Sexuality Series: Part 3 – The Exchange

[If you’re not much of a reader, I shared a similar message with my church family earlier this year. You can listen here]

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
Matthew 5:8

Welcome back, especially if you’re following along with the series which I highly recommend before reading this post just so you can have context. Here’s the Introduction, Part 1 and Part 2.

What I Didn’t Say in My Last Post

I know that I made a lot of references to the things that we watch and guarding our eyes but purity is not all about what you watch or don’t watch. It’s really just about our hearts. 

The definition of purity is “the state of being without mixture” and so God is looking for hearts that are devoid of the pollution of sin and self-will. His will isn’t supposed to be mixed with my will but my will is to be purified and become His will. 

The Greek word pure in this verse means “single”. It’s a heart ruled by a single agenda. His. So Jesus is telling us that we will be blessed and happy living in submission to the will of God. Why? Let’s think about that.

His will isn’t supposed to be mixed with my will but my will is to be purified and become His will

Have you ever been on a team with two captains who don’t agree God's wayor worked for two managers who contradict each other? How does that affect you? It drives you crazy right?! One captain tells you to perform a manoeuvre and the other shouts at you for doing it! One manager tells you to prioritise an assignment and the other comes in straight after to give you another one. It’s frustrating and it’s exhausting. It doesn’t work.

Jesus gives us plain insight into this matter when He says that no one can serve two masters (Luke 16:13) without hating one and loving the other and I believe this same principle applies to our hearts. We can’t serve both self-will and God’s will. Either we will hate God’s will because it keeps “ruining our plans/fun” or we will hate our self-will because fulfilling it still leaves us feeling empty despite its promises of satisfaction.

I believe this is important to understand as purity is about a singleness of heart that has one agenda: to serve the heart of God and to be a place where His Spirit is pleased to dwell. 

I believe this is a key to living a satisfying and fulfilling life of unbridled joy and unbreakable peace. As I’ve previously mentioned, the power of a clear conscience has a powerful effect on our intimacy with God. This level of surrender is progressive as we live with the Holy Spirit. It’s what the Bible calls sanctification. Let me explain what I mean.

Making a Heart a Home

Imagine your heart is a house or an apartment that you share with the Holy Spirit. You both live there and spend time together. When you sit down in the living room, what’s on TV? Are you happy to watch that with Him sitting next to you? Do you think He will enjoy it? What’s on the radio? Can you listen to it together and dance? Is He going to sing along? What’s on the wall? What sort of posters and pictures are up? As He passes by them, does He linger on them and smile or does He furrow His brow and sigh? When the phone rings, do you have to take the call in your room so He doesn’t hear you? Who do you invite in and who stays the night?

heart homeIn my opinion, one of our biggest problems in our Christianity is that we think when the God of the universe moves in, He’s the guest. He’s not. He’s the owner and we become the tenant. 

In heaven His will is perfectly carried out and so I believe that Jesus’ prayer of “On earth as it is in heaven” is primarily concerned with God ruling from within the hearts of obedient sons and daughters. 

I’m not trying to portray the Holy Spirit as some sort of Almighty finger-wagger who just wants to point out everything wrong in our hearts but we gave up the title deed to the house when we surrendered to Jesus. It’s His house now and He is here to bring change. 

When we view this change through the lens of self-will it feels oppressive. But as singer Jon Thurlow says, when we look into His eyes of mercy and love we remember that His heart is for us not against us.

The Exchange

We often quote 1Corinthians 2:9 that no eye has seen nor ear heard nor heart imagined the things that God has in store for those that love Him, with a view to stirring excitement in ourselves for what God has planned for the future but we stop a few verses too short and miss the whole meaning! Verse 10 is the game-changer!!

“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’ – these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.” – 1Corinthians 2:9-12 (ESV – emphasis added)

These things have actually been revealed and are available for us to know by the revelation of the Holy Spirit! We have free access to them now but we have got to make room in our hearts to receive them!

Back in the house, the Holy Spirit begins to express His plans for remodelling and interior design. He points to a poster and lets me know that He doesn’t want me to have that negative thought in my mind about my church leaders any more. Even though I really love looking at that poster and feel I have a right to keep it, I take it down and He puts up a new one! It’s a whole different perspective on my leaders and my heart is warmed towards them. The room seems to get bigger…

Next He begins sorting through my CD collection and handing me CDs that He doesn’t like. These are the songs and thoughts that slowly chip away at my conscience and erode my convictions while soothing me or making me dance. My heart breaks because “Beyoncé got me through a hard time!” but I throw them out and as I do He begins to sing to me about who I am and His voice seems louder than before…

As He approaches the TV, I panic and jump in front of it! He wants the images and storylines that I allow to enter and influence my mind to increase my love and sensitivity to His voice. As I desperately stand between Him and my electronic idol His eyes burn with love and melt my fear. Still trembling, I step aside and He gently changes the channel. Visions of heaven stream across the screen and I see Jesus in 3D high definition! It seems as though it’s not the screen that has become clearer but my vision…

Partnering with God

I hope you enjoyed reading that analogy as much as I enjoyed writing it! I hope it spoke to you and But God TeddyI pray God keeps speaking to you through it. The role of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to glorify Jesus and to make us more like Him (John 16:12-15). He does that through revelation because He is the Spirit of Truth. He guides us into all truth, what is true about God, what is true about us, what is true about the world etc. Flowing through us as the River of Truth, the Holy Spirit reshapes the landscape of our hearts.

He does this through partnership with us. Notice that each act required my agreement and cooperation but also resulted in an exchange. He made His will known, what He knew to be best for me and then waited for me to respond. When I did, He gave me something much better than what I’d had before that drew me closer to Him. God only asks us to lay things down because He wants to give us more of Himself.

moral revolution
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This is a really important principle to remember when the changes He’s proposing feel difficult or even unnecessary. I find that He asks us for the things which are either sitting on or sneaking close to the throne of our hearts which is His rightful place. 

In the past I know I’ve felt the pull of His heart away from my favourite songs, TV shows and even people who weren’t necessarily evil and I’m understanding that their influence over me left Him with less room to shape me and speak to me. 

Does that ring true in your life? When God comes to you does He find a willing partner who trusts Him or a stubborn child who doubts His love and wisdom? In his book Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth about Sexual Purity Kris Vallotton says: “True love germinates in the soil of sacrifice, sprouts in the garden of surrender, and matures in a matrimony of servanthood. Love isn’t love until it has cost you something to give it away.” In asking for our consent, He’s giving us the opportunity to love Him.

God only asks us to lay things down because He wants to give us more of Himself

Guard Your Heart

I’m going to end this post with the exhortation from Proverbs 4:23. We can’t afford to mess around with our hearts. They are instrumental in the manifestation of God’s kingdom on the earth. They are essential to our spiritual sight and seeing Him, His heart and ourselves rightly. 

We can’t afford to entertain our guilty pleasures when the King of glory has invited us to a banquet to feast on His truth and revelation! Let’s allow things that tempt us into compromise to pale in comparison to His perfection! Let’s trust that anything He asks of us comes from a place of love! Let’s remember Jim Elliot’s words that “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

Thank you very much for reading all the way through. I hope this series has blessed, encouraged and challenged you to ascend the hill with clean hands and a pure heart.

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