STRIVING TO LIVE PURE
January 27, 2012
2 Samuel 11:1-17
Today we read the tragic story of David, Bathsheba and Uriah. From the roof of his palace, David saw Bathsheba bathing, had her taken to him, and had sexual relations with her. She got pregnant. To cover up his deed, David tried to get her husband Uriah, called from the battlefield, to sleep with her. When that failed, David had Uriah placed in such a position in battle that he was killed.
See how great sins come about innocently enough? David was just strolling about after his siesta. It was not like one today searching the Internet for pornography. Anyway, he espied a beautiful naked woman and began to lust for her. Events quickly moved (certainly with some push from the evil one). From a casual stroll, to an innocent glance, to a prolonged look, to lust in the heart, to illicit sex, to lies and deception and cover-up, and finally to murder.
The devil is a prowling lion looking for someone to devour. You want to live pure? Do not even give him an opening! Do not watch TV programs or movies that you know have much sex content. Do not even just look at the covers of those girlie mags while strolling at the stores. And definitely do not browse over sexually explicit content on the Internet.
Sisters, you do not have to be naked to tempt men. It can happen even if you are fully clothed. So do not wear provocative clothing–either too revealing or too figure-hugging. Have pity on the poor brothers whose hormones may be raging and who have to really struggle to keep their minds captive to Christ.
Know the reality: we are all conceived in original sin. “True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.” (Ps 51:7). Unless we have been truly renewed in Christ and have become strong in our faith, it is unnatural to live pure. What is natural is to give in to the sinful flesh. This is what the enemy exploits.
Then know what God demands of us, and that is our holiness. “Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow.” (Ps 51:9). Despite the great difficulty, God wants us to be pure, to be holy as He is holy, to be even whiter than snow. This is possible because we have been washed by the blood of Jesus. He has taken on our sins and nailed them to the cross. He has given us a new nature, restoring us what God originally intended at creation. He empowers us with His Holy Spirit.
God does all that, and of course we need to do our part. We need to cooperate with His grace generously poured out upon us. What must we do?
First, be aware of our sinfulness and the weakness of our flesh. “For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.” (Ps 51:5). We make an honest assessment of our shortcoming. We do not justify wrongdoing. We expose our sin to God’s light.
Second, know that every sin is not just sin against another person, but against God. “Against you alone have I sinned” (Ps 51:6a). When we sin against another person, we break God’s commandments. Thus we sin against God. This is important to impress upon ourselves the gravity of sin in our life. It is not only doing wrong to another human being, but we are acting against God Himself! We may rationalize why we might do wrong to another person, but we can never rationalize doing wrong to God.
Third, continually beg for God’s mercy. “Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness” (Ps 51:3a). Now God’s mercy has already been unilaterally given, and will continue to be given. But begging for God’s mercy is our humble, self-emptied posture of total dependence and reliance upon Him. We do not have to beg in order to get mercy from God. We beg rather in order that we might be properly disposed to receive such mercy.
Fourth, be sincere of heart. “Still, you insist on sincerity of heart” (Ps 51:8a). Really desire to live pure. Really desire to overcome temptation and wrongdoing in your life. Follow that up with action–having a life of prayer, being in fellowship with brethren, doing active service.
Fifth, have the confidence that God is compassionate and does forgive you, and when He forgives, He completely forgets. We can truly confidently pray, “in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.” (Ps 51:3b). Though we sin again and again, God looks to the progress we make, never holding our weakness against us, never tiring of giving us a fresh start. “Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.” (Ps 51:11).
Sixth, continue to gain wisdom. Ask God, “in my inmost being teach me wisdom.” (Ps 51:8b). God makes His will known in many ways. One of the most important is the Bible. Read it everyday, meditate on God’s word, do systematic study. Attend assemblies and formation programs and listen intently to the teachings. Watch Christian TV programs, read Christian books and magazines, listen to Christian radio stations.
Seventh, know that there is great rejoicing in heaven when the one lost is found. Jesus rejoices, the angels and saints rejoice, we rejoice as well. “Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.” (Ps 51:10). Avoiding sin and living pure is not cause for an unhappy, unfulfilled, empty life, as the world sees it. Living pure brings great joy, for we are living like God.
Eighth, really desire to live pure. “Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.” (Ps 51:4). Hunger and thirst for purity. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” (Mt 5:6). By God’s grace, with God’s mercy, notwithstanding our human weakness, nor the attack of the enemy, we can indeed live pure.
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