"I have but one passion - it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can most be used in winning souls for Christ."

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday School Message #6

I was having a really hard time speaking Spanish today. I mean I kept messing up my words and I couldn't really think straight when trying to go away from my notes. I prolly sounded like a little kid trying to talk. You know how they always say things really simply and pronounce them wrong and everything? That was me today.

But then we got to the important part - and that REALLY connected. You'll see the part where I was like, "Young people, listen to me. I'm going to tell you something that is not very popular..." And I told them that I have noticed that it is very common for women to have children outside of marriage down here, but that does not change the truths of God's Word; it is still a sin against God and our own bodies. Man, were they all listening! I don't think they were expecting for a foreigner to speak out against the sin in their country, especially as specifically as to say, "To have sex outside of marriage is a sin against God." I felt like God really confronted them with that.

It was weird to be convicted by my own sermon. Like in the main sermon, some of the things that Pastor Jose Luis convicted me, but I kept hearing my own words convicting me. "I can't make this choice for you...your parents can't make the choice for you...your church can't make the choice for you...if you are going to live a pure life, you must make that decision and take the action and obey the Scriptures for yourself...to have an impure mind is just as serious to God as having an impure body..." It was so strange! I had just said these things and now God was saying them to me in my own voice, as if I were up there actually in the pulpit, preaching to me sitting in my seat.

Anyway, here's the message:

Introduction: Let’s begin. This morning we’re looking at the fifth area in our study of “How to Think Like Jesus”. So far we’ve seen that in order to think like Jesus, we must have “A Heart for the Lost”, “A Heart for Prayer”, “A Heart for God’s Will”, and “A Heart for Others”. Today we’re going to talk about a subject that is sometimes difficult to discuss, but is incredibly important in our lives. So let’s pray that God will give us wisdom and open our eyes to the importance of this topic…

2. A Heart for Purity

a. Psalm 24:3-5
In this study, as with our others, we need to begin with a passage our motivation for living pure lives. Psalm 24 is a passage that God has used at many times in my life to challenge my walk with Him and remind me of my need for purity. Notice what the Bible says in verse 4. This passage teaches that the Lord dwells with him “who has clean hands and a pure heart”. If we want to dwell with God on a daily basis, which we learned last week is the key to thinking like Jesus, then we must constantly work to keep our hearts pure. And verse 5 adds, “He will receive…”

b. Matthew 5:8
Now look at a passage in Matthew 5. In this chapter, which is the beginning of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus lists of 8 different types of people who are blessed in God’s eyes. Verse 8 tells us, “Blessed…” Imagine that – to see God face to face! Jesus Himself teaches us that those who are pure in heart shall see God. What a motivation to live a pure life!

c. Phil.1:8-10
In this next passage, the apostle Paul is writing a letter to a church that he had started in Philippi. In these verses he expresses his urgent desire to see them again and his prayer for them that they should grow more and more. Listen to what Paul prays for this group of believers who were very dear to him. “For God is my witness…” The primary desire of Paul’s prayer for them was at the end of verse 10, and everything before that was an explanation of how they would achieve that end. He prays that they would be “pure and blameless.” And he says that they will do that by having a love that abounds “more and more…” So those three steps are very important for us if we want to be pure and blameless. 1. A love that abounds more and more 2. With knowledge and discernment 3. Approve what is excellent.

d. Phil.4:8; Mat.5:27-30
Let me ask you this? Is God only interested on what you do on the outside? Is God only interested in what you do physically with your body? Absolutely not! Remember that Jesus always rebuked the Pharisees because they were only pure on the outside. This next passage shows us that the same principle is true with purity. This passage talks not about what we do, but how we think.

This is why the battle for purity is so difficult, and as a man, I’m speaking mostly to you men. You know, it is relatively easy to be pure physically with our bodies. It is relatively easy to keep yourself pure and not give your body to a woman who is not your wife. All we really have to do is avoid situations with a woman where we could be tempted to commit adultery. But this battle of the mind is a daily battle, is it not? It is a struggle EVERY day to guard what you think about. But listen, this battle of the mind is just as serious as the battle of the body. Listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-30, “You have heard it said…” Jesus Christ says that it is just as bad to look at a woman sinfully as it is to commit adultery physically. So how can we keep our minds pure? We will see what God says about that in Psalms 119 in a few minutes.

e. I Tim.1:5
I want all of us to look at this next passage in your Bibles. The book is I Timothy. Can anybody tell me who Timothy was? Timothy was a young man who was saved under Paul’s ministry in his missionary journeys. Look at verse 2 of I Timothy chapter 1: “To Timothy…” Paul calls him “my true son in the faith”. Timothy was also a young man that God called and Paul trained to be the pastor of a local church in Ephesus. So in this letter, the Apostle Paul is writing a letter to this young pastor. He is bringing his advice, based on many years of experience, to this young pastor, to equip him for the work of the ministry. Now with that background, let’s read what the teacher says to the student in this passage: “The aim of our charge…” That means that Paul is about to sum up in one statement the complete goal of his ministry and his life. “Love…” Everything in our life is about love; and we will be talking about that in 3 weeks as the last point of our study. Now listen, “…love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and sincere faith.” What is the very first thing that Paul mentions as a need in the life of a Christian? A pure heart. If we are to live a faithful Christian life, one that God can use, we must fight to keep our hearts pure. There is nothing that will bring a man of God down faster than moral impurity.

