A Passion for Purity
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A Passion for Purity

From Series: Lessons for Life, Volume 2

Proverbs 6:20-29  (ID: 0171)

The life of a Christian should be marked by a passion for purity. How are we to maintain a fervor for purity throughout our lives? In this message, Alistair Begg points out that cherishing God’s Word and living with eternity in view are the bookends of behavior that will help us achieve this. When we live with our hearts and minds closely aligned with Scripture, we will be better prepared to fight sin and to choose purity.


Sermon Transcript:

Now, Proverbs 6:20:

My son, keep your father’s commands
 and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
Bind them upon your heart forever;
 fasten them around your neck.
When you walk, they will guide you;
 when you sleep, they will watch over you;
 when you awake, they will speak to you.
For these commands are a lamp,
 this teaching is a light,
and the corrections of discipline
 are the way to life,
keeping you [away] from the immoral woman,
 from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.
Do not lust in your heart after her beauty
 or let her captivate you with her eyes,
for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread,
 and the adulteress preys upon your very life.
Can a man scoop fire into his lap
 without his clothes being burned?
Can a man walk on hot coals
 without his feet being scorched?
So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;
 no one who touches her will go unpunished.

Father, open our eyes that we may behold wonderful things in your Word.[1] For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

I’m always looking for little signs to confirm that I’m on the right track in terms of what I’ve purposed to say, and I feel very much confirmed in reference to what I’m about to do this evening, in light of the final two pieces of music which were given to us—first of all, the declaration of the holiness of God, and then the prayer on our part that God would create in us a clean heart and establish for us purity of life.

It’s hard for me to think of coming to your opening week, aware of your theme for the week, without at least making some attempt to tackle it. I recognize that it has been clearly and excellently opened up for you by your president, and I recognize that, surely, there will be many who come in the weeks and months which follow through this academic year who will also make an attempt at unpacking the whole issue of what it means to have a passion for purity. And since I get to go first, as it were, I thought I would make a go at it myself. And so I want this evening to simply address with you, in the time that is available to us, how to maintain a passion for purity. How to maintain a passion for purity—from the humility with which we dealt last evening to the purity to which we now turn this evening.

It also answers the question, Why is it that good people do bad things? How is it, we say to ourselves, that these authors whom we’ve been reading through the years, and these pastors to whose tapes we’ve listened, and these folks who were sterling examples of Christian rectitude, how is it that they could make such a disaster of their ministry and of their lives in relationship to this matter of personal purity? And the answer, I believe, is that while it may appear to us on the outside to have been some immediate, instantaneous, and dramatic declension, in point of fact, what has been going on in the lives of those individuals—unbeknown even in many cases to those nearest and dearest to them—is a slow, steady leakage. And eventually, when the tire of their life, as it were, is unable to sustain it any longer, it eventually blows out the rest of the air, and suddenly you have a catastrophe on the freeway of life.

I want to give to you some pointers that remain pointers in my own life. They are pointers in my own life as of today. As of today, in my hotel room on my own. As of last evening, alone in my hotel room. I’m not here to tell you young people about stuff that is at arm’s length to me. I’m not here to suggest to you that I would be able to offer to you that which is not uppermost and vital for me in my own personal pilgrimage. We are all those who are learning—seeking to learn—from the one who has provided for us the answers.

So, how then, we ask ourselves, are we going to be able to make it through another day and another week, make it through another year of our lives, with a passion for purity? I have a number of points; I’ll do as many of them as I can in the time that I have.

Cherish the Word of God

Number one, if we are going to maintain a passion for purity in our lives, it is imperative that we cherish the Word of God—that we cherish the Word of God. I use the word cherish purposefully. If I were to ask you give me a synonym for cherish, you would be hard-pressed. I know that because every so often in the last twelve or thirteen years, I have had young couples come to me and tell me that they’re writing their own marriage vows. And so I say, “That is fine, and let me see them when you’ve finished.” And I watch and wait for them to see how they’re going to manage to convey the notion of cherish in some other English words. It is almost a lost word, and it means to value, to prize, to lay hold of, to possess, to love, to adore—to cherish. If you and I are going to make any meaningful attempt at maintaining a passion for purity, then we’re going to have to cherish the Word of God.

