Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“Concerning the works of men, by the word of your lips
have I kept myself from the paths of the destroyer.”
Satan is the “destroyer” that David mentions in the verse above, and Satan’s principal mode of destroying the good among the saints is by using the first thing mentioned by David in that verse: “the works of men”. Jesus said that Satan “savors” the things of men (Mt. 16:23). But why? First, because he envies the precious opportunity men have to obtain eternal life and fellowship with God. He wants what God is offering men. Second, Satan “savors the things of men” because by craftily using “the things of men”, he can lure God’s children into his sphere of influence.
The Devil has deceived the whole world (Rev. 12:9). That means that all men are under his delusive spell, and so, the things that are of men are under his control. That is what makes him “the god of this world.” His influence is so pervasive, his craftiness is so subtle, that no one can escape his control. Everything on earth, every institution, every custom, every law, is working with the fleshly nature of every person to bring each soul under the dominion of Satan. But there is hope because there is truth, and David rejoiced in it.
The religions of man are “the things of man” that Satan loves the most, and the closer to the truth that a religion comes — without being true — the better he can use it. This is why Christianity is, to date, his most effective weapon in dividing and confusing God’s children. It speaks of the true Lord, and that is very good, but it does not speak truly of him, and that is very bad.
“By the word of your lips” is a phrase that points us to our hope. David discovered that what God says is the means to escape the confusion that is in “the things that are of man”. By the word of God, David discovered the precious pathway of righteousness and rejoiced as he walked on it. By the word of God, David learned what was good and what was evil, and with the strength which that understanding brought to him, he overcame the heavy pressures of this world to go the wrong way. When joy is in the heart, David discovered, the world’s call to sin seems nasty, no matter how prettily Satan paints it, and no matter what holy-sounding titles he gives it.
There is nothing of “the things that are of men” that is like the voice of God. Nothing of man’s medical knowledge can heal as God’s word can; nothing of man’s educational systems can enlighten as God’s word can; nothing of man’s art can comfort as God’s word can; nothing of man’s religions can guide into righteousness as God’s word can. When David learned this, he wrote, “Truly, every man at his best state is altogether vanity.” And to that, we can add, “Truly, at His worst state, God is altogether and eternally good.”