Purify My Heart part 2
Purify My Heart part 2
Man’s basic problem is preoccupation with self. He is innately beset with narcissism, a condition named after the Greek mythological character Narcissus, who spent his life admiring his reflection in a pool of water. In the final analysis, every sin results from preoccupation with self. We sin because we are totally selfish, totally devoted to ourselves, rather than to God and to others. –John MacArthur
There is a life of perfect deliverance, and this is where God wants you to be. If I find my peace is disturbed on any line, I know it is the enemy who is trying to work. How do I know this? Because the Lord has promised to keep your mind in perfect peace when it is stayed on Him. Paul tells us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service; the Holy Spirit breathes through him, “And be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” He further tells us in Phil. 4, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things.” As we think about that which is pure, we become pure. As we think about that which is holy, w e become holy. And as we think about our Lord Jesus Christ, we become like Him. We are changed into the likeness of the object on which our gaze is, fixed.
To discern spirits we must dwell with Him who is holy, and He will give the revelation and unveil the mask of Satanic power on all lines. In Australia I went to one place where there were disrupted and broken homes. The people were so deluded by the evil power of Satan that men had left their wives, and wives had left their husbands, and had gotten into spiritual affinity with one another. That is the devil ! May God deliver us from such evils in these days. There is no one better than the companion God has given you. I have seen so many broken hearts and so many homes that have been wrecked. We need a real revelation of these evil seducing spirits which come in and fascinate by the eye and destroy lives, and bring the work of God into disrepute. But there is always flesh behind it. It is never clean; it is unholy, impure, Satanic, devilish, and hell is behind it. If the enemy comes in to tempt you on any line like this, I beseech you to look instantly to the Lord Jesus. He can deliver you from any such Satanic power. You must be separated on all lines if you are going to have faith.
The Holy Ghost will give us this gift of discerning of spirits if we desire it so that we may perceive by revelation this evil power which comes in to destroy. We can reach out and get this unction of the Spirit that will reveal these things unto us.
You will have people come to meetings who are spiritists. You must be able to deal with spiritist conditions. You can so deal with them that they will not have any power in the meetings. If you ever have Theosophists or Christian Scientists, you must be able to discern them and settle them. Never play with them; always clear them out. They are better with their own company always, unless they are willing to be delivered from the delusion they are in. Remember the warning of the Lord Jesus, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.”
Before Satan can bring his evil spirits there has to be an open door. Hear what the Scriptures say
“That wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18).
“The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul” (Psa. 121:7). How does Satan get an opening? When the saint ceases to seek after holiness, purity, righteousness, truth; when he ceases to pray, stops reading the Word and gives way to carnal appetites, then it is that Satan comes. So often sickness comes as a result of disobedience. David said, “Before I was afflicted, I went astray.” Seek the Lord and He will sanctify every thought, every act, till your whole being is ablaze with holy purity and your one desire will be for Him who has created you in holiness. Oh, this holiness! Can we be made pure? We can. Every inbred sin must go. God can cleanse away every evil thought. Can we have a hatred for sin and a love for righteousness? Yes, God will create within thee a pure heart. He will take away the stony heart out of the flesh. He will sprinkle thee with clean water and thou shalt be cleansed from all thy filthiness. When will He do it? When you seek Him for such inward purity. Link to full: http://www.smithwigglesworth.com/sermons/eif17.htm
Jesus Is Not Your Sin-Manager
Article by Owen Strachan
Professor, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Posted on Desiring God
September 25, 2013
“sin. We don’t assume it’s here to stay. We don’t set up programs and practices to rubber-stamp our sin. We don’t expect our friends to only nod empathetically when we tell them that we spoke unkindly, ate greedily, or watched covetously. We’re not able to coast in our spiritual life, rarely reading Scripture, rarely praying. We don’t approach our church family as if they exist only to affirm us.
It’s easy for all of us to fall into these kinds of patterns, though. We can think that the Spirit dwelling inside of us is okay with unholy words, deeds, thoughts. He’s not (Ephesians 4:30). We’re free in Christ, but we’re not free to sin, or to flirt with sin. Whatever else Christian freedom means, it fundamentally means that we are free to be holy. There is no barrier to godliness. We have all we need for it through the Word and the Spirit (2 Peter 1:3).
