August 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
““We should have a much higher view of the word obedience, rescuing it from the mire of the world. Obedience is only possible between people who are equals in their relationship to each other.”
– Oswald Chambers –
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”
– I Samuel 15:23 –
Lesson Six: Purity in the Obedient
(Status, Satisfaction and Substance)
Obedience is the hallmark of a Christ follower. When we first begin our walk with Jesus, there are many times we find ourselves disobedient. But as the years march on, the disciple of Jesus will find that disobedience is simply a waste of precious time.
In the previous lessons we’ve studied the order of purity, the obvious, obscure, and the oblivious behaviors that separate us from a close walk with our Savior. Now, in this last lesson, we begin to study the results of living aware of these obstacles and finding peace and contentment as we walk obedience to God.
Once again let’s look at some words and their meanings. Women who have wrestled with the word submission but have overcome the deception that saturates our culture, find peace in the word obedience. Words with similar meaning are submissive, meek, and orderly. Words with opposite meanings to the word obedient are rebellion, disorder, and treacherous.
Again, looking at these words and their meanings, especially their opposite meanings, brings into focus the importance of obedience. The words rebellion and treachery are not words anyone would want mentioned when our names come up.
“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”
– I Samuel 15:23
This week we focus on the last three areas; status, satisfaction and substance. All three are interesting areas. This lesson differs from the previous lessons in that they are results of pursuing purity in all the other areas mentioned in previous lessons.
“We should have a much higher view of the word obedience, rescuing it from the mire of the world. Obedience is only possible between people who are equals in their relationship to each other.”
– Oswald Chambers
Seeing through Status
The status of a person is defined as the position in relation to another or others. In other matters, such as a nation, or a project, or even a material piece of property, the status of it tells us the condition as it relates to others.
For instance, let’s say we are considering the purchase of a house. We hire an appraiser to visit the property and report back to us the condition or the status of the property. Is it livable? Does it need work? What is the condition of the house compared to the properties located in the same neighborhood? These are all questions we consider to know the status of the property.
Many people seek to gain status in others eyes mistakenly believing that if they can raise how much others think of them, they can increase in importance. This is wasted effort. Attempting to control another persons assumption or characterization of us is out of our control. We cannot ‘think’ for another.
The idea of a person’s status is important as we continue on in our pursuit of purity. We need to first know the truth God provides in His word and then apply it to our lives.
So, what does God say to us about our status? What does God tell us about who we are? Here are just a few references …
- I believe and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior and am a child of the most high God. (John 1:12)
- Jesus calls me His friend and brings me into His confidence revealing truth to me. (John 15:15)
- As a believer, I am one in spirit with Jesus. (1 Corinthians 6:17)
- God chose me from the beginning of time. (Ephesians 1:3-8)
- God snatched me from the depths of darkness. (Colossians 1:13-14)
- In Christ, I have no need for anything. (Colossians 2:9-10)
- Jesus bought me an all access pass to the throne of God. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
- God will redeem everything I do, I see, I encounter to work for His good. (Romans 8:28)
- I have a power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Take some time to read these bible verses. Let them soak into you like water in a sponge and you will soon discover that your status in Christ is all you need.
Do you find yourself impressed with others? Perhaps, at times you are intimidated by others. When we know what God says about us and simply are obedient enough to believe what God says about us, we lose those feelings of intimidation.
“For there is no respect of persons with God.”
– Romans 2:11
Pursuing purity is aligning our life to that of our Savior. If God does not respect or consider any one person above another, then we should as well. In doing so, we free ourselves from attempting to intimidate and from being intimidated.
Satisfaction is contentment. It is fulfillment, enjoyment, and peace. It is a state where your mind is at peace, your body comfortable, and your soul is at rest.
Everyone heart longs for satisfaction. There are countless self-help books on the market today addressing just this issue. As stated earlier, anti-depression medication is the number one drug prescribed in American today. Though these drugs can elevate a mood, they cannot promise satisfaction.
