Purifying Ourselves Before God
A Sermon Delivered to
The Compassion Internet Church
10 March 2013
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
2 Corinthians 5:16-21
As we move closer to the end of the Lenten season and a time of purifying ourselves before God, let’s take a look at what happened to the Israelites as they moved beyond the wilderness and into the Promised Land. Note what we are told in Joshua 5:9-12.
9. Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.
We normally consider that the reproach or sins stemming from Egypt ended with the crossing through the Red Sea, but here we see that God considered their sins during the 40 years in the wilderness to be part of that reproach which He is now declaring ended. However, as we know from reading the Bible, the people would still sin against God in future days, even to this very day.
10. While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal, they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho.
11. And on the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.
12. And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year. NASB
God is no longer providing the people with the “free” food of the vegan bread from heaven; they will now work at growing their own food, but the problem is that they would also return to eating flesh, which hardens the hearts and souls of the people and prevents them from fully communing with the Holy Spirit.
Maybe the reproach of Egypt is no longer with them, but the sins of the world remain, and we strongly believe that it’s the people’s hardness of heart from raising, killing, and eating animals that prevents them from fully purifying themselves before God.
Now let’s take a look at Luke 15:1-10, and observe how the hardness of heart of the religious leaders prevents them from seeing the working of the Lord in their presence.
1. Now all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming near Him [Jesus] to listen to Him.
2. And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
We hope we all see the way they are grumbling against the Lord and failing to allow themselves to see beyond the sins of these sinners and tax-gatherers, to a time when they might truly repent and serve the Lord our God.
3. And He told them this parable, saying,
4. “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?
5. “And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
6. “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’
7. “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
This is the repentance that Jesus is seeking by being in the presence of the tax-gatherers and sinners. This is the repentance that God seeks from all of us.
8. “Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?
9. “And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’
10. “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” NASB
No matter how badly someone has sinned or what horrible deeds they may have committed, we need to be able to see past their sins to the people that God created them to be.
Let’s continue our journey into purifying ourselves before God by taking a look at 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, and the way that Paul addresses the problems.
16. Therefore from now on we recognize no man according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
Paul is saying that we are to see everyone in the same spiritually purified state of being as we see Jesus; however, he is not saying that these people no longer have any sins, for as he wrote to the Romans in 3:23 –
23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, NASB
Paul is talking about our seeing all people as Jesus saw the tax-gatherers and sinners.
17. Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
“IF any man is in Christ”?
Yes, this is the key for purifying ourselves before God; for most professing Christians don’t seem to fully live as if they are in Christ, because they don’t show the fruit of being a new creature in Christ, since their old sinful ways have not passed away, and it is hard to see any new Godly things coming from them.
This is why we believe that Paul qualified this statement with an “IF”.
18. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
19. namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
We hope and pray that every person would accept this ministry of reconciliation, and would dedicate themselves to purifying and reconciling everyone back into the way that God created us to be, so that the whole world would be filled with the peacemaking children of God, and creation would finally be freed from its present corruption.
This is the day we pray for; for in this day, no one will hurt or destroy anyone or anything in the whole of God’s creation; for as Isaiah says, the world will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
20. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Jesus is begging the people to be truly reconciled to God, because many people, who say they believe, have not really changed from their old worldly ways, and show no signs of living in the heavenly will of God, where there is no longer any pain, or mourning, or death.
21. He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. NASB
God did this because Jesus truly knows the struggles we face in removing all the sinful ways of this world from our lives, and He empathizes with us; but at the same time He knows that we can overcome these sinful ways and become the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God who will help free creation from its present corruption, and no longer contribute to it.