by | August 9th, 2009


For the past 2 Sundays we have been focusing our attention on the critical are of sexual purity.  Pastor Jack has reminded us over the last two Sundays concerning the danger and destructive features of this particular sin.  While the world approves, encourages and applauds impurity in many different forms—-God, the designer of sexual intimacy has clearly indicated that intimacy is to be enjoyed in the context of marriage.  Any deviation from that, whether it is simply our hearts lusting after another person or our own fantasy world through various media forms or through actual physical intimacy with anyone other than our married spouse—–is sin—it violates God’s standards, it brings emotional and spiritual consequences that are significant and profound.

Today, it is time for all of us to take decisive action in order to maintain personal purity but also to recover from the impurity that we may be involved in now or in the past.  Before this service is over this morning, I am going to challenge all of us to take three important steps in the battle for our personal purity.

With that in mind let’s turn to 1 John 1:5-10 and allow God to challenge us to take these three steps.

The book of 1 John was written to believers primarily.  In this book John challenges the believers to grow in their intimacy with God through Jesus Christ.  He encourages the believers to evaluate their own relationship with God and then to take practical steps in growing closer to God.  For our purposes this morning we need to look at three areas:

#1-We need to see a picture of God that will be crucial for us in the battle for purity.

#2-We need to see that there are three obstacles that can keep us from pursuing a deeper relationship with this God.

#3-Finally, there are three specific actions, steps that must take in order to pursue purity before God.

A Picture of God-God Is Light (1 John 1:5)

First, we need to see God.  Our personal purity must start with God, Himself.  It is his standard, his invention and it is His power that will enable us to please Him in this area.  1 John 1:5 says that God is light.  What does this metaphor tell us about God?  When you look at John’s use of the term ‘light’ in the gospels you see that light is the source of life.  God made light first—-Genesis 1.  He is light—-He is the source of life.  God’s commands about purity are not onerous and burdensome.  They reflect the reality of His light.  There is a sense of joy in this description.  God is light—–He us is the source of all life and He desires our joy—-we see that in v.4 of 1 John 1.

John goes on to tell us that there is no darkness in Him.  God is pure.  He is the source of life in whom there is great joy.  Outside of God there is darkness and confusion. Any behavior that goes contrary to God’s standards puts us at risk for confusion, destruction and jeopardized the joy that God wants us to live in.

One key factor in maintaining personal purity is your own understanding of God.  Do you believe that He is light???  Do you believe that his counsel in this area is pure, right, life-giving, joy-giving??  God desires that you enjoy the fullness of life that can only be found in him.  Do you believe this?

Our world tells us that sex whenever we want it is natural, normal and that it will bring us great pleasure.  The world also tells us that any attempt to restrict our freedom in this area is prude, uptight and joyless.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

Do you believe? do you understand?, do you acknowledge that God is light????

This is the picture of God that you need to remind yourself of often.  God is light and in Him, there is no darkness.

Now that John has given us a picture of God he then proceeds to show us that there are 3 main obstacles that keep us from pursuing a deep intimate relationship with the God who is light.

Obstacle #1—–Ignore your Sin—1 John 1:6

The first potential obstacle to have a close relationship with the God who is light is to Ignore Your Sin.  1 John 1:6 says, “If you claim to have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.”  Some of us in this room today are ignoring our sin in the area of purity.  We come to church every week and sing about God.  We take communion every first Sunday of the month and yet we are not dealing with our impurity.  Oh, we may feel a little guilty and have some vague feelings of remorse.  But, we have not made a decisive move to pursue real repentance.  We are tolerating our sin. Every act of impurity, whether it’s lust of the heart, or looking at something inappropriate on the internet or whether we are going too far in a relationship physically or actually having intimacy with someone who is not our spouse (whether before marriage or after marriage) is sin. We must not allow it to continue. When we do, we are being phony and hypocritical.

