"But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding."
Job 32:8

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Passion of Purity

Today, I intend to give my final message on purity. Just to summarise what we've learnt so far, in A Higher Standard, we established that God calls us to a beautifully high standard contrasted with the world, in Boundaries of Purity we looked at the false presumption that purity is stagnant and examined the biblical idea of purity being alive, and then in Heights of Purity, we examined how high and far this call to purity actually goes and attempted to understand how to follow this.

But there is something final that I need to address and based on Scripture and my own personal experiences with purity, it is something we need to learn. In the past, I have spoken on the need to not only have head knowledge, to understand, but to actually believe in your heart that what you say is the truth to the extent that its not simply words, but something that you follow. The message I am referring to is 18 inches which I want to take further and apply to purity today.

I don't want to dwell too long on the consequences of only having head knowledge but no commitment in one's heart, however, it still needs to be addressed.

Few chapters say it as bluntly as Matthew 7 where Christ says to those that thought they were doing the right things. They appeared Christian, looked Christian but were everything but Christian based on Christ's response when He says "Depart from me, I never knew you."

Based on their own admissions however, it seems quite clear that there was a form of head knowledge, but I would say they weren't committed in their hearts, perhaps even to the point that their hearts were tainted and polluted by the world.

The issue was not that they didn't know Him, but that they were potentially unwilling to go to the lengths of obedience that He requires of us.

And yet we hear about Christians from the past and around the world who will go to great lengths and self-sacrifice for the name of Jesus and it astonishes the world and leaves the world dumbfounded as to how they can endure such torture yet preach His Word so zealously.

And we hear about Christians who have testimonies of sexual purity where they have learnt from past mistakes and become free from sin while others have testimonies of always saying no, not having fallen in these traps in the first place, and we ask ourselves "How?". How can someone manages to maintain purity in such a way as to not fall into the same traps in the first place?

Okay, well I've given it away... I'm talking about zeal! About passion. How can we live up to this standard of purity that we've been talking about for the past three weeks if it means nothing in our hearts, if we have no real desire to follow it actively but it just becomes a sort of passive thing. And then, how do we control this passion so we are not mislead in our goals and intentions?

Romans 12:11 paints a pretty clear picture of what being zealous for God really means when it says,

"Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." (NIV)

Never be lacking. One of those Christian concepts that seems unbelievable yet its right there in Scripture. Wouldn't it be amazing to have that sort of fire for God each day as we serve Him? 

And we ask ourselves, "How can we never be lacking in zeal?" Surely that's impossible.

Well, for anyone with a Bible that has a concordance at a back, there are some interesting verses found in the Old Testament regarding zeal.

Proverbs 19:2 NIV says, "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way."

Not only is head knowledge dangerous without commitment within one's heart but the vice versa is true as well, and this isn't only an OT concept. No, no. Paul resonates these words in two of his letters. 

Romans 10:2 NIV says, "For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge."

Here Paul is speaking of the Israelites, the Jews who believed, and still do, they are following God's desires. Yet, he makes this distinction that their zeal is not based on knowledge, and he goes on to speak of the righteousness of God and this knowledge of God that have in Christ and His salvation. 

You see, we are called to be zealous for God, but this zealousness isn't hollow, it isn't based on thin air, its based on Scripture. It needs that head knowledge that helps us grow because if we use that knowledge of God that we learn, then we can grow spiritually, but if we allow is to leave us unchanged, then what is the point in learning it in the first place? 

Galatians 6:18a NIV says, "It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good"

We need that knowledge to guide our purpose for our zeal. I'm sure Satan would love for all Christians to be zealous for all the wrong things... but for the Christians to know exactly what God commands in His Word and the purity He calls us to.

Well, then we start to bear such fruit as holiness and goodness and purity. 

Build up that zeal that you need, but don't let it go to waste.

God bless you all. 

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13 NIV

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