A Precious Promise
It was important to the apostle Paul for Christians to make an impact on the society of Rome.
Rome had become a disturbed and decadent society.
Social diseases permeated the society as morals were low.
Bribery was rampant in government.
Political leaders made a mockery of justice.
Paul knew that the Christian community could have a tremendous positive impact on the culture of Rome by preaching the gospel, living holy lives, working hard, and being a loving people.
However, for that to happen, Christians had to do something. There had to be a self-purging.
Therefore, Paul wrote:
“If a man will purge himself, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified and meet for the master’s use and prepared unto every good work.”
This was a precious promise to those who had been defiled.
By way of application, it is a present promise as well.
Some of us, in moments of honesty, can testify as to what sin has done to us.
Temptation came, and we succumbed. The pleasures of the flesh were chosen over righteousness.
The power of Evil to pull a soul towards itself is a great mystery. Bad behavior does not make much sense.
According to the national news, there is an opioid crisis here in America. Millions are hooked on the drug. Education is not enough to stop people from using the drug. The mystery is why so many continue to ingest an addictive pill.
These are the four surgeon General’s Warnings that cigarette makers must rotate through on their packs.
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy.
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight.
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide.
And still people consume a product that knowingly injures them. Why? It is a mystery.
The spiritual truth is that evil is so powerful that it seems almost unconquerable.
Those of us who try to wrestle with the world, the flesh, and the devil, can appreciate the power of evil.
Sin produces an inner craving for more.
The person who has tried to diet knows the body’s craving for food, and then more food.
The person who is addicted to pornography knows the body’s craving for more exciting and explicit images. The Proverbs says, “The eyes of men are never satisfied.”
The drug addict knows the powerful craving for more of their substance of choice as they “chase the monkey.”
Adam and Eve would have gone again and again to the Tree of Forbidden Fruit if the Angel of the Lord had not kept them out of the Garden with a flaming sword.
Sin is powerful, but so is God’s grace.
The Christian message is that people can change. It is a message of hope.
The heart of a person tells them what they ought to be.
For the person who wants to change, several gospel truths must be embraced.
First, there must be a measure of faith that Jesus Christ is the redeemer not only from the penalty of sin, but from sin’s power as well.
The night Jesus was born an angel said that He would save His people from their sins.
Not every professing Christian believes this. What is believed is that Jesus is the Savior from the wrath of God, but He is powerless to break Satan’s hold on the saint in the believer’s daily struggle.
Numerous defeats seem to reinforce the belief.
For example, a person says, “Today, I will not be a glutton, and overeat.” Then, they overeat.
A person says, “Today, I will not think impure thoughts, and I will not allow myself to perform any immoral acts.” Then, temptation comes and the flesh overpowers the longings of the new man.
A person says, “Today, I will be loving and longsuffering”, and then becomes furious for no reason.
Part of the problem is the secret belief that Jesus cannot save from personal sins, though, it is hoped He can take us to heaven when we die.
If Jesus is to be a complete Savior, He must be a present Savior. Faith rises to believe that Christ can, and will, make the spiritually blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk.
Faith argues that Jesus can, and will, make the coward brave, the weak strong, the timid bold, the critical joyful, and the verbally cruel kind.
Faith declares that Jesus has the right, and the power, to subdue the raging passions of the soul and say, “Peace be still.”
If a person is to change, they must believe in the divine power of Jesus to heal, and make whole, the inner man.
To the person wrestling with an area of weakness, the question comes,
“Do you believe Jesus has power over you, and will help you to be different”?
Unbelief will only reinforce the power of sin in the soul.
Second, before a person can be fundamentally different, there must be a measure of obedience.
“Matthew, rise up and follow me.”
“James and John, go and prepare a Passover.”
“Lazarus, come forth.”
“Zaccheus, come down.”
The commanding voice of Christ must be heard.
Those who obey the Lord know the joy of fellowship with Jesus.
“Christian, purge yourself.”
Self is purged by standing in self-judgment. “Examine yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5). This requires a sensitive conscience, and knowing what the will of the Lord is.
Self is purged by confessing every transgression. This requires honesty.
Self is purged by repenting. To repent is to change. To repent is to reverse course, and go in a different direction.
Self is purged by making no provision for the flesh.
Third, before a person can be fundamentally different, there must be the acceptance of personal responsibility for one’s own attitude and actions.
It is a clever trick to blame others for the problems and sins of self.
We are critical, and blame others for provoking us to comment.
We are angry, and blame others for producing that rage in us.
We burn with passions, and blame others for the temptation.
Psychologist often tell clients that society is to blame for their behavior. They are a victim.
Our passage tells us that a man must purge himself.
It is time for individuals to be more mature, and assume personal responsiblity.
Self is responsible, not society, not sin, not Satan, and not God.
Fourth, before a person can be fundamentally different there must be a willingness to be different.
The word ‘if’, is a conditional word. Maybe a person will change, maybe they will not. If a person is willing to purge himself, then he will enjoy a precious promise. The promise is that God can use any person who repents. Sin need not always have the last word.
Satan is sly. The Evil One leads us to justify our failures, and then he comes and condemns us. After all, he is the Diablos, the Accuser. Sometimes, when we do wrong, we loathe ourselves, especially if it is a transgression we have been struggling with for a long time.
It may be the sin of anger, murmuring, impure thoughts, secret pride, or a covetous spirit. We know what we do is wrong. We pray for deliverance, but feel locked in a dirty prison of self-hatred.
Satan comes and says, “That is right. You are indeed contemptible, and you shall always be fit for hell with me.”
“Not true,” cries faith.
“Not true!” cries obedience.
“Not true!” cries the renewed will. Rather, the renewed heart of responsibility says, “I can do all things through Christ. I can, and I will, purge myself, by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
A dirty vessel can be cleansed.
A broken vessel can be mended.
A meaningless vessel can become priceless.
A purged vessel can become useful.
Here is the lesson.
No matter what our past, no matter how ugly our present, Jesus can use anyone who will purge themselves.
Now, may the Holy Spirit sanctify us and prepare us for the Master’s use.
We need not despair. Sin shall not have dominion over us. God is willing to use us in a wonderful and special way. But we must believe, obey, take responsibility for our actions, put away sin and present ourselves for His Majesty’s service.
Here is a precious promise.
May God give us hope.
May the Holy Spirit tell us what to put away.
Then, let us put away anything that displeases the Lord in order to be useful.