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WE ARE TO PURIFY OURSELVES AS CHRIST IS PURE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

18 DECEMBER 1994

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

2 Samuel 7:12-16
Micah 5:2-5
Luke 1:26-28, 39-55
Hebrews 10:1-10

Last week in our Sunday School, we started a portion called "Stump the Pastor," during which the students look up things in the Bible, and ask me for the answers to their questions.

Last week's question was, "Why did God choose Mary to be the mother of Jesus?"

And since their question fit into the Scripture lesson for this morning, I'm going to continue my explanation for us all.

First of all, Mary and/or Joseph have to come from the line of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16). In actuality both did, but most importantly, Mary did, for Joseph was not the real father; God is.

2 Samuel 7:12-16:

12. “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.

13. “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

14. “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,

15. but my lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.

16. “And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”

Also, Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2-5). Joseph fulfilled this part, for he was from Bethlehem, and that is where Mary and Joseph were when Jesus was born.

Micah 5:2-5:

2. “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,

Too little to be among the clans of Judah,

From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.

His goings forth are from long ago,

From the days of eternity.”

3. Therefore, He will give them up until the time

When she who is in labor has borne a child.

Then the remainder of His brethren

Will return to the sons of Israel.

4. And He will arise and shepherd His flock

In the strength of the Lord,

In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.

And they will remain,

Because at that time He will be great

To the ends of the earth.

5. And this One will be our peace.

When the Assyrian invades our land,

When he tramples on our citadels,

Then we will raise against him

Seven shepherds and eight leaders of men.

But above all, the reason God chose Mary was because she was pure of heart.

Listen to what we are told in Luke 1:26-28.

26. Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth,

27. to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28. And coming in, he said to her, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you."

This passage confirms the lineage from David, but it does more. It confirms the character of Mary.

She is a favored one of God, and He is with her.

Most of the Jewish people weren't like this, even though they should have been pure of heart.

Mary understood the desire of God's heart and conformed her life to that desire.

Most of the other people lived a ritualistic faith in which they would do something and expect God to respond.

It doesn't work that way.

God wants our heart and soul to be offered up to Him in purity.

Unless someone wants to change and conform to God’s ways, all the rituals and offerings mean nothing.

The writer to the Hebrews explains this purity of heart, and lack of it, in the first 10 verses of chapter 10.

Hebrews 10:1-10:

1. For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.

2. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have had consciousness of sins?

But, as we all know, we all still have the consciousness of sin. So, the answer must be somewhere else.

3. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins year by year.

4. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

The sacrifice was a way of saying you were sorry, and to give you a second chance.

It's like a child saying, "Daddy, Daddy, I'm sorry! See I've corrected my mistake. Please forgive me and give me a second chance."

But if the child continually sins, all of the “I'm sorry’s” and the “forgive me’s” soon get tiring, and show the insincerity of the offender.

Mary's heart and soul were intent on not sinning in the first place.

Mary desired to do what the Lord wanted her to do; that is, not to sin in the first place.

She was pure of heart, as we all should be.

5. Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

"Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired,

But a body Thou hast prepared for Me;

Jesus came into the world to pay the price of sin once and for all time, but without our true repentance, there is no forgiveness.

And in a way, we can also say that Jesus came to free the animals from the substitutionary pain and suffering of being sacrificed as scapegoats for human sins.

But human lust and greed have made a mockery of this gift of God, too.

So, unless we acknowledge Jesus' sacrifice as being for us personally, and wholly desire to turn from our sinful ways, our sins still stand before God our Father.

Mary had a heart that was prepared to understand what was to take place.

Mary knew the Law, but more importantly, she knew the intent of the Law and the desire of God.

6. In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast taken no pleasure.

7. “Then I said, 'Behold, I have come

(In the roll of the book it is written of Me)

To do Thy will, O God.’ ”

8. After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast not desired, nor hast Thou taken pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the Law),

9. then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Thy will." He takes away the first in order to establish the second.

10. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Mary's purity allowed this sanctification to take place in her even before Jesus was conceived in her.

And it was this sanctification, this purity of heart and soul, that brought about the recognition of who she was, spiritually, when she entered the home of her cousin Elizabeth, who was then pregnant with her son John (the Baptist).

Note what we are told in Luke 1:39-45.

39. Now at this time Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah,

40. and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.

41. And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

We weren't chosen for the roles for which Mary and Elizabeth were chosen; but what may we have missed because our hearts and souls were not properly prepared? For the same calling and power of the Holy Spirit is offered to each of us.

And in this power Elizabeth spoke forth.

42. And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, "Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!

43. “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

44. “For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.

45. "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."

Do you see Mary's pure nature?

Her belief, her faith, her pureness of heart, her love, accepted the promise of God, and she was willing to have that promise fulfilled through her.

And if we think carefully, there are other Scripture passages that are, and should be, fulfilled in each of us.

The basic one is love; and if love is conceived in us, then we each will give birth to that love for the benefit of others and ourselves.

Then other people will leap for joy, because they recognize us as disciples of Jesus Christ.

They, too, will feel the power of the Holy Spirit coming forth from us.

And together we might respond as did Mary (Luke 1:46-55).

46. And Mary said:

“My soul exalts the Lord,

47. “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

I pray that each and every one of us can say at least this much.

But even more so, I pray that we all could speak forth of the ways God is using us in His ministry, as does Mary:

48. "For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;

For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

49. "For the Mighty One has done great things for me;

And holy is His name.

50. "And His mercy is upon generation after generation

Toward those who fear Him.

Surely, we can see the difference between those who have a reverent fear and respect for God, and those who live worldly lives.

51. "He has done mighty deeds with His arm;

He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

Here's an interesting point that Mary brings out about those who are not pure of heart.

Our pride doesn't even have to show on the outside for us to be considered impure.

We are impure even if only the thoughts of our hearts are impure.

Ah, Oh! I guess we all have some work to do, don't we?

52. "He has brought down rulers from their thrones,

And has exalted those who were humble.

53. "He has filled the hungry with good things;

And sent away the rich empty-handed.

54. "He has given help to Israel His servant,

In remembrance of His mercy,

55. As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and his offspring forever.”

In only one verse, verse 48, of her song does Mary speak of herself.

In all the other verses she speaks of God.

Thus, with the exception of verse 48, we should each be able, and more than being able, we should have an uncontrollable desire to speak forth as does Mary.

And even considering verse 48 we, each, without being prideful, should be able to say that God has regard for our humble state, as being His true bondservant.

Furthermore, we each should be able to say, also without being prideful, that others would count us blessed because they have received the love of God that was born in us.

This only happens when we purify ourselves, as Christ is pure.

Let us pray!

Father, please help each of us to remove all unclean thoughts from our minds.

Cleanse us and make us pure, that each of us would be your true bondservant.

And Lord, if there is even one here today who doesn't understand, give them a heart and soul to understand, that even here and now, they would speak out boldly and say, "Jesus forgive me! I want You in my life. Mold me and make me into the person you want me to be. I surrender my life to you, and I want to serve you forever and ever."

Amen.

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