I can remember vividly living a double life at the age of 10.  I wanted to play hockey more than anything in the world.  But, my parents would not allow me to play because all the games were on Sunday.  I felt left out by all my friends who played on various hockey teams in our city.  So, I invented a hockey league that I played in.  Since I invented this phony youth hockey league I also invented my greatness as a goalie for my team.  Since I created the whole story out of thin air it was easy for me to become the MVP of the league and for my team to win the championship.  My friends were in awe.  Then, at the end of the fictional hockey season they invited me to play hockey with them.  Who wouldn’t want play with me, one of the great youth hockey stars of Detroit, Michigan in 1973?  I lived a double life for months.  This morning, I hope that all of us who are ignoring our sin in the area of impurity will come clean this morning in repentance.  You can’t ignore your sin.

Obstacle #2-Deny Your Sin—1 John 1:8

Another barrier to having a close walk with the God who is light is to deny your sin.  Some of us think that the only way to walk with a Holy God is to never sin.  This is wrong.  We are not completely delivered from sin right now.  None of us is perfect.  I remember my dad telling us that he had met a pastor who told him that he had not sinned in 3 years. My first thought after hearing that story was, “I’ll bet he sinned when he told my dad that fib.”

This approach will not work.  We are still sinners and the basis of our relationship with God is not our performance but rather the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

One of my fears this morning is that there might be someone here this morning that wants to deal with their sin of impurity.  I hope that you will not mistakenly believe that the only way to have an intimate relationship with God is to never sin.  Please do not leave here this morning and believe that the only way for you to walk with God is to never sin in the area of purity again.  This is not biblical and is not realistic.

Obstacle #3-Water Down Your Sin—1 John 1:10

The final obstacle that keeps us from having an intimate relationship with God is to Water-Down Our Sin.  In this obstacle, we lower God’s standard in order to accommodate our behavior.  We find excuses or other people who fail worse than us and then pronounce ourselves pure.

Let me give you two examples:  First, I remember discussing the moral failures of a famous television preacher in the United States several years ago.  From my perspective the TV evangelist was not expressing enough repentance.  As I began to judge him again with my words, I sensed the Holy Spirit saying to me, “What about you Tracy—–what is my standard about purity——‘He who looks on a woman has committed adultery with her in his heart’.  Haven’t you violated my standard as well?   Ouch—-that was convicting.  We cannot water down God’s standard.  You may be reasonably pure in that you haven’t committed physical adultery but how is your thought life???  What do you think about when you are alone???  What kinds of pictures, movies and other media do you feed on???

Secondly, I remember overhearing a group of women talk after church one day.  I have worked at 3 different churches.  It could have been at any of the churches.  I always wondered what women talk about when they are just with other women.  Well, these were godly women but I was surprised to find out that they were talking about, of all things, men.  One of the women was retelling how recently she had a group of men whistle at her and at first she was upset but then felt—–wow—-I’ve still got it.  All the women laughed and said, “You go girl” and “you got it going on”.  Now, I can’t read hearts, but isn’t that getting close to playing games with lust.

We are all tempted to lower the standard—–to water down our sin—-so that we avoid God’s penetrating light.  It doesn’t work.  It always builds obstacles to real fellowship with God.

3 Actions to Maintain Personal Purity (or recover from Sexual Sin)

Action #1-Confession Of Sin

The first action for us to consider in dealing with our impurity is found in 1 John 1:9.  The text reads, “Confess your sins to God and he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  There are three elements to this.

First we must agree with God about our sin.  We must honestly admit to God that our behavior has fallen short of his life-giving direction.  Simply put, we need to admit that we have sinned and that we have violated the God who is light in the area of impurity.  We can’t ignore our sin, we can’t deny it, we can’t water down our sin—-we must come clean before God.  In a few moments I want to give everyone a chance to do this privately before God.

The second part of this—-is that true confession means that we agree with God in that we want to turn from our sin and live according to the God who is light.  There is a commitment in true confession that we agree with God and that we want to live according to his standards.  This is repentance.  It’s not enough to feel bad about your sin or to feel some remorse or to shed some tears.  You must agree with God that you are wrong and that you want to live in the light.

