Sunday, September 8, 2013 am            Purer in Heart Index


Dangers -2
Lust – Covetousness & Pride

 Recently we resumed our study on the pure heart, our theme for 2013.  Having discussed the qualities of a pure heart, we have now begun noticing some dangers to the pure heart.  We examined the danger of sensual lust.  Today we want to examine 2 more forms of lust.

The word typically translated “lust” in the Greek is a word that means intense desire.  It can have a positive application (Phil 1:23, 1 Thess. 2:17, Luke 22:15).  But when the word “lust” is found, it is always in a bad sense.  As such the word has reference to intense cravings for that which you are not entitled to have.

An interesting passage to consider as we begin our study today is Romans 7:7 which says, “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’”  (Also Rom. 13:9) The word “covetousness” and “covet” are based upon the same word that we have discussed for “lust” (cf. 1 John 2:15-16).  And that leads us to the next form of lust that we will discuss today.

I.                    Covetousness – The Lust of the flesh and eyes

a.        Covetousness

                                                   i.      Louw & Nida (25.22) defines the word (πλεονεξία, pleonexia) [most common usage] as, “a strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions or to possess more things than other people have, all irrespective of need”. 
A simple definition for covetousness is the lust for things.  

                                                  ii.      We speak of the sensual appeal being everywhere in our media and society, but it receives strong competition from the appeal of materialism.  WE live in a materialistic world.  The pursuit of things is the mantra of the day. 

                                                iii.      Wealth is often portrayed as the way to get what you want, and the miseries are often downplayed.  We are told that we deserve it and it is made available to us, “with easy monthly payments”.    Our “heroes” are often showered with wealth, whether it be sports, theatre, movies or in the business world.  Book stores have shelves devoted to financial security and accumulation. 

b.       Covetousness can also find its way into the Lord’s church

                                                   i.      It can cause members to not give as they ought to.

                                                  ii.      It can cause a church to concentrate on the externals instead of its standing before God.  Think of the attitude condemned in James 2:1-4 dealing with partiality.

                                                iii.      It can lead to compromise of the truth rather than face material consequences (such as angering an influential member or offending those in sin).

                                                iv.      There is a reason its leaders are expected to be “not greedy for money” (1 Tim. 3:3, Titus 1:7).

                                                  v.      The health and wealth gospel appeals to the covetous attitude  - we even have preachers proclaiming that God wants you to be rich with this world’s possessions.  Many of these charlatans are very successful, in spite of the warnings in scripture about such.  2 Pet. 2:2-3 speaks of the covetousness of false teachers (and prophets).  1 Tim. 6:5 speaks of those who suppose that godliness is a means of gain.

c.        Associated with covetousness is selfishness -

                                                   i.      Because of the materialism and worldliness that is so prevalent, we live in a very selfish society.  We are still in the “me” generation. 
Society is replete with examples of the self-serving attitude and selfish goals.  Many of the reality shows, including game shows demonstrate and provoke selfishness.  The winner of these shows (which last for weeks) will often do whatever they have to, to win – lie, betray, scheme, etc.

                                                  ii.      Selfishness is a work of the flesh – Gal 5:20.

                                                iii.      2 Timothy 3:1-5 gives what I describe as a list of selfishness.  When we sin, chances are it is the product of selfishness.

                                                iv.      Romans 2:5-9 gives warning concerning those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth.  Indignation and wrath awaits them.

                                                  v.      The self-serving attitude will NOT complement the pure heart.  In fact, it will taint virtually every attribute of it.  It is the antithesis of the life the Christian is to live – serving God and others.  

                                                vi.      1 John 3:17,“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?  This is just ONE passage that demonstrates the problem with selfishness.

