On his brain had been etched by words of steel the fact that no power to fight was so great an unquenchable as that of man’s.”
–Zane Grey (Wanderer of the Wasteland)
“So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.”
–Colossians 3:5 (NLT)
How To Live in a Pagan, Apostate, and Foolish World
Key Verse: “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” –1 John 5:19 (NASB)
In our last study I discussed how we are to purify ourselves in the midst of the filth of this world. Today I would like to look at a different aspect. Far too often we get frustrated when we try to purify ourselves. We fail, then we fail again, and sometimes despondency appears and we wonder “what’s the use of trying.” We are told to be holy as the Lord is holy (1 Peter 1:16) and we get a puzzled look, not only on our face, but in our mind. We can never be holy as God is holy. He is undefiled, pure–but hold on, we are told to purify ourselves. Remember,
“And who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
–1 John 3:3 (NASB)
First of all, there is a difference between cleansing and purification. Cleansing is to deliver on the surface, from evil and pollution. It’s like when you wash your car. Purification is something that happens within; to get ride of the tarnishing effect of sin upon me and to avoid sin. This is a deep cleaning. This is changing the oil, making sure it is clean and not driving to places that will cause a need to cleanse the outside.
“It means that with the whole of my being I shun sin, I avoid it. I have a desire within me to be like Christ; I am striving to be like the Lord Himself.”
–D. Martyn Lloyd Jones
The person does not submit to purification; he purifies himself. Consider the following Scriptures:
“Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
–2 Corinthians 7:1 (NASB)
“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
–Hebrews 6:11-12 (NASB)
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality….”
–Colossians 3:5 (NASB)
I just have to quote Colossians 3:5 again from the King James. It seems to ring with not only authority but boldness. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth….”
Are you still frustrated? How am I to do about this? You see the dilemma that Paul writes about and explains in Romans 5-8. Listen, purifying ourselves, being holy, is not an instantaneous act. It is not a gift–it takes work, training, and effort. I purify myself by considering Him, by looking at Him and His perfect life; that is the pattern I am to follow. I am to be conformed to God’s image (Romans 8:29).. I am to set my affections on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:2) — and how much could be said about this.
How are we to do this?
1) Read, meditate, reflect upon God’s Word.
2) Crucify the flesh — daily (and even hourly)
3) Common sense — it is illogical and unreasonable to go living in opposition to that which I am called.
“That is the spirit of the New Testament–people pressing on towards the mark, straining at the leash, looking forward, going forward with all their might. And because they are looking at the vision of glory for which they are destined, they are pressing on towards it and toward Him, forgetting the things that are behind, redeeming the time, buying up the opportunity, using every second because of the certainty that they will see Him as He is and that they will be like Him.”
–D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones