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 3, 2010 § 6 Comments
“This life was not intended to be the place
of our perfection, but the preparation for it.”
– Richard Baxter
“With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure;
and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.”
– Psalm 18:26
Lesson Two: Purity in Order
(Power, Protection, and Peace)
The pursuit of purity in the life of a believer is a daily battleground and often brings frustration. When God reveals a truth to us, we are presented with the choice. Our options are either accept the truth and adapt our lifestyle (even though we may not understand) or disregard the truth and live in spiritual stagnation.
We may argue the point with God, we may rationalize our behavior but if we are ever to walk purely before God, we must start with the acknowledgment found in Psalm 119:140:
“Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.”
We must establish in our hearts that His word is pure and beneficial in our lives and we must seek to love it. Many of the things God reveals are hard for us to understand because they are generally the opposite of what we have accepted as truth for so long.
Pursuing purity in our lives means we must accept God word as pure. We cannot add to, excuse, or rationalize God’s word. Our stubbornness only delays the learning process.
The Power Pursuing Purity Provides
Purity in the life of a believer is extremely powerful. In fact, purity impacts our prayers just as faith impacts our works. We know that faith without works is dead, but prayer without purity is limited at best.
In Matthew 5:8, Jesus makes a simple but astonishing statement that certainly set the hearts of His listeners ablaze with indignation.
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
Many believe this is a promise that will be fulfilled when this life ends and we enter eternity. While this is certainly true, this verse is also a statement, an observation Jesus is making to His followers. There is power in a walk of purity that results in the ability to open our eyes to see what is found in Psalm 27:13 ‘…the goodness of God in the land of the living.’
Those who pursue purity with their whole heart and in all areas of their lives are those that are continually confessing, continually cleansing and continually drawing closer to God.
After several years of reading, reasoning, and arguing with God, C. S. Lewis, the atheist turned Christian, made this observation:
“It is safe for Jesus to say that the pure in heart shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”
Pursuing a pure heart, confessing our faults, and learning more of God each day also carries the power to heal. In James 5:16, we find that confession is the prerequisite to this power.
“Confess your faults one to another,
and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
The power of a pure heart is known even among unbelievers. Have you ever had an unbeliever approach you asking you to pray for them? Why do they do this? Because they feel your prayers are more powerful than theirs. Be thankful for these times for it is a physical reminder that you are exhibiting a life that pursues purity.
When we do not pursue purity and we resist God’s revelation to us, we prevent the power of purity. Psalms 66:18 tells us that are prayers can go unheard if we are not pursuing purity of heart.
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”
Regarding iniquity means to give attention to it, defend it or rationalize it. In this struggle to defend our actions or behaviors when God has clearly revealed a sin in our life, we deflate the power of our prayers. Oswald Chambers puts it this way …
“We begin by trusting our ignorance and calling it innocence, by trusting our innocence and calling it purity; and when we hear these rugged statements of Our Lord’s, we shrink and say – But I never felt any of those awful things in my heart. We resent what Jesus Christ reveals.”
–Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 25
This does not mean that God does not love us or that He will not give for our basic needs, but obedience and purity are keys to blessings.
To illustrate this rewarding of obedience, consider an instruction you’ve given your child. You ask him to clean his room. He resists your instruction and disobeys. He sees nothing wrong with the state of his messy room. You allow him to disobey and still provide for his necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing, but when he comes to you asking for a privilege, you refuse.
If you overlook his disobedience and allow the privilege, you are encouraging bad behavior. The result is that the child is taught he will receive his basic needs but privileges or blessings are withheld until he learns obedience. In essence, you have done as Psalm 66:18 states. You would not hear him until he obeys your instruction.
It is the same with God. If God brings to our minds a behavior He wants removed from our lives and we begin to justify it, rationalize, or ignore it, we are regarding that behavior and our desire to continue in that behavior over and above what God wants in our lives. God would be doing us a disservice if He heard our requests while we continued in disobedience.
The Protection Pursuing Purity Provides
Purity is a powerful witness tool and provides protection for the believer to those who know you personally and even those who know you only by reputation. The effects of purity in your life can speak for you even when you can’t.
Think of Mother Teresa and her life of self-sacrifice for those around her. Now consider what your reaction would be if you learned that Mother Teresa sold the movie rights to her life story for a millions of dollars, started shopping for the latest fashions, bought a house in the Hampton’s and began hosting elaborate dinner parties. It would be absurd to think that Mother Teresa would do such things, no? Mother Teresa’s devotion and commitment to others is well-known. She sought a pure life and her pursuit of purity protects her reputation.