Even after we come to faith and our sin debt is fully and gloriously paid, we still have to attack sin. We still have to wake up every morning and fight it. We’re not in the red; we’re in the black. But we can’t be lax. We can’t live lazily, putting our sins into new file folders. There’s no part of a Spirit-indwelt Christian that approaches sin as if it’s here to stay. We can’t abide our defensiveness, our proud responses to the tentative suggestion that we might have hurt a friend by careless words. We don’t carve out space in our hearts for lust, soothing ourselves by telling us that since sexual desire is “natural,” it’s okay for us to be careless with our eyes. After conviction of sin by the Spirit, we won’t keep hanging out with friends who drag us down spiritually, convincing ourselves that we’re around them to minister to them.
In these and many other ways, we approach our sin like we approach financial debt: we attack it. We’re not content to live with it. We get a plan to remove it. We take steps to fight it. We invite accountability and ask for prayer from fellow church members to overcome it. We pray to eradicate it.
We don’t manage sin, we kill it.
The Lord Is Patient
We remember as we attack sin that the Lord is patient with us. Sadly, we will commit transgressions until our lives end. Growth in godliness is a progressive reality (Colossians 3:1–11, 1 John 1:9). It takes a lifetime. None of us can microwave our hearts until — bing! — they’re perfectly pure. Sin is taken away from us when we pass from this life to the next. Until the Lord brings us home, he is kind to us, repeatedly and unendingly forgiving us as we confess our sins and repent of them.
That is a precious reality. God is a patient and kind heavenly Father.
But make no mistake: grace never softens our thirst for obedience. It actually inspires us to go on the warpath against our unholiness. We look to the cross as believers, and we see there lavish forgiveness, but also our fundamental approach to sin. In the power of the cross, we are to kill sin. We are to realize that it is a deadly serious matter. Jesus did not die to manage our sin. He died to kill it.
Purify my desires Lord. You are my God! I renounce and reject and repent of gluttony, You are my God! not my stomach or fleshly appetites!
1/1/17 “A PRISONER OF APPETITE: IS UNHEALTHY EATING A SIN?” – Pastor Shane Idleman
September 7 Steve Hill Ministries
Deep and Pure
Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
There is a longing in my soul to see a move of God in this country. I want this nation shaken from the White House to the schoolhouse, from the stock market to the stockyard, from the interstate highways to the airline skyways, from the country clubs to the city pubs. I want to see revival.
This same desire was on the lips of Robert Murray McCheyne when he spoke these awesome words:
Everything I meet with, and every day I study my Bible, makes me pray more that God would begin and carry on a deep, pure, widespread and a permanent work of God in Scotland. If it be not deep and pure, it will only end in confusion and grieving away the Holy Spirit of God by irregularities and inconsistencies. Christ will not get glory, and the country generally will be hardened and have their mouths filled with reproaches. If it be not widespread, our God will not get a large crown out of this generation. If it be not permanent, that will prove its impurity and will turn all our hopes into shame.
I am also deepened in my conviction that if we are to be instruments in such a work, we must be purified from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit. Oh, cry for personal holiness, constant nearness to God by the Blood of the Lamb! Bask in His beams—lie back in the arms of love—be filled with His Spirit; or all success in the ministry will only be to your own everlasting confusion.
2 Samuel 1; 1 Corinthians 12
Ezekiel 10; Psalms 49
“There is no greater argument for the existence of God in the world today than conscience.”
What is Conscience?
By Billy Graham • November 9 2014 • Topics: Soul & Spirit
Having a good conscience . . .
—1 Peter 3:16
What is conscience? God has put within each one of us something that cries aloud against us, whenever we do that which we know to be wrong. Conscience is the detective that watches the direction of our steps and decries every conscious transgression. Conscience is a vigilant eye before which each imagination, thought, and act, is held up for either censure or approval.
I believe there is no greater argument for the existence of God in the world today than conscience. There is no greater proof of the existence of a moral law and Lawgiver in the universe than this little light of the soul. It is God’s voice to the inner man. Conscience is our wisest counselor and teacher, our most faithful and most patient friend.
