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I recently shared my testimony at Carmel Presbyterian Church , where I was preaching for the first time as a candidate to become their new senior pastor.

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In the sermon I mentioned the fact that some years ago I personally experienced God tangibly reaching me, turning me away from a path of self-destruction and emptiness and towards a new path filled with joy, hope, life and purpose. My journey of following the Shepherd began with a tangible experience of the 23rd Psalm! Paul tells us that once we have received — by faith — the righteousness of God, that we need to "work it out" — that is — walk in it. We need to live it. If we do, Paul says, we will no longer be walking in a crooked way, as those who do no know Christ.

But we will be walking, or running, in a straight way — the paths of righteousness in Jesus Christ.

What we see in this is that following Jesus in the paths of righteousness is not how we get saved. It is the outcome of being saved. In short, obedience is the result of being rightly related to God.

Psalm 23 ("The Lord is My Shepherd")

Repentance — if it is real — is a one time thing. Did you realize that? We spend our lives "repenting" of each sin as God exposes it. True "repentance unto salvation" is not progressive. It is a one time thing. Do you know why? Because I am repenting of my wrong path. I am repenting of unbelief — of refusing to turn to Jesus. Thus, when I do repent, I come over to Jesus on the paths of righteousness.

It is once that I am there that I begin to see all the sins which Jesus wants me to forsake. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death. II Cor. Real repentance is once for all and permanent. And according to scripture, if it is real, then I have indeed, "changed my mind," and "turned around.

If there is one prayer God will always answer, it is this one: "God bring me to the place of repentance. Do whatever it takes.


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But if you are unwilling to pray it, you might want to ask yourself why. You cannot truly repent of sin, but still WANT to sin. Because "wanting to sin" is what you are turning away from! Sure, our execution of obedience will always be flawed. And we will continue to be ignorant about many things. And with regard to those areas that are unclear? So we get on the righteous path "by grace through faith. But once we get there, following Jesus will always result in good works. A walk in the paths of righteousness is obviously a righteous walk. We are saved "by grace, through faith, but unto good works.

The First Steps. It should not be difficult to begin following Jesus on the paths of righteousness. Everyone knows at least what the first steps of this journey ought to be. God has given His law. Therefore, there is no need to say to Jesus, "Do you want me to be honest? He is already saying to us, "Be honest. That is your first step on the paths of righteousness. Not maybe. You ARE. Your first step is to STOP. Your second is to repent and turn to Christ. Your third is to start obeying God.

Likewise, if you are being dishonest at work, God is not leading you. You are trying to lead Him. You will reap what you sow. THAT is a promise of God.

Paths of Righteousness

We saw earlier that obedience is the outcome of being rightly related to God. Thus, disobedience is the outcome of not being rightly related to Him. Or, to put it another way, faith in Christ always results in good works. But unbelief will eventually show itself through disobedience. But we need to wake up.

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If you are not turning to God in your sin, you are not following Jesus Christ. It is one thing to say that we cannot get free of sin. In some cases, there may be truth to that plea. Freedom may take much time, even if we turn to Christ. THAT we can always do. The question is never whether we have sinned, or who is to blame for our weakness. We must turn to Christ.

Pulp Fiction - Samuel L Jackson - The Path of the Righteous Man

We have to get it settled: Jesus Christ leads us in the paths of righteousness. And it is up to us to follow. Jesus is NOT going to follow us. He is not. Jesus will never help us destroy ourselves. Do I mean that Jesus will desert us if we disobey Him, or get out of the path of righteousness? What He will do is continually seek us out, and try to get us back on the righteous path. He will try to turn us back to Himself by either allowing us to suffer the consequences of our own choices, or He will put up road blocks — probably both.

But He will not "be with us" in our disobedience. But there are other things which belong to "the paths of righteousness. This is acknowledging God AS God. These things are expressions of our communion with God, and are captured in the first four of the ten commandments.


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