The protection pursuing purity provides is also demonstrated in the life of Billy Graham. Admired and respected both by believers and non-believers because of the commitment he made early in his ministry of high standards of purity. As a result of the pre-established boundaries and an effective pursuit of purity, slander and scandal is never mentioned in regards to his ministry.
Pursuing a pure life requires safeguards. These safeguards protect us and reduce the risk of temptations. The best way to pursue purity is to set up rules and safeguards for all areas of your life. Temptations and opportunities to fail in your Christian walk are then limited, if you have established guidelines in your life.
Before my pastor was a pastor, he drank heavily. After he finally answered God’s call to the ministry, he committed that he would never drink again, even casually or with a meal. Of that commitment he says “No one ever got drunk drinking a glass of tea.” This commitment, in advance, protected his testimony and his witness and resulted a slander free ministry.
“There is no point in praying for victory over temptation if we are not willing to make a commitment to say no to it.”
– Jerry Bridges
A life of safeguards and pursuit of purity will protect us. After all we are the hunted. We are marked prey. Our adversary is always roaming and apt to attack us in those areas we have not established guidelines of protection.
If someone were to make a scandalous comment about you, would it be believed? Pursuing purity protects and defends your witness and your reputation.
“For so is the will of God, that with well-doing
ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:”
– I Peter 2:15
The Peace Pursuing Purity Provides
When we make an effort to keep our eyes focused on God, we can expect peace as a result. When we let our minds wander and do not heed the calling of our Creator to a life of purity, we find ourselves dissatisfied, disillusioned, and broken. When we walk in purity, when we are in a continuous state of learning, growing, trusting and God bestows on us a perfect peace.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee”
– Isaiah 26:3
In Philippians we are given the promise that even when life gets in the way, when our events overwhelm us, when we find ourselves in moments of uncertainty, that the pursuit of purity (of seeking God at every moment) will keep our hearts and minds.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:6-7
Imagine living a life of peace, of quietness and comfort that is beyond comprehension. Those who pursue purity, who seek to know God, who follow Him and yearn to be with Him experience this peace. It is the hallmark quality of a Christian.
When we are rightly related to our Creator it is as if all elements of the universe fall into place and the world God created comes alive with beauty. It is a precious gift indeed.
When we pursue purity, we find this peace. God wants us to know this serenity and confidence and to maintain it throughout our lives. This is why God calls us to a life of purity. Though the purifying process is sometimes painful and though we may not understand why God ask us to do certain things in certain ways, we are His creation.
“For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’
– Ephesians 2:10
We want the energized power to our prayers; the protection a life where we have set up safeguards provides; and peace is promised to us when we keep our minds focused on God.
The power, protection, and peace that a pursuit of purity in the life of a believer affords is worthy of any effort we put into it.
Into The Word
1. James 3:17 describes wisdom from God as pure. Proverbs 18:1 describes how we become estranged from wisdom and gives the reason. What is this reason?
2. Psalm 51 reveals David’s repentant heart after being confronted with his sin. Read the following verses and list the answers?
- What is the first step to purity? (v3)
- Who do we ultimately sin against? (v4)
- What does God want from us? (v6)
- What does sin take from us? (v8)
3. Psalm 19: 8 describes God’s instructions as right and pure. It also gives the result of pursuing them. What are these two things?
4. Proverbs 22:11 tells us how to have friends in high places. What must we do?
5. What is the prerequisite for the blessings of God? Read Psalm 24:3-5 and list the answer below.
6. Can God’s power be limited in our lives? Read Psalm 66:18 to find the answer.
7. Can God’s protection be limited in our lives? Read Romans 1:28 to find the answer.
Pursuing the Walk
- Many times we can understand the meanings of words by seeing their antonyms (words opposite in meaning.) Using a dictionary or thesaurus, list the antonyms of the following words.
- Purity is freedom from anything that corrupts, contaminates, or pollutes. Are there areas of your life that need this freedom?
- Purity puts power in our prayers. Are your prayers powerful? Explain why or why not.
- Rumors and scandal are not a threat to those who pursue purity. Would your witness and testimony protect you if a scandalous story was told about you?
Write out how your concept of pursuing purity has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.
Deeper Into the Word
Power of Purity
James 5:17-18 (Power shown in Elijah’s life)
John 15:7 (Power of praying God’s will)
Matthew 5:8 (Power to see God)
Protection of Purity
Esther 6:1-3 (Protection given to Ester)
Daniel 1:8, 6:23 (Protection given to Daniel)
II Kings 6:16-17 (Protection given to Elisha’s servant)
Peace of Purity
II Timothy 4:7-8 (Peace given to Paul)
I Chronicles 22:9 (Peace during King Solomon’s rule)
Isaiah 26:3 (Peace promised to every believer)