In the bible, the closest thing to complete satisfaction is often called joy. Just like satisfaction, joy is not something you will yourself into doing. No one wakes up in the morning and makes their minds up to be joyous. Many make act as if they are joyful, but joy is not a state we can achieve in our own power.
Joy and satisfaction are the result of obedience to God’s instruction and trust in His word. These two things we can will ourselves to do. We have a choice to either be obedient and trust or be disobedient and doubt.
“Spiritual joy is: The settled conviction that God’s sovereignty controls the events of life for the believers’ good and His glory. Spiritual joy is not an attitude dependent on chance or circumstance. It is the deep and abiding confidence that regardless of one’s circumstances in life, all is well between the believer and the Lord. No matter what difficulty, pain, disappointment, failure, rejection, or other challenge one is facing, genuine joy remains because of that eternal well being established by God’s grace in salvation. Thus, Scripture makes it clear that the fullest, most lasting and satisfying joy is derived from a true relationship with God. It is not based on circumstances or chance, but is the gracious and permanent possession of every child of God.”
– John MacArthur
A Woman of Substance
As we end our study in pursuing purity, it can only benefit us to do a personality profile of a woman whose heart is set toward God, a woman who is pursuing purity in all areas of her life, a woman that shines the love of Jesus to everyone she meets.
Several years ago, God had studying one chapter of Proverbs each day. After several months, I could tell by the date on the calendar what I would be reading. Below is a list of days and the corresponding chapter in proverbs.
- Day 1 – you learn about the handbook of life
“Proverbs will teach you wisdom and self-control and how to understand sayings with deep meanings.” – Proverbs 1:2 (CEV)
- Day 2 -you know the path to the knowledge of God
“Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God.” – Proverbs 2:5 (AMP)
- Day Three – you know the secret of a healthy body
“If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains.” – Proverbs 3:8 (NLT)
- Day 4 – you learn who really protects you
“Forsake not [Wisdom], and she will keep, defend, and protect you; love her, and she will guard you.” – Proverbs 4:6 (AMP)
- Day 5 – you learn how to always know the right thing to say
“You will have sound judgment, and you will always know the right thing to say.” – Proverbs 5:2 (CEV)
- Day 6 – you learn who really is to blame
“You are snared with the words of your lips, you are caught by the speech of your mouth.” – Proverbs 6:2 (AMP)
- Day7 – you see what leads to adultery
“Always a simpleton, always in the wrong place, always dressed seductively, always foolish.” – Proverbs 7:6-27 (MSG)
- Day 8- you see how to honor God with hate
“All who fear the Lord will hate evil. Therefore, I hate pride and arrogance, corruption and perverse speech..” – Proverbs 8:13 (NLT)
- Day 9 – you see what happens when you teach the unteachable
“Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt..” – Proverbs 9:7 (NLT)
- Day 10 – you’ll notice sin in a person who talks all the time
“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” – Proverbs 10:19 (NLT)
- Day 11 – you see yourself as God sees you if immodest
“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman who is without discretion.” – Proverbs 11:22 (AMP)
- Day 12 – you see a wife as either health or cancer to your husband
“A helpful wife is a jewel for her husband, but a shameless wife will make his bones rot.” – Proverbs 12:4 (CEV)
- Day 13– you learn how to become wise by osmosis
“He who walks [as a companion] with wise men is wise, but he who associates with [self-confident] fools is [a fool himself and] shall smart for it.” – Proverbs 13:20 (AMP)
- Day 14 – you see what to do when you encounter a foolish person
“Go from the presence of a foolish and self-confident man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips.” – Proverbs 14:7 (AMP)
- Day 15 – you see whose prayers get heard
“The LORD never even hears the prayers of the wicked, but he answers the prayers of all who obey him.” – Proverbs 15:29 (CEV)
- Day 16 – you see a sure sign of a God pleasing person
“When GOD approves of your life, even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.” – Proverbs 16:7 (MSG)
- Day 17 – how you are a liar without knowing it
