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We are continuing our teaching series this week called...
Purity Matters

The questions we have been tackling in this series are: What does the bible say about purity? AND, why is it important for believers to strive to maintain purity in their lives?

The first week we talked about maintaining a Pure Mind. Last week we talked about developing a Pure Heart. If you missed either of those teachings, I encourage you to go back and watch them at

The topic of our teaching today is....
Pure in Practice: living out a pure mind and a pure heart in a dirty world

By practice I mean how you live out your belief system.

We have a problem in the body of Christ: Although some Christians say they love Jesus more than anything else on this earth, they live lives that contradict their beliefs. Their lifestyles don’t match their beliefs.

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12 says,
As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God (LIFESTYLE), as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

We instructed you how to live (Lifestyle) - Paul was concerned about their lifestyle or their practice of Christianity. Someone can say they believe the tenets of Christianity without practicing Christianity.

- If you know it is right to love your brother or sister and yet you gossip about them behind their backs, you are not practicing Christianity.
- If you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and yet you pollute it with tobacco, marijuana, or alcohol, you are not practicing Christianity.
- If you know stealing is a sin and yet keep the extra $20 that the cashier gave you by mistake, you are not practicing Christianity.
- If you know that you are forgiven by God and yet you feel guilty or condemned continually, you are not practicing Christianity.

So many people say to me, “But Pastor Lou, I believe in Jesus and in the bible, but it is just so hard to live for God. This is why you need to practice at it!

ILLUS – When I first started playing guitar, I was terrible. I could barely get my fingers to make a chord. But the more I practiced, the better I got at it. Pretty soon it became easier and easier to play, until it became second nature. This is the way everything is. Practice at it long enough and it will become part of you!
In order to please God - Someone has said that everyone lives to please someone: himself, his spouse, his parents, his child, his God, or someone else. We are to live a lifestyle that pleases God. And Paul told them to do this more and more. Why? Because there are not that many people doing it!

Next Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the Three instructions to live a pure life. He gave these instructions on the authority of Jesus! In other words, Jesus told him to tell us this!

The first instruction is to Avoid Sexual Immorality.

Look at verse 3-6
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified (PURE): that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.

God’s will to be sanctified – literally hagiasmos – The Greek word that the word ‘holy’ comes from. This word can mean a state of being set apart from sin (PURE), or the process of becoming more dedicated to God (SANCTIFIED).

Avoid sexual immorality - To be pure we need to avoid sexual immorality. Literally porniea – This word means illicit sexual interaction, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, or sexual intercourse with close relatives, and of course viewing the nakedness of another with the intent of self-gratification. This seems very hard especially in our oversexualized society. Everything is sex. Sex sells products. Sex builds careers – Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian. Sex sells the most movie tickets and gets the most people to binge a show. Sex gets the most likes on social media. The bible says we are to avoid sexual immorality the best we can.

But how can we stay pure in this world when we see it all around us? What should we do, walk around with blind folds on or bags over our heads? Of course not. Listen, I can control what I look at online, but I can’t control the pictures that the gas station mechanic has up on the wall of his shop. We avoid it the best we can, but we know that we are going to see some immoral images as we go about our daily lives. Does that make us impure? No. It is not that fact that we saw it that makes us impure, it is what we do about it. Look at what Paul said next in verse 4.

Avoid sexual immorality so that we…
Learn to control our own bodies in a way that is holy and honorable – We are to control our own bodies. You have control over what you do with your body. Someone once said, “I can resist anything, except temptation!” - Oscar Wilde. Someone else said, “The devil made me do it!” Sorry, that doesn’t hold up, because Paul said that you have control, and you are to control your own body. We aren’t to be worrying about what others are doing. Worry about you. Control your body in a way that is holy and honorable. Self-control in response to one’s sexual desires, Paul taught, could and must be learned. Christians are not the victims of circumstances or their fleshly passions. Sexual desire can be controlled is not wrong. We are sexual beings. God created us that way. But to enjoy sex to its fullest, you need to partake in it according to God’s standards – one man, one woman, committed to each other in marriage for life. If you want a healthy sex life, you need to follow God’s ways.

The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before – Does that mean that God is going to strike you down if you partake in sexual immorality? No, but you will probably end up suffering a heartbreak. You might get pregnant and detour the entire direction of your life. You could get an STD that will keep you dealing with sickness the rest of your life. You may develop a warped view of sex that will hinder every relationship to have in the future.

