Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 11th - Purity

Prayer Requests
8:30am Service
Pastor Aaron Preaching on Romans 7
Matthew - Leon safe travels and ministry in New Orleans

Hannah - Dad and sister safe return from Iowa
Jamie - Dog found

Text – 1 Thessalonians 4:2-8

Before we start, we need to go over some Greek words. There are five Greek words which mean love, four of those are used in the Bible, one is described but not used explicitely.

Agape – Sacrificial lovingkindness – Better translated as Charity
Storge – In terms of God it is Fatherly love, also used for parental love, and pastoral love
Phileo – Brotherly love, the word for friend, Philos, comes from this
Thelema – Desire/Enjoyment…aka…I love hamburgers…I love skiing…

Eros – Physical attraction, the actual word is not in the Bible, but the concept is described and can be good, but can be very bad

A Greek word for hatred, miseo, is not the opposite of agape, although it is the opposite of phileo. You can both hate someone and have charity for them, but you cannot phileo and miseo them.

Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.

I wanted to read this verse for two reasons, the first is to explain what Solomon means when he says, “There are six things…seven that…” and then he lists seven things, he is saying that this list is by no means exhaustive, that there are more things that God hates that what is just listed. You’ll see this writing style in various places in the Bible. The second reason is so that you notice that God hates both the sins, and the sinner.

God miseo’s sinners, hates them with an abiding hatred, but also agape’s them that while we were yet sinning, Christ died for us. There is a huge error in our modern culture to think that God’s love for sinners is unconditional and that he doesn’t hate them, but only their sin. Like you’ve heard me say in the past, American Christianity seeks to make Jesus out as our girlfriend, and that is totally incorrect. He is our God and Saviour, he both agape’s and philo’s us, we were once his enemy, but now we’re his friends, we were once far off, but we’ve been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Agape is generally seen as the higher love,

John 15:13 Greater Agape has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

One example before we get into the lesson is after Christ’s resurrection,

John 21:15-17 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you agapas me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I philo you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you agapas me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I philo you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you phileis me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you phileis me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I philo you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep…”

Peter never said he agape’d Jesus, that is, loved him enough to die for him, but Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves, and Jesus concluded the conversation with Peter this way.

John 21:18-19 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go." (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, "Follow me."

Peter, having not said he agape’d Jesus, proved he did by being faithful unto death, even death on an inverted cross.

There is no hint whatsoever that Jesus has an Eros love for his church, which is a physical/sexual love.

This is going to be our most awkward and uncomfortable class, but it is also going to be one of our most important and probably most memorable. I really, really, really encourage you to have your parents read this lesson plan on the website.

This lesson is on sexual purity. Almost every book in the New Testament talks about this subject, the only ones that don’t are the super-short ones, Philemon, Second John, Third John…whichever book we picked to go through would have us talking about this subject; it is not something that should be taken lightly, and the Bible is exceedingly clear on God’s purpose and desires concerning this subject.

I am also exceedingly unqualified to talk about this subject, having dated a ridiculous number of girls with practically no purpose and no good outcomes, so I am going to let the Bible do most of the talking.

1 Thessalonians 4:2-8 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Cyril, an early Christian, wrote “The dragon sits by the side of the road, watching those who pass. Beware lest he devour you. We go to the Father of Souls, but it is necessary to pass by the dragon.” Even when Christians are on the right road, there are things nearby that can quickly go bad, and Paul starts out this chapter with the big one.

It is important to remember that the church at Thessalonica was pretty blameless, Paul wasn’t writing against their sins, but this is a general pastoral epistle towards growing in holiness, to continue avoiding sexual sins. Corinth, where Paul was, would be the great sexual sinners who Paul would later write to and give them verbal tongue lashing.

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife.

So this Epistle is very useful for us in this class because it is a warning and not an admonition.

Note to Parents: From here I used an analogy from a trusted and godly ministry (Living Waters) where-by a toothbrush is presented, in which I asked the class what they would think if we passed the toothbrush around and each brushed our teeth with it, then wrapped it up nice and presented it to Dave Snyder as a gift. The point of this analogy is that purity counts for much in small things, how much more in big things.

So lets look at it verse by verse.

v. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

While we don’t know exactly what these instructions were, I bet you that it was the letter sent from Jerusalem. Remember that Thessalonica at the time of this letter writing probably didn’t have the Old Testament, since Paul never quotes the Old Testament, and was working from scratch. They might have had the Book of James and maybe the Epistle to Galatia, but everything else was based on the Holy Spirit and Paul’s teachings.

Acts 15:28-29 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.

Later in this chapter Paul will talk about the commands he gave to love the brothers, work hard, strive for peace where possible, avoid gossip, and to keep the faith in Jesus, both in his crucifixion and resurrection, and also in his impending return.

v. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

Ephesians 5:25-26, 31-32 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word…“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

God considers sexual purity and marriage of utmost importance, because in them we see the Gospel, that Christ loved his church and gave himself up for her. Remember that the 10 Commandments are a textual representation of Jesus Christ, what is the 7th Commandment? Thou shalt not commit adultery, Jesus Christ loves one church, the katholik (universal) Christian church, and his actions to this church are perfect, holy, and with purpose, and a proper marriage is an example of how the union of Christ and church should look: life-long and sacrificial.

Without spending too much time on it, salvation is based on the Jewish wedding ceremony, there is a betrothal, a gift (the Holy Spirit), a wedding feast, a covenant, a sign of the covenant, aka ring (the seal or stamp of the Holy Spirit), and there is even more, these are just a few things to show why God is so concerned with sexual morality.

