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Now the reason I share all of that to begin is that as I share these nine lessons about purity in the pastor, I just want you to know this does not come from some guy in an ivory tower who doesn't believe these things. I share this because I believe that God has entrusted this as part of my story and I also think there's some of you who are listening who are exactly where I was in 2007 and I just want you to know there's a way out and His name is Jesus. So, what follows are nine things to help you whether you are struggling as I was or whether you're aiming to not go down that path these are not magical things but these are words of counsel that I pray that you will receive and consider and talk about with others.
1. Seek Purity To Get God
Many people talk about sexual purity as an end in itself don't look at porn don't have sex with people. You shouldn't. Don't masturbate and those are good ways to obey God but those in and of themselves are not the goal. God is the goal. Knowing Him. This is what Jesus tells us in Matt. 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” You see purity is not an end in itself. It's a means to an end. God is the end brothers. We have to beware because whether you are a pastor or not. It is easy to forget that our lives’ aim, to know, to enjoy, and to glorify God. And there is a great temptation to make pursuing purity more about not feeling guilty or not getting in trouble or not disappointing people or pastors for not disqualifying yourself for ministry Jesus lays before our heart a greater motivation. So, as we talk about this, seek purity to get God: Remember that he's got to be your great treasure above everything else. Knowing him is more important than you keeping your job to seek purity to get God.
2. Stop Pretending
The pressure to perform for yourself and for others and for the church is very real. There is a temptation to put your best face forward to make sure that you look good before others to have it all together. There are temptations and pressures that the pastors feel to be everywhere and to know everything, to have it all together and I don't know about you but I know I don't like to be seen as weak or needy or sinful. We want to appear like we're capable and we want to appear that we're men who know God and who are blessed by God and God is using us and there are pressures that push on you to build platforms is what people tell you is important to be an influencer to change the world to pursue big things for Jesus and you've got timelines and deadlines and for some of your stats that you need to keep up and those pressures which are not always from God. Those pressures can tempt you to wear a mask and to develop a pattern of pretending to hide how hard it is to hide your fears and to mask your insecurities and to conceal sin and to gloss over details in confession. Brothers, I want you to know if you wear the mask of hypocrisy and do not breathe the air of honesty you will suffocate your soul and over time the deception grows darker and you'll begin even to believe that you're safe in your sin. You have to be humble and honest with others. It is better to be embarrassed now, to be exposed now than later, or worst of all to never be found out until the last day when we stand before a holy God. I just want you to know you can always come up with reasonable-sounding excuses to wait till the next time, to be honest brothers. Now is the time to be honest to take off your masks and to stop pretending and to be honest about everything. Anything left in the dark the devil will use it becomes spiritual cancer. So, one of the things I’d like you to ask one another is what are you tempted to pretend about?
3. Surround Yourself With People Who Love You But Are Not Impressed With You
Prov. 27:5 says that "Better is open rebuke than hidden love faithful are the wounds a friend" or Heb. 3:12 “Take care brothers lest there be in any one of you an evil unbelieving heart leading you to fall away from the living God.” What's the antidote to that exhort one another every day as long as it's called today then none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin we need real relationships to persevere in faith in Christ you have to have friends who have all-access passes to your life. So, I want to ask you right now who are you surrounding yourself with to help you to remain pure? One of the greatest gifts that God can give you to help you grow in holiness and humility is your church. You need friends who love you and are willing to come to you with questions and concerns. I’m not above this, I mean, I have friends in my life Ben, Chris & Jason, these are three brothers who help me even today.
While I was finishing up my notes I got a text from Ben who said - Hey, how are you doing with purity? Just checking in to see how I’m doing because he knows it's a hard season with lots of stuff starting to ramp back up and he's checking in and these brothers one of the things you've got to know about them is they are much more concerned about my soul than my success. They care about me and love me as a Christian. I’m not sure I could have had those kinds of friends years ago. First of all, I don't think I was humble enough to know I needed them and I don't think I was aware of enough of my own frailty. But I want to ask you who knows you - I mean who really knows you? Who has an all-access pass to your life and is taking the permission to enter in and ask you hard questions? And are you being honest in your responses or are you a liar?
