Summary: This expository message, adapted from a sermon by Steven Shepherd, underscores the difference between believers and unbelievers as laid out in Psalm 1. Unlike the lost, believers should be Separated from the World, Saturated in the Word, and Situated by t
The Difference: Psalm One
Scott Bayles, pastor
Adapted from a sermon by Steven Shepherd
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 2/19/2012
I came across some jokes this week that I thought I’d share with you.
• What’s the difference between a northern fairytale and a southern fairytale?
Northern fairytales start—once upon a time. Southern fairytales start—ya’ll aint believe this.
• What’s the difference between a new husband and a new dog?
It only takes a couple of months to train a new dog.
• What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws?
Outlaws are wanted.
• What’s the difference between broccoli and a booger?
Kids won’t eat broccoli.
Okay, here’s the real question—what’s the difference between a believer and an unbeliever? This time there’s no punch line. What’s really the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian, someone who has a relationship with God and someone who doesn’t? Unfortunately some studies claim that there isn’t much difference. In the article “The American Witness” which appeared in the Nov/Dec 1997 issue of The Barna Report, George Barna examined 131 different measures of attitudes, behaviors, values, and beliefs. In his research, he discovered that Christians are just as likely as non-Christians to have been divorced, that Christians are just as like to play the lottery. They’re just as likely to see R-rated movies as non-Christians or to download pornography. And, of course, the list goes on. In fact Mr. Barna concluded: in the aspects of lifestyle we examined there is no visible difference between the two segments.
Now, I don’t believe that any of those things determine whether or not a person is a genuine Christian, but morally speaking, the world and even many Christians seem to be living their lives in a rainbow of monochromatic hues. We’ve blurred the line so much that it’s hard to tell the difference between a believer and an unbeliever. That’s not how it’s supposed to be though. There ought to be a difference. Jesus talked about two paths—a narrow road and broad road. One leads to life, the other to destruction. In Psalm One, we discover those same two paths—two paths, walked by two kinds of people, toward two very different destinies! Let me invite you to read these six verses with me and see if we can discover the difference:
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the LORD watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction. (Psalm 1:1-6 NLT)
In this psalm, the Holy Spirit draws a sharp contrast between the righteous and the wicked—those who follow God and those who don’t. We see that there are two ways of life and the line between them is not blurred! So, what is the difference and how can we be sure to stay on the path that leads to life?
First, Psalm one says we must be separated from the world.
• SEPARATED FROM THE WORLD
Take another look at that first verse: “Happy are those who don’t listen to the wicked, who don’t go where sinners go, who don’t do what evil people do” (vs. 1 NCV).
In other words, our walk with God depends, in part, on us separating ourselves from the world! We shouldn’t walk, stand, nor sit with those who will lead us away from God. In the New Testament, the Bible says: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1Cor 15:33). It’s just like your mom used to tell you: “one rotten apple can spoil the whole bunch!” That principle holds true for our spiritual lives as well.
Now that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t have any association with people who are not Christians. That’s not the point. If it were, how would we ever share Jesus with anyone? Jesus often hung out with questionable characters, but he wasn’t there just to have a good time and go along with the crowd. Rather, he was there to be a light in the darkness. The point is—we are constantly influencing the people around us and the people around us are constantly influencing us. So, are the people in your life influencing you in a positive, loving and godly way? Or are they influencing you in a negative, immoral and ungodly way? So this doesn’t mean that we should have no non-Christian friends, but it does mean that we should be discerning in our relationships.