Look at verse 7,
For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

God has called us to be holy as he is holy. Hebrews 12:14 says, “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.” And then Paul gives another warning: If you reject this instruction, you are rejecting God!

The second instruction is to Love one another.

Look at verse 9,
9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,

Why does Paul talk about Loving others now? Because healthy relationships with other
believers will help you live holy in this world. We need each other. I need you looking after me, and you need me looking after you. We need brothers and sisters in our lives that we have given permission to speak the hard things to us that we may not want to hear. We keep each other accountable to God and to a holy standard. Paul told them, “Do this more and more!”

Galatians 6:1-10 says,
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

The third instruction is to Lead a quiet life.

Look at verse 11,
11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life (PRACTICE) may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
Quiet Life - Paul tells the Thessalonians to lead a quiet life. The Greek here means to lead a life that is not attempting to draw attention to itself. The believer’s lifestyle is not to ‘make a big stir’ or to put it in modern terms, not try to go viral!

Work with your hands – As Christians, we believe that the Lord Jesus is going to return to earth to bring justice and righteousness to the earth. In first century Thessalonica, the believers there were so expectant of the Lord’s return that they came to the conclusion that they didn’t have to work. They figured that if Jesus is coming, why waste time going to work. As a result, Christians began to get a bad reputation as being slothful and lazy. Listen, their expectation of the imminent return of Jesus is good and we should expect that too, but Paul tells them that they should make it their goal to win the respect of outsiders (unbelievers) by working hard. A lifestyle that pleases God included a strong work ethic!

So, Pastor Lou, how can we live a pure lifestyle in this dirty world?

Paul told the Thessalonians to avoid sexual immorality, to love one another, and to live a quiet life that gains the respect of outsiders. Let me give you another thought.

Our lifestyle is developed based on our beliefs and our identity. That is what you believe and who you are. If you identify as a follower of Jesus, your lifestyle should reflect that.

Identity is a person's sense of self. Charles Horton Cooley was an early sociologist known for his concept of the "Looking glass self." The Looking Glass Self says, "I am not who I think I am; I am not who you think I am; I am who I think you think I am."

That is: Our sense of identity is shaped by the reflection we see of ourselves in the eyes, words, and actions of others.

“I think that he thinks I cool, so I must be cool. Or dependable, or faithful, or smart, or
He doesn’t actually need to think I am cool I just have to think he thinks I am, and that is how I will live around him. My lifestyle will reflect who I think he thinks I am.

If this is the case, then we need to focus on who we are allowing to be the reflection of us that we pay attention to. We need to say it like this, "I am not who I think I am; I am not who you think I am; I am who I think God thinks I am"

Who do you think God thinks you are? Do you think that he is up in heaven judging every little thing you do? Do you see him as always upset with you? Or do you see him as a loving heavenly father who values you above all things, and wants the best for you, even when you sometimes don’t want the best for yourself?

Most of us focus only on the fact that God knows all our sins, and our messes. This thought makes us want to run and hide from God like Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden after they sinned. But do you realize that since God is omniscient, he also knows your potential. He knows what you would be like if you never allowed things like fear, or doubt, or confusion, or sin to hold you back from living your best life for him.

Our lifestyles (our practice) should be pure, but that only happens if we understand who God thinks we are. We are his children, and he loves us. We are the apple of his eye! He is routing for us. He will work everything out in our lives for his good. If we understand that, then we will find that we have a greater tendency to live up to that!

So how do know what God thinks about us?

Psalm 119:9 says,
How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.

When we read his word we become familiar with God’s thoughts toward us.

- I am chosen by God – 1 Thess 1:4
- 2 Tim 1:9 – I am called by God
- 2 Cor 5:17 – I am a new creation
- 1 Cor 6:19 – I am the temple of the Holy Spirit
- Eph 6:19 – I am forgiven of all my sins
- Gal 3:19 – I am blessed
- Rom 8:1-2 – I am free from condemnation
- Rom 8:15-16 – I am a child of God
- Rom 8:17 – I am God’s heir
- Rom 8:37 – I am more than a conqueror

This is who God thinks you are. Let him be the one you pay attention to to determine how you will live out your life in this world.

Question: we can ask ourselves to determine if a lifestyle choice pleases God or not: Does this action enhance my relationship with God?

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