The opening verses of Proverbs 7 give to us a number of verbs which help us to unpack the notion of cherishing God’s Word. What will it mean for me to cherish the Word of God? Well, look at the verbs that he uses. “My son,” he says, “keep my words … store up my commands …. Keep my commands … guard my teachings …. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, ‘You[’re] my sister,’ and call understanding your kinsman.”[2] And all of those very graphic, important verbs provide for us a picture of what it’s going to mean to get beyond simply using the Bible as either a textbook for our study in the biblical studies department, or as a prooftext book whereby we’re able to discuss with others, or as a kind of little promise book to which we turn from time to time—to get beyond all of that to the experience of the psalmist in the opening psalm, who, distancing himself from the proud and the scoffers of his day, says that the man who is walking in the center of God’s will finds “his delight … in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”[3] In other words, the Bible is vitally important to him.

Some years ago, before the death of the late Francis Schaeffer, I came across a quote. He had now suffered from cancer for a number of years; his health was declining with great rapidity. And somebody somewhere had interviewed him, and they were asking him about his love for Jesus and his love for the Bible, and I cut the quote out, and I have it in my files. And he says, “You know, now, as my life ebbs from me, and as I am unable even to see the book I love to read, I keep it close beside me at my bedside, and when I awaken in the morning, I hold it to me, and I just pat it.”[4] I thought, “What a profoundly moving picture of a man ravished by cancer, unable now to see enough to read his book, wanting it close beside him so that he can hold it to him and just pat it.” I want to tell you young people tonight, there’ll never be a testimony in your life or in mine like that at the age of seventy-five or eighty if we do not learn to cherish the Book tonight and in these early days. The psalmist, in 119:97, in these well-worn words, says, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.”

I love all the rural scenery around this lovely place. As I come down in the morning, these sheep and cows are already becoming my friends, on the right-hand side of the road. The sheep are cleaner than many American sheep that I’ve seen. I’m tempted to think that they brought them straight from Scotland, they’re looking so clean. But that perhaps betrays my ignorance of American sheep—and who am I to malign American sheep? But anyway, I’ve been looking them in the mornings, and I’ve been looking at the cows as well. Some lovely beasts in the field just along the road. That is the correct usage for the word beast. You understand that, don’t you? That’s not a way to describe your brother when he has stolen your socks. You understand, “the birds of the air, and the beasts of the field, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea.”[5] Okay?

But they chew the cud a lot, those cows. Have you noticed that? And if you get close to them, they do this disgusting regurgitating business. And they cough it up and chew it again—I believe, a number of times. But if they had nothing to cough up, there’d be nothing to chew. And the whole idea of meditating on the Word of God on a daily basis is driven by the very notion that we have fed upon the Word of God, which we are able, then, throughout the day—if you will pardon the metaphor—to regurgitate and feed upon it all over again.

Thomas à Kempis said, “I have no greater joy than to be in a nook with the Book,”[6] or as you would say, “In a nuk with the buk.” How about you, young people? Do you cherish the Word of God? I’m going to tell you something: if you miss out on this one, the question is not if you’re going to stumble in the matter of purity; the question is when you’re going to stumble in the matter of purity. There is a direct correlation between the place of the Word of God controlling and dominating and guiding my life, and my ability to maintain a passion for purity. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way[s]? by taking heed … according to thy word.”[7]

Do you ever go shopping when you’re hungry? It’s a very dangerous thing to do. Because you find yourself buying some of the most stupid stuff you ever saw in your life. I mean, things that you know, frankly, taste like sort of reheated sawdust suddenly become appealing to you: “Oh, I think I would really enjoy that, you know, with a little bit of hot milk.” And your friends are going, “Don’t be so ridiculous; that is horrible stuff. Everybody knows it’s horrible.” You say, “Listen, I am so hungry, before I even get to the Cheerios, I could eat the cardboard box before I even get into the stuff.” There is a real danger in shopping when you’re hungry.

There is a real danger in going around spiritually hungry when we have not fed upon the Word of God.