“An evildoer gives heed to wicked lips; and a liar listens to a mischievous tongue.” – Proverbs 17:4 (AMP)
- Day 18 – the power that makes you are a murderer or a life giver
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” – Proverbs 18:21 (KJV)
- Day 19 – you see learn how to make a loan to God
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” – Proverbs 19:17 (KJV)
- Day 20 – you see you never need to worry about revenge
“Don’t ever say, ‘I’ll get you for that!’ Wait for GOD; he’ll settle the score.” – Proverbs 20:22 (MSG)
- Day 21 – when your service and offerings to God are not recognized
“Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to GOD than religious performance.” – Proverbs 21:3 (MSG)
- Day 22– you see who the Lord is mad at
“The mouth of an immoral woman is a dangerous trap; those who make the Lord angry will fall into it.” – Proverbs 22:14 (NLT)
- Day 23 – you see what type of person makes fun of your counsel
“Speak not in the ears of a [self-confident] fool, for he will despise the [godly] Wisdom of your words.” – Proverbs 23:9 (AMP)
- Day 24 – you see that saying “I didn’t know” is no excuse
“If you [profess ignorance and] say, Behold, we did not know this, does not He Who weighs and ponders the heart perceive and consider it? And He Who guards your life, does not He know it? And shall not He render to [you and] every man according to his works?” – Proverbs 24:12 (AMP)
- Day 25 – you see the great hide and seek
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.” – Proverbs 25:2 (AMP)
- Day 26– you see the creed of the lazy person
“A lazy person says, ‘I am smarter than everyone else.” – Proverbs 26:16 (CEV)
- Day 27 – you see what looking ahead keeps you from
“A prudent person sees trouble coming and ducks; a simpleton walks in blindly and is clobbered.” – Proverbs 27:12 (MSG)
- Day 28 – you see you should never trust your heart
“He who leans on, trusts in, and is confident of his own mind and heart is a [self-confident] fool, but he who walks in skillful and godly Wisdom shall be delivered.” – Proverbs 28:26 (AMP)
- Day 29 – you see how you set traps for people and don’t even know it
“Flattery is nothing less than setting a trap.” – Proverbs 29:5 (CEV)
- Day 30 – you learn where to go when you are in trouble
“Every word of God is tried and purified; He is a shield to those who trust and take refuge in Him.” – Proverbs 30:5 (AMP)
- Day 31 – you will know what God sees as beautiful
“Charm and grace are deceptive, and beauty is vain [because it is not lasting], but a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the Lord, she shall be praised!” – Proverbs 31:30 (AMP)
What is the profile of a woman who pursues purity? I considered compiling a list of behaviors but I concluded that the heart of pursuing purity, of seeking God daily, looking for Him endlessly is too big a task.
Following God is an adventure, a truly wild adventure. We must keep our minds focused on Him in order to know at any given moment what He would have us do. Since God loves us individually with such a great love, a chart of behaviors would only leave us with at basis for us to compare ourselves against.
Pursing purity is essence is nothing but seeking after God. It is learning about Him. It is noticing what Scripture He leads us to and learning from it. When we do this, God is ever-present in our minds and we see Him everywhere and in everything.
Pursuing the Word:
Status is much more important to us that it is to God. He is not a respecter of persons and does not love one of us more than another. Read the following scripture and answer the questions.
- Job 32:21-22 – How does God feel about impressing others with flattery?
- Acts 10:34 – What did Peter perceive as truth?
- Colossian 3:25 – Does anyone ever get away with anything?
The whole world is looking for peace and satisfaction, most of the time in the wrong places. Read the verses below and discover what God offers us in His word.
- Psalm 91:15-16 – What does God promise us who follow Him?
- Psalm 132:12-15 – What does God promise if we teach our children well?
- Isaiah 58:9-11 – What does God promise when we are weary?
Our substance is what we have gained. In pursuing purity and seeking after God, our substance increases. Read the Scripture below and answer the questions.
- Proverbs 3:9 – What are we to give God?
- Proverbs 12:27 – Substance is precious to what type of person?
- Hebrews 11:1 – Describe substance as used in this passage.
