Lesson 8 - A Pure People

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Sin has infected the lives of all of us (Romans 3:23).  This sin has clouded the paint that represents the artwork of the Master.  While this sin remains in our lives we will never be the brushstrokes we should be.  Purity can only be obtained by filtering out the impurities in our lives.  Having hearts of purity will allow us to see God as He works in our lives and in our great reward (Matthew 5:8).

Our lesson's base verse tells us that we should "dwell" on truth, honor, righteousness, purity, loveliness, goodness, excellence and things worthy of praise.  Notice the verse doesn't say we should DO these things (although the context does include this), it tells us to think about, focus on and careful consider these things.  All of the areas mentioned begin in the mind and mature into action.  Being a pure person requires all of our mental effort, physical discipline and it requires the operation of the Almighty.  Only once we come to the mental conclusion that we desire lives of purity and are prepared to allow God to work in our lives we can be a beautiful brushstroke.

James 1:27 defines pure religion.  If we desire to practice this kind of religion we should carefully compare our lives to the verse.

1.  Do we visit and support orphans?  The inspired scriptures tell us this is a sign of our execution of Christian lives.  In biblical times orphans may have been more of a common occurrence however there are orphans in today's world that need the love a support of the church.  Failed to do this directly violates God's Word.

2.  Do visit and support widows?  Again, perhaps the widows of the first century didn't have the support systems in place that are available today.  A large part of this support structure should be the church.

3.  Let's spend some time considering the admonition to "Keep ourselves unstained by the world."
     a.  The first step is to begin our journey to purity focusing on the right foundation, God's Word.  Beginning with the perfect purity of the Word (1 Peter 2:2) will ensure our efforts are not in vain (Matthew 15:9).  When we precisely follow God's plan there will never be doubt about our purity.
     b.  After we study the Word we will begin to develop a pure wisdom from above (James 3:17).  This verse outlines several Christian characteristics with the last one being a clear warning about not being a hypocrite.  So what are some things we can do to avoid being a hypocrite?
          1)  Set High Standards.  In an effort to avoid being considered a hypocrite there may be a temptation to lower our standards so we do not fail to meet them.  Lowering standards to avoid failure just lowers our brightness as a brushstroke.  We should set our sights "On High (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)!"  Failures will come but if we are to fail from time to time let us miss while striving to live as close to God's standards as possible.
          2)  Do Not Compromise.  Make up your mind about how to deal with a temptation before you face the situation then execute the predetermined plan.  When we try to "handle" temptations as they arise we are much more prone to failure.
          3)  Be Honest.  Admitting weakness allows us to identify areas in your lives that need improvement.  This honesty will also remove the appearance that sins we commit define us.

Paul expressed concern that the church at Corinth was being led astray from the simplicity and purity of their devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).  Our attitudes should be that will we never leave the simple and pure plan of the Lord.  Our underlying motivation must be Christ centered purity.  This will allow us to teach the gospel to the world from a loving, pure and faith-filled conscience (1 Timothy 1:5).

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Romans 3:23
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Matthew 5:8
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

James 1:27
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

1 Peter 2:2
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation

Matthew 15:9
'But in vain do they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'

James 3:17
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

2 Corinthians 11:3
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.

1 Timothy 1:5
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.