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Posts tagged ‘Impure Thoughts’

A Heart for Holiness – Impure Thoughts

Impure ThoughtsMuch of the letter of Paul’s that we call 2 Corinthians is an emotional response to sniping by his detractors. He acknowledges that his actions may appear to be out on the edge—even a bit crazy. But he explains what drives him to his extreme behavior.

The primary thrust of this section is about evangelism; but a strong secondary emphasis concerns a lifestyle that zeroes in on God.

Interact with God’s Word:  2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 14-15

  1. What is the reason for our “solemn fear of the Lord” (v. 11)?
  2. Have you absorbed the teaching of Scripture that God’s gracious gift of eternal life doesn’t exempt you from standing personally before God’s judgment seat?
  3. What motivation is stronger than fear for Paul (v. 14)?
  4. What evidence is there that you have died with Christ to the old life you used to live?
  5. What indicators can you cite that demonstrate you are no longer living to please yourself, but to please Christ?

Spend Time in Prayer:  Thank Jesus Christ for dying for you. Ask for His power to live the new resurrection life that will please Him.

2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 14-15

10 For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in our bodies. 11 It is because we know this solemn fear of the Lord that we work so hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.

14 Whatever we do, it is because Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for everyone, we also believe that we have all died to the old life we used to live. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live to please themselves. Instead, they will live to please Christ, who died and was raised for them.

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Worth Fighting For

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: To others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 23

Bonus Reading:  Revelation 3:4-6

An ermine is a cute little animal that lives in northern regions. It has shiny black eyes, short legs and a narrow body. In summer its coat is a rich chocolate brown. But in winter the color changes to snow-white, broken only by a black tip on the tail. The ermine seems to realize the beauty of its coat and takes great pride in maintaining it. Indeed, the animal’s most unusual characteristic is its hatred of anything that might soil its fur.

Hunters who know this will fill an ermine’s burrow with filth and wait with their dogs for it to return. Once the ermine spots the dogs, it will dart for the safety of its burrow. But finding its home fouled, the ermine won’t enter, but will fight the dogs to the death, preferring to die with a bloodstained coat than live with a dirty one. Its instinct for purity outweighs its survival instinct. That’s why for centuries the robes of European rulers and judges have been lined with ermine fur. It symbolizes the purity of justice.

Christian men need a similar instinct. When we understand the holiness of our God that He’s imparted to us through His Son, we’ll realize that personal holiness is a value worth fighting for.

—Bill Perkins in Six Battles Every Man Must Win

My Response: How have I fought for holiness this week?

Thought to Apply: The Christian must be consumed by the conviction of the infinite beauty of holiness and the infinite damnability of sin.—Thomas Carlyle (Scottish historian)

Adapted from Six Battles Every Man Must Win (Tyndale, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Foundational Fear

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: God has come in this way to show you His awesome power. From now on, let your fear of Him keep you from sinning! Exodus 20:20

Bonus Reading:  2 Corinthians 5:10-11, 14-15

I recently phoned an influential organization leader who I’d covenanted to call regularly. “Henry,” he told me, “I’m so grateful you called. You’ve no idea how important this call is.”

When I asked why, he said, “I’ve never been been so utterly terrified. God began to deal with sin in my life bringing to mind what He sees as sin and how serious it is with Him. For three weeks, he brought up things I haven’t thought about for years. Things from my youth I’ve never dealt with—things that have affected my marriage and my assignment. A few days ago I cried out to God and asked why He was doing this to me. He responded, ‘Because you’ve lost your fear of Me.'”

When you don’t fear God, you won’t fear sin. There’s a direct relationship. Many people believe that as long as they don’t feel something is bad, it isn’t; as long as they feel okay about it—and God doesn’t deal with them immediately—it must be okay. They can continue to do it.

People in Old Testament times would have been put to death for many things people do today. We’re moving closer to an absolute confrontation with a God who makes no exceptions.

—Henry Blackaby in Holiness

My Response: An area of my life about which God is dealing with me is …

Thought to Apply: When a man is getting better, he understands more and more clearly the evil that is left in him. —C. S. Lewis (British scholar & writer)

Adapted from Holiness (Nelson, 2003)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Hard Drive Dilemma

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable … excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

Bonus Reading:  Ephesians 6:10-12

When I bought my computer two years ago, I thought a 40 GB hard drive would be plenty big. But soon, with bigger programs and my penchant for keeping things, I found it nearly filled.

After checking into the cost of upgrading my hard drive, I realized there had to be another answer: cleaning out the garbage. When I did so, I found that more than half the space had been taken by stuff I didn’t need anymore!

What about my brain?

For 50 years I’d been stuffing information into it. Could my gray matter be needing a storage upgrade? Or did it also just need a good cleaning? I asked God to show me.