Thirdly, we must believe that as we confess our sin to God and desire to live according to the light—-we must believe that the shed blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

Now someone will say—-‘wait a minute—-I’m already a Christian—I thought my sins were already forgiven by God.  Yes that’s true.  This is applying that truth to the individual sins in real time.  This is a necessary part of our relationship with God.  It’s not that you need your sins ultimately to be forgiven because they already are already forgiven in Christ.  But, we need family forgiveness in our relationship with God.  It’s very much like a family.  I have 3 wonderful kids who rarely will do something wrong. (Well sometime more rare than others.)  When they do something wrong I do not throw them out of the family. I don’t say,  “That’s it—–you sleep on the streets of Rabat tonight.”  No, when my children disobey Denise or myself they do not cease to be part of the family.  Nevertheless, the family dynamic is somewhat strained until there is admission of guilt and a commitment to repent.  Things might be strained or more distant not because there is less love, but because we are not being honest with one another.  When confession/honesty returns the relationship works much better.

My fear for some of you here this morning is that you will find it hard to believe that God can really cleanse you for the things you have done.  True Confession involves agreeing with God about your impurity, but it also involves believing the promise that there is no sin to big for the blood of Jesus Christ.  No matter what you have done in terms of impurity.  No matter if it seems little or gigantic–all of it can be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.   Will you confess and believe this promise?  Some of us in this room have failed to fight impurity effectively because we have really never confessed.  Oh, we have admitted to God our failures.  We have also truly repented.  But deep down we doubt that God can cleanse us from our sexual impurity.  When we doubt his promise, we are minimizing the shed blood of Jesus and we are making our performance more important that Christ’s work.

God desires to cleanse you of your impurity. Will you trust His Word and His promise and the shed blood of His Dear Son Jesus Christ?

Action #2-Walk In the Light

1 John 1:7 tells us that we must walk in the Light and when we walk in the light God purifies us from our sin by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

This is a very interesting verse.  The text is clearly states that if we walk in the light God will purify us.  This is very comforting.  In other words walking in the light doesn’t require that we live perfectly.  Otherwise, we would rarely be walking in the light.  Walking in the light involves being purified.  This means that as we walk in the light, God purifies us from our sin.  We need to allow the light of God’s word to expose the areas of darkness in our hearts and in our actions.  When we are sensitive to God’s light we are walking in the light.

One dear Saint described this verse this way.  The longer I walk with the Lord I find that it’s not that I sin less and less, but that I confess more and more.  There’s the comfort.  If we are sensitive to the light and we learn to confess more quickly and earlier in our temptations to sin, we become even more sensitive to the God who is light and we continue to walk in the light even as we stumble and have to confess.

What moves us into the darkness is when we stumble and sin and fail to confess quickly or comprehensively.  We allow sin to fester and grow without applying the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We do this with personal purity but we do this with many other sins.  We complain and never confess our ungratefulness.  We get angry and never confess and become bitter.  We envy others and never confess and are eaten up with anger and greed.

I think it’s also true that as we learn to confess more consistently, quickly and with more depth that the blood of Jesus Christ gives us more strength to live a godly life.

What we must all learn to do is to apply the blood of Jesus Christ to every impure impulse and to consistently bring ourselves back to the blood of Jesus Christ to every impure thought, impure desire, impure fantasy, impure action at every level so that we are being continually cleansed and purified of our sin.  Without this aggressive application of the gospel in real time, we will not see significant victory over our impurity.

It was interesting for me this week as I applied the blood of Christ to every temptation, every impulse, every thought and every sin that I battled with this week.  Wow.  I confessed a lot.  And as I did I sensed God’s restoration, God’s forgiveness and God’s empowerment to live a new life.

Will you commit to Walk in the Light?????

Action #3-Walk in the Light Together—2 Timothy 2:22

In 2 Timothy 2:22 we are told to pursue purity together with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart.  The key element here is together.  The body of Christ is designed to help us pursue personal purity in community.  The real danger for all of us is that many of us will try to pursue purity by ourselves without the aid of our brothers and sisters in Christ.  For some, you need to talk to a pastor concerning your struggles with purity.  The pastors can provide support and guidance in this area.  Others of you need to form an accountability group with other believers who will encourage, support and warn you as your pursue purity before the Lord.  Please do not try to do this on your own.  You need the resources of a God who is light, the blood of Jesus Christ applied in real time and your brothers and sisters in Christ in order to move forward in your pursuit of purity.