Applications for Psalm 73 by Allan Ross

Here is a quote as promised in the review of Ross’ commentary on the Psalms. These are applications on Psalm 73, which is one of my favorites. I like what he has to say.

The applications stand out clearly. First, it is absolutely necessary for believers to seek God and not focus on the allurements of the world. And in a brief statement that also captures the main lesson of this psalm, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8)—both in the events of this life and in glory.

Second, the sanctuary should be the place where this is facilitated most effectively: there, in the place of worship, people should be reminded of how the Lord has redeemed them, guides them, and will receive them in glory. A similar emphasis is found in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, in which he charts how he has been afflicted and perplexed in his service for the Lord. But what enabled him to persevere was the eternal weight of glory—he did not focus on temporal things, but eternal (chapter 4).

And third, the world with its promise of prosperity and power falls far short of the provision of God for those who trust in him faithfully. And so for all such psalms we may cite John’s words: “Love not the world, neither the things of the world” for it is passing away (1 John 2:15-17).

Book Review: A Commentary On The Psalms Vol. 2 by Allen P. Ross

commentary-psalms-rossA Commentary On The Psalms Volume 2 (42-89) by Allen P. Ross

Stay tuned for an exclusive quote from the commentary on this blog.

You can read my review of Volume 1 here on Scripture Zealot blog. I will re-iterate some of what was written there in the beginning portion. I read the exposition of Genesis by Ross entitled Creation and Blessing and became a fan of him and his style. That exposition was perfect for me and my level of knowledge as is this commentary/exposition of the Psalms. According to Ross it’s “for pastors, teachers and all serious students of the Bible.” This commentary isn’t quite as academic as Goldingay’s, but it’s also not for new Christians. It’s very thorough, and didn’t leave me wanting. In fact, he answers questions I didn’t know I had.

Volume 2 isn’t as long as the first one, being about 100 pages shorter at 841. This is because it doesn’t have the excellent introduction that’s in Volume 1. It starts right off with Psalm 42. There is no index of any kind at the end of this volume or Volume 1, so I would assume that Volume 3 will. Volume 2 is exactly the same color and height as Volume 1, so they will look good next to each other on your bookshelf. The cover art is on the cover itself, so it doesn’t have a dust jacket, which I like.

The first section for each Psalm is the Introduction that includes Text and Textual Variants, which is the author’s own translation and plenty of footnotes on words, phrases and comparisons to the Greek version, which is very educational and is but one of the strengths of the commentary. I always like reading the author’s translation. To me it’s like a bonus, since I love comparing translations. One example would be in Psalm 73:4, which has literally-”their body is fat”, which the trusty NASB has (ESV has “fat and sleek”–huh?). I’ve seen the mention of fat being written in a positive light elsewhere in the Old Testament and that has always puzzled me, especially since I’ve always been into fitness. Ross says that this is figurative for flourishing and healthy. (So this can’t be used as an excuse.) He translates it as ‘healthy’. So does the literal translation convey the meaning? That’s getting off track, but he gives you this type of information just in the translation and footnotes alone. Also interesting (to me) is right off in Psalm 42:5 and 11 use the word ‘murmur’, which none of the popular translations that I looked at use. Murmuring is something that I’ve written about in the past.

Next comes Composition and Context which is basically a short introduction with any information that will be helpful in understanding the Psalm as a whole. Then there is Exegetical Analysis which might have a short comment on the genre and structure, and then a short Summary with an outline. The commentary itself is titled Commentary In Expositional Form. Sometimes he will go verse by verse and sometimes groups verses. The exposition is more like what you would hear in a sermon as opposed to a word by word exegesis of the original language, although he does delve into it fairly often, giving a short definition for each word or phrase, so you don’t have to know any Hebrew, or Greek when commenting on the Septuagint. Although it’s expositional, he sticks strictly to the text. There are no stories, anecdotes or personal opinions that don’t belong. Everything is very focused and orderly without being dry, partly because of the last section being a short Message and Application. He seems to follow C.S. Lewis’ philosophy in not using big words when he doesn’t have to. A good commentator doesn’t need to show off their vocabulary just for the sake of it. Something else a good commentator like Ross does is help you to learn to read Scripture better in general.

Although he interacts with other commentators, this isn’t a commentary on commentaries, or leave you wishing you would have just read the people he’s quoting instead of the book you bought.

