Summary: This is the 3rd sermon in a series of 8 on the biblical characteristics of a disciple.
Discipleship Series, Sermon #3, purity, 6-17-03
Last week we continued our discipleship study by looking at the principal of submission. We learned the importance of submitting to God and surrendering all areas of our life to him. That was the first principal we looked at, because as we discussed submission directly relates to all of the other principles of a disciple. It easily relates to this week’s characteristic of a disciple, which is striving for purity in all areas of our life and fleeing from sin.
I really struggled with how to present tonight’s message because obviously the bible has a LOT to say about sin and how we should rid our lives of it. The Old testament is full of stories about how sin destroyed people’s lives as well as entire nations. The new testament is chopped full of warnings to flee from wickedness and evil desires and to make our lives pure and righteous. I also struggled with this message because it’s a topic that I fail at as much or more then most of you probably. So I just want to be upfront in the beginning and say that I’m in no way condemning anyone in here with tonight’s message, because I’m as guilty as anyone else, I simply want to present a picture of what the bible has to say about sin and its effects on us as disciples and why we should turn from it and strive for purity. I’ve got a lot of scripture references tonight, so I’ll try to repeat them for those of you that are looking them up and for those that may be taking notes. There are a lot of good scriptures that I’m going to talk about so I would encourage all of you to take notes if you would like and then look over them later.
I want to be very open and upfront with you all and say that I firmly believe in salvation by grace. There is no way that we can earn our way to heaven through good deeds. God makes it very clear throughout the bible that we are saved by our faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” However I also firmly believe that the bible makes it clear to us that we should always flee from sin in our life and do everything we can to live pure and righteous lives. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
The word pure doesn’t mean someone who hasn’t been exposed to sin in their lives or even someone who doesn’t sin, but someone who has purged their life of it and taken the steps toward fleeing from sin and striving for righteousness.
So what does that mean for us as we strive to be disciples for Christ? As disciples we must be pure in heart, because as we go and make disciples we will be asking others to make that same commitment that we are to be making to God. If we are living in constant sin then our words and our message will have no meaning to others. First off people may not even want to begin to listen to you if you are living in sin because they will see you as a hypocrite. And if they do listen, then they will begin to model their Christian life after yours, because as disciples we are seen as role models. If we are stuck in a sinful rut then we will pull others in with us and we will not be glorifying God through our actions.
Our challenge tonight comes from Ephesians 4:22-24: “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
As God’s disciples we are called to put off our old self, which means our old sinful ways and to put on our new self which is one that strives for righteousness and holiness. It sounds real nice, put off the old self and put on the new self so we can be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Unfortunately, as many of you know, it’s not that easy. Getting rid of our old sinful nature and striving to be pure and holy is a constant battle that we will face throughout our life.
God sets forth several areas in our life that we are to demonstrate purity and righteousness. I’ve chosen to look at 5 different areas that God calls us to remain pure in and I want us to look at these in groups. (hand out scriptures to each group and have them identify the area we are to be pure in and why we must do so as disciples)