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Parking Lots to Pathways: Morally Pure This sermon was prepared and preached by Pastor Mike Rose at First

Federated Church in Des Moines, Iowa, on Sunday, February 3, 2008. Copyright © 2008, First Federated Church We come to message three in the series, Parking Lots to Pathways: Spiritual Maturity is a Journey. Today’s message is titled Moral Purity; making choices that are consistent with my new life in Christ. So far we’ve discovered that the pathway begins with a Passionate Commitment to Jesus. It’s not about “religion,” but a relationship, and that relationship demands my surrender to Him as Lord. Matthew 16:24, New King James Version (NKJV), Jesus said: 21…If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. Once a relationship with Jesus is established, we must immerse ourselves in God’s Word, choosing to allow our lives to be Biblically Measured. 2 Timothy 3:16-17, NKJV - 16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Remember, God’s Word is profitable in four specific ways: 1. Teaches us what is true – doctrine. 2. Helps us understand what is wrong in our lives: reproof. 3. Straightens us out, helping us get where God wants us to be – correction. 4. Teaches/trains us to do what is right: instruction in righteousness. Important point to grasp: It’s fundamental, yet many seem to miss it. The spiritual growth pathway is one of choices. Nothing is automatic! Think of it as a manual shift car. To get the car moving, you must choose to put the car in first gear. But first gear is designed for what? To get the vehicle moving! If you stay in first gear, you’ll run your RPMs high, but you won’t build much speed, and you won’t make much progress. A manual shift car is designed for the driver to shift to second, third, fourth, overdrive. But none of it happens automatically. You’ve got to choose to do it. Now, an automatic does it for you. You simply place it in drive, press on the gas, and everything falls in line. And that’s the way many approach the Christian life. Receive God’s saving grace, press the gas, and it will all come automatic. But that’s not how God has set things up. At regular intervals, God places a fork in the road and requires that we make choices. If you’re in the Word, the pathway is clearly marked, but you must choose God’s way or your way, but you must choose.

Parking Lots to Pathways: Morally Pure | FFC | 02.03.2008

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When you go God’s way, you make progress on the spiritual growth pathway. When you choose your way, you get into a circular pattern, going round and round until you choose to go the way He wants you to go. Frankly, too many believers start forward movement with first gear, and that’s great at the beginning, but the Holy Spirit keeps saying shift, and we keep choosing to stay in first.
Spiritual Maturity

Subsequently, we are herkin’ and jerkin’ our way along, making little to no progress. We’re circling the parking lot instead of making steady progress toward spiritual maturity. So understand that the spiritual growth pathway is a constant set of choices: I choose to deny self, take up my cross and follow Jesus; I choose to surrender myself to a Biblically measured life. And as I move along, I come to an important set of choices that I’m identifying as Morally Pure. As a child of God, I am called to be morally pure. That is, I’m called to make choices that are consistent with my new life in Christ. The issue of making “choices” becomes very evident as we work our way through today’s scripture passage. Before I read, let’s understand that this issue of morality goes beyond sexuality. We often default to the issue of sexuality when we speak of morality, but moral purity touches on many other issues. As we move through the passage see if you can identify the various moral issues that are presented. Ephesians 4 – I’ll be reading from chapter 4:16-5:20. 17 With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their closed minds are full of darkness; they are far away from the life of God because they have shut their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They don’t care anymore about right and wrong, and they have given themselves over to immoral ways. Their lives are filled with all kinds of impurity and greed. 20 But that isn’t what you were taught when you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard all about Him and have learned the truth that is in Jesus, 22 throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. 23 Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. 24 You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true. 25 So put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbor the truth” because we belong to each other. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil. 28 If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Parking Lots to Pathways: Morally Pure | FFC | 02.03.2008 2

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. 32Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. 5:1 Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him. 3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is really an idolater who worships the things of this world. 6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the terrible anger of God comes upon all those who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For though your hearts were once full of darkness, now you are full of light from the Lord, and your behavior should show it! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 10 Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But when the light shines on them, it becomes clear how evil these things are. 14 And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” 15 So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. 19 Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. 2 20 And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. As we moved through the passage, did you notice the moral issues and the multitude of choices that are placed before us? I took note of 16 things God wants us to choose and 13 things God wants us to reject. I’ll identify them for you. The things God calls us to reject are noted in “red” and the things God wants us to chose and apply are noted in “Green” – Red = Stop / Green – Go. 17 With the Lord’s authority let me say this: Live no longer as the ungodly do, for they are hopelessly confused. throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception.
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Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes.

You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness—righteous, holy, and true. So put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbor the truth” because we belong to each other.

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And “don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry,
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If you are a thief, stop stealing. Begin using your hands for honest work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
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Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior.

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
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Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children.

Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ, who loved you and gave himself as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, because that sacrifice was like sweet perfume to him.

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Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.

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Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. So be careful how you live, not as fools but as those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity for doing good in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do.

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Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. Every “do” and every “don’t” falls under the moral purity category, and each represents a fork in the pathway to spiritual maturity. When we choose the pathway God prescribes, we pass another mile marker on the journey. When we choose the pathway we desire, we enter into a circular holding pattern where we’ll stay until we choose God’s path. Conclusion Today’s message is not difficult to understand, though there will be challenges to applying it. Understanding: Making progress toward spiritual maturity depends largely on you. As I said earlier, nothing is automatic. You must make choices and one of the major choices you are called to make is a choice for moral purity. Now, when you break it down to the simplest level, moral purity is a collection of choices, concerning your life, that are consistent with your new life in Christ. It means not … • Living like the ungodly. • Stealing. • Using foul or abusive language. • Being controlled by anger. • Participating in sexual immorality. These are not consistent with your new life in Christ. In fact Ephesians 5:12 tell’s us “…it is shameful even to talk about the things that the ungodly people do in secret.”
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So, whereas living a Biblically measured life is about knowing God’s commands, living a life that is morally pure is about living in accordance with those commands. The challenge of application goes back to the primary verse of the passionately committed to Jesus message - Matthew 16:24, NKJV – Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Learning to live a morally pure life is about learning how to deny self and follow Jesus. Denying self is always a challenge, but, it is not a impossibility. In the power of the Holy Spirit we can make that choice. Each choice to deny self and follow Jesus is a step closer to the ultimate goal of being able to accurately and consistently reflect the image of Jesus in our lives. And that is what the Christian life and spiritual maturity is all about – moving closer and closer to the image of Jesus. So, what do I do with this message? 1. Understand that spiritual growth is not automatic, it requires choices. 2. Read God’s Word so you can know the choices God wants you to make. – Studying and Meditating on today’s passage from Ephesians is a good starting point. 3. Accept this challenge: this week, review the passage covered today and find one area of Moral Purity where you’re choosing your own way, Repent of that, and purpose to choose God’s way As you do, you will find yourself living morally pure, and you will find yourself moving along the spiritual maturity pathway instead of running circles in the spiritually static parking lot.

The First Federated Church copyright, above, is for the sermon itself, not for any items quoted in the sermon, unless otherwise stated. All quoted items are done so in good faith, and the source is attributed when it is known.

Parking Lots to Pathways: Morally Pure | FFC | 02.03.2008

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