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Following Jesus -- Course B

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Principles for Moral Purity

Following Jesus, Course B, Lesson 5


Introduction:

If there was ever an age that needed to learn moral purity, it is the age we live in.

The Bible describes three aspects of life in which we need to maintain purity in order to please God.

1. Pure deeds - Luke 6:46; 1 John 5:3; James 1:21-25.

2. Pure words - 1 Peter 2:1; Matthew 12:34-37; James 3:2-8.

3. Pure thoughts - Matthew 5:8; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Prov. 4:23.

Many believe their thoughts do not matter, so long as they do not actually practice evil deeds. But pure thoughts are essential to a pure life, because our thoughts determine what we say and do. Pure thoughts lead to pure words and pure deeds.

The purpose of this lesson is to consider Bible principles we should use to determine what is or is not morally pure.

To be pure we must examine every aspect of life (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Thess. 5:21,22). Serving God will affect our lives, not just 1 or 2 hours a week, but 24 hours every day.

2 Timothy 3:16,17 - The Scriptures instruct us in righteousness, providing us to every good work. Yet we must apply God's word properly, study diligently, and pray for wisdom (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:5-7). We must learn to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).

The principles in this study will help each person evaluate specific acts to determine what is morally pure or impure.


I. Does the Bible Prohibit This Conduct Either in General or Specific Terms?


The Bible contains many lists of sins to be avoided - Mark 7:20-23; Romans 1:26-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:17-5:21; Colossians 3:5-11; 2 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 3:3; James 3:13-4:10; 1 Peter 4:1-4; Revelation 21:8; 22:15. In addition, other passages discuss individual sins. These prohibitions should be studied and obeyed.

Remember that the Bible teaches in both general and specific terms. Sometimes it describes in detail that a specific act is sinful. Other times it presents general principles which may include many specific sins. Study is required to determine whether a specific act fits the definition of something God has forbidden. (Note examples of this in Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 4:7,10; 21:13; James 2:8,9.)

Surely we should avoid what God's word directly prohibits, but we must also apply general principles to determine right from wrong.


II. Will This Conduct Be Good Stewardship?


A steward is a servant who is responsible to wisely use his master's goods. The master then rewards or punishes the steward according to how he used the goods. [Matt. 24:14-30; Luke 12:42-46; 16:1,2,12; 2 Chron. 28:1; 1 Corinthians 4:1,2]

>>> Please read 1 Peter 4:10,11. <<<

*1* We should be good stewards of what? Answer: We should be good stewards of God's __________.

God has given us many blessings, which He expects us to use for His purposes. Consider some specific examples.

A. Ability and effort

This is part of our stewardship (1 Peter 4:10,11).

>>> Please read Titus 2:14. <<<

*2* For what purpose did the Lord purify us? Answer: We should be zealous (eager) for __________.

>>> Please read Romans 12:11. <<<

*3* How should we serve the Lord? Answer: We should serve the Lord with __________.

Think: We should use our ability and strength to serve God. What are some specific ways we can do this? This is part of our stewardship.

[1 Corinthians 15:58; 12:12-27; 2 Corinthians 8:5; Ecclesiastes 9:10]

B. Time and opportunities

God gave us life so we can serve Him. Life is made of time. We must use our time and opportunities to achieve what is most important.

>>> Please read Galatians 6:10. <<<

*4* How should we do good? (a) however we want, (b) however our loved ones want, (c) as we have opportunity, (d) as the mood strikes us. Answer: __________.

We must use our time working for the Lord, since the time will come when we can no longer do so (John 9:4).

Think: How is using our time similar to budgeting money?

[Ephesians 5:15,16; Matthew 25:14-30; Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Kings 20:40; 1 Peter 4:2,3; Romans 13:13,14]

C. Possessions

>>> Please read Psalm 24:1,2; 50:10-12. <<<

*5* Everything on earth really belongs to whom? Answer: Everything belongs to __________.

>>> Please read 1 Timothy 6:9,10,17-19. <<<

*6* Instead of loving money, what should we do with it? Answer: We should use money to __________ (v18).

[Haggai 2:8; 1 Chronicles 29:11-14; Matthew 6:19-34; Acts 4:32-35; 2 Cor. 8:1-5; 9:6-10; 1 John 2:15-17; Luke 12:13-21; Deut. 10:14]

D. Health

>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 6:19,20. <<<

*7* Since our bodies belong to God, what should they be used for? Answer: We should __________ in our bodies because they are God's.

[Romans 12:1,2; 3 John 2; Rom. 6:12ff]

Our abilities, time, possessions, and health all belong to God to be used to serve Him. May we destroy or abuse them to please ourselves?