And there is a real danger in going around spiritually hungry when we have not fed upon the Word of God. Proverbs 27:7: “He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.” And in Hebrews chapter 12, interestingly, putting the two pictures together, we read of Esau, “See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.”[8] He sold out on the basis of his hunger. And young people, I want to tell you tonight, it is so vitally important for each of us, no matter how long we have walked the Christian pathway, to ensure that if we are going to have a passion for purity—be it sexual purity, biblical purity, whatever purity—there is a direct correlation between having a genuine, earnest love affair with the Word of God, because in it we meet Christ, who is the very living Word of God.

Do you have a memorization program? And how about saying today, “As I keep my journal, I’m gonna determine that I will memorize a verse of Scripture every other day, every day, every week,” whatever it might be. Some of you are only eighteen or nineteen years old. That would be fifty-two a year, and then I’ll let the math department take over from there. But you can memorize a whole chunk of Scripture before you get out of Cedarville. Store it away in your heart.

I had the great privilege of attending public school in Scotland, being taught by all kinds of teachers. It wasn’t a Christian school, but my teacher in the final two years of public school in Scotland used to write the verses of the day on the blackboard, which had to be memorized before we could begin any of our work. And so it was in a secular school that I learned, “A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not [long] after…”[9] and so it goes on. I learned that at the age of eleven. And one of the great dangers of the proliferation of so many different translations of the Bible is that we don’t know what we’re memorizing, we don’t know what we’re learning. Find a Bible, find a version. Whatever it is, whatever they tell you here, that’s the version, okay? Get that one, get memorizing it.

One of the men in the ’60s in Wales who was there, who’s now in heaven, Bud Hinkson, a stalwart for Campus Crusade for Christ in those days—I lived in the same home as he on a couple of occasions in my life. And I remember in Philadelphia—in suburban Philadelphia—being brought around in the morning with a hand, a firm hand, on the back of my neck. And I awakened to the day to be rolled over and look into the eyes of this man, Bud Hinkson, and he would say, “Al, get up! We’re going running.”

And I used to look up and say, “No, you’re going running.”

And then he would move his hand around the front, grab ahold of my T-shirt in a great lump, and just pick me right up out of the bed, move me up onto my feet, said, “No, we’re going running.” And then as soon as he got me putting one foot in front of the other, and we’re heading along these streets in the Philadelphia suburbs, he’d say to me, “Hey, what is Philippians 3:14?”

And I’d say, “… I don’t know.”

And he’d say, “Well, let me tell you what it is: ‘I press on toward[s] the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ Say that after me.”

“Okay. Okay. ‘I… press… on… towards… the goal… to… win…’”

And before he had half killed me on his running trip, he burned another verse of the Bible into me, and took me back and said, “There! There’s a good start to the day!”

Learn to cherish the Word of God. Some of us have difficulty with memory, some of us are blessed with a great memory. Either way, get it in there. Get the Word of God in there.

Stay Awake and Stay Alert

Secondly, if we’re going to have a passion for purity, we need to stay awake and stay alert. If your Bible is still open at Proverbs 6 and 7, you will notice that the problem with the individual here is that the young man failed to consider what was going on. The character who’s described here lacked judgment. “At the window of my house,” [7:]6, “I looked out through the lattice. [And] I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment.” He was silly. He was not learning the lessons of life. He was not considering things. He was like the boy I mentioned the other evening, who told his mother he would never fall off his motorbike—until, of course, he fell off his motorbike. He was possessed of the idea that it was okay to skirt these things, it was okay to play around in his mind with this kind of stuff, it was okay to wander these streets and be involved in these passageways. And he was failing to stay awake; he was failing to stay alert. He was living his life in a kind of moral dream. He was living in a kind of indifferent carelessness. And therefore, he was susceptible to the disaster which awaited him.

If we’re going to maintain a passion for purity, we’re gonna have to learn lessons from life. Turn to Proverbs 24. And we’ll come to this again when we deal with laziness on Friday morning. But in Proverbs 24, Solomon says in verse 30, “I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.” So in 30 and 31 you have observation. In verse 32 you have application. In fact, he uses the verb: “I applied my heart to what I observed and [I] learned a lesson from what I saw.”