Pursuing the Walk:
We’ve learned how God regards status. He is not impressed with the persona many of use to gain attention. What are your thoughts regarding status? Are you easily impressed? Write your thoughts.
Being satisfied or content is a mindset we all desire. Is there something in your life that prevents you from being satisfied? List your notes below.
Pursuing purity results in a life of substance. When we pursue God we gather many things along the way. What are some characteristics of a person of substance? List your thoughts.
Write out how your concept of status, satisfaction, and substance has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.
August 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
“Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too this is why a great and clear mind
loves ardently and sees distinctly what it loves.”
– Blaise Pascal
“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself:
but the simple pass on, and are punished.
– Proverbs 22:3
Lesson Five: Purity in the Oblivious
(Authority, Appearance, and Appetite)
This week our study focuses on authority, appearance and appetites. These are areas that many women are oblivious. To be oblivious is to be not mindful, not conscious, and often unaware. In essence, this obliviousness is lack of knowledge
The topic of authority is not only seen as offensive but often destructive to women who adhere to feminism. A feminist attitude does not respect the biblical authority given to us in God’s word. These women are oblivious to the impact of their actions to their marriages, their homes, and most importantly, to their fellowship with God.
While no woman wants to earn less or be treated unfairly in the workplace or the home, women with knowledge of true biblical authority are far more confident whether they are treated fairly or not.
If you searched for the definition of feminism, you find this statement: ‘A movement for granting women political, social, and economic equality with men.’ What woman would not want to be a part of this movement? After all, if a woman desires a career, should she not want the treatment as her male counterparts? Of course she should, but that does not violate what God instructs her to do.
Pursuing purity in all areas of our lives means following God not just at Church but also at home and in our workplaces. The power of God’s word is not subject to any rule or regulation a government can put forth. Being oblivious to true biblical authority and disregarding it in our appearance and appetites is a foolish choice.
Have you served on a committee at your Church, participated in a community group, or become part of a book club or some other group with others that share your interest or hobby? If so, you were one member in a group of members with one purpose. You and other members gather together to take part in fellowship or work toward a common goal. Each member of your group, committee or organization is an individual with no one person being considered better or more important than the other.
In order for your group to accomplish your goals, your group needs a leader. The leader is granted authority and responsibility for the purpose and goals of the group.
Authority is the power or right to give orders or make decisions. In the home, God granted authority to men. He did not grant this authority to women. Many women disagree with this concept because they think it devalues a woman, it somehow makes a woman less important than a man.
Women who are oblivious to, ignorant of or rebellious against this authority are separating themselves from fellowship with God.
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness,
and going about to establish their own righteousness,
have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
– Romans 10:3
Granting authority to the husband in a home doesn’t devalue women, it frees them. Just as in the example of the committee, if a mistake is made or the purpose is not realized, the responsible person is the leader. The members are not in charge and therefore are not accountable. It is the same in marriage. The husband is ultimately responsible for the family.
We cannot disobey God because we do not like what we read in the bible. To pursue purity is to first become aware of what authority is and whose authority we are under and then make conscious changes in our lives to submit to that authority.
“God does not give kingdom authority to rebels.
And a person who cannot obey God is not going to be used of God.
God cannot trust him with kingdom authority.”
– Adrian Rogers
Imagine this. On your way home from running errands, you encounter a young man or woman standing in the middle of the street with their right arm palm upward extended to you. This person is young and dressed in blue jeans and a tee-shirt. They are blowing a whistle and commanding you to stop.
This young person now turns toward another motorist and motions them to proceed. When the person prompts you to proceed, you continue on your way, slightly confused. You do not recognize this person as having any authority to direct traffic. What you see is a teenager or very young adult acting as if he had authority to command you to obey.
But if you encounter the same young-looking person in a police officer’s uniform, you instantly recognize the authority. You are aware of the authority by the uniform they are wearing. Disobedience to this authority can bring severe consequences to you.
Disobedience to God’s authority can also bring consequences. Women, who disobey God and the authority He has established in a home, whether in defiance or in ignorance, add sorrow to their lives.
