Sunday, May 19, 2013 am            Purer in Heart Index

Qualities – 3

 As we continue our study of the pure heart, we are in the midst of examining qualities associated with the pure heart.  Thus far we have discussed how it is undivided, it prioritizes, is resolved and manifests integrity.  These qualities are at the foundation of the pure heart.  Today we continue to examine other qualities by noting specific attributes that will be present in the pure heart.   In this lesson we will discuss 2 more - honesty and self-control.

 I.                    A pure heart is honest –

a.        In our last lesson we discussed integrity which includes honesty.  Here we present just a few other points in which we notice HOW an honest heart will act.

b.       What is honesty? “Fairness or straightforwardness of conduct; adherence to the facts.”[1]
When we speak of honesty we are speaking of one who is absolutely truthful and one that can be fully trusted.  In this you can certainly see how it relates to integrity.

c.        In all things we need to be honest -

                                                   i.      Eph. 4:25, “Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth to his neighbor’, for we are members of one another.” 
Rev. 21:8 – “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

                                                  ii.      Examining & applying God’s word requires an honest heart.  After all, it is the “seed” that is planted in our hearts. (Luke 8: 11)  Therefore, as we study it there must be honesty – 2 Tim. 2:15 speaks of “rightly dividing the word of truth.”   The NASU says, “accurately handling the word of truth.”  Peter warned his audience that there were some who are untaught and unstable that twist the scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Pet. 3:16)
IF we TRULY want to be pleasing to God, we must be BRUTALLY honest in our studies – both in interpretation and application.  We will approach His word desiring to exegete (get out of it what is intended) instead of trying to eisegete (put into it what you want).

                                                iii.      In our dealings with others – we are continually reminded to be a proper example (Matt. 5:13-16).  2 Cor. 8:21 Paul spoke of how in his conduct he provided “honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.”  (The KJV uses the word ”honest”)
Rom. 12:17 says, “Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.”
Perhaps this is best summarized by our Lord when He said, “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’, ‘No’.  For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” (Matt. 5:37)

                                                iv.      In making judgments about others – Matt. 7:1-5 is a passage often used to say we should not judge others, but if you examine the text, even the context provides for making moral judgments (cf. vs. 6, also see John 7:24).  But it IS dealing with dishonest judgments – prejudice, uniformed judgments (i.e. jumping to conclusions without all the facts), assuming the worst (especially the way you WANT it to be, judging motives, etc.).

                                                  v.      Don’t lie to yourself – a big problem we need to consider.  IF we tell ourselves we are ok when we are not, or if seek out someone to justify what we know to be ungodly conduct – we are NOT being honest with ourselves. 
A tactic that is becoming increasingly popular today is to redefine terms.   IT is used to deceive (e.g. Matt. 15:3-6), and it is used to justify sinful conduct (such as redefining various terms that condemn homosexuality – Rom. 1:26-27, 1 Cor. 6:29).

                                                vi.      Friends, a pure heart will be honest in all things and at all times. 

 II.                  A pure heart exercises Self-Control

a.        What is self-control?  It means that one has mastered his desires and actions.  Rather than being ruled by them, he manages them in a responsible manner.   Self-control includes doing what one needs to do, even if he doesn’t want to do it or if it is unpleasant AND refraining from doing that which he ought NOT to do. 
Other words associated with it include self-discipline, temperance, moderation, sobriety, etc.

b.       In all that we do, we need self-control.  It is behind everything we do and don’t do.   IT is a determining factor of success and failure in one’s life.  It gives our lives order.  IT is instrumental in how much we grow.
EVERY sin we commit involves our self-control.   The lack of self-control fills our prisons, causes broken homes, damages relationships, and causes the tongue to utter sinful things.  It causes us to neglect responsibilities, become easily distracted and live lives of mediocrity or even failure.
The lack of self-control of leads to personal disasters in one’s life:  It is the reason why so many are in debt, they have poor diets and health issues, their tongues are cesspools of ungodliness (lies, gossip, profanity, filthy language, etc), their homes and lives are in disorder (both inward and outward), they are addicted to substances and bad behavior (i.e. gambling & pornography), they procrastinate in doing what needs to be done, and so many other things amiss in our lives.

c.        Self-control is vital to a pure heart and our faith.  It will determine how we will grow spiritually, how we will handle conflict and decisions, how we use our time, where we go, who we associate with, etc.
The lack of self-discipline is behind poor Bible study and prayer habits, disinterest in the church and brethren, poor attendance and habitual tardiness, many problems between brethren,  nominal attitudes toward worship, and a general attitude of worldliness instead of godliness.

d.       In the Bible there are many passages that deal with self-control

                                                   i.      James 3:2, “For we all stumble in many things.  If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.  IN this text, James notes that if one is able to perfectly control his tongue, he has mastered self-control and can manage EVERY aspect of his life.  THAT sounds like a good place to start in taking control of our lives.

