Summary: We are charged with cleansing our daily walk and bad habits. God will not do for us what He has commanded us to do for ourselves.
HOW TO BE USEFUL TO GOD
Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [vessels of dishonor], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. II Timothy 2:19-21
Paul writes these verses to Timothy, and by extension, to all born-again believers. In I Corinthians 3:11 the apostle declares who, not what, is this foundation, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” No church or denomination, in and of itself, can serve as the foundation for our spiritual life no matter how eloquent its litany or how biblical its creed. Christ Himself is our only sure foundation!
In recent weeks we have all read or heard a great deal about whether the city of New Orleans should ever be rebuilt in the same location which is predominantly below sea level. The question stems around whether a levee system can be built that will withstand a direct hit by a category V hurricane. The existing seawall was not able to withstand the glancing blow of Katrina, a category IV hurricane.
Living in Channelview, a suburb of Houston, I know a great deal about flooding problems. Houston is shown on geological charts as being fifty-two feet above sea level. But trust me, whenever we get rains from any tropical disturbance, this city has many serious flooding problems. With New Orleans built below sea level, I can only imagine of the problems that invites. Having said that, I have seen the disaster of the flooding of that city by Katrina.
To build a city below sea level is risky under any circumstance but building one’s spiritual life on anything or anyone except the Lord Jesus Christ is to assure spiritual disaster and eternal ruin. As we think about how we can be useful to God, let us keep in mind that we must start first with the proper foundation. Our life must be built upon the “Rock of Ages”.
RULE # 1. “Depart from iniquity.”
…For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said; “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.” II Corinthians 6:16b-18
RULE # 2. “Cleanse” yourself.
Our Lord Jesus cleanses us of sin and unrighteousness. “…and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” I John 1:7. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
But we are charged with cleansing our daily walk and bad habits. God will not do for us what He has commanded us to do for ourselves. “…beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” 2 Cor. 7:1
The psalmist wrote, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Thy word.” Psalm 119:9
Over the sixty years of being called “pastor”, fifty-three of which in my current pastorate, I have had many church members to tell me that they have asked God to take some bad habit out of their life and that God has not answered their prayer. My answer has been that since God did not give us the habit, why should we expect Him to take the habit away? I stress that God does not want to make spiritual invalids out of us; therefore He has commanded us to “cleanse ourselves of the filthiness of the flesh.”
I must hurry and add that there may indeed be times when God will remove a displeasing habit from one of His children, but only when that person has made a sincere and earnest effort to give it up on their own.
I always refer to Hebrews 4:14-16. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”