Sunday, February 18, 2018 am                                        NT Church Index


Keeping the Church Pure


As we continue examining the church, today we begin addressing our need to keep the church pure.  Today we want to talk about the purity of the church.  Next week we will address the need for discipline.  This will be followed by a brief study of worldliness and the church.

 I.                     The church and purity

a.       Purity - When we speak of purity, we need a desire to keep the church unpolluted and undiluted as to what God intends for her to be.  A pure church is one that has not been corrupted by worldly influences, either from without or within.

b.       Christ died to purify the church - Ephesians 5:25-27 – the church is described as His bride and compared to the husband/wife relationship.  Jesus gave Himself for the church.  He died to sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, without spot or wrinkle.   This implies a pure body. 

c.        2 Corinthians 11:2, Paul’s laboring with Corinth was to present them “as a chaste virgin to Christ.”  The idea of chaste, is pure.  The NASB and ESV both use the word “pure” here.    The word is also translated pure in other passages – Philippians 4:8, James 3:27, 1 John 3:3. 

d.       1 Corinthians 5:6-8 – a little leaven, leavens the whole lump.  Paul is concerned with the immorality they were failing to deal with at Corinth.  He warns them to deal with it lest the “whole lump” be influenced by the immorality in their midst.

 II.                   How do we keep the church pure?

a.       Members have a responsibility – by living pure lives. 

                                                   i.      Remember that we ARE the church.   1 Corinthians 12:27. Ephesians 5:30, in the midst of Paul’s analogy of the church as Christ’s bride he notes, “We are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”

                                                 ii.      We are where purity begins.  Matthew 5:8 speaks of the pure in heart. 
2 Timothy 2:22, it is with a pure heart that we call on the Lord.  This is done by fleeing youthful lusts and pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace.
1 Peter 1:22, as we obey the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, we have purified our souls. 
1 John 3:3, because of our hope of the resurrection, we purify ourselves, “as He is pure”. 

                                                iii.      We have been cleansed – In becoming Christians we are made pure before God.  The idea of washing away our sins demonstrates this (Acts 22:16). 
1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul reminds them of their former conduct, “but you were washed…”
1 John 1:7 – even as Christians, when we sin, the blood of Jesus cleanses us. 
Romans 6 – one of the points Paul makes here is that having obeyed the gospel and put on the new man, we are now different and cannot continue to live in sin. 

                                                iv.      We need to be seeking to live lives of purity.  Think of the word “holy”.  A word that means we have been set apart.  We are to live holy and pure lives so that we can be in God’s presence.  1 Peter 1:15-16 reminds us to be holy in conduct, just as God is holy. 
2 Corinthians 7:1,
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

                                                  v.      Churches affected by the impurity of its members.

1.       The church (i.e. the brethren) at Corinth was rebuked by Paul, because of their failure to live pure lives AND to keep the church pure.  That is specifically addressed in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 where they were tolerating adultery in their midst.

2.        In Revelation, among the churches the Lord rebuked we find, Pergamos that had those who held to false doctrines, specifically mentioned are the doctrine of Balaam and the doctrine of Nicolaitans (Rev. 2:14-15).  This affected the purity of the church and endangered their standing before God unless they repented (vs. 16). 

3.       Thyatira allowed “that woman Jezebel” to teach and seduce “My servants” to sexual immorality and acts associated with idolatry.  (Rev. 2:20-23), There was a call for repentance.  Again, you have a church that is NOT pure.  And it was not only those in error, but those who allowed it. 
NOTE: There were some who did

4.       Laodicea, described as lukewarm.  NOTHING good was said about this church.  Described as lukewarm, wretched, miserable, poor and blind (Rev. 3:15-17).
Then in vs. 18 they were challenged to buy refined gold and white garments and eye salve to make themselves whole (pure).  They were called upon to “be zealous and repent.” (vs. 19). 

5.       These churches were not pure and needed to take measures (along with other congregations) to remedy their conduct.   The answer was in its MEMBERS repenting and doing what they ought to do. 

