How Do I Seek Purity?

Posted by on January 30, 2011 under Bulletin Articles, Front Page Posts

And after He called the multitude to Him, He said to them, “Hear, and understand. Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” Matthew 15:10, 11 (NASB)

The Jewish approach to purity in the first century (and before) focused on the acts of the body. Thus, one was pure if the person did the right acts in the right way at the right time. For example, one person could actually hate another person, and remain pure if the hater treated the person he hated properly. Or, one person could deceive another and still be pure if the deceitful person deceived in the proper way.

In this concept of purity, what was inside a person did not matter if the person acted appropriately. What he actually felt, his motives, his reasoning behind his behavior, etc., were unimportant if he acted appropriately. As examples, his feelings for another man’s wife were not important if he acted properly toward the woman. Or, he may be greed-filled over another’s possessions, but it did not matter if the greed did not control his actions. Only one’s actions affected his religious purity.

Jesus’ teachings focused on what was within the person. That affected the person’s purity. Thus, Jesus emphasized one was not made pure by what he ate, but by his internal motives and emotions. The true origin of an evil act is an evil heart. A cup washed only on the outside is still dirty. A tomb looked outwardly beautiful, but it was inwardly vile. Purity involved the person’s inward thoughts as well as outward acts.

Peter had heard for so long the “outward” emphasis that he did not understand Jesus’ point. As an explanation, Jesus said this: “Are you still lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” Matthew 15:16-20 (NASB)

“To be pure, should I focus on the inside or the outside?” Both! May your actions always reflect your actual person! Righteousness results from righteous acts and motives!

When Godly People Do Satan’s Work

Posted by on January 23, 2011 under Bulletin Articles, Front Page Posts

But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” Matthew 16:23

How can a God-focused person do Satan’s work? First, acknowledge such happens. Peter was a God-focused person. However, if Jesus called Peter Satan, at that moment in that act, Peter did Satan’s work. Second, note Peter did not know he did Satan’s work. He was certain he did God’s work! When Peter told Jesus, “This will never happen to you,” he affirmed a loyalty that furthered God’s objectives (he thought). Third, note Peter actually opposed God’s purposes when he was certain that he assured the accomplishment of God’s purposes. He was certain his affirmation of loyalty in this manner was encouraging!

The point is this: when a human confuses personal desires with God’s objectives, he/she will do Satan’s work believing he/she is doing God’s work. Exchanging human desires for God’s objectives is spiritually deadly! For example, was it good to be committed to Jesus’ continuing physical life? Peter thought so! What was God’s objective? Jesus’ humiliating death and glorious resurrection! What was Jesus’ physical desire? To live! Read Matthew 26:37-39.

Jesus did not want suffering, but he surrendered to God’s purposes. Did Peter’s affirmation of loyalty encourage Jesus’ surrender? No! So who was Peter helping—God’s purpose or Satan’s discouragement? Here Peter worked for Satan not God!

How did that happen? Peter wanted Jesus to be Israel’s physical king. He wanted first-century Israel to be an independent power in world politics. He wanted to serve in Jesus’ administration. None of that could happen if Jesus died!

God had something better in mind—a universal Savior who extended forgiveness to all! However, for that to be, Jesus had to die. What seemed good to Peter was disastrous to God’s purpose. Human desires were not God’s purpose! What made sense to Peter powerfully discouraged Jesus! Human desires destroyed God’s objective!

Do you surrender to God or try to manipulate God? Do your wants oppose God?