Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
The Psalmist acknowledges something in Psalm 86:11 that we experientially know, but often fail to recognize. That as Christians, we have divided loyalties. Paul expresses this in Romans 7:14-15,”For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Sanctification is the (often slow) closing of the gap between what we want to do and what we actually do. We need two things for this gap to begin to close. We need the knowledge of the truth… we need to be taught by the Lord the truth. The Lord has given us both His Word and the gifts of the Spirit in the Church to accomplish this.
10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
The second thing we need is an undivided heart when it comes to fearing the Lord. Knowledge of sin does not keep us from sin. In fact, Romans 7:7b-8; 11 it tells us that the knowledge of sin leads me to further sin and eventually death.
For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.
11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
So the Church teaches, as the pillar and foundation of truth (1 Tim 3:15), the “way” of the Lord. As we hear and respond to the truth by faith, our divided hearts become less divided. But the unification of our heart doesn’t occur by hearing alone. We must pursue the Lord in prayer. We must bring our hearts before Him so that He might heal our division. Christianity is not a science but a religion. The Lord unites our heart to fear Him. Sanctification is metaphysical change in our being and character. We do not unite our heart by our own intellectual knowledge, but the Lord unites us by His Spirit. We must go to Him and acknowledging our divided hearts and seeking its unification within us by His Spirit. Reverence for God comes, not at the end of a book on systematic theology, but at the end of a season of prayer and seeking the Lord. Many a little old lady achieved godliness superior to that of doctors in theology. The difference being in their degree of reverence for God. The little old lady feared much and obeyed completely in the little she knew while the theologian feared little and obeyed little in the face of all he knew. Reverence for God is demonstrated in a life of humility and prayer not in a life of podcasts listening.
Our Christian sanctification is more properly judged by our love for God and neighbor… which expresses itself in prayer as we commune with God and seek HIs favor and salvation for our neighbors. “(W)e know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.” (1 Corinthians 8:1-3)
Let us seek the Lord in prayer, praying that God would give us undivided hearts.