                                                vi.      James 1:27 – pure and undefiled religion, … to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

                                              vii.      The purity of the church has a direct correlation to our purity as its members.  If we as members see no need to live pure and separate (from the world) lives, it will be reflected in the congregation.  And if we collectively ignore it, in time we will be influenced by their impurities. 

b.       Preachers must preach the whole counsel of God.

                                                   i.      Preachers have a responsibility to impart the word of God.  Their job is to help the flock know what is pure and what is impure.

                                                 ii.      As a preacher he must preach the word in season and out of season – 2 Timothy 4:2-3

He must expose the unfruitful works of darkness – Ephesians 5:11

When he knows of sin and impurity in our midst, he needs to expose and warn about it

When he knows of dangers that are facing us (false teachers, etc.), he warns against it.  etc.

                                                iii.      He is to be an example of purity – 1 Timothy 4:6 – exercise yourself to godliness; 4:12-16 where Paul notes that Timothy’s good example would both him and those who heard him.   In making accusations, etc. “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22)

                                                iv.      NOTE: IN all of this, what he says must be done with love – Ephesians 4:15, 1 Timothy 4:12, 6:11; 2 Timothy 1:7, 13, 2:22, 3:10, etc.  The attitude with which a preacher approaches the message has an effect on the demeanor of the congregation.  He needs to temper what he says with grace and tact.  HOW you say something is as important as WHAT you say!

                                                  v.      Far too many today just won’t deal with the issues that are divisive and controversial.  Or equally concerning, they defend impure practices and teachings. 
They are more fearful of the members than they are of God’s judgment.  They are guilty of what Paul warned against in 2 Timothy 4:3 – appeasing those with “itching ears”.

c.        Elders must ensure that the truth is not being corrupted and compromised

                                                   i.      They are of proven character and experience that they can lead – shepherd the flock. (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9.

                                                 ii.      Acts 20:26-31, Paul charged and warned the Ephesian elders to shepherd the flock and be aware of wolves both without and within.   He was concerned about the purity of that flock.

                                                iii.      Titus 1:9-11 – one of their tasks is to be able to identify those who contradict God’s word, those insubordinate, idle talkers and deceivers.

                                                iv.      Far too many today, as with preachers, fail to take adequate measures to ensure the purity of the flock.  They may ignore sinful conduct, forbid that certain subjects be preached on, or value harmony over truth.  They may fail to GROUND the flock with adequate and balanced preaching.  Some elders fail to practice discipline thus leaving the leaven to influence the whole flock.

d.       Discipline – when we have those teaching error or living in immorality or impure lives, we need to mark them.  Titus 3:10-11 – after adequate warning, we must reject the divisive man.  1 Corinthians 5:1-7 warns to deliver the immoral person to Satan that he may repent.  Romans 16:17 calls for us to note those who cause divisions.  Etc. 
This is a CRUCIAL step in keeping the church pure.  And it is not an easy thing to do.   
More on this next week as we address the subject of discipline in the body.

e.       Zeal 

                                                   i.      We need to be “on fire” for the Lord.  Serving God needs to be something we genuinely care about and are enthusiastic about. 

                                                 ii.      When there are problems we seek to resolve and deal with them - 2 Corinthians 7:10-11 described how the brethren in Corinth dealt with some of the sinful issues Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians.

                                                iii.      Titus 2:14 describes God’s people as zealous for good work.. We need to ALL be zealous for the Lord’s cause.

                                                iv.      I think of Jesus cleansing the temple in John 2:13-17 where the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house has eaten me up” (Psalm 69:9).

                                                  v.      Complacency and indifference can cause us to let our guard down and in time that can lead to impurities creeping into our midst.  It can also cause us to not vigorously strive to keep God’s word which will corrupt the body.


As always, our goal in this study has been to encourage us to respect God’s pattern and let the church (congregation) be the one we can read of in scripture.  Jesus died to make the church pure.  What are WE doing to keep her pure?