“Every wise woman buildeth her house:
but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.”
– Proverbs 14:1
The Audience of your Appearance
As in the example of the police officer directing traffic, our appearance plays a large part in how others perceive us. Just as the young-looking person commanding you to obey on a public road left you confused because their behavior and their attire did not agree, we often do the same.
Many women walk out their days totally unaware of the impact of their clothing, their attitude, and their behavior has on those they encounter. In order to pursuing purity, we need to recognize that we cannot walk in ignorance in the area of appearance. If there is one area of a woman’s life she needs to be mindful of, it is the area of appearance.
“The great and important duty which is incumbent on Christians,
is to guard against all appearance of evil; to watch against
the first risings in the heart to evil; and to have a guard upon our actions,
that they may not be sinful, or so much as seem to be so.”
– George Whitefield
Appearance is the outward or visible aspect of a person. It is the outward signs or indications by which a person or thing is assessed. In job interviews we know that first impressions are everything. We pay special attention to how we appear on our first date with someone, to career networking events, or when we meet people we admire or respect.
On ordinary days, what do we wear and how do we appear? Does our behavior impact another to drive their thoughts of us as Christians to honor God? Or, do we dress and behave in ways we find appealing or sexy. We cannot overlook this area in a pursuit of purity. Christians are representatives of the One we follow. Our appearance, our attitude, and our behavior should reflect and honor God. Otherwise, we convey confusing messages.
In Isaiah Chapter 3, God is purifying the people and gives a very descriptive reason why. As I read this chapter, what immediately came to mind was a fashion show runway. In verse 16, God addresses their behavior.
“Moreover the LORD saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty,
and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes,
walking and mincing as they go, and making a tinkling with their feet..”
– Isaiah 3:16
Reading on in Chapter 3 of Isaiah, God addresses their seductive clothing and accessories and reveals the consequences of such appearance.
“Therefore the LORD will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion, and the LORD will discover their secret parts. In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon, The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers, The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings, The rings, and nose jewels, The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins, The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the vails. And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth; and burning instead of beauty.” – Isaiah 3:17-24
These woman might have said they were oblivious or unaware of the impact of their behavior and appearance, but being unaware is no excuse. God knows the deepest part of our hearts.
“Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.”
For God understands all hearts, and He sees you.
He who guards your soul knows you knew.
He will repay all people as their actions deserve.”
– Proverbs 24:12
Probably the most troubling thing about dressing seductively is the sin it prompts in others. There are some men who will lust without provocation from a woman. That is between them and God. However, if we dress in a way that prompts sexual thoughts in a man, we are as responsible as the women identified in Isaiah 3.
Purifying our Appetite
You might think this section centers on food. It does in part, but, just like biblical purity is not limited to only sexual purity, our appetites are not limited to food and drink alone. While it is always wise to live a balanced healthy life, Jesus revealed what truly corrupts us. It is not what we take into our mouth, but what comes out.
“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear.
“Listen,” He said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your mouth
that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth.” – Matthew 15:10-11
With all the books and programs available to us to help us lose our added inches, it never ceases to amaze me that the simple law of restricting intake works 100% of the time. It works for the health conscious and it works for the Christian.
As we look at purifying our appetites with new awareness that we are not defiled by the amount of food we take into our bodies but by the sin we exposure ourselves to, we now understand the source of our slander, our gossip, our envy, and pride. The source is too much of the world’s influence on us and not enough of healthy spiritual nourishment which only comes from reading God’s word.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), antidepressants are the most prescribed drug in the United States. Between 1995 and 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the use of these drugs rose 48 percent.
Could it be that the exposure to all things ungodly in this world contributed to people losing hope? If we continue to expose ourselves to music, radio, television, books, and/or conversations that in no way glorify God, we are left with no hope. We begin to think on the things of this world, we become overwhelmed with the wickedness we see and without a healthy dose of God’s word to cleanse our thinking, we begin to despair.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
– Proverbs 4:23
As we wrap up this lesson, we learn that to be oblivious to authority, appearances, and appetites can result in a loss of close fellowship with God. We may not see these issues as important, but pursuing purity means to disregard what we think when we encounter God’s word on the matter.
