Psalm 23:3-6 (NKJV) 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.
I believe 2020 is a year of restoration. Recently we have been looking at what God will restore beginning with Psalm 23:3 in which God promises to restore our souls. We have restoration of the soul in salvation, but we need the touch of God on our soul to bring experiential restoration. In this psalm we see some keys to how he wants to do that. We have seen that there is a place to which God wants to lead us that will help deal with the stress and worry of life. He wants to lead you to green pastures and still waters. As I was writing this, I began to see this place in my spirit. Both of these things describe peace. The peace of God can overcome any kind of stress.
Today I want to look at another aspect of the restoration of the soul. The third verse says that God will lead me in paths of righteousness for his name sake. The word translated righteousness here means the right in a moral sense, a natural sense or a legal sense. The restoration of the soul requires that we come back to this place. In fact, the first thing David says after the promise of restoration of the soul is that he will lead us in the paths of what is right in moral things, natural things and legal things.
In speaking of Moses, Hebrews 11 says that he chose to identify with the afflictions of Israel rather than partake of the “passing pleasures of sin.” Sin often brings pleasure, but that pleasure is passing, and it always carries a price. Part of the price of sin is the disquiet it brings to the soul. The Bible tells us that the wages of sin is death. I do not believe this just means physical death. It opens the door to the influence of death in our lives. This includes guilt, fear, regret and many other things that will affect the soul of man.
Not only do we see the disquieting effects of sin, but the more it dominates us and the more we accept these effects as normal, the more our soul becomes warped to a mindset that comes from sin and the cultural tendencies that were produced by sin. In America today it is considered completely natural for people to have sex outside of marriage. Yet we mourn the proliferation of sexually transmitted disease, teen pregnancy, children who grow up without the guidance they need and myriad other effects of what the Bible calls fornication. This results in an intellectual and emotional life that is out of the place God created. It also results in a weak will when it comes to doing anything that goes against the pleasure gods we serve today.
It is out of vogue to say this, but the obvious solution to all of the above things is simple. Walk in the paths of righteousness. God said do not commit fornication, for instance, because it brings results that are not healthy to any part of the human. Sin is particularly unhealthy for the life of our soul. If I walk in paths of righteousness, I do not open the door for the death that came upon man with sin. If I obey what the Bible teaches, my soul begins to think like God thinks. My norm becomes something completely different. My soul finds the peace that David spoke of because I am in balance with what God created.
No one is perfect in this. We all allow sin to get in at times. Condemnation because this is true is not the answer. To accept it is inevitable is also not the answer. If I follow the Lord my shepherd in paths of righteousness, I will find that my soul becomes more and more healthy. It begins to do what it was designed to do. It becomes a clear channel for the direction, peace, wisdom and all the other things that come to us from the spirit of God that dwells within the believer (John 14:17.)
Paul understood this and gave us a word in Romans 12 that will help us with the restoration of the soul.
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV) 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Here Paul tells us what keeps us from presenting our bodies to God as well as what keeps us from walking in his will. We need a transformation which can only come from the renewing of our minds. The mind and the soul are synonymous terms. Our minds are the seat of our intellect, our emotions and our will. These are the same elements that make up our soul. If we are going to walk as God wants us to walk, we must do something about our soul.
Our spirit is the part that was born again when we received Jesus. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 we are new creatures in Christ. He tells us all things have become new and all things are now of God. Why, then, do so many Christians live like nothing has changed? Why are there so many things in their lives that are not of God? Is it because salvation did not work? Is it because those people are just too bad? Is it because it just does not matter because salvation is by grace? None of those things is true.
The same Paul who wrote 2 Corinthians 5 wrote Romans 12. The problem is not with salvation. It is not even a problem in the spirit of the person who is born again. That part is settled. The problem is that our souls, our minds, have been trained by the society and culture born of sin. They have often been educated by people who do not believe in God or the things of the spirit. Even at its best, humanity largely does not know what God’s word says and if they do it is clouded by religion. We need our minds renewed!
The renewal of the mind comes in two ways. First, it comes by hearing, studying and understanding the word of God. The Bible is not just a book. It is a living thing (Hebrews 4:12.) The life within it is the life of a seed (Mark 4:13-35.) When we plant it by studying, reading, hearing anointed teaching and meditating on the Word, it has the power to rewrite our soul so that it conforms to the wisdom of God not the wisdom of man (James 3:13-18.)
The second part is what David tells us in Psalm 23. He leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. We will never see the restoration of our soul if we do not develop a personal, active and growing relationship with the Lord. The Bible is full of power, but it is the interaction of the Word of God and the spirit of God within our souls that produces transformation.
As we lie down in the green pastures by the still waters, we find relationship which leads to fellowship which produces the renewing of our souls. In this process God takes our hands and leads us in the paths of righteousness. We begin to see how he thinks as he opens his Word to us. We begin to change how we see life. Our whole view of the world changes. The result is a peace that the world cannot understand. It is a joy that is not dependent upon the outward things in life. It is also a power to change what is not in tune with God and bringing it into a place of balance in all areas of life.
This is in no way talking about law. It is talking about relationship and the dynamics that are part of any relationship. The difference is that our relationship is with the God who knows all, sees all, understands all, is all powerful and is all loving toward us.