Message Recap – 4/1/2011 – Purity: Part 2

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

We've been talking about the three hardest battles of Christianity. If you're just picking up with this series, be sure to check out the recap for Part 1.

Now, on to Part 2.

We'll start with the theme verse for this series, which is found in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20: Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never! And don’t you realize that if a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? For the Scriptures say, “The two are united into one.” But the person who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Run from sexual sin! Run away screaming like a girl (even if you're a boy) if you must! Why do you have to be so extreme? Because the battle for purity is a difficult battle. It's hard because of what's in you and because of what's around you. This battle can never be ignored. You don't just grow out of it; it's always there. Our culture finds nothing wrong with constantly bombarding you with sex and with unrealistic expectations & ideas about what a relationship should be like.

What is purity? What does it mean? Is it a ring on your finger or a pledge that you sign? Is it only wearing ankle-length skirts and turtlenecks? Is it not going past 2nd base? Is it not dating before 18? Does it depend on the situation? Does it change depending on whether it's you or someone else? How do you define purity? Where is the line? If you're not quite sure of the answer to that, this series is for you!

Check out Matthew 5:27-28 for how God defines purity: “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

Jesus is saying that you don't define the problem by the act of adultery, but by the heart. The moment you look with lust sin has already started. Purity starts in the heart. It's not a list of dos and don'ts (though there are things you need to do and not do). Purity is defined by what is in your heart.

The cross is always the destination. Anything you won't surrender has already taken the place of God in your life. Anything that has become so important to you, so vital, that you won't surrender it has become too big. A relationship? A crush on someone? Take it to the cross. That is Christianity; that's the Christian life. Anything that God has placed in your life to stay will always survive the cross. Think of Abraham and Isaac; God had given Isaac to Abraham, but still called him to sacrifice. Yet God provided a way for Isaac to live!

Some practical tips for keeping your heart pure:

Guys: You tend to be visually driven. This is why pornography is a big temptation for most guys. For guys the heart issue tends to be lust – your thought life. What are you looking at? How are you looking at it? What are you thinking when you look at it? When you look at that girl, what are you thinking about? Where are you allowing your imagination to take you? That's the heart issue for guys, generally. Martin Luther said, “I can't stop the birds from flying overhead. But I can stop them from nesting in my hair.” Sometimes, as guys, you get a stray thought that goes through your mind, and instantly feel guilty and condemned. Be more concerned about what you are dwelling on and fixating on.

It starts with your motivation. Why do you like that girl? Because she really loves Jesus or because she wears really tight jeans? Why do you want to be alone with her? What are your goals for the relationship? You need to be honest with yourself about what's really going on and stay surrendered to God in the midst of your emotions. Attraction and emotions are not sin, they're normal things that are part of life. It's how you handle those things that can become sin.

Girls: You tend to be emotionally driven. That's why girls tend to like romance novels. For girls the heart issue tends to be emotional entanglement. Song of Solomon 8:4 says:

Promise me, O women of Jerusalem,
not to awaken love until the time is right.

Why did Solomon need to caution women about this? Because in their imaginations, girls go from introduction to marriage in 2.4 seconds. You meet a boy at 9:00 and by 9:15 you're writing your name with his last name in your notebook, picking out wedding dresses, visualizing your first dance, and naming your 13 children. For girls, the battle is to keep your emotions in check. Once you feel emotionally connected to him, you want to make sure you can keep him around. So you push the physical boundaries of the relationship, hoping to hold on to to him. Let's say you like a guy, but there's this nasty little drug habit he has. The temptation is to say, “Oh, he's just misunderstood! He told me that once we get married he'll stop!” Or you meet a guy and your parents say they don't approve. In your mind you instantly become Juliet to his Romeo. You're star crossed lovers, destined to be together!

Girls, you need to guard against obsession. Yes, you can live without that guy. No matter how cute he is, how strong he is, how sensitive or funny, you don't need him!

Stop yourself and ask, “Am I thinking clearly? Am I seeing clearly? Am I drawing away from my family, my friends, even God because of this relationship? Has this attraction taken an inappropriate priority in my life? Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and view your situation objectively (without emotion). Always stay surrendered to God. Proverbs 4:23 says: Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life.

As a Christian, your heart belongs to God. Be aware of what is growing there. Is lust growing there? Is obsession growing there? Pull it out.

It's easier to block seeds than to pull weeds. It's easier to stop those things from growing in the early stages than to root them out after they are established.

Purity is a heart issue. Don't wait until your actions become impure to root it out – surrender your heart issues to God and keep your heart pure!

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