September 1, 2010 § 2 Comments
On Monday, August 30, 2010 our class went straight to the hard stuff in Lesson Five: Purity in the Oblivious (Authority, Appearance, and Appetite.) This lesson included the dreaded word ‘submission’ and I almost expected some rebuttal, but there was none.
Authority is the right and responsibility of decision-making. We discussed authority in relationship to our marriages, our church leadership, our jobs and our government.
Submission is almost a dirty word among women these days. Why? Part of the reason comes from the feminist mindset of our day. For instance, the feminist tell us that they are fighting for all women. They say that women deserve equal this and equal that. And what women would not want their rights defended? The deception is that yes, those words appeal to us, but in pursuing purity we find that God does not instruct a woman to be demanding, He instructs her to be submissive.
As I type these words, I can see all the women reading this beginning to cringe.
The matter of authority in a home does not make a woman a second class citizen, a doormat, or a less valuable person. This is the truth that the feminist deny. It is much more honorable to follow God and allow the final decision on matters of our marriages and homes be left to our husbands than it does to demand what we think we deserve.
And what do we as Christian women deserve? If we received what we deserved, we would spontaneously combust and find ourselves wandering in the darkness of Hell. We deserve nothing, but Jesus offers us everything.
This is true for all people, men and women. Submission is not a gender issue. It is a responsibility issue. This carries over from submission in our marriages to submission to our Church leadership to submission to our superiors on our jobs and to submission to our government. God is not pleased when we rebel against any one of these. God is pleased when we trust in Him.
God instructs us all to submit. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we will purify our motives and do as He did. Jesus submitted to His Father for our sakes. Are we any better than He?
A quick look at what God says about loud, demanding, argumentative women is not an appealing look. He in no way regards this behavior as honorable. A woman who understands authority is a free woman, confident of God’s protection in her life and has no need to demand her rights. She has instant access to the most high God. There is no force that can match that power and she rests confidently knowing this.
Moving on to the issue of appearance, we spoke of the women identified in Isaiah 3 and noted the behavior of these women caused judgment to come to Israel. To dress in an alluring, flashy, or sexy way tells the world we want attention and that we are not confident and free. Women who do this may not realize they are causing men to stumble in their faith. Purity here means we must be aware not to become a stumbling block to any.
It would be a worthy study to take one day and observe all instances of the impact a woman’s clothing or behavior that tempted another man from thoughts of his wife or his duties. Pursuing purity means we put away our need for immediate attention and not take part in any man looking at us instead of his wife.
On the subject of appetite, we discussed what truly defiles us. It is not what we eat; it is what we allow in our minds. We restrict what is bad for us when we want a healthy life. We should do the same in the area of our appetite for entertainment.
There are many avenues we need to discuss here. What music do we listen to? What television do we watch? What books do we read? This is all abstract. We are oblivious to harm we do ourselves by listening, watching, or reading anything that does not bring honor to our lives.
I’ve often said “I don’t need any help sinning, I do just fine all by myself.” and this is true. Why allow such things into our minds? The result is we are defiled. Because once we allow these things in our lives, we will speak of them and we be defiled.
August 24, 2010 § Leave a comment
On Monday, August 24, 2010, we discussed Lesson Four: Purity in the Obscure (Meandering, Modesty, and Meekness.) First we briefly went over the text discussing that we are truly NOT our own, but bought with a price.
We spent much time on meandering and discussed that our minds and our time are valuable assets, that our desires should not dictate our behavior, and we should not keep company with those that are idle, talebearers, or meddlers.
This does not mean that we ignore people who do, but that we limit our exposure to them. When we do this, many find it offensive and say that we are acting like we are too good for them. The truth is that we are not good enough.
Knowing that our own sinful nature and how easily we fall into sin, we need to know that associating with those that meander, those that are talebearers or gossips, and others that meddle will result in our participation in the same behavior.
I’ve often said that I don’t need any help sinning, I do just fine in that area all by myself. We all have our own issues. If we spend time meandering and not realizing our time is a valuable asset and must be managed just like our money, we will fall into sin more often than not. Limiting our exposure to these behaviors, reduces the temptation to us join in it.
It is very much like someone who has a contagious sickness. I used the example of ‘Pink Eye’ but it could be any sickness (a cold, the flu, etc.) We need to limit our association with these people until that have recovered from the sickness.
This is why God tells us to flee from those who are caught up in it. This does not mean that these people are bad, it just means they are a danger to us while they continue in what we know we shouldn’t do.
God is so good, isn’t He? Just like we as parents instruct our children to stay away from troublemakers, God instructs us to do the same.
On the subject of modesty, we broadened the field from simple clothing to behavior and motives. Of course, we spoke of clothing. And as a general rule, if you are going for attention-getting wardrobe, then you will certainly get it. Dressing in a way that is flashy or eye-catching diverts attention from God to you. And is that what we truly want?
Women can dress appropriately and still be immodest. How? By being loud and flashy, like the woman in Proverbs 7, by flirting and flattering as we discussed last week, by not developing a sense of graciousness – these are the behaviors that reveal to the world the motives in our heart. All of them are look-at-me behaviors and in no way glorifies God.