I’m not one to be able to comment on any theological bent regarding the Old Testament and Psalms in particular, other than he is evangelical. (Here is a good one on Amazon.) He seems very objective and doesn’t insert any obvious biases and slants. I think this makes it a great commentary for a wide audience.

If I could write anything at all negative it would be that the font size is actually a little larger than what I like, which is a plus for many people, and the lack of indices. We won’t know how good those will be until we see the final Volume 3. Otherwise, like his commentary on Genesis, it’s nearly perfect for me and if you buy it, I hope you feel the same. It’s not cheap and doesn’t come in Kindle format.

If the publisher wouldn’t have provided a free copy for an unbiased review, I would have bought it.

Publisher: Kregel Academic (October 23, 2013)
Hardcover: 848 pages
ISBN-10: 0825425638

Buy it from Amazon.com

When We Lose, We Gain

What you have lost one way, you have gained another.

–Thomas Watson

This little quote by the Puritan says a whole lot–to me anyway.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.
Philippians 3:7-9 NRSV

Seek

But if you look for the LORD your God when you are among those nations, you will find him whenever you search for him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 4:29

Those who know your name trust you, O LORD,
because you have never deserted those who seek your help.
Psalm 9:10

Young lions go hungry and may starve,
but those who seek the LORD’s help
have all the good things they need.
11 Come, children, listen to me.
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Which of you wants a full life?
Who would like to live long enough to enjoy good things?
13 Keep your tongue from saying evil things
and your lips from speaking deceitful things.
14 Turn away from evil, and do good. Seek peace, and pursue it!
15 The LORD’s eyes are on righteous people. His ears hear their cry for help.
16 The LORD confronts those who do evil
in order to wipe out all memory of them from the earth.
17 Righteous people cry out.
The LORD hears and rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He saves those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person has many troubles,
but the LORD rescues him from all of them.
20 The LORD guards all of his bones. Not one of them is broken.
21 Evil will kill wicked people,
and those who hate righteous people will be condemned.
22 The LORD protects the souls of his servants.
All who take refuge in him will never be condemned.
Psalm 34:10-22

My son, if you take my words to heart
and treasure my commands within you,
2 if you pay close attention to wisdom,
and let your mind reach for understanding,
3 if indeed you call out for insight,
if you ask aloud for understanding,
4 if you search for wisdom as if it were money
and hunt for it as if it were hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the LORD
and you will find the knowledge of God.
6 The LORD gives wisdom.
From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6

I love those who love me.
Those eagerly looking for me [wisdom] will find me.
Proverbs 8:17

The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

“Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. 8 Everyone who asks will receive. The one who searches will find, and for the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 “If your child asks you for bread, would any of you give him a stone? 10 Or if your child asks for a fish, would you give him a snake? 11 Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
Matthew 7:7-11

Obviously, so many more could be included.

I was going to only use OT passages, but I couldn’t leave out the last one. I have to remember that if we ask for spiritual things that we know are God’s will according to Scripture, he will give them to us in his time. If we ask for a new car, maybe, probably not.

The Lord is Near

The Lord is always near, and we can go near to him.

The LORD is near to those whose hearts are humble.
He saves those whose spirits are crushed.
Psalm 34:18

The LORD is near to everyone who prays to him,
to every faithful person who prays to him.
Psalm 145:18

But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign LORD my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Psalm 73:28 NLT

As you go, spread this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’
Matthew 10:7

The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:5b

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
James 4:7-8a NIV

It’s interesting that resisting the devil is bookmarked by two things we can do.

God’s Will Is Always A God Thing

We need to get rid of these ideas that answered prayer is when God grants a request the way we want it. Or that it’s a “God thing” if something turns out the way we prefer it to. Or that “it’s a good thing God was watching out for us” when we avoided an accident or other calamity, but are quiet about God if otherwise. If “all our days were written in His book and planned before a single one of them began” (Psalm 139:16 HCSB), and “not one sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s consent” (Matthew 10:29 HCSB), then it’s all a God thing, whether or not we perceive the matter as good or bad. A friend wrote in a recent comment to a blog post, “There is nothing God can do, or any part of His will accomplished, except that His infinite love be a part of it. No matter how we perceive God’s will, His love is never diminished.”

Some claim that strong faith is defined by throwing our energies into begging God for a miracle that will take away our suffering and then believing without doubting that he will do it. But faith is not measured by our ability to manipulate God to get what we want, it is measured by our willingness to submit to what he wants. It takes great faith to say to God, “Even if you don’t heal me or the one I love, even if you don’t change my circumstances, even if you don’t restore my relationship, even if you allow me to lose what is most precious to me, I will still love you and obey you and believe that you are good.”