                                               vii.      Phil. 2:3-4 calls for us to, with humility, avoid selfish ambitions.  Vs. 5-8 give us the ultimate example of selflessness – our Lord Jesus Christ.

d.       The pursuit of things WILL clutter and corrupt the heart.  I say clutter because we may fill our lives with stuff that is not wrong within itself, but too much of it takes away resources (time, money, energy, etc.) from matters that serve God and others – which are qualities of a pure heart.

e.       Jesus said, probably to His disciples, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15)

f.         Ecclesiastes 5:10, “He who loves silver will not be satisfied with silver; Nor he who loves abundance, with increase. This also is vanity.”

g.        In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus described 4 different types of hearts (Luke 8:4-15).  One type was the thorny soil (heart).  Vs. 14 says, “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.”   In this we find how STUFF can corrupt the pure heart filling it with weeds.

h.       Jesus told the rich, young ruler that his possessions stood in his way of salvation (Luke 18:18-23).

i.         Peter spoke of the motives of false teachers as, “having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children.” (2 Peter 2:14)

j.         Colossians 3:5 calls covetousness idolatry & Ephesians 5:3–5 elaborates saying, “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

k.        Matt. 6:24, Jesus said, you CANNOT serve 2 masters –God and mammon – a word that is descriptive of worldly wealth.

l.         Learning contentment and love for others will help one overcome covetousness.  Heb. 13:5 says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness.  Be content with such things as you have

 II.                    Pride and arrogance – the pride of life

a.        Another danger to the pure heart.  Like the other sins we have discussed, Jesus said that pride proceeds from within, out of the hearts of men – Mark 7:21-23.  He concluded, “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”

b.       The idea of pride (ὑπερηφανία, huperephania) is the lust for self-exaltation.  It is descriptive of one who has an inflated sense of himself and his accomplishments.  He sees himself as great, and usually better than others.  Often he desires to show it.  Not only will he manipulate a situation to put himself in the best light, he will also look down upon others, often with a different standard than he holds to himself.
The expression “puffed up” is sometimes used to describe this egotistical attitude.

c.        The products of pride include self-righteousness and arrogance. 

Self-righteousness, like pride is an attitude of moral superiority, but it deals specifically with one’s perceived standing before God.  In the parable of the Pharisee and Tax collector (Luke 18:9-14), Jesus was speaking “to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others”.  The self-righteous person is one who you can’t talk to because his ego is so inflated you can’t bring him down.  Clearly this attitude is condemned.

Arrogance – is the outward display of one’s pride and self-righteousness.  It describes one who readily exalts and parades his greatness as he looks down on others.  It describes one who thinks he is invincible and thus he might act prideful or foolishly. 
When Peter rebuked Jesus saying he would never deny Him, there was some arrogance there.
Selfishness – like covetousness, pride lends itself to selfishness as well.  When one acts, he always does so in his own self-interest.  One who is prideful causes suspicion when he does something charitable.   The reason is because quite often the first question he asks is, “What’s in it for me?” Consider that tax collector in Luke 18.  Consider also the warning of Jesus in Matthew 6:1-3 concerning the giving of alms.  What they do is for egotistical praise – to draw attention to themselves.  Matthew 23:5 sais of the hypocritical leaders of Israel, “all their works they do to be seen of men.”

d.       Prov. 16:5, “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Though they join forces, none will go unpunished”;

Prov. 16:18, “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

e.       Prov. 21:4, “A haughty look, a proud heart, And the plowing of the wicked are sin.”

f.         1 Peter 5:5, “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”

g.        Developing humility will overcome pride and arrogance


And thus we can see the dangers of lust to purity of heart.  We have discussed the three avenues of lust in this lesson (1 John 2:16).  We will continue our study next week with other dangers to the pure heart by examining ignorance and unbelief.

Meanwhile, our goal in studying these things is to make us aware of them.  We must never forget to be sober and vigilant in our service to God.  That includes keeping our hearts pure.  There is a common saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  That applies as we seek to take care of our physical bodies.  It is also true spiritually.  The first step to avoiding pitfalls is awareness.  Let us seek to be aware not only the qualities that produce a pure heart, but also those which will taint it.  We are not ignorant of the devices of Satan, lest he take advantage of us (2 Cor. 2:11).  How is your heart?