Pursuing the Word:
God is a God of order. For order to be established there must be authority. Read the verses below a note the authority that is mentioned.
- I Corinthians 11:3
- I Corinthians 11:8-9
- Ephesians 5:22
- Hebrews 13:7
- Hebrews 13:17
- Matthew 18:17
In Work and Government
- Romans 13:1
- I Peter 2:13
- Ephesians 6:5
Our appearance (behavior and clothing) can have far reaching affects in prompting others to sin. The bible refers to an immoral woman as ‘strange.’ Read the verses below and discover the answers.
- James 1:15 – What is the end result of dressing sexy?
- Ecclesiastes 7:26 – What is more bitter than dying?
- Proverbs 23:27 – What is worse than falling into a pit?
- Proverbs 5:3-4 – What is worse than poison?
God gives us great joy when we discover for ourselves His word and His promises. Read the verses below and note the promises God offers when we focus our appetites on Him.
- Proverbs 2:1
- Isaiah 26:3
- Isaiah 65:24
Pursuing the Walk:
We’ve learned that the authority granted to men does not mean women are not as good or not as important. What are your thoughts regarding authority? Write them below.
If we dress or behave in such a way as to cause another to stumble, we are as guilty as the one who sinned. Do you need to do a wardrobe or attitude check-up? List your notes below.
Pursuing purity means must guard our hearts and our appetites. Ask God to show you the music, radio, television, and books that are influencing you in a negative way. List your thoughts below on meekness.
Write out how your concept of authority, appearance and appetites has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.
August 5, 2010 § 1 Comment
“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till to-morrow what you can do to-day.”
– Lord Chesterfield
“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.”
– Proverbs 24:30-31
Lesson Four: Purity in the Obscure
(Meandering, Modesty, and Meekness)
To be obscure is not being readily seen. There are many areas of a purity that can fall into this category. This week we focus on meandering, modesty and meekness. Pursuing purity in these areas brings clarity of thought to areas often overlooked.
Not many women consider meandering as a stumbling block. If God does not waste time, thought, or actions, should we, as His followers, wander about aimlessly setting ourselves up for the temptations of such as idleness and tale bearing?
Modesty and meekness do not seem appealing subjects either. Modesty is not what we find when look at the most popular women’s magazines. What we find in these magazines, as well as on television or in department stores, is blatant wantonness. When it comes to meekness, what we find in the scripture is the opposite of what we see in the feminist agendas.
But God has much to say about all three of these categories. These three areas of a women’s life are obscure or not readily seen or quickly examined. Many feel these are lesser areas and find no time to pursue purity in these areas. To follow after purity is to look at all things that separate us from our Creator.
Mulling over Meandering
In our fast paced lives today, many women daydream of a time when they can meander or wander about aimlessly without a set course or direction. It is a pleasant idea, no? We see ourselves walking through nature at your own pace with no concept of time. Ah, the freedom to stop and smell the roses. In that place, there are no demands made on us from our husbands, our children, or our jobs.
The trouble with meandering is that many women want so desperately to escape their lives. They spend hours thinking of what it would be like to meander about with no responsibility, nothing constraining them, and no purpose. This type of thinking leads to disaster.
Our minds are battlefields for the images and ideas we are exposed to in our daily life. Though we can change our physical environment for a time, a change of scenery may prompt new restful thoughts for us but we cannot stop our minds from daydreaming.
If our purpose is to be free of responsibility, we will continue to mull those ideas in our heads even if we have changed our scenery.
The problem with this is that we are focusing our mind on what we want, what satisfies our carnal flesh, what benefits our bodies. Tarry long here and we entertain pride thinking that we deserve more and more and more times of pampering. We become slothful, lazy, and our desire for personal pampering becomes greater than our desire to know God.