–Nancy Guthrie, Hearing Jesus Speak Into your Sorrow

Jesus and Paul received ‘no’ as an answer to prayer, which were both very integral parts of God’s will.

“Father, if it is your will, take this cup of suffering away from me. However, your will must be done, not mine.”
Luke 22:42 GW

So that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me– so that I would not become arrogant. I begged the Lord three times to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9 NET

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV

Even though you’re evil, you know how to give good gifts to your children. So how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him?
Matthew 7:11 GW

I’m challenged to pray that by faith I will see God’s will as always loving, whether or not things go the way I’d like, and whatever losses I may have, as with all of the immeasurably good things he gives me.

(When single verses are given to support an idea, it’s always encouraged to look at them in context.)

Big(ger) Change on the Blog and Other Off Topic Stuff

The big change is I made is the title, or subject line of each post bigger and with more space above and below it. In Internet Explorer (does anyone still use that?), the text looks huge. But it probably did before too. On Chrome the title didn’t look different in size than the other text, on my system anyway–it was just bold and squeezed in. The CSS code was puzzling to me, but I finally figured it out.

I dread the day, which may have already come, when the theme looks outdated. I hope, at least, it’s very readable and well organized. I spent too much time on it to want to change it, even though that was initially about seven years ago.

I’m still on somewhat of a blogging hiatus or slump. I’ve been having some difficulties and low motivation along with it, but I’m confident it will come back again at some point. I’m wondering about another August Experiment, but I have no idea if the mojo will be back by then. I had just gotten started on the Christian Sayings series before the hiatus/slump. I plan on getting that going again.

For those who know him, I heard a tiny whisper that Esteban, who helped me with learning the reconstructed historical Koine Greek pronunciation, as opposed to the barbaric Erasmian phonetic pronunciation rules, which nobody who spoke or speaks Greek ever sounded like in any way (don’t get me started), might be looking at his pen. Esteban keeps teasing us once every six months on Twitter and I really don’t like it. At all. Maybe, just maybe, it will really happen this time, but I’m not going to expect it and get my hopes smashed (worse than dashed) yet again.

And for you grammar geeks, if you haven’t seen it yet, I give you this video, which was presented to me by Stan.

Quote of the Day: Reading the Bible by John Newton

The Old and New Testament, the doctrines, precepts, and promises, the history, the examples, admonitions, and warnings, etc. would mutually illustrate and strengthen each other, and nothing that is written for our instruction would be overlooked. Happy should I be, could I fully follow the advice I am now offering to you. I wish you may profit by my experience. Alas, how much time have I lost and wasted, which, had I been wise, I should have devoted to reading and studying the Bible! But my evil heart obstructs the dictates of my judgment, I often feel a reluctance to read this book of books, and a disposition to hew out broken cisterns which afford me no water, while the fountain of living waters are close within my reach.

Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
Jeremiah 15:16 (verse is omitted in the article below)

See the rest: Reading the Bible by John Newton

Puritan Prayer: Christ Alone

This is the second half of a Puritan prayer from The Valley of Vision. I especially like the first paragraph.

I’ve always liked study and discipline and being confident in what I believe. I love worshipping God in all of those ways (spiritual disciplines) and in meditating on Him. The daily care of it has always been a big concern. Sundays and ‘quiet times’ (and a Puritan prayer on Sundays nights) are for worshipping with others and for concentrated prayer and time in Scripture, being but a part of our lives lived before God.

I like how he says “to seek and know his will from love, to hold it in love”. Lately, I’ve been seeing God’s will as mainly something to submit to. I suppose with a lot of hardship, this is easy to fall into. I’ve been trying to see it more as “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). Not that it’s either or; not that it’s only those two ways of looking at it. To hold it in love is a little different way of seeing it for me, and I’m not sure if I’m able to completely embrace it that way yet with the losses I’ve had, even as God has grown me so much closer to him.

Christ Alone (second half)
Let me study and stand for discipline,
and all the ways of worship,
out of love for Christ;
and to show my thankfulness;
to seek and know his will from love,
to hold it in love,
and daily to care for and keep this state of heart.

Thou hast led me to place all my nature and happiness
in oneness with Christ,
in having heart and mind centred only on him,
in being like him in communicating good to others;

This is my heaven on earth,
but I need the force, energy, impulses of thy Spirit
to carry me on the way to my Jerusalem.

