“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? …” (Psalms 119:9a)
The Psalmist addressed an issue that was not only relevant in his day, but for all times. Young men, middle aged men, and even old men were designed by God to be leaders in their home, their communities, their religious assemblies, and even in their nation.
Here the Psalmist singles out one class of men, young men. It seems today’s churches are not proclaiming and teaching the importance of holy living among young men. There seems to be a lax standard, if any at all, from the pulpits of today’s churches concerning the separated, or sanctified, living of young men.
However, it is very important for several reasons for young men to be morally excellent in their life style:
1) Their testimony of Jesus Christ as a witness for Him on earth;
2) Their communion with Jesus Christ in their daily lives;
3) Their future health; adultery and fornication are sins against the body (see 1 Corinthians 6:12-20); “… be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:7-8)
When a man is in young adulthood, many times his mind is on (a) his career; (b) women, sex, etc.; (c) boasting in his strength and freedom to do as he pleases. He recites 1 Corinthians 6:12a, “All things are lawful unto me…” – without quoting the rest of the verse, “…but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”
Therefore, in many cases, the young man is not sensitive to the pitfalls and results of sin. He thinks only of what he wants; and gives his all to accomplish his goals of self-gratification.
However, a Child of God, young or old, is ruled by the Holy Spirit and not by his flesh. Therefore, he is guided by the Holy Spirit applying the Word of God in his spirit as to how he is to live his daily life. He is revealed the way of the “old man” (which is “corrupt according to the deceitful lusts”; Ephesians 4:22b); and revealed the way of the “new man” (which “after God is created in righteousness and true holiness”; Ephesians 4:24b).
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The Holy Spirit convicts His Children when they walk by the flesh and not by Faith. He brings them to a desire to repent and to cleanse their ways. When this condition exists in a man; one who knows God; one who is born from above, and is under conviction for his sins – then comes the Psalmist’s question “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?” What steps does he follow to “cleanse his way”?
The Psalmist gives the answer in Psalms 119:9b-11:
First, “By taking heed thereto according to thy word” (verse 9b). The first step is to take “heed.” That is, examine your walk according to God’s instructions.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
You need to look at yourself as to:
1) Your walk; does it match Christ’s walk? (See 1 John 2:6.) Is it in love, in the light? Do you walk circumspectly (or carefully)? Do you walk filled with the Spirit; full of praise and thanksgiving to God; and in submission to Him and to one another? (See Ephesians 5:1-21.)
2) Are you led by the Spirit? Do you walk in the Spirit? And are you living in the Spirit? (See Galatians 5:16, 18, 25.) You can know by your fruits born on the vine. It is either the fruit of the flesh (sin and rebellion); or the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, etc.) (see Galatians 5:19-23).
3) You can know by your works. (See James 2:14-26.)
If Christ is in you, and you are in Christ; your walk, fruit, and works will be like His walk, fruit, and works. Paul said, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). The way to take heed is to “flee from idolatry” (1 Corinthians 10:14b); or flee from all sin and rebellion to God. Follow God’s Word:
“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:” (Hebrews 12:14)
Second, “With my whole heart have I sought thee” (verse 10a). That is, the Psalmist said, not only have I taken heed according to Thy Word; but now I am seeking Thee with my whole heart (with all of my spirit, holding nothing back). This all begins in confession of sin (1 John 1:7-10; 2:1-2).
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
The convicted Child of God begins with confession to God of his sin against God. See Psalms 51:1-17; David pleaded with God:
“Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” (verse 2)
“For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (verse 3)
“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…” (verse 4)
This is the starting point to feel God’s cleansing when you have sinned against Him. You must lay it all out before Him. Don’t try to hide your sin, but confess it before Him; “For I acknowledge my transgressions” and I know it was against Thee.
“Wash me… cleanse me… Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalms 51:2, 7)
“Make me… Create in me a clean heart… Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me… Deliver me… open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.” (Psalms 51:8, 10, 12, 14, 15)
Third, “O let me not wander from thy commandments.” (verse 10b). The Psalmist said the next step after Confession is Petition. To pray, “God, do whatever is necessary to cause me to not wander off the path of Holiness and Peace.” This is the petition of a surrendered and submitted man to God and to His Will and to His Way. God has several ways to keep us on the straight and narrow path:
1) “Thy rod and thy staff” (Psalms 23:4); or chastisement; “…it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11; read verses 5-11).
2) Study God’s Word; “…a workman that needeth not to be ashamed…” (2 Timothy 2:15). That is, read and meditate on God’s Word of instruction, exhortation, and rebuke; and His Promises of encouragement and comfort. (See Joshua 1:6-8.)
3) Be a fruit bearer (John 15:1-16). Then you will not be cut off from the vine for being barren. But this entails being purged to bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. This requires “abiding” in Christ; or a total surrender, submission, obeying, and enduring in the Commandments of Christ (John 14:15; Matthew 22:37-40). (See 1 John 3:11-24; 4:7-21; John 13:34-35.)
4) This may require the “valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23:4); or “the valley of Baca (tears)” (Psalms 84:6); or going to “the potter’s house” (Jeremiah 18:1-6). Paul wrote:
“…we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:3-5)
And James wrote:
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (or trials); Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
(Also see Deuteronomy 8:3-4.)
God uses tribulations to keep us on the path of Holiness and Peace. He leads us in these tests to humble us; to prove us; to know what is in our heart (to see if we will keep His Commandment or no); and to show us man lives not by bread alone, but by every Word of God.
Fourth, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (verse 11). David wrote “The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide” (Psalms 37:31). This is the secret for success of a young (man) Child of God. He must hide God’s Word in his heart (or in his spirit). (See Proverbs 2:1; Psalms 32:7; 119:114; Habakkuk 3:4.) God is our hiding place.
The Psalmist said that he had hidden God’s Word in his spirit. The idea is that the only solution to a young man cleansing his heart and keeping it clean, is to take in the engrafted Word of God (James 1:21). That is, to receive it; hold it dear; reverence it. To fear God (His Judgment and His Love) is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). It means to treasure His Word; to hold it in the highest esteem; to trust it completely; to make it your sole rule of faith and practice; to make it your high tower and refuge; and to know that it is the True Light of your pathway and a lamp unto your feet; to show you the right way in every aspect of your daily life (Psalms 119:105).
The reason for hiding God’s Word in your heart is because it is a sure cure for sin, “that I might not sin against thee.” Take the Word of God into your spirit; love it; guard it; and follow it; and you will stay clean before God.
It is sad, but true – the value of holiness in a young person’s life is so vital for his future, and yet, many young people cannot perceive this truth, until it is too late.
How can one place a value on good health? On a Godly, enduring marriage? On a Godly witness to other young men? On the benefits of communion or fellowship with Christ? On being an overcomer daily in Christ? Or on being fruit-bearer of the fruit of the Spirit?
No, you can’t place a value on these things, for they are priceless. But to have these things you must – body and spirit – your entire being must be holy and clean before God.