Do not hide from God's gracious gift of friends. You need people around you who love you and are not impressed with you. If you get people who are just fan clubs who sit around a bunch of yes men and say oh you do a great job pastor and you don't let people question you, that's not safe for you. That's deadly. You need people who love you and could care less whether you stay in ministry or not in the sense that they're more concerned about your soul and that you honor God with your personal life. We all need someone with whom we're constantly confessing and repenting and drawing near to Jesus together. We certainly confess our sins to God as 1 Jn. 1:9 tells us that “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” Confess your sins to God first and foremost certainly but we are also commanded to confess our sins to one another in Jam. 5:16 “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you might be healed.” In the context, it appears that there's some kind of physical healing that needs to happen but it's certainly true that there is a sort of spiritual healing that happens as well. Again this is not some kind of Roman Catholic error that says, oh! You need somebody else to intercede for you. Jesus is the one that intercedes between God and man but God uses friendships to help one another to the throne of grace.
To get help from Jesus in our time of need now. Before we move on to the next point I want to give you three guidelines that I use to kind of govern these sort of you can call them accountability relationships you can call them whatever you want. Here are the three guidelines I want to have of all.
- Two to three consistent local people that I confess my sins to two to three consistent local people all that's important two to three because I’m going to keep the circle small and that way if I have 14 people that I confess my sins to I can be very tempted to confess once here once there, once there, once there, once there and this first-person thinks over a year I’ve only really struggled once and that's just not a that's not true right. So, we want to have one to two or two to three people consistent meaning these are not people who need to be flushing in and out all the time but these are going to be people who you're able to be in a regular relationship and when I say local people what I mean by that is not that you have some somebody down in Australia that you facetime with every once in a while but rather these are people that you look in their eyes as you're confessing sin to one another there's something about looking at a fellow image-bearer and saying to that fellow image-bearer this is how I’ve sinned that God uses to keep us humble. So, one or two consistent local people.
- I try to make it a practice to if there's been some sort of sinful compromise to confess that within 24 hours confess quickly. So, I want to try and do it very quickly like right away. If there's been also, by the way, I want to encourage you to confess even your temptations not the temptation is a sin but I’ve found that helps get light in quickly and it lessens the power of the temptation. If you shine a light on and say this is happening right but the reason for 24 hours well again this is not to give you some kind of legalistic practice but rather there's just wisdom here is because what happens if you don't confess your sin for some 24 hours what happens if it goes 48 hours you know a week a couple of things. First of all, you can begin to think well you know what I'll just do it next time you can also begin to forge to lose the seriousness of what's happening. It's just dangerous to confess quickly.
- Confess honestly. 100 percent honestly. This may be a little uncomfortable but let me give you two confessions and I want you to sense the difference. Hey, brother, I want to confess I’ve been struggling with some lust stuff but it's under control now but just pray for me versus Brother I want to confess to you that last night I was tired and I stayed up too late and I stayed on the internet on purpose and I went to a website that I would probably see some sort of sensual images and I began searching around there and I stayed there for 45 minutes and I turned it on and off and on probably six or seven times and then I deleted my search history and then I masturbated. Those are two very different descriptions of the same event.
First, one is the way we're going to always be tempted
Second, it is honest. There's something that God uses about getting light into the dark places that we don't like talking about. God uses to pull the roots of sin out and learn to be honest to walk in the light as He is in the light.
I promise you. It's difficult but it's worth it. God uses it the only thing the only caveat on that is careful in your temptations notice I didn't tell you what website I went to because I don't want to give somebody else ideas of how to sin. So, to be wise in that be descriptive enough, to be honest, but not enough to cause someone else to sin.