Here, it is my duty
to be as Christ in this world,
to do what he would do,
to live as he would live,
to walk in love and meekness;
then would he be known,
then would I have peace in death.

Prayer for God’s Strength

I confess that I often worry about not having enough money someday for whatever reason. God doesn’t promise that we’ll be prosperous financially or materially, contrary to what some Christians believe. But God promises grace and that he’ll be enough for us, however much he decides to provide for us and in what forms. I can imagine that some people are in this situation and wonder what God is up to.

The NLT Study Bible notes have this about Habakkuk 1:2-4:

“To Habakkuk, God seemed indifferent to the evil permeating society in Judah (Habakkuk 1:3-4) and unresponsive to his complaints about it (Habakkuk 1:2).”

“Habakkuk’s prophecy concludes with a psalm-like prayer.” The last part is below. I don’t normally post notes from study Bibles, but I think these are very helpful.

Habakkuk 3:16

“Although the full realization of God’s mighty power sapped Habakkuk’s strength to the point that he trembled, he would wait quietly (see Habakkuk 2:3) for God’s judgment to descend. • My legs gave way beneath me: Literally Decay entered my bones.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 NLT
I trembled inside when I heard this;
my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me,
and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
17Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

“After recounting God’s mighty acts of redemption (Habakkuk 3:2-15), and pausing to consider them (Habakkuk 3:16), Habakkuk now reaffirms his trust in God as he closes his prayer. • Even though . . . yet I will rejoice: Even if God never pours out material blessing on his people again, he is still worthy of all the trust and praise they can give. Come what may, the prophet could rejoice, knowing that the LORD is not only Israel’s Redeemer, but also the source of his own salvation.”

Philippians 4:11-13 TNIV
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Book Review: Philippians (The Story of God Bible Commentary) by Lynn Cohick

philippians-commentary-cover-linkPhilippians (The Story of God Bible Commentary) by Lynn H. Cohick

The introduction gets right to the main points of what the book is about. It compels you to read the book again. There is no need to entertain theories where there is a very small minority, like whether or not Paul wrote the letter.

“This commentary examines Paul’s teachings and biographical notes always with an eye to the church today–the men and women who desire a deeper relationship with God, a stronger foundation for their walk, and a clearer vision for God’s working in the world beyond their immediate circle.” This commentary series goes beyond exegesis and to what it means for today. Since the book is only 262 pages long, it doesn’t dwell on any one subject for very long, but deals with subjects and passages in a complete and satisfying way.

Other reviewers have written about the three sections for each passage of the book. Listen to the Story has the Bible text using the NIV 2011. I like it when the translator comes up with their own translation. But since there is minimal discussion of the Greek, an existing one works fine. When she does mention Greek, it’s always something helpful, usually regarding grammar, and like a good preacher, sometimes doesn’t even need to mention the specific words, as if to show off her knowledge. Adjustments are made when the commentator likes a different word better, like ‘slave’ instead of ‘servant’ (which I strongly agree with) in Philippians 1:1. There are cross references, and a synopsis of the passage that will be exposited in Explain the Story, which I would say is more exposition that exegesis, of every 1-4 verses. Live the Story is where plenty of space is used to go into what it means for today–usually picking out a single idea from the passage and writing about that throughout. This is somewhat limiting, but at the same time, thoroughly goes into the main subject matter of a passage–something that most commentaries don’t do any of, being mainly exegesis. This makes the series good for preachers and lay people who would like to connect the original meaning with how we can understand how it may relate to contemporary living. While I believe this is largely the work of the Holy Spirit related to an individual’s circumstances, the Holy Spirit also uses gifted teachers to point things out can help us learn to make these connections. She also writes about contemporary issues within the Explain the Text portion and isn’t afraid to bring up problems in the modern church similar to those that Paul addressed, and sometimes using modern analogies to explain something. So this commentary is thorough, yet not a more technical exegesis-only type of commentary either.

She has a way of coming at the Scripture with an open mind. At the risk of sounding like she’s wishy washy, she’ll say if she thinks that Paul may be intentionally ambiguous, like the well-known “faith in Christ” or “faith of Christ” passage. She doesn’t see everything in black or white, or either or.

As far as where she comes from theologically, it’s hard to pin down, which I see as a good thing. I’m Reformed, but didn’t find anything real objectionable. There are minor things I disagreed with, but I’ll let other reviewers who are more qualified to comment on those things.

