“Then Joshua told the people, “Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.””/Joshua 3:5
After looking yesterday at the first 4 verses of this passage from Joshua, it was easy to see how important the position you place God at in your life is. With God at the lead of your life, the #1 authority and priority over everything you think and do, you can rest in the fact that He’s in full control, only He knows where you need to go and only He can take you there. When God is at the lead in our life everything in our life, the wild circumstances, the struggles we face and the unanswered questions that come up, all that stuff falls into place as He moves us out of our selfish, control wanting position, and into following Him into higher places, a life lived to the fullness and abundance of the peace and joy He has in store for you. God in the front of your life makes all the difference.
As we looked at this truth in the instructions God had given to the Israelites as they were about to make their way into the promised land, today we’re going to look at the next instruction given. “Purify yourselves.” Why would they need to do that? I’m going to be completely honest with you, I typed this whole message on purity earlier in the day and after living in the day and not practicing what I was preaching. I had to retype it all because after living as someone who desperately needed to purify himself, it became easy to see why God stressed this instruction to the Israelites.
When I was typing this message earlier, I looked back at what I typed and it was like a super long step by step instruction manual on becoming “purified.” That’s where I messed up and it affected the way I lived out today because purity isn’t something that can be accomplished by checking off a checklist or like something you’d see on an infomercial; “Have you been struggling with your purity? Do you want to see God do amazing things in your life after you became purified? Well for just $35.99, you can try this easy 10-step plan that will put you on the path to purity!!!” Yeah, that sounds really awesome but it doesn’t work like that. In the case of these Israelites back in the day, they had to go through rituals of sacrifices to cleanse themselves and be acceptable before God and probably a whole lot more stuff in that arena but you know what’s cool for us? By putting your faith in Jesus Christ, laying all your sins at His feet and confessing your need for Him as your Savior and Lord, BOOM!!! Purified, clean as a whistle, and every sin has been paid for by the sacrifice Jesus Christ made on the cross. In Christ you are a new creation, you have been resurrected with Him from the old life where you were dead in your sins but Christ has forgiven you, made you free from sin. These are the truths of our freedom and new life in Christ that has been turning my world and perspective of sin upside down.
Romans 6:6-7/ 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin 7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
What has hurt me so much and continued to hurt me today is the simple fact when I see words like “purify”, I think it’s something I have to do when the truth in what happened at the cross is, it’s already been done. Trying to live a life constantly worried about not messing up and trying really hard not to sin has only made me sin more. Yeah, we’ll still sin daily but just because we fall that doesn’t make the truth of what Christ says about us having our old self crucified with Him and our new life in Him being free from sin any less true. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:17) Even in the light of this new found freedom in Christ, it’s extremely hard to rid myself of all the lies I believed for years. I really want God to do amazing things in my life but purifying myself, putting away all the sins from yesterday that have constantly hindered me from walking and following God into that amazing He has in store has felt impossible. The problem was because I sin, I continue to call myself a “sinner” so I continued in the same old song and dance with my sin. If you believe you’re a sinner then you’ll probably live like a sinner and continue to think purity is unreachable but if you believe the TRUTH that Christ has set you free from sin, you live as one that is free from sin. “32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) These pieces of scripture aren’t saying you’ll be freed from ever sinning again but you are free from being controlled by sin. Christ has given us this freedom so we don’t have to live in that “I’m a sinner and I’ll always be” mindset so there’s nothing we can ever do to become purified so why try? Christ says you are free so you are free to walk away from the sin in your life, the addictions, the strongholds of sin that have defeated you all these years, the chains are gone, you’ve been set free!!!
Understanding the truth about my freedom in Christ has helped me a ton in living in the victory and freedom over sin but what hurts is that I still sin. Christ has wiped our sin debt clean but that doesn’t mean we start living perfect. God’s purpose for us in this life is to be transformed into the image of Christ and live like Christ. What I fail to get everyday when I do fall is that it’s a process to become a little bit better each day, a little less like my old self and a little more like Christ. When I sin I can’t leave it unattended because one impure thought or speck of sin in your life left alone can spread into the rest of your life. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:8-9) If you sin and fall to temptation then Christ is there with open arms waiting for you to come to Him in confession of your weakness and receive His forgiveness. That doesn’t mean we can sin all we want and get forgiven but trust Christ in His forgiveness and trust that He has purified you so you can walk with God trusting that He can help you move past the sin of yesterday and live in the freedom and victory over sin that He has given you. Walking in constant confession with Christ helps us move from impure to pure, farther along in this process of becoming more like Him.
God wants the Israelites to be purified so they can walk and follow God in this journey to the amazing things He has in store for them. If we aren’t walking with God then we’re sinning, there’s no half in half out. God wants us to walk away from our old life of being slaves to sin and embrace the freedom He has set before us with His Son. He loved us enough to sacrifice His Son to buy our freedom and give us a new life of victory, He also loves us enough to teach us everyday how to turn away from our old ways and walk in His. His love for us wants nothing more than to see us walking into the amazing things He has in store for us, so as much as I want to say purify yourself that’s just not possible. Only Christ can do that and the only path to move forward in this process of purification is to believe the truth that in this new life with Christ, you have been given freedom over sin, through His strength you can walk away and say no when temptation comes. Continue coming to Him in confession constantly throughout the day because to continue moving into the amazing God has in store, sin has no place. All the things that hinder you daily from following God and walking in the peace and joy He has supplied, make it a point to leave them in the past where they belong because not only does lack of purity in our lives hinder us from seeing and walking in the light of Christ, that’s the less others who are in darkness and in desperate need of light get to see His light shining through you. Hope this wild message makes some sense and these truths can turn your world upside down in the best ways like it has mine. God wants you to make a stand against any impurity in your life because “tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.” The cost of new life filled with the awesomeness God has planned for you is leaving the old life behind.