He revealed sin areas that were putting stress on my operating system, pointed out past offenses still stored there, and showed me erroneous thoughts still logged in my memory bank.

Through repentance, I moved all that garbage to the recycling bin and clicked to empty it. Up popped a message asking if I was sure I wanted to permanently eliminate those files. My fingers hesitated as the enemy whispered in my ear all the reasons I should hang on to that stuff. But God’s voice was stronger; I clicked the yes button.

—Rod Nichols in Washington

My Response: I’ll ask God to reveal the garbage that needs to be deleted from my mind.

Thought to Apply: Spring cleaning should begin with the head and end with the heart.—Source Unknown

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Traffic Flow

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: When I want to do good, I don’t. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway. Romans 7:19

Bonus Reading:  Romans 7:15-25

One morning I was driving alone to speak at a men’s Bible study, enjoying the uninterrupted flow of my private thoughts.

The thick traffic flowed steadily. As I slowed for a traffic light, I was relieved to see that I would make it through the intersection on the next green light. As I braked, the car next to me saw a “hairline crack” in front of me and, without warning, swerved over. I slammed on the brakes and checked the rearview mirror. So far so good. Anger swept over me but, since I was on my way to speak at a Bible study, I quickly recovered and kept my spiritual glow. I even forgave the bum for being such a spiritual degenerate.

The light turned green and the long line inched toward the intersection. Guess who was the last car to make it through the light? You guessed it! He made it, but I was stuck in line at the red light. That did it for me, Bible study or not! I let out an audible expletive that came from a part of me not surrendered to God.

If this were an isolated incident, then I wouldn’t be too concerned. But every day we each battle for control of our thought life. The real battlefield for the Christian is the mind.

—Patrick Morley in The Man in the Mirror

My Response: Am I chalking up any victories on this battlefield?

Thought to Apply: Sanctification is the mind coming more and more under the Holy Spirit’s control.—David Jackman (British pastor)

Adapted from The Man in the Mirror (Zondervan, 1989)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Displacement Dictum

Impure ThoughtsKey Bible Verse: I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Bonus Reading:  Psalm 77:11-12; 104:34; 119:48, 97

As you set out to rid your mind of years of impure thoughts, remember that merely trying to stop thinking bad thoughts won’t work. You must fill your mind with the crystal-clear Word of God. There is no alternative plan. We overcome the father of lies by choosing the truth!

Picture your polluted mind as a pot filled to the brim with stale black coffee. It’s dark and smelly. There’s no way to get the pollution of coffee out of the liquid. However, sitting beside the coffeepot is a huge bowl of clear ice cubes. Your goal is to purify the contents of the pot by adding ice cubes to it every day. I wish there were a way to dump all the cubes (words of the Bible) in at one time, but there isn’t. Every cube dilutes the mixture, though, making it a little purer. Since you can only put in one or two cubes a day, the process seems futile at first. But over the course of time, the liquid begins to look less and less polluted, and the taste and smell of coffee decreases.

The process will continue to work. But only if you don’t add more coffee grounds! If you read your Bible then look at pornography, you’re treading water at best.

—Neil Anderson in Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World

My Response: What am I displacing impure thoughts with?

Adapted from Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World (Harvest, 2004)

Prayer for the Week: Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.

A Heart for Holiness – Fierce Fight

Impure ThoughtsWho Said It…Neil Anderson

Neil was raised on a Minnesota farm. After his Navy stint, he became an aerospace engineer. But then he switched to pastoral ministry for more than 20 years.

Neil next turned to teaching at Talbot School of Theology. He founded Freedom in Christ Ministries to equip churches to enable recovery from addictions.

Now retired in Carefree, Arizona, Neil works on his golf game and keeps on writing books about Christ-centered living.

What He Said…Fierce Fight

When I was a young Christian, I decided to clean up my mind. I had had a good upbringing, for which I am thankful, and had become a Christian in my twenties.

After four years in the Navy, however, my mind was polluted with a lot of junk. I had seen enough pornography aboard ship to plague me for years. Images would dance in my mind for months after one look. I hated it. I struggled every time I went to a place where pornography was available.

When I made the decision to clean up my mind, do you think the battle got easier or harder? It got harder, of course. Temptation isn’t much of a battle if you easily give in to it. It is fierce when you decide to stand against it.

Although you may despair, with all your steps backward, God won’t give up on you. Remember, your sins are already forgiven. This is a winnable battle, because you are alive in Christ and dead to sin, you can become all God has called you to be. The bigger war has already been won by Christ.

Adapted from Finding Freedom in a Sex-Obsessed World (Harvest, 2004)

Prayer for the Week:  Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be.