|Volume 24 Number 6 June 2022
Martha Lynn Rushmore
Matthew 7:18-20 reads, “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (NKJV). Do you really know someone the first time you meet her? Of course not. It takes a while to become acquainted with a person. Sometimes we meet someone who seems to be what we would want in a friend, but later we find out she is not at all the person we thought her to be. Other times, we seem to have hit it off right away, and we have made a sound judgment. This woman is what we would call the real deal.
It is amazing to me how many people are watching us. We go about our lives not thinking about who we are influencing for good or for evil.
Let us look at Molly for instance. She was a devout Christian wife. She took care of her husband when he had cancer until she had to finally resort to hospice for help. The nurses saw how lovingly she cared for him. One day the nurses were talking among themselves, and a male nurse who had only seen Molly and her husband a few times described her as a unique and impressive woman. Her purity was shining through as the beautiful sun to others who did not even know her. She was demonstrating how our lives should be seen by others. Ladies, this is how we want to let there be sunshine in our lives as Christians for all to see. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
Now let’s look at Proverbs 11:2, which says, “As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.” Can you imagine seeing a fat pig covered in mud with a gold ring hanging from his snout? What do you see first? Yes, the muddy pig and then maybe the gold ring. Even if the gold ring were not covered, you still would see the filthiness of the pig. A beautiful woman who does not use good common sense acts foolishly. She gives up all modesty and good behavior, instead to wallow in the filth of impurity and sin.
In Proverbs 30:12 we find, “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, Yet is not washed from its filthiness.” Sometimes, we have blinders on when looking at ourselves. Perhaps, we compare ourselves to others. “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise” (2 Corinthians 10:12). We should make sure we look at our lives with open eyes and an honest heart. We should not compare ourselves to others around us. They are not our standard! The Word of God is our only standard, and by it we will be judged.
Remember the story of Charlotte’s Web. Wilbur the pig was going to be taken to the county fair to be entered into a contest. His prize was going to be a blue a ribbon. Since Wilbur was going to be judged on cleanliness and many more characteristics, the farmer’s wife gave him a bath in buttermilk. This was for his cleansing. We will be judged on the Day of Judgment, but it will not be for a blue ribbon. It will be for our eternal reward or eternal punishment. How do we want to be seen? Do we want to be clean and pure or covered with mud? Let’s discern from the following passages spiritual cleanliness versus the muddiness of sin that we ought to avoid.
“It is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Corinthians 7:1). Ladies, a woman must keep herself pure and clean for her future husband. Men do not want a used up, old washrag (impure woman) for a wife.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8-9). We are to live our lives close to God, and He will stay close to us and help us to have pure hearts.
“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22-23). If we truly love the brethren, we will treat them with respect, and expect to be treated with respect in return.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil” (Isaiah 1:16). We need to wash and cleanse ourselves spiritually every day. This way, we will help to keep ourselves from doing evil. We will fill our lives with righteous living.
Psalm 19:9 reads, “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” If we have an awesome respect for the Lord, we will not have a fear (being afraid) of His judgment to come. This is not to say that we are permitted to believe we are right even if we are not right with God. We know God’s judgments are always true and righteous.
Psalm 19:12 says, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” If we look closely for our errors and impurities, the Lord will help us cleanse ourselves. We really must be honest with ourselves. I know this is hard because sometimes we think of ourselves more highly than we ought. As Christians, to cleanse ourselves, we must repent of our shortcomings and sins.
God is aware when we are trying to live our lives in purity and to be pleasing to Him. In Psalm 18:20-22 we find, “The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; According to the cleanness of my hands, He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord, And have not wickedly departed from my God. For all His judgments were before me, And I did not put away His statutes from me.” What did the Psalmist say the Lord did for him because he was trying to live uprightly?
I am sure we want to be seen as pure, faithful Christian ladies who glorify our God and set the best example for both Christians and non-Christians. Remember, we are watched by many around us.
Living Pure & Holy Lives
We are to live holy lives of purity because God commands this of us. God also tells us why in 1 Thessalonians 4:7, where it reads, “For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.” God has called us to righteous holiness. He wants us to have pure hearts, and therefore, we will have clean lives. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18-19).
In 1 Peter 1:15-16 we read, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” We are to be holy because God is holy. “God calls us to a life holiness. Not moments of holiness, or ‘when I feel like it’ holiness but a complete all-encompassing life of holiness” (Pryor 127).