This moved us to the subject of meekness. I regret that the class ran a little long so we didn’t spend much time on this topic. We did review and read all the verses in the ‘Pursuing the Word’ section, specifically Isaiah 66:2. What we found there was the secret of God paying close attention to our prayers. That secret is to be of a ‘poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at God’s word.’
Meandering, modesty, and meekness are obscure topics. These are not generally taught with a focus on pursuing purity. But, these are major areas in our lives that, if we follow after God’s instruction, we will know God in a deeper way.
August 17, 2010 § Leave a comment
On Monday, August 16, 2010 our class plunged into Lesson Three: Purity in the Obvious (Flirting, Flattery, and Foolishness.) I expected a bit of feedback on this one. To my surprise, I didn’t receive any.
We opened the class with “So, do you think flirting is a sexual sin?” One of our members offered a resounding “Yes!” and the class began. When the words ’emotional promiscuity‘ arose, we all discussed the idea that promiscuity is never good. The ‘come hither look’ given to any man (or woman for that matter) in no way points to God. It is a willful, selfish act that entices another to engage in something that cannot glorify God.
As we discussed these three topics, it was interesting to hear the various ways women flirt and flatter. We pondered the idea of how many people are dealing with sickness in their bodies because sexual sin.
As an example, we discussed Cervical Cancer. It is a disease that is caused by engaging in promiscuous sex starting a very young age. It can lay dormant for many years before a woman even knows she has it. Cervical Cancer is treatable. We discussed the new vaccine, Gardisil (preferably administered to girls ages 10-14), and whether it is wise to have our daughters vaccinated when there is a sure-fire way of not contracting this disease. The way is abstinence. For many parents this is a hard decision.
We talked of why women flirt and why it is difficult to find any teaching on the dangers of flirting, even within the Church. I mentioned my research of the vast amount websites and magazine articles that do not take a stand on the issue of flirting and how many even give advice and tips on how to successfully flirt. A very sad report on our culture. I challenged the class to take a day and notice each instance of flirting they encounter. It would be an astonishing number.
We moved on to the issue of flattery and we all took note of times where we flattered another. Like flirting, flattery is deceitful. It is manipulation. We discussed the difference between flattery and genuine appreciation. There is a vast difference. Flattery is an attempt to get something from another, a genuine compliment (as we are commanded to give to others in Proverbs 3:27) gives encouragement and honor to another.
In the section where the definition and antonyms were given, some found it particularly interesting what the synonyms for the word flattery are – pander to, brown nose, suck up, and sweet talk. These words differ from genuine care and concern.
We moved on to the study questions. It is interesting how God reacted to women and to men when emotions are concerned. In Malachi 2:13-14, we found that God hears the cry of the women who ‘fill up the altar with tears‘ from husbands who engage in treachery. And in Numbers 5, where God is establishing the ordinances to purify the people, we saw that God did not hold a husband guilty if he suspected his wife of unfaithfulness.
As a final note, I mentioned the Proverbs 31 woman. As women, we often compare ourselves to this woman and find our behavior lacking in so many ways. The number of things listed in Proverbs 31 is long. But, just as Jesus simplified the ten commandments into two (love God and love your neighbor as yourself), Proverbs 31: 11-12 simplifies the attributes of the virtuous woman. If our behavior promotes our husbands us to ‘safely trust us‘ and we ‘do him good all our days‘ regardless of whether it is deserved or not, then we become the virtuous woman.
“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
August 5, 2010 § Leave a comment
Absolve me, teach me, purify me, strengthen me: take me to Thyself, that I may be Thine and Thine only.
– Joseph Barber Lightfoot
As threshing separates the wheat from the chaff, so does affliction purify virtue.
– Christian Nestell Bovee
He who loves with purity considers not the gift of the lover, but the love of the giver.
– Thomas Kempis
Purity and simplicity are the two wings with which man soars above the earth and all temporary nature.
– Thomas Kempis
No one ever became, or can become truly eloquent without being a reader of the Bible, and an admirer of the purity and sublimity of its language.
– Fisher Ames
Purity is not imposed upon us as though it were a kind of punishment, it is one of those mysterious but obvious conditions of that supernatural knowledge of ourselves in the Divine, which we speak of as faith. Impurity does not destroy this knowledge, it slays our need for it.
– Georges Bernanos
The virtue of paganism is strength: the virtue of Christianity is obedience.
– Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare Guesses at Truth
Purity is the feminine, Truth the masculine, of Honor.
– Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare Guesses at Truth
Sanctification is the real change in man from the sordidness of sin to the purity of God‘s image.
– William Ames
The great standard of literature as to purity and exactness of style is the Bible.
– Hugh Blair
The way to preserve the peace of the church is to preserve its purity.
– Matthew Henry
Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is opened.
– Henry David Thoreau
The pure in heart need no lawyers.
– Judge Danforth, the Crucible
Live pure, speak true, right wrong, follow the King — Else, wherefore were you born?
– Lord Alfred Tennyson
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.