Restored To Our Shepherd.

Today’s post continues our walk through Psalm 23 and focuses on verse three, which says,

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Psalms 23:3 NASB

Imagine you just had an affair then had the spouse murdered to cover your tracks. Do you think you would feel like you could enjoy a close relationship with your Shepherd Lord after committing sin that breaks His heart? Would you ever dream you could be restored to a right relationship with Him? That’s the place King David, the man after God’s own heart, was in. God could have let David continue in his sin. The Shepherd could have said, “David is too far gone”, but He didn’t. He chased after David and restored his soul by sending a prophet named Nathan to get David’s attention. Nathan told David a stirring story of a rich man with many sheep who took a poor man’s precious only sheep and slaughtered it, rather than serving one of his own sheep to his guest. Angrily, David proclaimed, “This man deserves to die!” Nathan promptly reminded David, “You are that man!” After informing David of what the consequence of his sin would be, here is the restoring response of David’s Good Shepherd. “Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” (2 Samuel 12:13).

The LORD has taken away your sin; you shall not die.” Wow! David is not the only person who can claim this statement from God. Anyone who repents of their sin, believes that Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of God who died to take the punishment for your sin, and receives Him as Savior and Lord of their life can claim this restoring promise. Anyone who has repented, believed and received is a sheep of Christ. Sheep of Christ are going to wander. Sheep are stupid and stubborn animals who often make the same mistakes over and over again. Being a sheep does not mean you will not sin. It means your Shepherd will not let you walk in your harmful decisions too long. Matthew Henry puts it this way, “Though God may suffer his people to fall into sin, he will not suffer them to lie still in it.” I’ve seen this evidenced in my own life time and time again. During times when I’ve played Jonah and ran in the opposite direction of where God was calling, His Spirit was relentlessly chasing me and constantly reminding me of what He was asking me to do. Eventually I’d become so miserable wallowing in my disobedience, that I realized I’d be much more joyfully fulfilled if I just let my Shepherd lead me.

That is one of the things I appreciate most about God. He relentlessly restores me to Himself. From the beginning of time, His plan has been to bring His people back to Him. I love reading the Jesus Storybook Bible with my girls because the author, Sally Lloyd-Jones, does an incredible job of describing how since the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden God has had a rescue plan for His people. That plan was beautifully fulfilled when God sent His own Son to live among us and ultimately die on the cross to take the death punishment for our sin so that we can be restored (made right) with God. What a gracious and loving Savior who carries out such a sacrificial rescue plan just so that the people who chose to walk away from Him can have an intimate and eternal relationship with Him! I don’t know about you but that fills me with joy!

My Shepherd restores my soul, but He doesn’t desire for me to continuously run away from Him. That is why He “guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Coincidentally, the piece of armor I’m studying this week using Priscilla Shirer’s Armor of God study is the breastplate of righteousness. Priscilla defines righteousness as, “Upright living that aligns with God’s expectations.” I like this definition because it reminds me whose expectations I’m supposed to be aligning myself to. It is not my self-imposed expectation; it is not the expectation of my friend or family member; it is God’s expectation found in the Word. When I hear that it sounds impossible. After all, even my best efforts are “filthy rags” compared to the Holiness of God. BUT…Jesus restores!! When I accept Him as Savior and Lord, my debt is paid and He no longer sees me as guilty. When he looks at me He sees His sinless spotless Son who died for me. That means I don’t have to work to earn my righteousness! I am completely righteous because of what Christ did for me on the cross.

Does that mean that I can live however I want and make as many harmful decisions as I want because God will see me as righteous? No. Paul says it much better than I can in Romans 6.

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.

(Romans 6:1-2, 5-7, 12-13 NLT)

That is why our Shepherd wants to “guide us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Our sinful selves were crucified and we were raised to life as new creations. New creations who are no longer controlled by sin. New creations who are called to be pictures of a Holy God to a lost world. Everything we do is for God’s glory. The only reason we are placed on this earth is to give glory to God. Can we fulfill that purpose while walking in sin? No. That’s why we have to make the choice to let our Shepherd guide us in His righteous ways. If not we become useless for the Kingdom of God. I love what Priscilla Shirer says about practicing righteousness.

“You must make a conscious choice to act in a way that is consistent with your new life in Christ. And because the Spirit is always there to provide His renewing to your mind [Romans 12:2], your potential of producing spiritual fruit is not just potential. It’s available. It’s doable.”

I love that! It is doable! 2 Peter 1:3 reminds us that “His divine power has given us everything we need for a Godly life.” That’s incredible! We don’t bare the weight of carrying our righteousness on our own. Our Shepherd gently guides us and promises to never leave our side. He made us righteous once and for all when He died for us so that we could be restored to the Father. What an amazing gift our Shepherd gives us!