Prayer for the day
Thank You, Father, for my conscience which checks me and guards my actions. Help me to be alert to its promptings, through Your Holy Spirit. (end)
more scripture on what God’s Word says about our conscience:
Acts 24:16Amplified Bible (AMP)
16 Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men.
14 When Gentiles who have not the [divine] Law do instinctively what the Law requires, they are a law to themselves, since they do not have the Law.
15 They show that the essential requirements of the Law are written in their hearts and are operating there, with which their consciences (sense of right and wrong) also bear witness; and their [moral] [a]decisions (their arguments of reason, their condemning or approving [b]thoughts) will accuse or perhaps defend and excuse [them]
Billy Graham “What Is Conscience?” http://billygraham.org/devotion/what-is-conscience/
John 16: 1. I have told you all these things, so that you should not be offended (taken unawares and falter, or be caused to stumble and fall away). [I told you to keep you from being scandalized and repelled.]
2 They will put you out of (expel you from) the synagogues; but an hour is coming when whoever kills you will think and claim that he has offered service to God.
3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father or Me.
4 But I have told you these things now, so that when they occur you will remember that I told you of them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.
5 But now I am going to Him Who sent Me, yet none of you asks Me, Where are You going?
6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your hearts [taken complete possession of them].
7 However, I am telling you nothing but the truth when I say it is profitable (good, expedient, advantageous) for you that I go away. Because if I do not go away, the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you [into close fellowship with you]; but if I go away, I will send Him to you [to be in close fellowship with you].
8 And when He comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment:
9 About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me];
10 About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer;
11 About judgment, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentence already is passed upon him.
12 I have still many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them or to take them upon you or to grasp them now.
13 But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future].
14 He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.
15 Everything that the Father has is Mine. That is what I meant when I said that He [the Spirit] will take the things that are Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you.
The least emphasized aspect of the Holy Spirit in preaching today is conviction of sin. Leonard Ravenhill
“There is no form of sinfulness to which you are addicted which Christ cannot remove.” Charles Spurgeon
Leonard Ravenhill “Again I feel so often satan gets charged with hindering our prayers, but I’m quite sure we’re sabatoging our own praying when we have impure hearts and unclean hands.”
“Many people want to be in charge of big things of life but they don’t want to pay attention to God in the little things.”
Loving God with all our mind.
John Piper. Excerpt: “Two Other Biblical Diagnoses of the Problem
Now before I turn to the remedy and how we find the renewal of mind God demands, consider two other biblical diagnoses of the problem. Consider the way Peter describes our mind-problem in 1 Peter 1:13–14, “Prepar[e]. . . your minds for action. . . . Do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance.” There is an ignorance of God — a willful suppression of the truth of God (Romans 1:18) — that makes us slaves to many passions and desires that would lose their power if we knew God as we ought (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:5). “The passions of your former ignorance.” Paul calls these passions, “desires of deceit” (Ephesians 4:22). They are life-ruining, worship-destroying desires, and they get their life and their power from the deceit of our minds. There is a kind of knowledge of God — a renewal of mind — that transforms us because it liberates us from the deceit and the power of alien passions.
The other biblical diagnosis is in Ephesians 4:17–18, “You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” Paul takes us deeper than Peter here. He penetrates beneath the “futile mind” and the “darkened understanding” and the willful “ignorance” and says that it is all rooted in “the hardness of their heart.” Here is the deepest disease, infecting everything else. Our mental suppression of liberating truth is rooted in our hardness of heart. Our hard hearts will not submit to the supremacy of Christ, and therefore our blind minds cannot see the supremacy of Christ (cf. John 7:17).
The Holy Spirit Renews the Mind
Which brings us finally to the remedy and how we obey Romans 12:2, “Be transformed in the renewal of your mind.” First, before we can do anything, a double action of the Holy Spirit is required. And then we join him in these two actions. The reason I say the Holy Spirit is required is because this word “renewal” in Romans 12:2 is only used one other place in all the Greek Bible, namely, Titus 3:5 where Paul says this: “[God] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” There’s the word “renewal” which we’ve seen is so necessary. And it is renewal “of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit renews the mind. It is first and decisively his work. We are radically dependent on him. Our efforts follow his initiatives and enablings.
