May 31, 2020 | Don Horban
References: Psalm 19:9-10, 104-106 37:34, 103:1James 4:17Matthew 12:35, 18:8-9Mark 7:21-23
Topics: HolinessChristian Life

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Psalm 103:1 - “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”

The phrase that jumps out for our study today is found in those six words - “....and all that is within me....” We all remember that cynical, paraphrase of John 3:16 that says, “For God so loved the world He didn’t send a committee.” We get the idea. If redemption hinged on a committee decision we’d all still be lost in our sins. It’s difficult to get a group, even a very good group, to move ahead in a united decision. Different heads have different thoughts, different tastes, and different plans of attack. It’s not easy to move as one.

This is what makes a good marriage a matter of constant adjustment. Nowhere is unity more important and yet, frequently, more elusive. To take two minds and hearts and make them breathe as one requires no small miracle. A marriage licence alone won’t do the job. Unity is a life-long commitment.

Our text probes even deeper on this issue. The Psalmist zeros in on the place where unanimity is the most difficult of all - and the most crucial to achieve: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy Name.”

Here’s the principle. All of me - everything within me - has to make the same decision to honor the Lord. There has to be inward unanimity in the commitment to bless His Name.

I grew up almost trained to misread these familiar words. This is not a verse about volume in worship. It’s about unanimity in worship. David is saying the decision to honor the Lord is a useless decision unless it is made with every distinct part of my being. A partial decision carries very little spiritual dynamic.

This is a huge issue. This is what leaves professing Christians with a faith that, in spite of their churchgoing and Bible reading, feels unreal and anemic.

The remedy is in the careful unpacking and applying of this wonderful phrase. Every part of the life must unite around worshiping and glorifying the Lord the way bees unite around their queen. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy Name.”

It won’t work any other way. One part of your life, offered to the Lord in worship on Sunday, won’t hold up your faith any more than one leg will hold up a table. If you and I just work on serving the Lord with some of our lives we might as well not serve Him with any of it. That’s the idea David wanting the people of God singing about with his worship song in Psalm 103.

We need to think carefully here. Like many well-known Bible verses, it’s easy to agree with the concept without nailing down the details. Don’t let these words land lightly on your cranium.

There’s a lot “within” each one of us. We have knowledge - the accumulated information and understanding of our study and experience. Then we possess the capacity of choice. We are all creatures of will and volition. Our lives don’t just happen. We choose our way through this world. We are also made up of emotions. While we have knowledge, we are not the same as computers or machines. We all have the capacity to feel and to be moved. There is anger, joy, sorrow, contentment, and a host of other important, God-given, deeply felt reactions to the circumstances of life around us. And we also have desires within. Some are good and some are bad. These desires are the raw fuel of many of the choices we make.

All of this lives within each one of us. And David recognized that each one of these elements needed to be united in a unanimous pursuit of the worship of the Lord - “Let everything that is within me unanimously join together to bless the holy Name of the Lord!”

The key point in this study is there is only one way to keep my heart safe and holy before God. I will still make mistakes, to be sure. But none of those will be ongoing corrupting in my walk with Jesus if I remember this key idea. I may still fail. But I will always be walking in the light.


This is why I must love the Lord with all my “heart, soul, mind, and strength.” Thoughts alone don’t take much strength. But living out all of that understanding takes great exertion - great strength.

Knowing the truth is never enough. The Bible says so:

James 4:17 - “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

The holy life doesn’t work like a game show. You can become a millionaire on TV just by knowing the correct answers to enough questions. But the Christian life isn’t like “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” The Christian life is never like that. You get no points whatsoever just for giving the right answers. The Christian life isn’t a quiz show. James says people can have the right answers and still live sinful lives.

Now, just to be very clear, David certainly valued the truth. He spent hundreds of chapters and verses in his songs of worship praising the beauty and wonder of the precepts of God:

Psalm 19:9-10 - “The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. {10} They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.”

David spent a lot of time learning the truth of God’s Word. He said he meditated on it day and night. But he didn’t study to learn the truth. He meditated on it so he could live the truth:

Psalm 37:34 - “Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land...”

Psalm 119:104-106 - “From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. {105} Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. {106} I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.”

David said God’s precepts gave him “understanding.” Understanding is great. It’s wonderful. But it’s never enough as a solo experience. You are more than just a mind. You are also a will. The knowledge and understanding God gives you is always for your feet. It’s to light your path. It’s knowledge that shows you where to go and where to plant your next step.

If you think I’m laboring the obvious, think again. Listen to these words of George Barna from a few years back:

“While most Americans today claim to be Christians, this commitment is becoming less and less meaningful.”

“Consider the following: 85 percent of all adults claim that religious faith is very important in their lives. Also, 85 percent claim to be Christians. More than four out of five adults claim to know the basic teachings of the Bible, and nine out of ten own at least one Bible – good.”

“Yet, just one in four adults and only one in ten und the age of twenty believes in absolute moral truth. In fact, less than half of those who call themselves “born-again” Christians believe that anything is ‘absolutely true.’”

This mental disconnect comes from what Barna calls America’s evolving values: “Our culture’s embrace of moral relativism has led to an abandonment of traditional values - including loyalty, morality, accountability, and sacrifice.”

