen our faith and renew our faith? How can we be revived?
There is one path to victory. There is one way to overcome. There is one way to win the war and gain victory on the battle field. That One Way is The Way. Paul, when writing about his struggles with sin declared “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Who? God. How? Through Jesus Christ.
Our salvation has already begun when we are converted. It continues as we are being sanctified. It will one day be complete when we are glorified. As that salvation continues we have one hope in the battle against the flesh and sin – Jesus! As we trust Him, as He sanctifies us, as we see our faith grow through the Word and as we see more and more of Who He is and what He has done for us, we truly come to know that He saved us and we cannot save ourselves.
This is the gospel. Every day we must be reminded about how we have been saved and what we have been saved from. Every day we need to remember that in context, Romans 8:28 has been given to us to speak directly about glorification. When Paul wrote, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” he was speaking in the specific context of the end result of our salvation.
While this verse is used often for the everyday bumps in the road we face, in reality, it was written to tell us that as we trust Christ, everything – I mean everything – will work out for the glory of God and for our good. How much better can it be than to know that when this short life if over we have been reconciled to God and given eternal life through His Son? How great is it to know that we will enjoy Him forever because of His saving work through the life and death and resurrection of Christ?
All things will work out for our good and His glory because we know that all things are in His control and all things are used to bring about His will for His own good pleasure and glory. Just as these stories we have studied. Trust God. He is in control. He will save us. He will come back for us. We are His. Walk by faith knowing that He is able to forgive us, even when we still sin.