Does this mean that vacations or times of resting are not appropriate? No. It means that our lives are not to be centered on these things. Rest and waiting, as described in the bible are very short times of rejuvenating both our bodies and our minds. If we linger in a state of meandering, we lose purpose and indulge in selfishness. Where there is no purpose, abuse is inevitable.
Meandering means to “be all over the map, dawdle, gallivant, ramble, roam, and traipse about.” Words opposite in meaning are ‘stay’ or ‘straighten.’ Pursuing purity means pursuing wisdom. It is an endless pursuit of what knowledge cannot give us, but God’s instruction can.
Many of us take walks to clear our minds from the onslaught of issues that arise in our daily lives. Walks are very beneficial both physically and emotionally. If we are seeking God’s wisdom, He often shows Himself in the most ordinary of things. In the passage below, we see a person who takes instruction from a vacant lot.
“I walked by the field of a lazy person, the vineyard of one with no common sense. I saw that it was overgrown with nettles. It was covered with weeds, and its walls were broken down. Then, as I looked and thought about it, I learned this lesson: A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber.”
– Proverbs 24:30-34
Here a person is on a walk, still God invades his mind as he walks by a field and whispers instruction and he receives it. If we meander, if we mill about busying ourselves with pampering, we are focusing on ourselves and not on God. Short walks are beneficial and when we find our rest, God recharges us to press on what He has planned for us.
A Lifestyle of Modesty
Taking a look at modesty we find that to be modest is “to be free from vanity or boastfulness.” Words with opposite meanings are disgrace, dishonor, and immorality. Again we find the word freedom in the definition. Again we find that pursuing purity makes us free from such things.
Modesty is not limited to what we wear but is a behavioral characteristic. If we dress or behave with modesty in mind, we are free from vanity, free from drawing attention to ourselves. Modesty removes the look-at-me, compliment-me, flatter-me mindset and moves us to dress and behave in ways that glorify God.
The two most common areas where we pursue purity in modesty are in our clothing and in our behavior. We need to understand and attribute all of what we have did not originate within ourselves. The body we have, the talents we are given, the family we were born into, the job we work, the husband and children we were given are all gifts of God. Pursuing purity means to walk in the awareness of this fact. Our only contribution to the blessings given to us is how we use and manage them.
“You have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius. There is not much danger that real talent or goodness will be overlooked long, and the great charm of all power is modesty.”
– Louisa May Alcott
In the area of our attire, many women do not understand that the most popular fashions of the day find no honor with God. Consider this, after selecting an outfit and trying it on, what is your first thought? Is it ‘how sexy do I look in this outfit?’ or ‘does this outfit draw too much attention to me?’ If we clothe ourselves in outfits that draw attention to ourselves, then that is what the world will see. If we clothe ourselves in attractive, but not wanton clothes, we are telling the world we ascribe to honor God and not ourselves.
“Our goal in life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen”
How can we know if our clothing honors God? There is one sure way. Ask your husband, ask your father, ask someone who cares enough about you to tell you what honors God. Remember that sexual sin is a sin against one’s own body. Wearing clothes that draw desiring looks from men in no way glorifies God.
Any discussion on the subject of modesty should include this warning. Jesus took us up to a very high standard when He said
“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
– Matthew 5:28
As women, we cannot prevent a man’s lustful thoughts. Many men look on women with lust in their hearts whether the women is dressed in a God honoring way or not. What we can do, is dress in such a way that we are not contributing and thereby participating in the adultery in another’s heart. We can be certain that we are not pursing purity when we go for the sexy-look because that indeed is what we will get and we will be guilty of causing another to sin.
“One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.”
– Luke 17:1-2
Secondly, in our behavior, modesty is often overlooked. The behavior of the woman in Proverbs 7 and the women in Proverbs 31 shows many vast differences. The woman in Proverbs 7 is described as loud and described as a wanderer (her feet don’t reside in her own home). The woman in Proverbs 31 is described as virtuous and list many characteristics but for this discussion, the key description is found in verses 11-12.
