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#21 Cleanse Ourselves

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                            “CLEANSE OURSELVES

                   (A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)

Westgate Chapel 09-23-07                             2 Corinthians 7:1

Proposition:      Motivated by God’s promises and the fear of the Lord the believer cleanses himself/herself from the defilement of sin and perfects holiness.                          

i.    introduction

-     THE Christians in Corinth were born again….but many were still battling with sin.

-     THE Christians in the church in Corinth were baptized in water…but many were still battling with sin.

-     THEY took communion regularly…and strange as this may seem, some of their battle with sin happened in their communion services.

-     I WOULD venture that the majority of the Christians in the church in Corinth were baptized in the Holy Spirit….and were still battling with sin in their lives.

-     THEY met regularly for worship, gave generously in the offerings, especially for missions….but were still battling with sin.

-     WHY have I pointed these things out to you?

-     CERTAINLY not to make light of being born again, or water baptized, or Spirit baptized.

-     I POINTED these things out to you about the spiritual condition of the believers in the church at Corinth for three reasons:

1.   There is a battle raging constantly in the heavenlies concerning your soul, and the glory due to God from your redeemed life. We are no different than the Corinthians.

2.   The battle continues irrespective of being  baptized, or teaching Sunday School, or taking communion or giving to missions.

3.   There is no quick fix or pill to take that will give you instant victory. You can bind spirits, get prophesied over, read some book, memorize ten principles, or get into an accountability group…nothing is going to keep life from being a spiritual battle for you and me with moment-by-moment dependence on the Lord.

-     I AM tired of hearing this or that presented as a quick fix for the Christian life.

-     PRAISE God for every blessing, for every book that makes Him bigger in my life, for every experience that brings me closer to Him.

-     BUT the Christian life is not a series of problems to be fixed by some new breakthrough or set of principles that no one has ever thought of before.

-     THE Christian life is a relationship with God that becomes the very essence and fountain of life for you and me.

-     GOD told Ezekiel about this new covenant relationship with His people back in the Old Testament…that this relationship would require that you and I have a new heart.

      “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

-     THAT is what happens when you are born again. You are given a new heart that knows God, loves God, and want to know Him more intimately.

-     PAUL picks up this theme in Ephesians 3:16-17, where he prays for the Ephesian believers that,

      “God would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” (Ephesians 3:16-17)

-     AND it is precisely this love relationship with God that Satan will contest…all the days of your Christian life.

-     IT is the battle…a spiritual battle for your soul.

-     WE are naïve if we think the Christian life is anything other than war…with the stakes being your eternal salvation and the glory of God in His people.

-     AND in spite of the fact that the Corinthian Christians were born again, baptized in the Spirit, attending church services and giving to missions…they were in the middle of this war and giving in to sin.

*     Some of the Corinthian Christians were saved, but had not made a clean break with the idols and gods of their Greek culture.

*     Some were saved, but continued to gossip and divide the church over loyalty to this leader or that.

*     Some were saved but disputed with each other all the way to the public courts.

*     Some were saved, but continued to participate in Corinth’s preoccupation with sexual sin.

*     Some were more impressed with the wisdom of the world than the wisdom of God.

*     Others were off in some self-absorbed spirituality trip that lacked humility and bordered on arrogance.

ii.   motivated by the promises of god and the        fear of god

-     So, before starting on a brand new subject in 2 Corinthians 7, Paul makes one more appeal to them concerning holy living, and he begins the subject in verse 1, on the subject of the motivation of the heart.

-     THIS is huge…and will make all the difference in the world to whether or not you or I pursue holiness in any fashion.

-     IF the motivation for holiness is to prove to God that you are worthy….that is legalism and an insult to Him because He already provided “worthy” for you through His Son, Jesus Christ.

-     IF the motivation for holiness is to make yourself look and feel better than the Christians around you…that is pride, and is itself sin.

-     IF the motivation for holiness is to fit in a group of people….that won’t work for very long before you don’t care any more.

-     SO, Paul provides twin motivations for us for holiness, like book ends in this one verse.

      “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)

-     DO you see the two motivators connected here to holiness?

-     THESE promises, and the fear of the Lord.

-     NOTICE that both have to do with your heart relationship to God!

*     Promises speak to us of the kindness and generosity of God, and that moves our hearts with gratitude…that results in holiness to please the Lord.

*     The fear of the Lord means reverence, respect and awe…that is a heart emotion very close to love and also results in holiness to please the Lord.

-     PAUL’S use of promises force us back to the most immediate material in the previous chapter for starters.

*     In verse 2 God promises to listen to us and help us.

*     In verse 16, God promises that we are the temple of the living God…which speaks of day to day relationship, communion, and help.

*     In verse 17 God promises to welcome us into His presence…now and when we see Him face to face some day.

*     In verse 18, He promises that He is our Father and we are His sons and daughters….saints this Christian life is about relationship, about family.

-     ALLOW the Holy Spirit to touch your heart with these promises even now.

-     YOU have comprehended them with your mind for a long time now….but it will not be your mind that motivates you to holy living, it will be your renewed heart, touched, softened, motivated by God living in you.

