Summary: Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 (ESV)
It's amazing how God lines things up. Because I've been thinking about this topic endlessly in the past 6 months. Purity. The further and further I get down the road of following Jesus, the more thoroughly do I become aware of my own failings. That's a good sign actually. In fact it was Charles Spurgeon who said that a sign of a growing Christian is an increasing sense of our own sinfulness, matched with an increasing comprehension of Christ's ultimate sufficiency.
I wonder at some of the thoughts that fly through my mind. I struggle and fight those thoughts, desperate for the meditation of my heart to be pleasing before God almighty.
Last time I preached I spoke on conduct. We talked about how our conduct is so vital, especially in the culture in which we live. Good Christian conduct is the external practice of our Christianity. In the same way, purity is the internal representation of our Christian faith. This internal expression will inevitably generate the outflow of everything we do.
According to Proverb 23:7 KJV "As a man thinks, so is he."
And again Proverb 27:19 NIV, "As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart."
That's what we're going to be inspecting today: purity in the context of the heart.
But before we can even begin to talk about purity, we have to talk about faith. There is no way to be pure, no hope of living in a pure manner, not a single hope in the universe of living a holy life aside from faith in Jesus Christ. Faith is what it’s all about. We live in a world where God is veiled from us. We live in a world where man has turned from God. God sent Jesus Christ, the son of God, to offer himself as a sacrifice, as an inversion to the problem of sin and death. Jesus turned the maw of death into a fountain of life. A positive, a perfect positive, became sin for us, became the negative for us to conquer the negative of death. What happens when you multiple two negatives? You get a positive. God died, to defeat death. God entered death, conquered death, resurrected from the dead as a message to us today: If you will believe in Jesus Christ, in your heart, that he truly was God come to Earth, and he died and rose from the dead to claim you, then you are a Christian. And as a Christian you are called to firm, unshakeable faith. You trust that Jesus really paid it all, for you.
I’ve been declared holy in the eyes of God. The apostle Paul describes it as wearing a garment of righteousness. That Jesus Christ himself gave us a perfect coat of righteousness to wear every day. God then sees us through the perfection of Christ.
When we talk about purity, every single time, we’re talking about our response to the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.
If we were to ever talk about purity as somehow paving our own way to heaven, then we’d be in serious, serious trouble. God forbid any of us think that we can get to heaven by “doing the best we can.” Or by living a “pretty good life.”
We have eternal life, we will go to heaven, to the eternal city of New Jerusalem because of thing: the free gift of eternal life given by Jesus Christ. If we’ve received the gift of the cross, the resurrection, then we are heaven bound. In Revelation the holy city is described as a gorgeous golden city, of transparent gold, and a river flows through the center of the city, leading directly to the tree of life, this massive fruit tree, representing eternal life. Do you know what the river is? The river is Jesus. And we’re traveling on the river. Sometimes the river is smooth and gentle, sometimes it gets tough and rocky.
This painting is from a series by Thomas Cole, created in 1841. He depicts the journey of life along this river in four paintings, as a child, as a teenager, as an adult, and old age. For most of us, we’re here in the rough parts of the river. And you see what the journeyer is doing, he’s praying desperately as he prepares to ride the rapids. Ahead of us it looks brutal, desperate, uncertain, but above is God almighty guiding our way, shrouded, but accessible by faith.
It’s vital to remember that purity in our context is our response to the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus. We’re so pleased, so honored, so humbled to be part of the family of God, we’re so awe struck by God our loving father we’re just desperate to respond to his gift with a life pleasing to Him.