The Double Work of the Holy Spirit
Now what is the double work that he must do to renew our minds so that all of life becomes worship? 2 Corinthians 3:18 sets the stage for the answer: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” What does the Spirit do to “transform” us into the image of the God-exalting Son of God? He enables us to “behold the glory of the Lord.” This is how the mind is renewed — by steadfastly gazing at the glories of Christ for what they really are.
But to enable us to do that, the Spirit must do a double work. He must work in two directions: from the outside in and from the inside out. He must work from the outside in by exposing the mind to Christ-exalting truth. That is, he must lead us to hear the gospel, to read the Bible, to study Christ-exalting writings of great, spiritual men, and to meditate on the perfections of Christ. This is exactly what our great enemy does not want us to do according to 2 Corinthians 4:4, “The god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ.” Because to see that for what it really is, Paul says, will renew the mind and transform the life and produce unending worship.
And the Spirit must work from the inside out, breaking the hard heart that blinds and corrupts the mind. The Spirit must work from the outside in, through Christ-exalting truth, and from the inside out, through truth-embracing humility. If he only worked from the outside in, by presenting Christ-exalting truth to our minds but not breaking the hard heart and making it humble, then the truth would be despised and rejected. And if he only humbled the hard heart, but put no Christ-exalting truth before the mind, there would be no Christ to embrace and no worship would happen.
What Then Shall We Do?
What then do we do in obedience to Romans 12:2, “Be transformed in the renewal of your mind”? We join the Holy Spirit in his precious and all-important work. We pursue Christ-exalting truth and we pray for truth-embracing humility.
Listen to rich expositions of the “gospel of the glory of Christ.” Read your Bible from cover to cover always in search of the revelation of the glory of Christ. Read and ponder the Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting writings of great, spiritual men and women. And form the habit of meditating on the perfections of Christ. And in it all pray, pray, pray that the Holy Spirit will renew your mind, that you may desire and approve the will of God, so that all of life will become worship to the glory of Christ.
May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.
May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.
May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.
May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.
May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.
May His beauty rest upon me,
As I seek the lost to win,
And may they forget the channel,
Seeing only Him.
May the Mind of Christ, My Savior
Kate Wilkenson” http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-renewed-mind-and-how-to-have-it
Psalm 139:23-24New King James Version (NKJV)
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.
Lord, search me and try me, see if I am practicing any self deception listed by AW Tozer:
Five Ingenious Ways of Christians:
1. Seeking our own interests while pursuing spiritual interests under the guise of seeking God’s interests
2. Talking about the cross and living in the shadow of the cross, but never actually surrendering to it
3. Begging for the Holy Spirit to fill us while at the same time rejecting Christ’s work in us and keeping things well in our own hands
4. Talking about the dark night of the soul but rejecting the darkness
5. Using religion to promote our personal interests and advancement
— A.W. Tozer
From The Crucified Life, chapter 11, ‘The Strange Ingenuity of the Christian”
Thomas Watson: “But how shall we attain to heart-purity?”
from Thomas Watson’s Exposition of the Beatitudes.
But how shall we attain to heart-purity?
1 Often look into the Word of God. ‘Now ye are clean through the word’ (John 15:3). ‘Thy word is very pure’ (Psalm 119:140). God’s Word is pure, not only for the matter of it, but the effect, because it makes us pure. ‘Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth’ (John 17: 17). By looking into this pure crystal we are changed into the image of it. The Word is both a glass to show us the spots of our souls and a laver to wash them away. The Word breathes nothing but purity; it irradiates the mind; it consecrates the heart.
2 Go to the bath. There are two baths Christians should wash in.
(i) The bath of tears. Go into this bath. Peter had sullied and defiled himself with sin and he washed himself with penitential tears. Mary Magdalene, who was an impure sinner, ‘stood at Jesus’ feet weeping’ (Luke 7: 38). Mary’s tears washed her heart as well as Christ’s feet. Oh sinners, let your eyes be a fountain of tears! Weep for those sins which are so many as have passed all arithmetic. This water of contrition is healing and purifying.
