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#1 Pure and Undefiled

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                         “PURE AND UNDEFILED

                     (A Series on the Book of James)

Westgate Chapel 9/29/04                                             James 1:1

Proposition:      Life in the Spirit is a life of surrender to God’s mirror; His Word that shows us religion that is pure and undefiled.

i.    introduction

-     THE last sermon series I preached here at Westgate Chapel was on the Book of Judges. I entitled “No Other King.”

-     FOR those of you who remember it, we examined the life of Israel for the first 325 years they lived in the Promised Land…and it was not a pretty sight.

-     BELIEVE it or not, after all that God had done for Israel…

*     …to deliver them from slavery in Egypt.

*     …to feed them, water them and sustain them through 40 years in the desert.

*     …to provide them incredible and miraculous victories over their enemies.

*     …and to settle them in houses they had not built, eating from farms they had not planted…

-     THE vast majority of their first 325 years in the Promised Land were lived in rebellion against God and every kind of idolatry and filth known to human history.

-     WE learned that those 325 years were punctuated by the lives of judges who led Israel in between their periods of rebellion.

-     WE learned that present in all of those 325 was a deception of the enemy…whose principles illusionists use to this day to hide the truth from their audiences…and Satan still uses to hide the truth from you and me.

*     From the stories of Caleb and Othniel, we learned about the principle of deception called misdirection.

*     From the life of Ehud, we learned the principle of false authority.

*     From the times of Shamgar, we learned about the ruse.

*     From the story of Deborah, we learned about the danger of anticipation.

*     From Gideon… duped by substitution.

*     From Abimelech…confusion.

*     From Tola and Jair, repetition

*     And from Jephthah, disguise.

-     WE learned that the human heart, even though it is regenerated by the Holy Spirit when you and I are born again…can still be deceived by the enemy of our souls.

-     BUT what Judges did not teach us, was why the regenerated heart is able to be deceived.

-     2 CORINTHIANS 5:17 says,

      “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

-     IF “all things have become new…” when you are born again, that has to include your heart.

-     SO, how come your new heart, filled now by the Holy Spirit, is vulnerable to enemy deception?

-     AND you have to understand and believe that it is.

-     DENIAL on this matter will do you no good.

-     IN several places in the New Testament believers are warned to ‘not be deceived.’

-     IN fact, in Luke 21:8, Jesus is teaching His disciples about what it will be like for Christians at the end of the age, when more and more imposters profess to come from Christ, and He says,

      “Take heed that you not be deceived.”

-     HE wouldn’t have said it if it were not a possibility.

-     BUT why? How can the born again Christian be deceived and then led off into sin?

-     I BELIEVE that we are going to find out in a series I am starting today from the Book of James.

-     IT is more than interesting to me, and more than a coincidence, that Judges is the record of Israel’s first 325 years in the Promised Land….and James is the first book to be written in the New Testament, focusing on the first years of the people of God, this time from every tribe and people and nation…the Church of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

ii.   pure and undefiled

-     THE author is the apostle James, brother of Jesus and leading apostle and elder of the church in Jerusalem.

-     AND He is writing to believers living in the first 30 years of the life of the New Testament church.

-     HE is writing to believers who…

*     Have experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

*     Who have seen, first-hand, the explosive spread of the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and the outermost parts of the earth.

*     They have seen the power of God heal the sick.

*     They have seen demons cast out.

*     They were all witnesses of what we call the Gifts of the Spirit…in operation with full maturity and power.

*     In his book, “Pentecostal Spirituality,” Dr Land says that the Church in the Book of Acts was not in its infancy….Because of the work of the Holy Spirit it was birthed in full maturity.

*     Name one place today, other than the rural church in China, where all the Gifts of the Spirit are in operation and the Spirit wills.

-     SO, all of this has been going on for roughly 30 years…in the power of the Holy Spirit.

-     FIRST century Christians have been living in the Promised Land of God’s new “royal priesthood and holy nation”….the people of God, the Church.

-     AND the apostle James picks up his pen, and under the direction of the Holy Spirit writes…

      “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this….” (James 1:27)

-     THAT is the heart of this epistle.

-     FOR now, I don’t want you to finish that verse, because it will distract you.

-     WHAT follows in the rest of verse 27 is simply one example of what James is getting at.

-     AND what he is getting at is that life in the Holy Spirit is not primarily about power.

-     THEY were seeing plenty of power…and as you learn when you read the rest of the New Testament, the power of the Spirit was not the cure all for living a holy life.

-     MOST of the New Testament was written to people who saw an abundance of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives every day….but who needed a great deal of correction.

-     WHY?

-     BECAUSE their hearts were deceived and their lives lacked the fruit of the Spirit.

*     James references deception either directly or indirectly 6 times in his epistle.

-     AND to this new Church “dispersed abroad” (verse 1), the leading apostle/elder of the leading church in Jerusalem (18 months before he is martyred and 10 years before Jerusalem falls to Rome) writes the first letter of correction.

-     AND his message is,

      “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this….” (James 1:27)

-     THIS is the heart of the whole epistle!

-     JAMES holds the mirror of God’s holiness up to the new Christians of the new Church of Jesus Christ….and asks, “Is this what your life looks like? Is this what being filled with the Holy Spirit has done in your life? Do you look like this?”

-     JAMES is not a list of works to run out and duplicate.

-     LIKE the Sermon on the Mount, you will soon find that you can’t do it.

-     THAT is not what it is there for.

-     JAMES is there only as a mirror, for you to look at to see if your “religion before God and the Father is….pure and undefiled.”