“Most distressing is the fact that the church seems to be right in line with today’s evolving values. People’s church preferences frequently line up with their relativistic approach to life. Americans often do not join churches these days. Instead, they attend churches based on how far they have to drive, the convenience of the worship schedule, the kinds of emotional experiences they can enjoy, and whether or not the sermon is upbeat and interesting.”

“Now, none of those reasons is inherently bad, but all too often people are choosing their church without regard for doctrinal purity or reliable teaching. Convenience, comfort, and emotion tend to be the values that drive today’s spirituality.

“Accordingly, Christians are increasingly indistinguishable from their non-Christian friends. A recent study of sixty-five common values and traits shows that the values of today’s born-again Christians are not substantially different from any other segment of society.”

Those are scary words. You may not realize it right away, but George Barna and King David are talking about the same problem. Christians become as Barna describes when they know the truth with their heads but don’t live the truth with their wills. This is what made David pray that everything within him would bless the Lord’s holy Name.


Of course, I’m talking about a Scripturally informed, sensitive conscience that hasn’t yet been hardened by repeated disobedience.

Everything successful in the Christian life hinges on the ability to not yield to sinful inclinations. We are all creatures of passions and desires. They make up a big coercive part of the “all that is within” each of us.

Think about this. No one can consistently avoid sinful desires. This means that they must be dealt with in some way. And God has made provision for this. He has placed a moral counterweight in each one of us to pull us, at least initially, in the opposite direction of desires that appear satisfying, but are ultimately, and usually secretly, self-destructive.

And here’s the important point: The will can’t adjudicate the wildness of desire easily. It has great power, to be sure, but only if used in a Christ-honoring fashion.

You can’t use half a will to deal with unruly desires. Here’s what I mean. A small, or tentative decision to renounce a specific sin will never be effective. It’s not enough that your conscience takes an initial stab at sinful desire. Unaided, your conscience will only vote against sin for so long. Your will must join in the battle on the same side as your conscience. Your will must hate it too. Your conscience doesn’t have the power to fight off sin on it’s own for very long. It’s only purpose is to prompt action in your will.

And now we’re getting to the heart of David’s poetic word, “....and all that is within me , bless His holy name....”

Jesus made some very drastic statements about how earnest the will must be in turning from sin:

Matthew 18:8-9 - “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. {9} "If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.”

There is constant debate over the exact meaning of those words from Jesus. People seem almost shocked that He ever uttered them. Did Jesus actually want us to be physically maiming our bodies? If not, what was He trying to say?

This is Jesus’ way of saying you and I won’t be able to resist sin with small, casual decisions. Using half your will to fight sin is a losing game. Jesus is saying what David said. A big part of the victory over specific, besetting sins is making sure the decision to forsake them is a big, drastic, committed decision.

When I was a kid I used to have a book of stories about the Civil War. Being a typical boy I loved the gory details of how the wounded soldiers would be liquored up, and then a hot knife or sword would cut through the infected flesh to remove an arm or leg. The bone would then have to be sawn in two.

Whatever else you say about that practice, you don’t make the decision to cut off a hand lightly! It’s not going to grow back. There’s no turning back the process once it’s completed. No, it’s a big step, cutting off a limb.

Whenever I counsel people and they tell me they’re thinking about quitting smoking, or considering breaking off a sinful relationship, or praying about their addiction to pornography, I know they’re never going to make it. There is no gradual or delicate way to cut off an arm. You make some decisions drastic and definite or you don’t make them at all. I believe Jesus was saying we usually don’t gradually grow out of besetting sins.

This requires a very honest inward look. Everyone hates sin generally. To hate sin generally is easy. It’s expected. But Jesus makes the point that forsaking any specific sin is a different story. It costs to turn from any specific sin. It’s like cutting off a hand.

The secret to victory is to have your whole being - “all that is within you” - moving toward the same goal, with the same effort and determination. When your conscience deals faithfully and puts the light on some specific sin, make sure your decision is just as faithful as your conscience. It takes a determined, holy effort to forsake some specific sin.


Your thoughts make up a huge part of the “all that is within” you. To profess pure worship and devotion with a dirty mind is like smuggling a gun onto an airplane.

And here’s where my pursuit of holiness must run deep. Because nobody else on earth sees my thoughts there is very little external pressure to keep them clean. That is why the keeping of the thought-life is perhaps the best indicator of what is the most purely spiritual part of my walk with Jesus. The only incentive for a pure mind is my devotion to my Lord. Examining your thoughts will take anything phoney or pretentious out of the measurement of the Lordship of Jesus in my life.

Mark 7:21-23 - “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, {22} deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. {23} "All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”

Matthew 12:35 - “The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.”

This is what Jesus meant when He said if you wanted to make the outside of the dish clean, you don’t start with the outside. You start with the inside. This way, you will get both the inside and outside clean in the most effective way.

I hope you can see the principle in these three examples of making sure the heart is unanimous in it’s choice to honor the Lord. Anyone can worship the Lord temporarily with one stray faculty of his or her being. But the call of discipleship is much deeper.

Give this much attention. Pray with David, “Lord, unite my heart to fear Your Name!”