Lesson Three: Purity in the Obvious
August 4, 2010 § 4 Comments
“Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it.”
– Emily Dickinson
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
– James 3:17
Lesson Three: Purity in the Obvious
(Flirting, Flattery, and Foolishness)
Last week, we learned the power of purity as well as the protection and peace that pursuing purity brings to our lives. This week’s focus is on three of the most obvious aspects but rarely discussed behaviors; flirting, flattery, and foolishness.
The consequences of flirting, flattery and foolishness are harmful in our relationship to God, to be sure. But these types of sins can also harm our own bodies (I Corinthians 6:18). It is a sobering thought to wonder how many people are currently suffering illnesses because they are unaware that engaging in sexual sins (physical or emotional) is the source of their illness. In fact, the majority of those that consider themselves Christians who engage in flirting, flattery and foolishness think it harmless or even beneficial.
If we dig deep down to the cause of these behaviors, we should not be surprised to find it falls into the all three of the carnal categories of sin described in I John 2:16.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
– 1 John 2:16
Flirting and Emotional Promiscuity
Flirting is ‘to behave amorously or to show superficial or casual interest or liking without serious intent.’ Words similar in meaning to the word flirting are: beguiling, heartbreaking, philandering, seducing, teasing, trifling, and wantonness. Words opposite meanings are: faithfulness, sensibility, and wisdom.
At the core of the behavior called flirting is deception. It is deceitfulness. It is trickery. Why do we take part in flirting? Perhaps because it an easy way to engage another person of the opposite sex, perhaps because we see it as harmless amusement, or perhaps it is a confidence builder. Many women flirt because they want to know they are desirable or they want to use such behavior to further their own agendas.
If we take a close look at why people flirt, we soon find there is one common denominator, mankind’s sinful nature. Flirting is self-advertisement. It is a way to communicate interest and availability (though many flirt to exercise their sexual power). Women who flirt are attempting to draw attention to themselves and their bodies, not to God and his Love. Pursuing purity in regards to flirting means we choose not to follow our sinful nature.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
– Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT)
For the single person, flirting may seem like the only way to let another know you are interested. The truth is that God knows who you should marry and when He orchestrates your first encounter with your future spouse, there will be no need to entice him or flirt with him. If we feel like we must do something to attract a mate, we are in essence saying we don’t trust God to bring our future spouse to our lives.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
– Corrie Ten Boom
Those who are married and consider flirting harmless are deceived in believing they can flirt with no consequence. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Flirting or expressing interest in someone for sexual amusement is devastating to a spouse. It is sexual immorality.
God sees this cruelty and hears the cries of the spouses. The act of flirting is emotional promiscuity and spiritual unfaithfulness. The results are hindered prayers, damaged trust with your spouse, and distance in our fellowship with a loving God.
Be careful not to dismiss some behavior as flirting. Whether you are single or married, flirting should not be part of your behavior. The bible calls it wanton and warns men to flee from the presence of women who display this behavior.
If you find yourself rationalizing flirting or qualifying certain behavior to decide if it is flirtatious, remember what is found in I Thessalonians 5:22.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
– I Thessalonians 5:22
If someone who observed your behavior and could, in any way, construe it as flirting, it is better not to take part in it. It is sexual amusement and that is sexual immorality. To pursue purity and remove all that contaminates or pollutes our lives, we must seek to abstain from all (not what we think is justifiable) appearance of evil.
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints”
– Ephesians 5:3
Finding the Flaws in Flattery
Flattery is excessive or insincere praise showered onto another with an ulterior motive. Words similar to flattery are: pander to, brown nose, suck up to, and sweet-talk. Words with opposite meanings include: caring, concern.
Flirting and flattery have the same agenda, treachery and deceit, but use different methods. The purpose of flattery is to gain attention in order to suggest, to motivate, or to beguile another to do something you want them to do. Flirting always has a sexual component, where flattery may or may not. God says much about flattery, and none of it is good.
Why do we flatter others? Perhaps we intend to compliment someone and feel the more adjectives we use the better, perhaps we want to engage another and bring their attention back to our conversation, or perhaps it is just a habit. Whatever the reason, when we excessively and insincerely praise another, we are lying.
“They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.”
– Psalm 12:2
Flattery differs from genuine admiration and appreciation. Flattery is over-the-top untruths told to make another like us, do something for us, or distract someone’s attention. The excessive use of words is often a giveaway of a flatterer.