While this commentary won’t answer all of your questions satisfactorily, it’s a very good exposition for preachers and lay people to understand what Philippians is about, as opposed to a detailed exegesis of every verse. I would recommend it for those who are looking for that type of book.

This book was provided by the publisher through the Amazon Vine review program for an unbiased review.

Hardcover: 304 pages, also in Kindle format
Publisher: Zondervan (October 30, 2013)
Buy it from Amazon

Around the Web – July.7.14

Intimate Friendships Among Christians-Housewife Theologian – a counter to the “When Harry Met Sally” syndrome

Gordon Fee: How Should We Read the Bible? | Grace Communion International – One of my favorite videos by any Christian

Systematic Theology (240-Page excerpt) by Dr. John Frame | Monergism

Free D.A. Carson PDF books | The Lighthearted Calvinist

Top Book Recommendations by some really smart guys

The History of Madness – “John Locke notes that there is a degree of madness in almost everyone. Madness is the inability to let reason sort out mad ideas.” I’ve always believed somewhat similarly. Jesus was the only perfectly sane person. He dealt with things during the last few days before the cross in a perfectly sane way.

This post is so good, I almost put it on its own page. I was going to write some things about it, but my own frustrations might creep in. I’ll just let you read it if you’re interested.
Modern Reformation – Faith and Mental Illness by Michael S. Horton

Wanting God and Wanting to be Like Him

I would like to continue with trips through Scripture, but I think this will need some explanatory notes, or you might not know where I’m trying to go. I hope this makes sense.

I love getting to know God. I love God’s law and commands. I also like being like Him and wanting to be more like Him. The latter is a lot more difficult on our part, because it involves morality, obedience, self-denial, and holiness. These aren’t very popular these days, unless we’re talking about other people, of course.

The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
They are more desirable than gold,
even the finest gold.
They are sweeter than honey,
even the drippings from a honeycomb.
Psalm 19:8a; 10 GW

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Psalm 42:1

Blessed are those whose lives have integrity,
those who follow the teachings of the LORD.
Blessed are those who obey his written instructions.
They wholeheartedly search for him.
They do nothing wrong. They follow his directions.
You have commanded
that your guiding principles be carefully followed.
I pray that my ways may become firmly established
so that I can obey your laws.
Then I will never feel ashamed
when I study all your commandments.
I will give thanks to you as I learn your regulations,
which are based on your righteousness.
Psalm 119:1-7

The psalmist here shows that godly people are happy people; they are, and shall be, blessed indeed. Felicity is the thing we all pretend to aim at and pursue. He does not say here wherein it consists; it is enough for us to know what we must do and be that we may attain to it, and that we are here told. All men would be happy, but few take the right way; God has here laid before us the right way, which we may be sure will end in happiness, though it be strait and narrow. Blessednesses are to the righteous; all manner of blessedness. Now observe the characters of the happy people. Those are happy, 1. Who make the will of God the rule of all their actions, and govern themselves, in their whole conversation, by that rule: They walk in the law of the Lord, Psalm 119:1. God’s word is a law to them, not only in this or that instance, but in the whole course of their conversation; they walk within the hedges of that law, which they dare not break through by doing any thing it forbids; and they walk in the paths of that law, which they will not trifle in, but press forward in them towards the mark, taking every step by rule and never walking at all adventures. This is walking in God’s ways (Psalm 119:3), the ways which he has marked out to us and has appointed us to walk in. It will not serve us to make religion the subject of our discourse, but we must make it the rule of our walk; we must walk in his ways, not in the way of the world, or of our own hearts, Job 23:10, Job 23:11; Job 31:7.

–Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible

In addition to God’s law, personal holiness and “living the [a ?] good life” being good for us, God calls us to be distinct from the world (Matthew 6:8).

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 NIV

God’s will is pleasing to us and sets us apart from the worldly world.

Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will go to them and make our home with them.
John 14:23

So I don’t believe this is something that we should do as an act for the world, it should be done not only for our own good, but because we are living with a holy God.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like the idea of accountability partners because as it’s usually done, people become accountable to each other instead of helping each other become accountable to God. I haven’t looked deeply into this, but it isn’t something written about much at all in the Bible. We do have:

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.
Romans 3:19 NIV

We do have something solid about conscience:

With this belief I always do my best to have a clear conscience in the sight of God and people.
Act 24:16

Again, we are living in the sight of God, not just people. Our conscience should be dictated by all of the law/commands we find in Scripture. Otherwise, we are being self-righteous, which isn’t thinking we’re better than others, but justifying the things we do from human logic, which is, in addition to being a human trait, usually selfish, and from a non-Biblical perspective. As J. B. Shearer noted: “The Pharisee knows nothing of this hungering and thirsting after righteousness, because he is righteous in his own eyes, self-righteous. But the man who has a sense of sin, and has tasted the comfort of pardoned sin, desires above all things to live aright.” And Spurgeon said, “I do not know of anything against which God’s fury burns more than against [self-righteousness] because this touches him in a very tender point—it insults the glory and honor of his Son.” Spurgeon is talking more about the righteousness we receive from the cross, but I think the idea still applies. God will show us what righteousness is (Matthew 5:6), in addition to having made us righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I believe that another benefit to having as clear of a conscience as we can is that it reduces stress. That’s if we aren’t fretting about God constantly looking for us to do something wrong, which isn’t what a good Father would do.

As a father has compassion for his children,
so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him.
He certainly knows what we are made of.
He bears in mind that we are dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
Philippians 3:16 NIV

The climax in all of this is the dreadful and wonderful:

Tell the whole congregation of Israel: Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.
Leviticus 19:2

Because you are children who obey God, don’t live the kind of lives you once lived. Once you lived to satisfy your desires because you didn’t know any better. 15 But because the God who called you is holy you must be holy in every aspect of your life. 16 Scripture says, “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:16

Dreadful because it seems impossible to be like our Holy God. Wonderful because he helps to become closer to it.

Being holy, as in being set apart, is God’s work. But we are also to strive to be holy. Knowing God’s character, as written in all of Scripture, is the only way we can begin to strive for holiness.

Also see:
Hunger and Mercy – Place for Truth – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals - where some of the quotes from this post were found
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges – a modern classic

God Causes and/or Sanctions

When posting individual verses, it’s always recommended to read the context. I don’t want to be someone who contributes to one-verse reading of the Bible. You can always click or touch a Scripture reference to see more.

The LORD asked him [Moses], “Who gave humans their mouths? Who makes humans unable to talk or hear? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? It is I, the LORD!”
Exodus 4:11 GW

As Jesus walked along, he saw a man who had been born blind. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, why was this man born blind? Did he or his parents sin?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. Instead, he was born blind so that God could show what he can do for him.
John 9:1-3

He takes something away, but who can stop him? Who is going to ask him, ‘What are you doing?’
Job 9:12

Although Job is a narrative, there is confirmation:

Everyone who lives on earth is nothing compared to him. He does whatever he wishes with the army of heaven and with those who live on earth. There is no one who can oppose him or ask him, “What are you doing?”
Daniel 4:35

The LORD does whatever he wants
in heaven or on earth,
on the seas or in all the depths of the oceans.
Psalm 135:6

Who was it who spoke and it came into being? It was the Lord who gave the order. 38 Both good and bad come from the mouth of the Most High God.
Lamentations 3:37-38

Your eyes saw me when I was only a fetus.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book
before one of them had taken place.
Psalm 139:16

Paul and Silas went through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit kept them from speaking the word in the province of Asia.
Acts 16:6

Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I put you here for this reason: to demonstrate my power through you and to spread my name throughout the earth.” 18 Therefore, if God wants to be kind to anyone, he will be. If he wants to make someone stubborn, he will. 19 You may ask me, “Why does God still find fault with anyone? Who can resist whatever God wants to do?” 20 Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 A potter has the right to do whatever he wants with his clay. He can make something for a special occasion or something for everyday use from the same lump of clay. 22 If God wants to demonstrate his anger and reveal his power, he can do it. But can’t he be extremely patient with people who are objects of his anger because they are headed for destruction? 23 Can’t God also reveal the riches of his glory to people who are objects of his mercy and who he had already prepared for glory?
Romans 9:17-23

And the oft quoted:

God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep
that it is impossible to explain his decisions
or to understand his ways.
34 “Who knows how the Lord thinks?
Who can become his adviser?”
35 Who gave the Lord something
which the Lord must pay back?
36 Everything is from him and by him and for him.
Glory belongs to him forever! Amen!
Romans 11:33-36

Power belongs to him forever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:11

The Lord Is Gracious, Good and Compassionate

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Exodus 33:19 NIV

For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
Romans 9:15

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
Isaiah 30:18

the Lord delights in those who fear him,
who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Psalm 147:11

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
Lamentations 3:25

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him,
Nahum 1:7

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32