An Enlightened Way

20170817_185632By Paul Knudtson

Psalm 119 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  (v.105)

God’s word is a lamp lighting up our path.

A prominent feature of this word that guides us is called “the law,” which begins with the Ten Commandments.  “You shall have no other gods.” “Honor your father and mother.” “You shall not kill.” “You shall not commit adultery.” And so on.

Jesus summed up all of the commandments with just two:

  • “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5 in Mark 12:30)
  • Leviticus 19:18 – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18 in Mark 12:31)

Love – that’s the path we are to walk on.

The problem, however, is that we can’t seem to keep the commandments, even the commands to love God and neighbor. We can’t seem to follow this path.

Referring to the tenth commandment, Paul says this in Romans 7, “I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness.” (7:7-8)

Later in the same chapter he says, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. . . For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do.” (7:15, 19)

We never live up to our own ideals for ourselves, let alone God’s. 

We need more than the law in order to walk the right path in life.

Following God’s path has to become something internal; so that it involves following desires that are implanted within us enabling us to love as God loves.

God’s path for us begins and continues with conversion; it is about having our hearts changed so that we want what God wants.


Philippians 2:13 – “it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Finding the path God has for us begins with an experience of this deep work of God (Christ, Holy Spirit) within us. It is spelled out in Jeremiah’s language of the new covenant: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33)

So following God’s path is not merely about following a set of commands that are external to ourselves, but is about something put within us.

When Elaine and I travel, especially when it is somewhere that we have not been before—we use GPS (global positioning system). The lady’s voice from the GPS tells us exactly where to turn and so on in order to find our way. The Holy Spirit within us is like God’s GPS telling us the way to go.

Isaiah 30:21 – “And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’”

“God . . . is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

  • Galatians 5:16 – “Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
  • Galatians 5: 25 – “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”

Theologian Richard R. Niebuhr (son of H. Richard Niebuhr) – “Pilgrims are persons in motion passing through territories not their own—seeking something we might call completion or perhaps the word clarity will do as well, a goal to which only the Spirit’s compass points the way.” (Christine Valtners Paintner, The Soul of a Pilgrim)

The path that God leads us on is one that affects what is deepest in our hearts—and touches our emotions and affections, our loves.

This is about a conversion that takes place within us.

In shady green pastures so rich and so sweet

Author: G. A. Young

  1. In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
    God leads His dear children along;
    Where the water’s cool flow bathes the weary one’s feet,
    God leads His dear children along.

Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

2. Though sorrows befall us and evils oppose,
God leads His dear children along;
Through grace we can conquer, defeat all our foes,
God leads His dear children along.

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Paul was a preacher and teacher until he retired in 2015. He continues to write and listen to what God is saying to him in the ordinary and extraordinary things of life. Elaine was a public school teacher and administrator until she retired in 2018. She is using her retirement to reflect on God's work in her life and to share insights with her family and friends.

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