“The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”
– Proverbs 31:11-12
These two verses do not mention attire or behavior specifically but list the pure motive in her heart. Her desire is for her husband to trust her and that she does good to him. A good rule in determining if your clothing or behavior is pleasing to God is to give this confidence to your husband or your future husband.
The Hidden Man of Meekness
Meekness is power under control. It is not weakness. It is not insecurity, far from it. It is having the power and ability to do a thing, but withholding extravagant displays of this power. Meekness is a calm temper of mind, not easily provoked. Words with similar meaning are forbearing, unassuming, and gentle.
“Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”
– I Peter 3:3-4
Many women buckle when they read this passage thinking it restricts their behavior. The truth is that this passage gives women the key to the heart of God. The message in this verse is revealed in the last few words ‘which is in the sight of God of great price.’
For many years I struggled with this verse. My battle was not with the outward adorning, but with the meek and quiet spirit. All those years, I was missing the point. My focus was on trying to achieve a meek and quiet spirit in my own power. It cannot be done.
Here we are not told to act or do, which a behavior we control within ourselves. No, we are instructed in this verse to let, which means to allow something – to basically ‘make way’ for something to proceed. What we need to let proceed in our lives is the ‘hidden man of the heart’ and that is none other than Jesus Christ.
We are told in Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It is Christ who we need to allow to proceed from our hearts. Christ has the meek and quiet spirit that we can never achieve in our own power.
Secondly, I began to focus on the last few words ‘in the sight of God of great price.’ In my reading of the Scriptures, there are very few things that God notes are of ‘great price’ to Him. A repentant heart will desire to please God. A willing and obedient servant will pay attention to those things that God says are of great price to Him.
When this became clear to me, I viewed this verse in a new light. God wants us to allow Jesus to shine in our lives, to show forth a meek and quiet spirit, to announce to the world what we read in Matthew 5:16
“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good work and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.”
– Matthew 5:16
Pursuing the Word:
When we meander or wander aimlessly with attention to responsibility, we set ourselves up for several different temptations. Read the verses below and list the result.
- Proverbs 19:15
- Ecclesiastes 10:18
- Matthew 12:36
- Proverbs 20:19
- Proverbs 26:22
- 1 Peter 4:15
Modesty is the opposite of harlotry. Read the verses below and list the characteristics you find for harlotry.
- Proverbs 7:10-12
- Proverbs 29:3
- Ezekiel 16:15
Meekness, we’ve learned is not weakness. Read the verses below and list the descriptions.
- Matthew 5:5
- Isaiah 66:2
Pursuing the Walk:
We’ve learned that meandering is a snare to us. What are your thoughts aimless wandering, busybodies, and tale bearing?
Modesty is not just applied to one’s clothing. Take some time this week and notice modesty in yourself and others. List your results below.
Pursuing purity means will make us free from vanity. List your thoughts below on meekness.
Write out how your concept of meandering, modesty and meekness has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.
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.
August 3, 2010 § 1 Comment
” And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself,
even as he is pure.”
– I John 3:3
Recently, my husband and I moved to our new home in the country. Driving to our new house, I often noticed my neighbors outside tending their gardens.
Having lived in the suburbs most of my life, there was never room for a garden. Now that I lived in the country, I wanted a garden of my own. When the next spring came, we tilled a small area and planted a few vegetables.
Each day, I would don my garden attire and set out to tend my new garden. I pulled weeds, sprayed for bugs, and hoed the rows until my little garden looked as cared for as I could make it. I waved to my neighbors as they tended their gardens.
I did everything I knew to tend to my little garden. There was one thing I never did, though. I never went to my neighbors to tend their gardens. They never came to mine either. We tended, we purified our own gardens.
I learned many lessons during that first year. I did not create the soil, the seed, or the rain it needed to grow. But, I did tend the garden. I kept as many insects and weeds and small animals from it as possible. I purified our garden as best I could.
Our lives are much like this. We have the hope that God plants in us as sons and daughters. There is much we cannot control in our lives. There is also much we can. Every child of God who has this hope purifies himself, even as he is pure.
Because of the hope He gives us, we are driven to purify ourselves.