July 17, 2017 • By Ed Wrather
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. – Psalm 23:1-3 NKJV.
Who is it that needs a restored soul? A person who has had their soul damaged by sin. 1 Peter 2:11 says, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” The NIV puts this as: “to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” Sin is at war with your soul, and seeks to conquer and destroy you.
The early church father, Augustine, had fallen into the degradation of sin before his salvation, he had a damaged soul. Reading the words of Romans 13:14 was key to his turning from sin and to the Lord Jesus. Romans 13:14 says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” The NIV puts this as: “Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Augustine put on the Lord Jesus Christ by believing upon Jesus, and it changed his life restoring his soul.
John Newton who wrote the words to the Hymn, Amazing Grace, knew what it was like to have a damaged soul. He knew about the damage of sin from having been a slave trader. You can sense in the words of the hymn, renewal of his soul from degradation to being made new as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Here are the first words of Amazing Grace:
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
Newton describes the shocking difference between a damaged soul, and a soul that has been restored.
King David who wrote the 23rd Psalm knew well what it was like to have a damaged soul. David knew from having committed adultery with Bathsheba and arranging the murder of her husband, Uriah. After having been confronted with his sin by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12), David repented, and we have his confession in Psalm 51.
David, after saying, “He restores my soul,” gives the formula for the restoration of a soul. Here it is, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” To have a soul restored it is necessary for us to follow the Good Shepherd in the “paths of righteousness.” The beginning of that path is to receive Jesus as our personal Savior, but that is just the beginning.
Romans 8:5-6 gives us additional insight: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Here we see that if we succumb to the desires of the flesh and engage in sinful behavior the result is “death.” It may not be an immediate death, but it will be a death to peace, and in the place of peace we may experience anxiety and fear. It will be a death to the abundant life that Jesus came to give us for as long as we engage in sinful behavior.
Allow the Lord, the Good Shepherd, to restore your soul. Allow Him to lead you in the paths of righteousness where you will find peace and the abundant life.