(ii) The bath of Christ’s blood. This is that ‘fountain opened for sin and uncleanness’ (Zechariah 13: 1). A soul steeped in the brinish tears of repentance and bathed in the blood of Christ is made pure. This is that ‘spiritual washing’. All the legal washings and purifications were but types and emblems representing Christ’s blood. This blood lays the soul a-whitening.
3 Get faith. It is a soul-cleansing grace. ‘Having purified their hearts by faith’ (Acts 15: 9). The woman in the gospel that but touched the hem of Christ’s garment was healed. A touch of faith heals. If I believe Christ and all his merits are mine, how can I sin against him? We do not willingly injure those friends who, we believe, love us. Nothing can have a greater force and efficacy upon the heart to make it pure than faith. Faith will remove mountains, the mountains of pride, lust, envy. Faith and the love of sin are inconsistent.
4 Breathe after the Spirit. He is called the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1: 13). It purgeth the heart as lightning purgeth the air. That we may see what a purifying virtue the Spirit has, it is compared:
(i) To fire (Acts 2: 3). Fire is of a purifying nature. It refines and cleans metals. It separates the dross from the gold. The Spirit of God in the heart refines and sanctifies it. It burns up the dross of sin.
(ii) The Spirit is compared to wind. ‘There came a sound from heaven as of a mighty rushing wind, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost’ (Acts 2: 24). The wind purifies the air. When the air by reason of foggy vapours is unwholesome, the wind is a fan to winnow and purify it. Thus when the vapours of sin arise in the heart, vapours of pride and covetousness, earthly vapours, the Spirit of God arises and blows upon the soul and so purges away these impure vapours. The spouse in the Canticles prays for a gale of the Spirit, that she might be made pure (4: 16).
(iii) The Spirit is compared to water. ‘He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water; but this spake he of the Spirit’ (John 7:38, 39). The Spirit is like water, not only to make the soul fruitful, for it causes the desert to blossom as the rose (Isaiah 32:15; 35: 1), but the Spirit is like water to purify. Whereas, before, the heart of a sinner was unclean and whatever he touched had a tincture of impurity (Numbers 19: 22), when once the Spirit comes into the heart, it does with its continual showers wash off the filthiness of it, making it pure and fit for the God of spirits to dwell in.
5 Take heed of familiar converse and intercourse with the wicked. One vain mind makes another. One hard heart makes another. The stone in the body is not infectious, but the stone in the heart is. One profane spirit poisons another. Beware of the society of the wicked.
Some may object: But what hurt is in this? Did not Jesus converse with sinners? (Luke 5: 29).
(i) There was a necessity for that. If Jesus had not come among sinners, how could any have been saved? He went among sinners, not to join with them in their sins. He was not a companion of sinners but a physician of sinners.
(ii) Though Christ did converse with sinners, he could not be polluted with their sin. His divine nature was a sufficient antidote to preserve him from infection. Christ could be no more defiled with their sin than the sun is defiled by shining on a dunghill. Sin could no more stick on Christ than a burr on a glass of crystal. The soil of his heart was so pure that no viper of sin could breed there. But the case is altered with us. We have a stock of corruption within and the least thing will increase this stock. Therefore it is dangerous mingling ourselves among the wicked. If we would be pure in heart let us shun their society. He that would preserve his garment clean avoids the dirt. The wicked are as the mire (Isaiah 57:20). The fresh waters running among the salt taste brackish.
6 If you would be pure, walk with them that are pure. As the communion of the saints is in our Creed, so it should be in our company. ‘He that walketh with the wise shall be wise’ (Proverbs 13: 20), and he that walketh with the pure shall be pure. The saints are like a bed of spices. By intermixing ourselves with them we shall partake of their savouriness. Association begets assimilation. Sometimes God blesses good society to the conversion of others.
7 Wait at the posts of wisdom’s doors. Reverence the word preached. The Word of God sucked in by faith (Hebrews 4: 2) transforms the heart into the likeness of it (Romans 6: 17). The word is an holy seed (James 1: 18), which being cast into the heart makes it partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1: 4).