“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin:
but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”
Genuine admiration is quite different. Often only a few words are needed to express appreciation to someone. Honoring another with a kind word of appreciation is not treachery or deceitful. Does this mean we are not to compliment another? No. In fact, God commands us to encourage and strengthen one another.
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”
– Proverbs 3:27
Consider your best friend. Can you see her showering you with flattery? If she is a true friend, she doesn’t flatter you. A friend who cares about you does not attempt to deceive you. A true friend tells you the truth because they care about you. Sometimes this truth is hard to hear, but there is no motivation in the heart of a true friend to deceive you.
“The more we love our friends, the less we flatter them; it is by excusing nothing that pure love shows itself.”
– Jean-Baptiste Poquelin
Becoming free from foolishness
Foolishness is lacking forethought or caution. Words very similar are insensibility, irrationality, irresponsibility, ludicrousness, lunacy. Words with direct opposite in meaning are: seriousness, understanding, wisdom.
Both flirting and flattery are foolishness. But there are other obvious behaviors that prevent us from pursuing purity. Remembering our definition for purity (freedom from anything that contaminates or pollutes), we do well when we examine ourselves and our behaviors in the light of what God says is foolish behavior.
How do we know if our behavior is foolish? Below is a quick list of behaviors that reveal foolishness. You might be acting foolishly if…
- Your parents offer some advice and you despise them for it (Proverbs 15:5)
- You have a short temper (Proverbs 14:17 and Ecclesiastes 7:9)
- You brag about your immoral or unrighteous adventures (Proverbs 13:16)
- You gossip and tell those ‘white lies’ from time to time (Proverbs 10:18)
- You notice wise people avoiding you (Proverbs 13:20)
- You attempt to impress others with wise words and glib talk (Proverbs 17:7)
- Your words incite others to mischief (Proverbs 18:6)
- You can’t seem to mind your own business (Proverbs 20:3)
- You find people disengaging from conversations with you (Proverbs 26:4)
Much of the reason we take part in flirting, flattery, and foolishness is because we see it others and are unaware of the results, of which there are many. If we want a life free from anything that contaminates or pollutes, we must pursue the purity of God’s word and allow Him to change those things in us that ultimately separate us from a deep, fulfilling, pure relationship with our Creator.
There is freedom when we realize we no longer have to validate our worth by flaunting our sexual power for simple amusement. There is freedom in denying the need to deceive and manipulate others with excessive words filled with lies so that we can make another behave the way we want them to. There is freedom in knowing our life will be fulfilling and satisfying when we follow after wisdom and deny foolish behavior that only serves to harm us.
Purity is the key that unlocks the freedom from anything that prevents us from walking in fresh awareness of God each day. When we simplify our lives, examining and removing all destructive behavior, we begin to develop discernment.
Pursuing the Word:
Flirting, though widely accepted as harmless, is not so harmless in God’s eyes. Read Malachi 2: 13-14 and answer the following questions.
- What makes our offering unacceptable? (v13)
- How does God view emotional promiscuity? (v14)
In Numbers 5, God gives the ordinances for Moses to purify the Israelites. Here we see how seriously God takes the behavior of a wife. This ordinance was set in place on the basis of a husband’s suspicion, not the wife’s guilt. Read Numbers 5:11-29 and answer the questions.
- Did it matter if the wife were guilty or not? (v14)
- Was the husband shamed for being suspicious? (v31)
Proverbs has much to say about flattery. Read the references below and list the warnings or observations.
- Proverbs 6:20-24
- Proverbs 20:19
- Proverbs 26:28
- Proverbs 29:5
Proverbs has much to say about foolishness. Read the references below and list the warnings or observations.
- Proverbs 9:6
- Proverbs 9:13
- Proverbs 13:20
- Proverbs 14:7
- Proverbs 14:21
- Proverbs 15:2
Pursuing the Walk:
We’ve learned that flirting is not harmless. Any behavior that teases another by using verbal or physical communication is emotional promiscuity. What are your thoughts flirting?
Flattery is deceitful and treacherous. Take some time this week and observe flattery in others. List your results below.
Those who continue in foolish behavior do not have a bright future. Pursuing purity means we are seeking wisdom. List a time when you acted foolishly and examine the results. List your thoughts below.
Write out how your concept of flirting, flattery, and foolishness has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.