-     YOU will not get the most important elements of the Christian life through the rational mind alone.

-     SOREN Kierkegaard, a famous 19th century Christian thinker, says that is like sitting in the audience watching, analyzing, critiquing, memorizing the lines of some grand drama…but all the while detached.

-     THE Christian life is getting off the chair and becoming one of the cast in a story, God’s story concerning His purposes and your life…listening for His lines, responding and reacting to His cues for story line, and engaging those around you in the grand story.

-     THAT….requires and engaged heart, motivated by gratitude for all of the incredible promises of God and respect and awe for a God you are getting to know in new ways every day.

-     THAT is motivation for holy living that will last, because there is something new to be grateful for every day….something new to learn about God every day.

iii.  to cleanse ourselves on the outside and the inside

-     WELL, motivated for what? Two specific actions on the part of every true believer.

-     LET’S look at the verse again,

      “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)

-     THE word, defile, means to contaminate, to make dirty.

*     There are some things we do that involve our physical bodies and leave behind a contamination....so Paul uses the word, “flesh” which simply means our humanity, our body.

-     These tend to be legitimate appetites that we indulge to excess, until the excess becomes a sin of the flesh, or legitimate appetites of the flesh directed in illegitimate or sinful ways.

-     I am reluctant to even give you examples, because we have been famous as Christians for making lists that include some sins and conveniently leave out others.

-     I would say that the Holy Spirit will make clear to you the sins of the flesh from His Word and in settings just like this…when the text addresses specific sins.

*     There are also sins that contaminate the spirit, the inner you, rather than directly involving the flesh.

-     Just to help you separate the two, I will give you a couple of examples.

-     Gossip defiles the spirit….it contaminate your thinking about someone who was not present to defend themselves.

-     Pornography…defiles the spirit. It sets up a pattern of thought and expectations that robs you of the pure joy of intimacy the way God designed it to be. I will just leave it at that.

-     Idolatry is a sin that defiles the spirit.

-     THE first action of a heart motivated by gratitude for God and the fear of the Lord….is to cleanse ourselves from sin that defiles body and spirit.

-     THE Greek word for cleanse is used only in this one place in the New Testament, and it has the connotation of the washing that the priests of the Old Testament did before they would enter the Presence of God.

-     WE are to wash off, to separate ourselves from those things that contaminate.

-     THE tense and mood of the verb, cleanse, in the Greek here has the force of an imperative….it is not just a good idea, it is a command.

-     AND it is our responsibility. It is something we do ourselves.

*     It involves turning the TV off when elements of the program contaminate.

*     It involves staying clear away from those sites on the internet that contaminate….or staying off the internet altogether.

*     It involves staying away from those places that contaminate…or the people who contaminate the body or the spirit.

-     THE last sermon I preached on this subject I mentioned that the word, separate, means to establish boundaries around your life to keep you from those things that contaminate.

-     NO one else can do it for you!

-     GOD has already given you everything you need for life and godliness.

      “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” (2 Peter 1:3-4)

-     SO, let’s get at it Westgate!

-     LET’S cleanse ourselves from those things that contaminate body and spirit.

iv. and perfect holiness

-     THE second action motivated by hearts of gratitude and fear of the Lord is…

      “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)

-     THE first action requires somewhat of a defensive posture, washing and establishing boundaries to keep us from those things that defile.

-     THIS action is more of a positive action….perfect holiness.

-     THE verb perfect is a present, active, participle.

-     NOW, I am not trying to impress you with that, it is just that the Greek verb tenses carried meaning that the English doesn’t convey…meaning important to the command to perfect holiness.

-     THE verb tenses for perfecting conveys two important things for you to know and practice:

*     It carries the force of a directive and requires focus or concentration on your part.

-     This is not something that will happen by accident or while you are sleeping spiritually.

-     It requires some application of yourself to the task of holiness….just like anything else worth having in your life.

-     In the words of A.W. Tozer, “timid or casual experimenters are tagged for failure before they begin.”

*     It is a continuous advance for the rest of your life, which is more adventure and story development in you and me than the drag some have made holiness to be.

-     The only one who ever lived who was perfect in holiness was Jesus.

-     And the only time you or I will ever be perfect will be when we see Him face to face some day.

-     But until that day, my job and my joy is to be about the concentration of perfecting holiness in my life.

 

 

 

v.  CONCLUSION

-     CAN we look at this verse one more time?

      “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)

-     THIS verse is for everyone of us here this morning.

-     IT involves our heart in our walk with God every day.

-     WHAT is He wanting you to wash off this morning?

-     WHAT adventure is He wanting to write into your story…as you concentrate on holiness?

-     ASK Him! Right now.

-     INVITE Him to use whatever means He chooses to get you your new lines and new move in the drama that is unfolding.

-     ASK Him because you love Him and are so grateful for His promises.

-     ASK Him because of how much you respect and reverence Him.

 

 

-     SING with me,

      Holy Spirit make me holy (2ce)

      From this moment on

      Right every wrong

      Holy Spirit come

      Holy Spirit come

      Holy Spirit come and make me holy.

 

ALTAR CALL

Salvation

Water Baptism

Next steps in discipleship

Membership

 

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