We want to live in Christ and not be of this world. I must look at myself honestly. So, let’s look at Matthew 7:3, where we find, “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” Most of us think of ourselves as holy and righteous. This is where our self-examination should start. It should begin with me looking at myself – not at others. We want to look to Heaven so we can be closer to Jesus.
Let us look at 2 Corinthians 6:17a, which reads, “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.’” We are to live in this world, but we are not to act like those of the world. The world does not put Christ and His church first. Most have no interest in Christianity. What are some ways in which we do not want to be caught living like those of the world around us?
Living Differently from the Ungodly World
We do not want to act like those of this ungodly world. If we act like the world, we will not be prepared for the Judgment. We want to hear these words from our Lord, “Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23). We do not want to hear the words, “I never knew you; depart from Me” (Matthew 7:23).
Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” God does not want us to leave Him to follow the ways of the world. He does not want us to obey the Devil. If we do this, it will cost us our souls. Then in Colossians 3:2 we read, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” We are to set our mind on things above, on spiritual things rather than on the things of this world. We should act and think spiritual things as the Lord would have us do.
From Genesis 19, we learn of Lot and his family living in the sinful city of Sodom. God sent two angels to warn Lot of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah because of the homosexuality in those cities. They warned Lot, Mrs. Lot and their daughters not to look back on these cities or they would be punished. On their way out of the city, Mrs. Lot looked back. She immediately was turned into a pillar of salt. We do not know why she looked back. As a mother, maybe she glanced back because she had left some children or some of her friends there. What would I do? I do not know, but I would hope I would obey the will of God.
Generally, we think of holiness as cleanliness, moral living and righteousness. Yes, these are things for which we should strive to have holy lives. There is much more that makes up a holy life for our God. To live a holy life, we are to be separated from evil and set apart from the world. How can we do this? We are told in 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” From what did God call us? Darkness! That is where we do not want to be, for it is nowhere near Him. God will not leave us but has promised to always be with us – if and as long as we obey His Word. We must abide in the Word of God. We do not want to walk or run away from God.
First John 1:6-7 informs us, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” We cannot lie to ourselves if we want to be in fellowship with Christ.
Second Timothy 2:20-23 tells us, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” In these verses, Paul described vessels in a great house. Some were gold, silver, clay or wood. We are vessels, too. What kind of vessel are you or am I? We are told to avoid evil and instead embrace a godly way of life. We want these qualities to be seen in us by others.
Preparing Pure Lives for the Future
Titus 2:5 reveals that we ought “to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their [our] own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” These are qualities that God expects of His daughters – women of the church. These are characteristics of pure, holy lives.
First Peter 3:1-2 says, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.” A Christian wife may win her husband to the Lord by her chaste conduct. She will do more by being silent than by nagging him!
Then in Colossians 3:2 we read, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” We are to set our minds on things above, on spiritual things rather than on the things of this world. We should act and think spiritual things as the Lord would have us do.
Second Corinthians 6:3-6 says, “We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love.” Likewise, as sisters in Christ, we need to be true to our Christian profession despite difficulties and hindrances that may confront us.
“Even a child is known by his deeds, Whether what he does is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11). Sisters, we will be known to those around us – within our families, in our neighborhoods, among our friends and coworkers, as well as by others with whom we interact or by those who observe us. When others see you or me, what do they see?
Why do so many people (including Christians) consider themselves “pure in his own eyes” (Proverbs 16:2)? How do we separate ourselves from the world in which we live? Do we find it difficult to do this, and if so, why?
Note Matthew 6:33, which says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” If we put God and His church first, we will have what we need, though not necessarily everything we want. As you all know, there is a big difference between our needs and our desires. What are some necessities?
Now, give what are some desires or things we want but do not really need. They are not wrong if we do not put them before God and the church.
These are not wrong, but when we put them before Christ and His church, we sin. If we want to make it to Heaven, we must obey the words of Jesus Christ. “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
Remember, we do not want to act like those of this ungodly world. If we act like the world, we will not be prepared for the Judgment. We want to hear these words from our Lord, “Enter into the joy of your lord” (Matthew 25:23). We do not want to hear the words, “I never knew you; depart from Me” (Matthew 7:23).
Pryor, Heather. Purer in Heart. St. Petersburg, Florida: Pryor Convictions Media, 2015. This book was the catalyst for this lesson and my thoughts.