This is the will of God: Your sanctification. What is sanctification? It is being conformed, that is changed, to look more and more like Jesus Christ in your characteristics. The church will be presented holy to Christ.

Ephesians 5:27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

And we do that largely by abstaining from sexual immorality, which the rest of this passage addresses.

v. 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor,

Wisdom, which is knowledge from experience, is an interesting thing, because you usually get it after you need it. Fortunately for us, Solomon earned his wisdom the hard way so that he can tell us about it. It was unfortunate for him, and painful, and if we learn from him, we won’t have to undergo that pain.

We’re not going to read the Song of Solomon, because it has some things that I’m not sure you’re old enough to need to know…I’m not sure I’m old enough either…but there is an important lesson to be learned from it. First of all, The Song of Solomon is a collection of poetry, outlining the relationships of six to eight couples, none of which is Solomon. Solomon had over 1,000 wives and girlfriends, and all of that was to teach him wisdom, that the love between one man and one woman is to be desired over all of the pretty girls in all of the world.

Paul writes to the Thessalonians to know how to control their bodies in holiness and honor. Reading how Solomon did it all wrong, as well as comparing the marriage instructions in Ephesians 5, is an excellent way to gain this wisdom without making the same mistakes.

One of those things to know is that the Bible is not against sex for pleasure…the Song of Solomon doesn’t mention procreation (making babies) a single time. But the Bible is very big on monogamy, that is, one partner for life. At certain times in the Old Testament the consummation, or when the couple had sex, was when the marriage began, no ceremony or anything.

v. 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God;

If you turn on a TV you know that America is worse off than Macedonia ever could have been. This is why it is so important that you know what God commands towards purity.

Science has discovered in the last few years something the Bible has told us from the beginning, that when two people “cleave together” as the Bible says, there is a bond formed between them, this is both emotional, and as science has learned, chemical. This bond is meant by God for one lifelong relationship, and really gets messed up when used wrongly.

It is not enough just to “love” somebody, which in the majority of relationships in America is just lust and fleeting-affection; you have to make a marital commitment, a promise to continue the sacrificial agape love for the glory of God and not just for the momentary good feeling which won’t last and should only be fully explored within the marriage covenant.

v. 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.

God is the avenger in these things, it doesn’t say how, but there is sure to be pain involved. Don’t commit adultery, lust, covetousness, or anything of the sort, especially within the church. This is important to remember outside of the church, but especially inside the church.

1 Corinthians 5:11 Now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

v. 7-8 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

Live your life in accordance with God’s rules and things will work out best for you according to his plan. This is the will of God: your sanctification.

The word for “sexual immorality” is porneia, this is where we get the term pornography, but it refers to any sexual sin. The only authorized divorce for you, as a Christian, is because of this porneia,

Matthew 9:19 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

The other authorized divorce is if a husband or wife gets saved and the other doesn’t, and the unsaved person asks for the divorce. This should never happen in this class: don’t date, and especially don’t marry, an unbeliever. Ladies, it is going to be very tempting to date unsaved guys to bring them to church, it’s jokingly called evangie-dating and it’s stupid. I’m going to say I’d rather you didn’t date unsaved guys…but if you do, be very, very, very, very, very, very, very careful, because in the words of Pastor Aaron, “All boys lie.” Guys will tell you they love you, even when they don’t, because half the girls they tell that too will fall for it. Don’t let them convince you in talk only, a guy that really loves you will respect your purity.

Guys, and as uncomfortable as this is to say, it has to be said. Don’t look at pornography, don’t get caught up in it, don’t even think about it. It will wreck your perception of girls, it will mess up your friendships with them, it makes God angry, and it is bad for more reasons than I can list.

In conclusion, sexual morality is good thing for lots and lots and lots of reasons. Read your Bibles to learn all of the reasons, we’ve only touched on a few things. If you have any questions, I really encourage you to ask your parents, if you would rather talk to someone else, please don’t hesitate to ask me or Dave or any of your adult leaders. Don’t get your information from television, or the internet, and especially not from your peers. The dumbest things concerning this topic that you’ll ever hear will come out of middle-school locker rooms.

There are plenty of good Christian books regarding this, ask Dave or myself to recommend one that suits you. My favorite all around book is, I kissed dating goodbye, which shows that dating should be towards marriage, and that dating while in school is dumb, because it will stunt your emotional growth, lead to things that are not worthwhile, and pretty much waste your time. I’m not dating anyone else until I’m pretty sure that is the person I’ll marry.

One thing you’ll have to make your own decision on is kissing. The Bible doesn’t say not to kiss before you’re married. But kissing doesn’t lead anywhere but to more physical touching, so I’m not kissing another girl until she’s my wife. “You may kiss the bride” used to mean just that.

Guys, do this:

Job 31:1-4 I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? What would be my portion from God above and my heritage from the Almighty on high? Is not calamity for the unrighteous, and disaster for the workers of iniquity? Does not he see my ways and number all my steps?

Ladies, know that guys are much more visually interested in you than you are in them, and you do us a HUGE favor when you dress modestly. I’m sure your dads will be more than happy to help you know whether the clothing you are wearing is appropriate, and I believe you and your parents have done very well so far, but don’t let your guard down.

Finally, if for some reason you don’t feel pure or in the future you fall into a sinful event, know that the blood of Christ cleanses from all unrighteousness, so repent, and trust in him, that no matter how big a sin it is, his payment on the cross was done to atone for your sins and reconcile you to God, and his grace is sufficient.