August 4, 2010 § 4 Comments
On Monday, August 2nd, we began a new six-week study called Pursuing Purity: A Bible Study for Women. This lesson includes a list of questions to stir thinking on all topics included in the Study. Below are notes from the class.
I was surprised to hear a member say that one benefit from pursuing a pure life was living without fear. This was a new perspective. I hadn’t considered the fear factor. Pursuing a life of purity does indeed remove fear.
Lesson Two: Purity in Order
(Power, Protection and Peace)
One member mentioned that if we pray the blood of Jesus our prayers are powerful and this is true. But, is it true if we are not pursuing purity in our lives? Can this limit the power of our prayers?
Another member mentioned that genuine, heartfelt prayers are powerful and this is also true. But, is sincerity enough to fortify our prayers?
We discussed protection and how pursuing a pure life will protect us. If we live unrestrained lives with no attention to purity, doesn’t that limit our protection? Sometimes God lifts protection in order for us to reap what we have sown.
Lesson Three: Purity in the Obvious
(Flirting, Flattery, and Foolishness)
As you can imagine, we all had comments on these topics. One member stated “I don’t know about that because I don’t do that.” which begged the response that came by another member “But you know it when you see it.”
We took a close look at flirting and flattery and discussed the distinction between them. Flirting always has a sexual component, whereas flattery may or may not. Flirting is basically sexual amusement which is sexual immorality. Flattery is deception hidden within excessive, insincere praise.
Lesson Four: Purity in the Obscure
(Meandering, Modesty, and Meekness)
There was much discussion on this topic. We considered the definition of meandering being the state of wandering aimlessly from thing to thing or idea to idea. A pursuit of purity in this area would prevent a woman from becoming like those found in II Timothy 3:6-7.
Concerning meekness, this discussion carried great encouragement for the class. We spoke of I Peter 3:4 and why God considered a ‘meek and quiet spirit‘ of ‘great price.’ It is because God knows what it takes to be meek, to rule our tongues, calm our anger, and so forth.
Of modesty, we all laughed when one member recounted a visiting preacher’s comment of “Best thing to do it keep your privates private.”
Lesson Five: Purity in the Oblivious
(Authority, Appearance, and Appetite)
Because class time ran short, we briefly touched on this topic. We did speak briefly on appearance and appetite. How does a woman pursuing purity seem to others? In her demeanor, in her body language, in her clothing, does she appear to others as a daughter of the King?
When we discussed appetite, the discussion centered on fantasizing. Do our appetites and desires allow fantasizing that pollute our hearts?
Lesson Six: Purity in the Obedient
(Status, Satisfaction, and Substance)
Checking the pulse of the group, I made mention of the voicemail I’d received from a popular Christian Musician, and then asked “Did my status just jump up in your mind?”
Pursuing purity will refocus what impresses us. When we realize that every other person’s heart is as wicked as our own, we can honor another only when their efforts or achievements matter to God. Otherwise, we will fall into idol worship.
Finally, we one question in the ‘Into the Word’ section spoke volumes to us. II Samuel 22:27, Psalm 18:26, and Titus 1:15 all revealed to us a great truth. How we react or see God reveals the condition of our hearts. Those who see God as hostile have unsavory or hostile hearts. Those who see God as loving and just have loving and just hearts.
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)