I started this exercise toward the tail end of summer to help myself combat particular sins that I struggle with. I had a hard time tracing why my thought life was prone to wander so I sought to do what Paul says in Colossians 3, to set the mind on things above. I needed to fill my mind with pure thoughts. The core of this endeavor involves exhorting myself from reflection and meditation on what the Bible says about purity in all regards.
It’s been a rather tedious study in terms of time but I’ve already gleaned a lot from the small part of Scripture I’ve covered. This has been tremendously helpful for filling my mind with the Word and personal meditation. If I say anything wrong, please correct me because I did this study without any source help – just what I generally know about Scripture. I realize this is particularly dangerous because I’m skewing Scripture a bit to address purity, lust and the supremacy of Christ, but I’m doing my best to keep things in context while being reflectional. As I read Matthew, I sought to reflect on points I thought were pertinent to the title.
The original goal was to go through the entire book of Matthew while I entertained the lofty goal of going through the entire NT. I stopped after Chapter 7 mostly because I became busy with school. I never intended to publish the work, but in light of the recent Berean sermons on purity, my only hope is to be of some assistance in the daily fight for holiness. I’ll publish it in four separate posts because this is a 12 page single-spaced word document …
Reflections on the Foolishness of Lust and the Supremacy of Christ Part 1
Reflections on the Foolishness of Lust and the Supremacy of Christ Part 2
Reflections on the Foolishness of Lust and the Supremacy of Christ Part 3
Reflections on the Foolishness of Lust and the Supremacy of Christ Part 4
I’m basically talking to myself. I think my conscience inherited this strange internal dialogue from being a tennis player. Also, I realize the title is very Piper-esque.
Matthew 3:8 – What exactly do you take repentance to be? It is the posture of turning away from a particular sin that glorifies God. If you find yourself turning away multiple times that only demonstrates a false confession. Does that mean the believer is exempt from sinning? By no means! However we are commanded to keep with repentance and be faithful to our commitment to put away sin. Let grace carry you to victory, but when you fall remember that there is still more grace for you in Christ. Bear the fruit of the Spirit in purity, apart from sin – thus a life that imitates the Savior.
Matthew 3:11 – Here we see the contrast of baptism and a difference in respective laws. The commandments of the Lord have not been written on the people’s hearts yet and they struggle through the valleys of obedience and disobedience. God has seen that the law cannot justify and that people are powerless to remain faithful in their limited capacity so He promises a Spirit that will sustain us and enable us to faithfully obey the commands of the Lord. Is that not the goal of sanctiication? There will be purity in obedience, in deed and thought – just like our savior. Are you not filled with the Holy Spirit? Why do you so freely choose lewd and defiled thoughts that hijack the mind to be dull to truth? You know what is right but your heart has become callous. Is the Spirit working in you? If you cannot sense His presence, pray unto God for deliverance from a hardening of heart for that is neither the goal nor the promise of Scripture. John is not fit to remove His sandals and yet he was the beloved prophet. What sort of posture ought you to assume toward your holy friend who faithfully intercedes for you, fulfilling the requirement of trial and test? You are not worthy but you are made worthy.
Matthew 3:16-17 – What is the declaration of heaven concerning Christ? “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” What is the title that a wretched sinner can audaciously proclaim? He can cry, “Abba, father!” for he is the son of the Most High. Are you not heirs with Christ? Yet you know the title comes not on your own merit but through the virtue of another. Is there not an expectation in light of the promises of Scripture, to be perfect and righteous as Christ is? There is no place for the wandering mind, for our goal is to please Him. We are pleasant in His sight because of Christ’s work, yet Paul says that our aim is to be a sweet aroma unto the Lord. Let us not take this title lightly and let Christ govern our faculties for it is then where He looks glorified and God can utter this powerful phrase toward rebels and haters of God.
Matthew 4:3-4 – First note the name of the adversary, tempter. He entices the believer with deceptions, to distort naturally good things and elevate the gift above the giver. Temptation is meant to lead the believer off the path that he knows to be the center of God’s will. It caresses at first but then it clings so tightly. It seeks to plant an idea into the head of the fool, to endeavor into the unknown and do something apart from the Word. It can be a subtle thing in our estimation but a destructive enterprise for the devil. Secondly, think upon the nature of the first temptation, the challenge to remain sober in the physical faculties. As Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The greatest possession is self-possession,” and so was Christ’s trial – to refuse the gratification of bodily function. Is not lust in part a desire to please the flesh from things apart from God? The challenge of appetite is real, whether food of sex but can be combated. “With what?” you ask. We gain victory over human appetites through a proper understanding and faith in the sufficiency of God’s Word, just as Christ did. The body cannot hope to contend with the devil apart from truth. This temptation combines the battle of the mind with a fight to control the body. How will you win in the face of three forces assaulting the truth? You must remain steadfast in all things knowing that this brings God glory and pleasure when His children look to His word and count it reliable to be lived out. Remember that you do not live for self, whether in motive or in the body, so there are no excuses to gratifying the flesh out of bodily necessity. Jesus uses the tested word of God and finds it faithful to deliver Him from all the devil’s blazing volleys. Yes, man can live on bread but how can he live unto the glory of God apart from the Word. It cannot be done so build upon the rock in anticipation of the windy days of temptation and bad doctrine. Let your battle cry be, “It is written!”
Matthew 4:5-7 – Do not misuse the Word of God. Seek to be the unashamed workman who handles it with accuracy and truth, not like the devil who uses it for his own wiles. Can you justify sexual sin and sinful desire with Scripture? Sure you can, if passages are taken out of context. Remember that you have an intelligent adversary who (to your shame) knows your source of defense better than you. Isn’t this a great motivation to study the Scriptures and to fill your mind with it? A smart soldier should know his equipment better than the enemy and so may you study right interpretation. You may read, “There is no condemnation,” but that is no license to sin. Do not let the devil rationalize your sin according to your refuge in God’s Word, for that is a dangerous ground to be treading if he manages to find holes in your faulty understanding. How may you fight lust and ward off fleshly desires? You shall wield the truth of the Scriptures.
Matthew 4:8-10 – Is it not a great comfort that Christ has been tempted in all things so that he may intercede as a perfect high priest? Look at the devil’s last ploy, to gain the momentary riches of pleasure, power, and glory in exchange for worshipping the chief murderer. The devil whispers, “You will feel as if you conquered the whole world… no, you will have everything your heart desires. The cost is small and the reward is great.” Is not this part of the attraction of lust – the authority of the fanciful imagination? It is to take what is not yours and to enslave what is free. You may feel like a ruler, but you have forgotten who governs your faculties. It is Christ! Look to the book of Revelation! Why would you exchange the glory of the slain lamb to worship the one who finds residence in the lake of fire? Why do lend the devil an ear when he offers you greater heights when your God is in the highest? What are you to do when Satan offers you vain glory? Look to the place where eternal glory finds meaning in your life – look to the cross.
Matthew 4:18-22 – Look at how the disciples of Christ so eagerly leave behind their livelihoods and follow Christ! Surely Christ elects and that grace is irresistible, so shouldn’t you abandon your filthy garments and put on the spotless robes? A servant ought to reflect his master and a pupil should represent the teaching of his school. Note the response time of those called; you see the word ‘immediately.’ What are you waiting for? Are your sinful desires holding you back? Do you wish to bury the dead or finish a business deal? Your calling is to be fishers of men, not to make them subservient to sinful and sexual desires. Will you heed Christ’s calling and his following promise or will you abuse the grace found in the cross? Do not tarry in your response to divine authority.