f. I Pet.1:22-23
Look now at I Pet.1:22-23. This passage tells us how we can purify our hearts. “…by your obedience to the truth.” This study on purity will not purify your hearts. Memorizing these verses on purity will not purify your heart. Confessing your struggles to another person will not purify your heart. The only thing that will purify your heart is “obedience to the truth”. These passages will give you the truth. They will warn you against impurity. They will tell you how to avoid impurity. But the only thing that will purify your heart is action! You must make the choice! You must fight the fight! You must say no to impurity. Only you can make that decision for yourself. I cannot make it for you, the church cannot make it for you, and your parents cannot make it for you. If you are to live a pure life, you must choose it for yourself.

g. Psalm 119:9-11
So how can we do this? We see from these passages the importance of keeping our hearts, our minds, and our lives pure, but how can we really do this in a practical way? Do we just lock ourselves in our rooms and avoid all contact with the world, so that we are not tempted with moral impurity? We have a few more passages of Scripture to look at today and all of these tell us exactly HOW to fight the battle for purity. Look together at Psalm 119:9-11 to see what we must do to keep our lives pure? Somebody read that passage please. What did verse 9 say? It asks us this same question: “How shall a young man…” And then it gives us the answer: “by taking heed…” And it continues on: “With my whole heart…” In order to stay pure, we must be seeking God with our WHOLE heart. It speaks of prayer: “…let me not wander.” We need God’s help in order to stay pure. And it gives us a weapon: “Your Word have I hid…” There is a reason that the Bible calls itself “the Sword of the Spirit” in Ephesians 6. It is because we are to use the Bible to fight against the lies of the enemy and the temptations of the world. We need to have memorized, stored up in our hearts, an arsenal of verses to throw at the enemy when he tries to tempt us with sin. Isn’t that what Jesus did when He was tempted by Satan in the desert? He was tempted three times that we know of in Matthew, and every time, He answered the temptation with a verse from God’s Word. If we are to win the battle for purity, we need to stop being on the defense all the time; we need to go on the offense and attack the lies of Satan with the truth of God’s Word.

h. II Tim.2:22; I Cor.6:18-20; Prov.2,7;Gen.39 – How to Battle Temptation
Now I want us to look at 4 different passages of Scripture that speak of fighting moral impurity and see if we can find a common pattern in them.

II Timothy 2:22 is a very helpful passage because it tells us not only what we shouldn’t do; it tells us what we should to. “Flee… but follow…” Remember how I said that we should not be on the defense all the time? This verse teaches the same thing. Offensively, follow righteousness, faith, charity, and peace. If you are busy seeking these things, you will not be so easily distracted by moral temptations. In addition, this verse gives us more advice: “with them…” If you are going to live a life of purity, you must surround yourself with other Christians who are also committed to purity. Then you can be a help and support to each other in your daily battles for purity.

Listen now to the powerful truths from I Corinthians 6:18-20: “Flee fornication…” Is that a choice or a command? That verse is a command. But it doesn’t give us this command without explanation. Listen to the explanation: “Every sin…” Did you hear all of those reasons? To commit adultery is to sin against your own body. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You have been bought with a price. You are not your own! What a statement! You don’t have the option as a Christian to decide if you want to be pure or not; you are commanded! “Therefore glorify…”

We won’t read all of these passages, but I want you to notice a few verses from Proverbs. 2:1,16-19. To receive the words of God and keep His commandments within us will keep us away from an immoral woman. Notice also a few verses from Proverbs 7:7,8,21-27. A man sees a youth walking and describes him as simple, void of understanding. He passes her street corner and takes the way to her house. She tempts him and with her many words, she entices him. Then listen, he follows her “as an ox to the slaughter”. He does not know that it will cost his life. She has brought down many strong men. Her house is the way to hell.

Look finally at a passage in Genesis 39:7-12. Joseph points out first of all what we often forget - that immorality is a great sin against God. There is really one thing I want us to notice in this passage. What was Joseph’s response? First he refused. Second he refused and spoke out as to why he refused. Third, he fled. He didn’t try to stay around and face the temptation. He ran.
What does Paul tell Timothy? Flee. What does Paul tell the Corinthians? Flee. What do the Proverbs teach? Flee. What did Joseph do when tempted by Potiphar’s wife? Flee.
Young people, hear me. I want to tell you something now that is not very popular. I want to tell you something very serious. The Bible teaches that adultery is sin. The truths of the Bible do not change from culture to culture. I have noticed here in Mexico that it is very common for women to have children outside of marriage. In fact, I have noticed that it is actually difficult to find a woman over the age of 18 or 20 who does not have children. But hear me – the fact that it is common does not make it any less of a sin. Young people, this is not my opinion; these are not my thoughts. This is the unchanging truth of God’s Word. To commit adultery is a sin against God. To have sex outside of marriage is a sin against God! I want you all to understand the seriousness of this. God cares deeply about the purity of your heart. God commands us to be pure. God enables us to be pure. But it is our choice and our responsibility to take action and fight for moral purity.

Conclusion: In closing, if we want to think like Christ, we must constantly fight to have a pure heart. There is nothing that will more quickly destroy the character of a man or woman than moral impurity. God dwells with him who has a pure heart. And dwelling with God is the key to thinking like Christ. Let us take warning from God’s Word, beg for his help in this area, and fight for purity in our lives.

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