This is imperative if we’re gonna make it through life, especially to live in the realm of purity. We need to see the mess that’s out there, and we need to apply our hearts to the mess that we see. And we then have to, on the basis of our understanding of it, make it referential to our lives. And so he says, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” Some of us have watched others collapse in relationship to these things. And we say, as I said to you, “How is it that this could ever be?” Let me tell you what it is, in part: These individuals have failed to stay awake. They have failed to stay alert. First Peter 5:[8]: “Be self-controlled and alert. For the devil is a roaring lion going around seeking those he may devour.”[10]

Make Advance Choices Based on God’s Word

Thirdly, if we’re going to maintain a passion for purity, we need to make our choices in advance and on the basis of God’s Word. Make our choices in advance and on the basis of God’s Word. Whenever you find someone who falls into this kind of sin, there is a more than even chance that they have been making their crucial decisions on the fly. They’ve been trying to make vital decisions in the heat of the moment.

Now, you see, in the realm of aviation, they put these characters in those simulators time and time and time again—have them come out with the perspiration bursting out of them, having lost pounds in weight, and all on the basis of a great electronic experience. Why? So that they may learn to make the right decisions before they have ever to make those decisions when the issue is crucial and life is at stake.

I always tell my teenage young people, “You better make decisions about moral purity on an afternoon like today was—kinda cold and drizzly and dreich and unappetizing. Go out and make your decisions on that day. Don’t tell me that you’ll make your decisions in the back seat of your father’s car at eleven thirty some Friday or Saturday evening, ’cause I’m gonna tell you, you’ll never, ever manage it.” You make your decisions tonight, when the problem hasn’t confronted you, on the basis of God’s Word, so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to reference the prior decision: “No, I already made that decision. I know that this is very appealing. I know that this is tremendously urgent in its strong pull. But I already made that decision.” I don’t think the people who fall foul in this regard have set out and said, “You know, I am going to go out and do wrong.” I think it is that they have never said, “I am going to do what is right.” And there’s a difference between simply affirming truth and laying down a spiritual milestone in relationship to these things.

First Peter 1:13 in the King James Version reads, “Gird up the loins of your mind.” What does that mean? Well, it simply means, “Prepare your minds for action”; that’s how the NIV translates it. It’s the picture from the Old Testament of eating the Passover. The word was, “I want you to eat the Passover with your stuff tucked into your belt.” The long gowns that they wore were down around their ankles, and so to “gird up,” they would take their cloaks and their bits and pieces and haul them up and stuff them into their belts so that they could be ready at a moment’s notice to split.[11] Peter picks up the picture, and he says, “Now, in relationship to your minds,” he says, “I want you to keep control of your minds. I want you to get a grip of your thought processes. I want you to take ahold of them—stuff them into your belt, as it were—so that you’re able to run after what is good and you’re able to run away from what is bad.” Prepare your minds for action, for if you do not, then you and I are the seducible type. We are very, very prone to tragedy in this area.

Psalm 119 is a great wealth of truth. Psalm 119:106: “I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws”; 112: “My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.” “To the very end.” And I said to you, again, the other night, “You only need to be able to make it as far as the next mailbox.” That’s a picture from going out running. If you look away down the end of the street, you say to yourself, “I think I’ll quit. ’Cause the end of the street that I’ve got to get to is so far away.” So I don’t look at the end of the street anymore. I just go from mailbox to mailbox: “Lord, help me to get to the next mailbox, please.” And I suggest to you that in the matter of moral purity, you determine that you’ll make it from mailbox to mailbox; having set your heart, you’re gonna keep going to the very end, one mailbox at a time.

Live in the Center of the Narrow Way

Are you with me here? Let me give you one more. If we are going to maintain a passion for purity, we need to determine to live our lives in the center of the narrow way, and not on the edge. Now, I want to live my life on the edge when it comes to zealous evangelism. I want to live my life on the edge when it comes to taking certain kinds of risks. But I want to live my life entirely in the safe zone when it comes to the matter of purity. And I would encourage you to do the same. You do not live a holy life just somehow or another. It is an absolute act of determination prompted by the Spirit of God, guided by the Word of God, enabled by the power of God: “I have set my heart to it, and now I will implement it. And I will determine that I live my life in the center of the narrow way.”