8 Pray for heart purity. Job propounds the question, ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?‘ (Job 14:4; 15:14). God can do it. Out of an impure heart he can produce grace. Pray that prayer of David, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God’ (Psalm 51: 10). Most men pray more for full purses than pure hearts. We should pray for heart-purity fervently. It is a matter we are most nearly concerned in. ‘Without holiness no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12: 14). Our prayer must be with sighs and groans (Romans 8: 23-26). There must not only be elocution but affection. Jacob wrestled in prayer (Genesis 32: 24). Hannah poured out her soul (1 Samuel 1: 15). We often pray so coldly (our petitions even freezing between our lips), as if we would teach God to deny. We pray as if we cared not whether God heard us or no. Oh Christian, be earnest with God for a pure heart. Lay your heart before the Lord and say, Lord, Thou who hast given me a heart, give me a pure heart. My heart is good for nothing as it is. It defiles everything it touches. Lord, I am not fit to live with this heart, for I cannot honour thee; nor to die with it, for I cannot see thee. Oh purge me with hyssop. Let Christ’s blood be sprinkled upon me. Let the Holy Ghost descend upon me. ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God’. Thou who biddest me give thee my heart, Lord, make my heart pure and thou shalt have it.
Can Pleasure in God Really Compete with the Pleasures of Porn
Topic: The power and effects of sin
“On this podcast we often talk about fighting sin on two fronts, the external front (shield your life from influences) and the internal front (fill your heart with God’s glory).”
My guess is that, when a new believer or an immature believer compares the power of sex to the power of the beauty of Christ, these can feel like totally different kinds of attraction, and the question becomes whether the kind of attraction that the beauty of Christ has can really counter the kind of attraction that sexual hormones create. And I see that distinction. It is a real distinction. The spiritual joys, even ecstasies, which we can know in personal relation with Christ are, in fact, not the same physical kind as we taste in sexual craving.
“The warfare of pleasure against pleasure is not simply fought in the moment of immediate combat, but over time as we attempt to go deeper and deeper in our knowledge of Christ, in our dependence of Christ, in our enjoyment of Christ.”
So, when I say that the expulsive power of a new desire for Christ can drive out the controlling power of old sinful desires, I realize that this is a battle not between two pleasures measured on the same scale. One pleasure is dominantly physical (not only). And the other pleasure is dominantly spiritual (not only, but dominantly). And this creates a problem for a new believer or an immature believer because spiritual pleasures are so new to them and their capacities for these pleasures may be so undeveloped that they can scarcely imagine that a godly, spiritual pleasure could be intense enough to conquer an ungodly physical pleasure.
Another difference between these combatants is that the desire for sex gets its power from an immediate, narrow, focused, visible or touchable sensation. But the desire for Christ and the enjoyment of Christ is not that way. It is not narrow in the same way. The pleasures that we have in knowing Christ are larger in their focus, deeper in the soul, more lasting and durable, taking in more of your personality — instead of just focusing on your body — and more personal and more relational. And this means that the cultivation of the controlling power of the pleasures that we have in Christ matters.
Now the effort to make them the controlling pleasures happens over time. It doesn’t just happen in that little moment there while we are facing the battle, while the sexual pleasures are arriving — bang! — with such enormous force. Which means that the warfare of pleasure against pleasure is not simply fought in the moment of immediate combat, but over time as we attempt to go deeper and deeper in our knowledge of Christ, in our dependence of Christ, in our enjoyment of Christ.
For example, the shield of faith that Paul says quenches the fiery darts of the evil one (Ephesians 6:16), maybe they happen to be sexual and flaming darts this time. That shield is not something you leave in your arsenal and only whip out when the arrows are flying. The shield of faith represents a daily, ongoing cultivation of growing knowledge and growing trust and growing delight in our friend and King and Savior Jesus Christ, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, growing the effectiveness of this shield when the arrows happen to fly.
So let me try to illustrate practically what I am talking about by the growing and the intensification of this counter desire of spiritual pleasure over against the immediacy of the physical pleasure. Basically the idea is, every day we fix our attention on the beauty of Christ in the way he deals with money and the beauty of Christ in the way he deals with sex and the beauty of Christ in the way he deals with power. And the biblical principle is that beholding — I am getting this from 2 Corinthians 3:18 — beholding, looking at the peculiar glory of Christ, we are transformed into his likeness so that his beauty in relation to money becomes our beauty in relation to money, and his beauty and relation to sex our beauty and relation to sex, and his beauty and relation to powerour beauty and relation to power. So here is how it works for me.