III. Will This Conduct Encourage Others to Serve God Better, or Will It Set a Bad Example?


>>> Please read 1 Timothy 4:12; Matthew 5:13-16. <<<

*8* How should our lives affect others? Answer: We hope people will __________ the Father because of our good works.

>>> Please read Matthew 18:6,7. <<<

*9* What is our condition if we lead others to sin? (a) God is pleased, (b) we would be better off drowned, (c) God does not care. Answer: __________.

>>> Please read 2 Corinthians 6:3. <<<

*10,11* Why should we not cause offense to others? Answer: We give no offence so our __________ is not __________.

Think: May we do whatever we want as long it is not inherently sinful, or should we sacrifice our liberties to help others be saved (1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 10:24,31-33; chap. 8)?

Consider these questions about the influence of any act: If others see me do this, will they be helped or hindered in their service to God? What effect will it have on children? Would I advise new converts to practice this? Will this conduct help or hinder efforts to save the lost?

[1 Corinthians 13:5,6; Romans 14; 1:32; Titus 2:7,8; 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; Ephesians 5:11; 1 Peter 2:11,12; 3:15,16; 2 John 9-11]


IV. Will This Conduct Place You in Circumstances that Help or that Hinder Your Service to God?


Consider the influence an act may have on you yourself.

>>> Please read Proverbs 22:3. <<<

*12* When a prudent man foresees evil, what does he do? (a) participates in it, (b) ignores it, (c) defends it, (d) hides from it. Answer: __________.

Think: If you know a course of action is likely to lead to sin, does it make good sense to start down that path?

>>> Please read Matthew 26:41. <<<

*13,14* What can we do to help ourselves avoid temptation? Answer: We should __________ and __________ that we not enter temptation.

>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 15:33 . <<<

*15* What danger is caused by having evil companions? Answer: Evil companions will __________. [ Proverbs 13:20]

If we pray for God to help us avoid temptation (Matthew 6:13), should we then knowingly enter tempting situations simply to indulge our own desires? Let us ask, "Will this act encourage or hinder my service to God? Will it strengthen or dull my interest in spiritual things?"

[Romans 13:14; Proverbs 4:23; 6:27; 24:1,2; 5:8; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 5:6,7; Matthew 18:6-9; James 4:4; Genesis 39:7-12; Hebrews 12:15; Galatians 5:7-9; Ephesians 4:27; 5:11; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18]


V. Will This Conduct Lead You to Respect or to Disrespect Properly Ordained Authority?


God has ordained that certain people have authority over others. To obey God, we must obey these authorities unless they command us to sin (Acts 5:29). For each passage below, tell who must submit to whom.

>>> Please read Romans 13:1-7. <<< [1 Peter 2:13f; Titus 3:1]

*16* We must submit to whom (v1)? Answer: We should submit to __________. [Matt. 22:15-21]

>>> Please read Ephesians 6:1. <<< [Colossians 3:20]

*17* Children should obey whom? Answer: Children should obey their __ __________. [Luke 2:51; Romans 1:30,32]

>>> Please read Ephesians 5:22-24,33. <<< [Titus 2:5]

*18* Wives should submit to whom? Answer: Wives should submit to their __________. [1 Peter 3:1-6; Colossians 3:18]

>>> Please read Ephesians 6:5-8. <<< [Colossians 3:22,23]

*19* Servants should submit to whom? Answer: Servants should submit to their __________. [Titus 2:9,10]

Think: Several verses say to submit to these authorities as we would to the Lord. Consider what this means. Should we look for loopholes, or should we obey the intent of the rules? Should we do secretly what we would be ashamed for the authority to know about?


VI. Is This Conduct Consistent with the Standards You Profess to Follow and Expect of Others?


All of us have standards we profess to follow or we apply to others, yet sometimes we justify ourselves in not following these standards. To honestly evaluate a situation, try imagining someone else in the situation, or think of what you profess in other similar situations.

>>> Please read Matthew 23:3,4. <<< [Matthew 6:1; 7:1-5]

*20* Why were these people wrong? (a) they did not practice what they preached, (b) they observed Sunday, (c) they ate meat on Friday. Answer: __________.

Think: Would you want your children to grow up doing what you are considering doing? Would you be ashamed if they knew you did it? Would you participate in this act around church members? Would you be ashamed to have them know? [Romans 2:1,21,22; Acts 10:34,35]

>>> Please read Hebrews 6:12; 13:7. <<<

*21* What should we do with those who live godly lives? Answer: We should __________ their faith.