You see, the young fellow here, back in Proverbs chapter 7, was living on the edge. And that’s a bad place to be. Look at verse 8: “He was going down the street near her corner,” he was “walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in.”[12] What was he doing down there? He didn’t need to be down there. Don’t go down there! Don’t get yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would be one thing if you were dropped down and you found yourself there, but to actually walk down in those places as the evening shadows come? Didn’t your Mom tell you, “I don’t want you playing in the street”?

Verse 27: “Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death.” Don’t play in the street. Didn’t your Mom tell you? “Don’t play with matches!” Verse 27 of chapter 6: “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned?” You can’t play with matches; you’ll set fire to yourself.

There is nothing to be gained from living on the edges when it comes to the matter of purity.

“Oh, but it’s okay, you see. I’m free to do what I want. I can watch this. I can read that. I can listen to that music. Those lyrics don’t affect me; I’m sorry that they affect you, Mr. Begg. You must be certain you’ve got a problem in this area, obviously. But me? That stuff’s not a problem to me. I can listen to it all the time, I can read it all the time, I can watch it all the time.” Let me tell you something: you are nuts! If you have a modicum of that in your mind, you’re not even true to common sense. Garbage in, garbage out. You fill your mind with that, you will do that. “As a man thinks, so is he.”[13] A passion for purity means that I determine to live in the center of the narrow way and not to fool around on the edges. There is nothing to be gained from living on the edges when it comes to the matter of purity.

Walk in the Light with the Children of the Day

Let me give you another one. Fifthly, if you’re going to maintain a passion for purity, walk in the light and live with the children of the day. First Thessalonians 5—one of the great pictures of what it means to be a Christian is that we are made children of the day. First Thessalonians 5:5: “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We don[’t] belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let[’s] not be like [the] others, who are asleep, but let us be”— notice it—“alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night … those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day,” let’s make sure that our activities are daytime activities: “Let[’s] be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”

Don’t be deceived by the darkness. Darkness creates isolation. And when we’re isolated, we’re vulnerable, we are minus accountability. And we all need to be accountable within our lives. With accountability, we’re either going to live right or we’re going to become manifold liars. And the interesting thing is that people have set up elaborate accountability systems for themselves, and then they have violated the issue of truth telling. So the accountability structure in and of itself cannot do for us what we must do for ourselves. Because we are deceitful enough to conceal ourselves in the darkness.

You didn’t need to turn to this, but let me just quote it for you. Job 24:15:

The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk;
 he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’
 and he keeps his face concealed.
In the dark, men break into houses,
 but by day they shut themselves in;
 they want nothing to do with the light.
For all of them, deep darkness is their morning;
 they make friends with the terror of darkness.[14]

A passion for purity demands walking in the light and with the children of light.

Final Words of Wisdom

I had three more. Let me just tell you what they are, so that I don’t have to come back to it.

If we’re going to maintain a passion for purity, don’t let’s be naive about sin’s appeal and sin’s power. You only need to look here at verse 10, and then verse 14, and so on, in Proverbs 7. “Out came a woman to meet him.” And she says, “Hey listen, I have fellowship offerings at home; I have food. Today I fulfilled my vows; not only am I persuasive, but I am purified. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and I found you! And I’ve covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt; I not only have food, but I have finery. And I’ve perfumed my bed with myrrh and aloes and cinnamon. And I can offer to you fulfillment”—verse 18.[15]

Don’t let’s kid ourselves. Sin is predatory. You got that in Genesis 4. We quoted from it this morning, the word of God to Cain: “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, [and] you must master it.”[16] I don’t like to hear from these young guys that tell me they never notice girls’ legs, and they never notice this, and they never notice that. What’s wrong, fellas? Are you brain-dead or something? You scare me the most. But I can understand a guy who says, “You know, I’ve noticed that it’s not the first look that does me in; it’s the second look that does me in.” I tell him, “You know what? You’re dead right.”

Second last: if we’re going to maintain a passion for purity, don’t miss the obvious. Don’t miss the obvious. Proverbs 7:24: “My sons, listen to me; pay attention to what [I’m telling you]. Do[n’t] let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths.” Think about it. It’s obvious. “Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng.” You don’t have to be a rocket scientist. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, the chances are, it’s a duck! Don’t miss the obvious.