I will just give you concrete strategies that John Piper tries to follow.
Jesus and Money
When I drink in the Word about Jesus being so unencumbered by possessions that he had no place to lay his head, my amazement at his poverty, poverty that made many rich, moves me. It moves me. It shapes me. It frees me from my love affair with money. I admire it. And when he says foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head (Luke 9:58), I love him. I love his simplicity. I love his freedom from the love of money. I love his readiness to risk all for the mission.
And when Paul says, “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9), I see him. I love him. I am drawn to him and I find him giving himself to me. And his freedom from money starts to give me freedom from money. And his vastly more admirable beauty so far surpasses the tycoons of Wall Street. Why would I want to be like one of them? He is so free, so loving, so bold, so sacrificial. Everything about him is more attractive than all the rich people I have ever known. So that is the way it works for me. Beholding the glory of the Lord I am changed into a person who doesn’t love money. That is the way it works.
Jesus and Sex
Or let’s take sex, for example. When I look at Jesus’s sexual life, the same thing happens. Three decades — well, maybe two, of masculine virility. He had an adolescence first, a puberty. So one and a half or two decades of masculine virility, yet not one single millisecond of a sinful thought or feeling or immoral act. Women were hanging on his words, following him around. Former prostitutes wept over him and wiped his bare feet with their hair.
“I would plead with you to pursue the Christ who has depths and heights and unexpected dimensions of pleasure for you, pleasure to transform your life and pull the power plug on sinful temptations.”
He lived a life from one angle that you could say was supercharged with sexual temptation — and he never sinned. He never once committed any lustful thought or act. He denied himself perfectly without denying the goodness of sexuality. I watch him. And as I watch him, I love him. I admire him. I stand in awe of his purity of mind and body, and I find myself in that admiration hating my own little compromises and I find myself longing to be pure and to be found holy at the last day and above reproach and glorious in purity. And his purity, sexually, is contagious.
Jesus and Power
Or here is the way I do it with power. Just recently I did this. You can do it in lots of ways, but when I looked at him in Gethsemane recently and he said to his disciples that chopped off an ear to save him, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53). Well no, a legion is about 3000 soldiers. Twelve legions is 36,000 — 36,000 angels would be enough to rescue him. And he says: I could do this. That is power. That is power. And he didn’t do it. He walked into the jaws of the lion and he was killed. Why? Why did he use power that way? And it is so glorious. It is so beautiful. It is so loving. It is so kind. It is so self-denying. It makes me say: I want to use power that way. I want to lay it down for the cause of love. Or I want to turn it for the good of others the way he did.
So to the young believer or the immature believer or the doubting believer, I would empathize with you that the power of sex in the moment of temptation seems stronger largely because it is physical. And greed and craving look so powerful. You want to crave to look cool or crave to be powerful. They look so powerful in the moment. But I would plead with you to believe and to pursue the Christ who has depths and heights and unexpected dimensions of pleasure for you that if you will go hard after him day in and day out, these dimensions of pleasure will transform your life and they will pull the power plug on those sinful temptations.
Link to read full: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/can-pleasure-in-god-really-compete-with-the-pleasures-of-porn
A Purified Heart by Dr. Lester Sumrall
Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure (1 John 3:3).
I live in the light of eternity every day. If I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it because I know someday I’ll give Him an account of my actions. I don’t do this or that to please people, and I don’t even do it to please myself. I do it in fear of God that I’m going to stand before Him and give an account of my life. Amen?
If you are going to be a “man-pleaser” you will never be a “God-pleaser”!
Pastor James MacDonald:
1) Video message below by Pastor James MacDonald
2) pdf: “5 Steps To Lasting Change” http://jamesmacdonald.com/assets/pdf/Five-Critical-Steps-to-Lasting-Change.pdf
Pastor James MacDonald
Revive Your Soul Through Self Examination
James MacDonald post Aug. 12, 2016
Link to read full: http://jamesmacdonald.com/blog/revive-your-soul-through-self-examination/
Isaiah 57:15-16 Healing for the Repentant