                                                  ii.      2 Pet.  1:6 – in describing our development as Christians, it is added to our faith, virtue and knowledge.  In the process of spiritual growth that is where it belongs – You believe and live with integrity.  With that integrity you study God’s word and learn.  Your self-control (temperance) causes you to act upon what you have learned.  This in turn will lead to godliness and love. 

                                                iii.      Gal. 5:23 – it is also describe as a “fruit of the Spirit”, that is, a TRAIT of one who has the Spirit of God ruling his life.

                                                iv.      It is a quality of elders - 1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:8; and implied in the lives of deacons (cf. 1 Tim. 3:8-13) and preachers (1 Tim. 4:12-16).  The wives of elders and deacons are also to be temperate (1 Tim. 3:11).

                                                  v.      Titus 2:1-10 describes the conduct of brothers and sisters in the congregation in various age groups (older and younger).  Their conduct ALL implies control in their lives and at times it is specifically mentioned (vs. 2)

                                                vi.       1 Cor. 9:25-27 – the athlete is temperate in all things, and Paul disciplined his body lest he be disqualified because he did NOT bring his body into subjection.

                                               vii.      Acts 24:25 – As Paul reasoned with Felix, his discussion included righteousness and self-control and judgment to come.

                                             viii.      Prov. 25:28, “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.
Prov. 16:32, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

e.       We MUST control our lives.  I say this because we live in an age where far too many fail to take responsibility for their conduct and failures.  “It’s a genetic trait” (i.e. “I can’t help it”) or “It’s someone else’s fault” (i.e. “the devil made me do it”) or “It’s not fair what I’m having to deal with…”, are the mantras of the day to excuse or diminish accountability for our bad behavior.  Friends, don’t let someone else determine your eternal destiny!   Rom. 10:12, 14, “…For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ…So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
NOTE: I am not saying that you should not get help dealing with problems, but it is about taking responsibility for yourself.  And ANY help worth anything will begin with that premise AND will appeal to God’s word for answers.  And sometimes your first source of help ought to be your brethren (i.e. Jas. 5:16, 1 Thess. 5:14, etc.).

f.         But how does one learn self-control? 

                                                   i.      As this study develops later in the year, we will deal with this in more detail, but for now here are some observations.

                                                  ii.      There is no magic formula.  It is a determined mindset.  You must MAKE UP YOUR MIND that you are going to live as you ought to live.

                                                iii.      Take an honest spiritual inventory of your life. 2 Cor. 13:5.

                                                iv.      Realize the consequences of your decisions!  What will cause you to be lost?  It is you choice to continue in sinful behavior!  Many of us are not motivated enough to give up sinful conduct because we do not appreciate the severity of the consequences!
AT the same time realize the rewards of self-control.  I.e. – get out of debt, better health, spiritually – draw closer to God, greater knowledge, peace of mind, etc.
IN God’s eyes, this is NOT an option!  Consider Luke 9:23, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (NKJV)

                                                  v.      You need to purify your heart!  That is work to remove impurities that are hindering your growth.  Jas. 4:8 tells us to cleans our hands and purify our hearts.

                                                vi.      You have to MAKE yourself do what you need to do.  That is what Paul was saying in 1 Cor. 9:25-27.

                                               vii.      Deal with your distractions.  You may need to simplify your life because it is too cluttered.  Take care of the problems you can take care of. 
Don’t worry about what is out of your control!  Worrying doesn’t solve the problems (see Matt. 6:25-33 as an example of this.

                                             viii.      Pray to God for wisdom and strength – Jas. 1:5-7, 1 Pet. 5:6-7.  But in your prayers you must trust Him! 

                                                ix.      Know what your ultimate goal is – Heb. 12:1-2, are you running to win the prize?   Phil. 3:12-14 – press toward the goal “for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

g.        The pure heart disciplines itself! 

The pure heart is made known by the way we live our lives.  It is shown by the qualities we possess.   These qualities are sometimes described as fruit.  And Jesus Himself said, “By their fruits you will know them.” (Matt. 7:16-20)  What is interesting to notice as we study these qualities is that while they describe the pure heart, it is through developing and perfecting these qualities in our life that we will purify our hearts.  May we strive to be in control of all that we do striving to develop that good and honest heart that is so pleasing to Him!