And finally, if we’re gonna maintain a passion for purity, we need to live with eternity in view. Live with eternity in view. What is it that made the heroes of Hebrews 11 the heroes? It was that they looked for a city that was beyond them. They looked for one whose foundation and builder was God.[17] And Moses is a classic illustration of it: “He chose to be [ill-]treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”[18] In other words, he did not succumb to instant gratification. He did not sell his soul for the moment. He did not give up his ministry and his future and his family and his whole framework of existence for some fleeting moment of passion. He chose instead to set out on a more difficult course than would have otherwise opened to him. And what was the explanation? “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.”[19]

And so tonight, as many of you begin your college course, and others of you return for another year of opportunity, and as you fasten in on all these different challenges—which are realistic challenges for all of us to our lives—can I just encourage you to make sure that, God being your helper and the Word of God being your guidance, you will say today, whatever the future has been, whatever mistakes and disappointments of the past, whatever foul-ups have marked your life, if there have been such, that as of today you’re going to write it down somewhere. You’re going to ask God to write it in your heart that you’re going to be committed not simply to the theme of the year but to make it the very hallmark of your life. You’re going to be committed to a passion for purity.

Listen to how Paul puts it: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”[20]

I told you before—maybe in 1991—the story of the man who was the chaplain to the sailors down in Portsmouth, England. And he was meeting with a group of these sailors, and he was talking to them along the lines that I’ve been speaking to you here this evening. And he said to them, “Men, you’re going to have to hold the line here, and make a commitment, and establish a course,” and so on and so forth. And the sailors began to rejoinder, “You know, chaplain, it’s okay for you, with your collar turned round the wrong way and living in this kind of little secluded zone of yours. But you don’t realize what’s it like for us as sailors. You gotta understand that the great drift and the passions and the movements and the appeals are so strong, and they’re so powerful, they just move us. We can’t control where they take us.”

And he said, “Hey guys, come here.” He takes them out of the building and onto the wharf at Portsmouth, and as they look out over the shoreline, there are all these sailing vessels out there in the bay. And he said to them, “Listen, guys,

One boat goes East,

One boat goes West

By the self-same winds that blow,

It’s the set of the sails

And not the gales,

That determines which way they go.[21]

Set your sails according to the instructions of the captain of your salvation.

Young people, set your sails according to the instructions of the captain of your salvation, and let us in every purposeful, powerful, persuasive way live as lights in a crooked and perverse generation[22] with an unashamed passion for purity.

Let us pray:

Our God and our Father, help us, we pray, not only to speak and to hear your Word but by the enabling of your Spirit to live it out. Forgive our sins, Lord. Forgive our meanderings in the dark places. Help some of us with besetting sins and patterns of existence that have begun to hold us in their grip. Set us free, that we might live to the praise of your glory. For Jesus’ sake we ask it. Amen.


[1] See Psalm 119:18.

[2] Proverbs 7:1–4 (NIV 1984).

[3] Psalm 1:2 (NIV 1984).

[4] Melinda Delahoyde, “Are Christians Headed for Disaster?,” Moody Monthly, July/August 1984, 20. Paraphrased.

[5] Psalm 8:7–8 (paraphrased).

[6] Attributed by, for instance, C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1, Psalm I to XXXVI (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1870), 7. Paraphrased.

[7] Psalm 119:9 (KJV).

[8] Hebrews 12:16 (NIV 1984).

[9] Luke 15:11–13 (KJV).

[10] 1 Peter 5:8 (paraphrased).

[11] See Exodus 12:11.

[12] Proverbs 7:8­–9 (NIV). Emphasis added.

[13] Proverbs 23:7 (paraphrased).

[14] Job 24:15–17 (NIV 1984).

[15] Proverbs 7:10, 14–18 (paraphrased).

[16] Genesis 4:7 (NIV 1984).

[17] See Hebrews 11:10.

[18] Hebrews 11:25 (NIV 1984).

[19] Hebrews 11:26 (NIV 1984).

[20] Philippians 4:8 (NIV 1984).

[21] Ella Wheeler Wilcox, “’Tis the Set of the Sails,” quoted in Derek Prime, From Trials to Triumphs, Bible Commentary for Laymen (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1982), 32. Paraphrased.

[22] See Philippians 2:15.

Copyright © 2020, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.