-     JAMES says to the New Testament Church and to the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement today…

      “OK, now you have the Holy Spirit….(hold up mirror) this is why He is in you and has baptized you.”

-     IT is not primarily about…

*     speaking in tongues

*     giving words of prophecy

*     having words of wisdom or knowledge

*     having the gift of faith

*     or healing the sick or raising the dead

-     THE Holy Spirit is in you primarily for…

*     Pure

*     Undefiled living.

-     IN the original Greek language that the New Testament was written in, pure means…

      “clean, pure, purified by fire. 1a2 like a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit. 1b in a levitical sense, clean, the use of which imparts no uncleanness. 1c ethically. 1c1 free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt. 1c2 free from every admixture of what is false; sincere genuine. 1c3 blameless, innocent. 1c4 unstained with the guilt of anything.”

-     UNDEFILED means,  

      “unsoiled. 1a free from that by which the nature of a thing is deformed and debased, or its force and vigor impaired.”

iii.  it is a life of surrender

-     I MUST tell you one reason why I am compelled to preach this series…and friends have warned me that some people may leave when we get into the meat of this series.

-     I LEARNED yesterday that in the last few days a story has been broken in the NY Times and the Drudge Report that the leader of yet another major Pentecostal TV Network has been caught in a homosexual affair and gave $450,000 to the other man to cover it up.

-     IT is not on all of the networks yet, but it is just a matter of time…and still another prominent Pentecostal international figure brings disgrace to the name of Jesus.

-     WHY does it seem that over the last fifty years Pentecostal leaders who profess, and in many cases demonstrate the ‘power of the Spirit’ in their ministries, lead the rest of Christendom in disgrace and moral failure?

-     BECAUSE we have totally misunderstood the role of the person of the Holy Spirit…especially as Pentecostals.

-     YES…the Holy Spirit moves in power. That is who He is.

-     HEBREWS 2:4 says that God validates the Gospel to us…

      “…bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will.”

-     THAT is the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus said would be a witness when we are baptized in the Spirit (Acts 1:8).

-     BUT that power for witness, demonstrated in signs, wonders, miracles and the gifts of the Spirit is manifested through us…”as the Holy Spirit wills.”

-     AND when we as Pentecostals get around that power, or have the Holy Spirit work it through us…the obvious danger we have overlooked is that it is power for witness and does not automatically translate into a transformed life.

-     BUT we have taken it to mean a transformed life and then when we are faced with temptation…down we go and the rest of the world has every reason to mock our claim to power.

-     WHY did it happen? Why do we fall?

-     THE power of the Holy Spirit works through us as He wills for witness, but His primary role in our lives is not for power but for surrender.

-     ROMANS 8:14 says those who,

      “…are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons [and daughters] of God.”

-     WHEN in His earthly ministry Jesus had the Holy Spirit come upon Him at His baptism in the Jordan River, the next thing that Luke records is,

      “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…” (Luke 4:1)

-     HOW about that for a pattern for Pentecostal believers….that the evidence of being filled with the Spirit is to be led by the Spirit.

-     IT was the case in Jesus’ life.

-     IT certainly was the case for the New Testament Church after their Pentecost.

-     I WOULD submit to you today, that while I would never deny or want to discourage you from the power of the Holy Spirit…..that His primary role in the life of the Spirit filled believer is to lead you.

-     AND doesn’t a study of the Greek word for lead to know that the only appropriate response to His leadership is to submit and follow.

-     IN Acts 8, Simon the Sorcerer witnessed the power of the Spirit, concluded that it was all about power…and wanted it…so badly he was willing to pay to be able to replicate it in his performances.

-     THAT is what we have in much of American Pentecostalism.

-     WE are entertained by, intrigued by, and hungry for the power of the Spirit…and will pay any price to get it, and feeling pretty good when we are around it.

-     BUT when it comes to the nitty gritty of every day life….

*     How we behave under stress.

*     How we persevere in times of difficulty.

*     Where we go for wisdom.

*     What we do when tempted.

*     How much control we have over our temper.

*     How much moral filth we allow to contaminate our eyes and our hearts.

*     How much we talk.

*     And whether or not we visit the orphans and widows…

-     AND that is just a partial list from James 1!

-     WHEN it comes to these kinds of things, James wants to know if you and I are surrendered to the Holy Spirit.

-     ROMANS 8:5 says,

      “…those who live according to the Spirit, [have set their minds on] the things of the Spirit.”

-     JAMES is the mirror….for you to look at yourself in in order to see if you are led by the Spirit.

iv.CONCLUSION

-     LISTEN very carefully to me today!

-     THAT place in your heart where you surrender to the Spirit’s leading is the same place where you surrender to Satan and the world unless the Holy Spirit owns that place in our every day lives.

-     AND the reason so many Christians are living defeated lives…deceived by Satan and the world instead of living in victory is because the Holy Spirit has been grieved by the choices of our lifestyles, conforming to the world…and has withdrawn.

-     WE may still be saved, but our lives reflect the world more than God…and we live in constant defeat.

-     WHICH is why James is so important but is going to be so hard for many of us to receive.

-     JAMES is the mirror held up to your life and mine by the Holy Spirit, showing you if your life or mine are conformed to the world or to God.

-     PAUL writes what I believe is the introduction to James.

                           “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world…”

-     JAMES is the test to see if you are conformed to the world or being led by the Spirit.

-     EVERY week we are in this book, you and I will be challenged by the Spirit to see if indeed we are surrendered to Him, which is our reasonable service.

 

                                I WANT TO BE HOLY

 

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