The fear of Yahweh is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of Yahweh are true; they are righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:9)
Here he uses the term “fear” as a synonym for Holy Scripture. Why does he do that? Because the Holy Scripture intends to convey fear or the awesomeness of God to bring about a reverential awe, to draw us to worship. It is used in the sense of what it seeks to produce — fear or respect or worship to God. And so, it is said to be the fear of the Lord.
And this Scripture which instructs us in the worship of God, he says, “is clean.” Marvelous thought. Tahor is the root word. The word means the absence of impurity, of filthiness, of imperfection. And that is to be unsullied with sin, without corruption, without error. The truth it conveys has no taint of evil in it. You can go to it and know that what it says is absolutely pure.
The testimony of the psalmist in Psalm 12:6 is a marvelous one: “The words of the Lord are pure words; as silver tried in a furnace on the ground, refined seven times.” The Word is pure, hallowed, holy, separate from sin. That’s in contrast to the words of men. You can’t always trust them. You can the Word of God. It endures forever.
That is to say, you can follow it always. It is the living and the eternal Word, as Peter said in 1 Peter 1:23. It never changes. It doesn’t matter what generation it is. And when I hear these people say, “Well, the Bible isn’t sophisticated enough for our high-tech society.” They don’t understand. The Bible is absolutely pure, without flaw, and without sin and, therefore, needs no updating, no editing, no refining. It is perfect.
Are we to believe, all of a sudden, that it’s got inadequacies and errors and shortcomings that need correction? Are we to believe it needs to be bolstered by people who are more sophisticated than the Holy Spirit who wrote it? Are we to believe that it cannot purify a heart, a soul, and a life? Are we to believe that people have to go someplace to learn a formula to get rid of their sin, to have an inner healing, to have a soul cleansing, because the Word of God is not sufficient to deliver people? Do we no longer believe in its power to purify a nation so that we must turn to power politics? God forbid that we should believe that for a moment.
The Word is adequate and sufficient to clean, to purge the heart. And again, I call you to the testimony of the psalmist in Psalm 119:
How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
They seek Him with all their heart.
They also do not work unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways. (Psalm 119:2-3)
People of the Word are clean. People of the Word are pure.
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.
With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me stray from Your commandments.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9-11)
How do you go about purifying your life? By having an inner healing? By having an encounter with somebody who has some supernatural magical power? By calling on some contemporary science of the mind? No. “By keeping it according to Your word.”
Cause Your word to be established for Your slave,
As that which produces fear for You. (Psalm 119:38)
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word. (Psalm 119:67)
Let my tongue answer with Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteous. (Psalm 119:172)
Listen, the Word is all that is necessary for the cleansing of the soul. It’s sufficient for purifying the life. It is eternally relevant. We do not need practitioners. We need the Word of God.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1986, titled “The Sufficiency of Scripture, Part 2.” In addition to serving as the pastor of Grace Community Church and the voice of Grace to You, Dr. MacArthur is the chancellor of The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, Calif. You can learn more about TMU at masters.edu.
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