Think: If you would be disappointed in elders or preachers who participate in an act, then should you do it? [1 Peter 5:2,3; 1 Cor. 11:1]

>>> Please read Matthew 15:7,8. <<<

*22* What did Jesus call people who don't live as they profess to live? (a) Christians, (b) heroes, (c) hypocrites, (d) all the preceding. Answer: __________.

Think: Ask yourself if you would feel right if you engaged in the activity in question immediately after singing songs and praying prayers of devotion to God? Would you feel pure before God if you stopped in the midst of the act and asked His blessings on it?

>>> Please read Romans 14:20-23. <<<

*23* Should you participate in an act that violates your conscience? Answer: (Yes or no) __________.

Think: Sometimes you face two courses, one of which is clearly acceptable but the other appears to be doubtful at best. What should you choose (at least for your own conduct)?

Your life should be consistent with your own standards, your own conscience, and your expectations of others.


VII. Will This Conduct Harmonize with Proper Priorities or Cause You to Neglect Them?


>>> Please read Matthew 6:19-21,24,33. <<<

*24* What should be our priority in life? Answer: We should seek __________ God's kingdom and righteousness.

>>> Please read Romans 12:1,2; John 6:27,63. <<<

*25* Which of these should be most important to us? (a) knowing and following God's will, (b) the world, (c) physical food, (d) wealth. Answer: __________.

Many acts are wrong because they emphasize physical things above spiritual things. Others may not be inherently sinful, but must not become so important to us that they hinder our service to God.

[Matthew 16:24-27; 10:34-39; 1 Corinthians 6:19,20; 15:58; 2 Corinthians 8:5; 5:14,15; 4:16-18; Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:5-8]


VIII. Will You Be Acting in Love for God and Man?


>>> Please read Matthew 22:37-40. <<<

*26,27* What are the greatest two commands? Answer: We should love __________ and love our __________.

>>> Please read Matthew 7:12; Romans 13:8-10. <<<

*28* How will you treat others if you love them? Answer: You should do to others as you __________ that they do to you.

If you did the act in question, would you be sincerely acting for the well being of others, or would you be pursuing your own interests regardless of the will of God or the needs of others?

[1 John 3:16-18; 5:3; John 14:15; Luke 6:27,28,31-33; 10:25-37; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8,13; Philippians 2:1-5]


IX. Would You Want to Be Doing This When Jesus Returns? Would You Do It in His Presence?


We sometimes fool ourselves about the nature of an act, but questions like these should help us evaluate things honestly.

>>> Please read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5. <<<

*29* When will Jesus return? (a) when the signs of Matt. 24 are fulfilled, (b) no man knows, (c) in our lifetime, (d) all of the preceding. Answer: __________.

Since no one knows when Jesus will come, we should always be living so that, whenever He comes, we will be found faithful.

>>> Please read James 4:13,14. <<<

*30,31* What is life here compared to? Answer: Life is like a __________ that appears and then __________.

We not only do not know when Jesus will return, we also do not know when our lives will end. When life is over, Jesus will judge us for our lives (2 Cor. 5:10).

Would you be ashamed for Jesus to see you doing the act in question if He came to visit you? Would you want to face Him in judgment knowing you had done it and not repented? [Romans 14:10-12; Revelation 20:12; Galatians 6:7-9]


X. Would Jesus Do This?


>>> Please read Luke 6:40. <<<

*32* What is the goal of our training? (a) fame, (b) power, (c) riches, (d) to be like Jesus, (e) all of the preceding. Answer: __________.

>>> Please read 1 Peter 2:21,22. <<<

*33* How should our lives compare to Jesus' life? Answer: We should follow His __________.

Every act should be examined by asking, "What would Jesus do?" If He were here now, would He practice this activity, use this language, go to this place, wear these clothes, etc.?

[Matt. 16:24; 1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1,2; Phil. 2:5; Gal. 2:20]

The Bible is the complete and absolute standard of right and wrong. However, it does not directly describe every act we should avoid. It also teaches principles we must apply. In our next study we will apply these principles to some specific moral issues.

Personal application questions:

(These questions are for you to ponder. Your answers will help us understand your thinking, however they will not affect your "score.")

*34* To whom should your life belong? _______________________

*35* How seriously do you view your influence? _________________

*36* Should you live the by standard you expect of others? _________

*37* What should be your goal in life? _______________________

When you have carefully studied this lesson and written down answers to all the questions, click on this link to submit your answers.

(C) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2001 (click for copyright information)

Topics for further Bible study

The Importance of Bible Instruction
Is Jesus Really Your Lord?
Life after Death, Resurrection, Judgment
Steps to Spiritual Maturity

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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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