WHY WOULD I WANT TO BE PURIFIED? Do I want to be forgiven of sin or freed from sin?
- 2 Corinthians 7:1.
- Many Christians are content to merely be forgiven of their sins. Indeed, many presume that’s all there is to salvation.
- There’s meant to be much more than that, though. Jesus didn’t just die so that we could be forgiven of our sin – He died so we could be freed from our sin.
- Look at our verse for this morning. Paul calls the Corinthians to “purify” themselves “from everything that contaminates body and spirit.” This is part of what they should be pursuing as part of their walk with Christ.
- For many of us, we have to start with the obvious question: do we want to be purified? Do we want less sin in our lives? Do we want to be freed from our sin?
- For a lot of Christians, I think the answer is no. They’re content with managing their sin and living in the filth of their sin. They have no higher vision. So let’s start by trying to catch a vision of why we should want that.
- Main image: think of two pitchers of water.
- One is cool, clear, refreshing water.
- One is lukewarm, murky, stagnant water.
- Pour some from each pitcher.
- If you were going to pour some for someone you love, which pitcher would you want to pour from? Obviously the clear water.
- Let’s think for a moment about how we pour our lives into those around us. We pour from our hearts what we have. Think about your kids. What are you pouring into their lives? Are you pouring peace and encouragement and godly discipline into their lives? Or is there a good mix of anger and distraction in what you’re pouring into their lives?
- You can’t give them what you don’t have. And you don’t have it if you’ve not let God work in your life.
- This image resonates with me because what we do with our lives is not just about what happens within us, as though we were independent beings without connections in every direction. This is not just about “me and Jesus.” It’s also about what influence I have in the world around me.
- If you have not allowed God to purify your heart, you’re not going to have cool, clear, refreshing water to pour into people’s lives.
- We all know that there are those that we are close to and what they’ve meant to us is a decidedly mixed bag. We all know those that we are close to who have brought nothing but pain to us. Do you want to be that kind of person? Do you want to be someone who pours murky water into thirsty people’s cup?
- Or do you want to be pure?
- Now, that raises a key question: what do we mean by pure? What do we mean when we say we want God to purify us?
HOW DO WE PURSUE THIS?
1. We need to know it’s possible.
- This is a really obvious point, but you have to start there. Is it possible for me to become pure? Is it possible for me to overcome the sin in my life?
- For most, there is no clear vision of a life that overcomes sin.
- I often bemoan how shallow the American church has made the gospel. We make it a mere belief in Jesus without any life change expected or offered. We ask if people want to be forgiven of their sins without suggesting that there might be more.
- So let’s declare it clearly: it is possible for you to become spiritually pure!
- Not only is it possible – it is God’s will for your life.
- Not only is it possible – God has provided the spiritual resources for you to achieve that result.
2. We need to want it.
- Once we know it’s possible, we next need to decide if we want to see that happen in our lives.
- The answer for most: nah, not really.
- We’re content with containing the major damage from our sinfulness. We really don’t want to be free.
- We don’t really want to be free from porn – we just want to make sure our significant other doesn’t see our browser history.
- We don’t really want to be free from anger – we just want to make sure we don’t blow up in front of people we don’t know.
- We don’t really want to be free from envy – we just want to make sure we can make our maxed-out credit card payments.
- Do we really, deeply, passionately want to be make pure? To be made like Jesus? Not really.
- It shows that we don’t really understand the nature of sin or the nature of what we’re being offered.
- We don’t understand that sin is slavery.
- And we don’t understand that God is offering the best of all possible lives.
- And so we don’t want it.
3. Know that Christianity is not just a belief to be held – it’s a life to be lived.
- I alluded to this a moment ago. Christianity is more than a belief. It’s a life to be lived.
- The Bible gives us extensive instruction on what it looks like to be a follower of Christ. These commands are not empty exercises in futility. Rather, it is guidance that not only allows our life to be more fruitful, but also to transform us.
- As we obey Christ, we become different. Less envious. More peaceful. Less angry. More joyful. Or, to focus on the main word in our passage: more pure, less sinful.
- We can become like Christ. Immediately your mind objects: “well, not completely – we’ll never be perfect in this life.” True enough, but don’t allow that fact to obscure the fact that we can make gigantic progress in that direction.
4. Actively cast off sinful habits.
- As part of this “life to be lived” that we just discussed, we need to actively cast off sinful habits.
- We accommodate our sinful habits and become numb to their presence. It’s just the way our life is. We can hardly imagine our life being different. We need to realize that this is war.
- Is your sin a spot on your clothes or is it cancer?
- Most of us treat our sin like a spot on our clothes. It’s too bad we got a spot there, but it’s not enough to change our day. We’ll wash it later.
- On the other hand, when you find out you have cancer, you want it gone. You go to all your doctor’s visits and are faithful to do everything she tells you to do. Why? Because you want the cancer gone! If you went to a doc who told you it was Stage 4 cancer but told you not to worry about it, you’d find a new doctor.
- What is our level of seriousness in combating our sin?
- A simple, fundamental part of becoming pure is wanting our sin gone. That sounds obvious, but we miss it all the time.
- Think in your mind this morning of a significant sinful habit in your life. Are you at war with it? Are you trying to excise it from your life the way you would cancer? If not, why not?
5. Introduce habits that get you more of God.
- So much of spiritual growth comes with the right habits. That’s because spiritual growth is not a magical thing where one day you transform from a typical person to someone who lives like Jesus. It’s a gradual thing.
- An obvious analogy is helpful: exercising. If you want to get in good shape physically, you need to exercise. It isn’t especially helpful to exercise non-stop for 24 hours, though it would be exhausting. Rather, what’s most productive is having healthy habits in place: a little less dessert, not having unhealthy snacks laying around, walking in the evenings, going to the gym three times a week. Those habits put you on a path toward physical health.
- It’s important when we think of our spiritual lives that we train as well as try. It’s not just a matter of “trying harder.” It’s also a matter of training in godliness.
- When we make it a habit to read a chapter of the Bible every day, that’s a habit that trains us to be purer.
- When we make it a habit to pray through a list of those we’re concerned about every day, that’s a habit that trains us to be purer.
- When we fast once a week, that’s a habit that trains us to be purer.
- When we find a few minutes a day to be alone with God in solitude and just recognize how He is in control, that’s a habit that trains us to be purer.
- When we give financially to the Kingdom, that’s a habit that trains us to be purer.
- This is important because many people don’t know how to make a purer heart happen. Maybe people are born with purer hearts? Maybe only church leaders can really change? Maybe you have to be a Jesus freak to see a difference? No, one of the most important paths to get there is recognizing that we need to train as well as try. We need to introduce habits in our lives that will help us become like Jesus.