What is the Point of Purity? Control

There is an auto commercial that uses this tag line: “Control is the ultimate expression of power.” In the attempt to appeal to our hunger for power, the advertisement does reveal truth. I just don’t think that they intended the truth that they revealed.
We don’t need to think very hard about that line to see how it plays out. The advertisement was referring to a quality of the automobile, pointing out its exceptional handling. True, a car that handles well on the road will give you more power within traffic. The baseball pitcher who can control the location of his pitches will exert more power over the opponent. The woman who controls land by purchasing real estate is equipped with more power, both financially and in decision-making for that property. The person who controls their tongue will ultimately experience more power in the dialogue. Control is an expression of power.
But control by whom? Who is in control? Well, we could refer to one of the fruits of the Spirit, self-control, and declare that we are, in fact, in control. But are we? Is it our decision-making that is at work, or is there another power in control? Let’s take a look.
We often define control and power as equivalent to success. Think of the game of Monopoly. You want to control the most valuable places on the board, therefore giving you power over your opponents as well as success in the game. A fun game to play, but a dangerous lesson to learn. Unfortunately, Monopoly lessons play out all around us. We want the best home in the best location. We went the best clothes and the best price. We want the best job and the best title and the best income. We want our children to do their best. We want to attend the best church. All of these things create the illusion that, somehow, we are in control. I have fallen victim to this fallacy time and time again. We believe that “blessings” (translated as “success”) are a good and worthy reflection of God’s delight in our lives.
So why didn’t Jesus have the best home in the best location?
Why didn’t Jesus wear the best clothes?
Why didn’t Jesus get to be king on earth?
Why did Jesus’s church seem to be nonexistent?
Wasn’t God pleased with him? Indeed, God was and is. If God’s expression of love and blessing for his only son allowed for his only son to die a brutal, humiliating death, how did we become so different?
Jesus exercised control as an ultimate expression of power. He allowed for the will of his Heavenly Father to be accomplished by choosing only what God had in mind. The original sin of Adam and Eve boils down to this: they believed the lie that they needed more than what God had provided. God gave them dominion over the land, over every living creature, except for one tree.
Except.
How often has that word come up for you in your life?
“I would be great except…”
“I would be happy except…”
“I have everything I need except…”
Try changing your spelling.
Try “accept.”
I know not everyone realizes that those are two different things, but trust me that they are.
Jesus chose to accept the will of his Father. He chose to accept the task that he received. Jesus chose to accept death in order to give you life. Jesus exercised control. I find this truth most clearly stated in John 10:17,18
The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
And lest you think that Jesus had no choice in fulfilling the work of the Father, consider the words of Jesus just before he was arrested:
Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.” John 17:24
Jesus wanted to do the will of his Father as the only act of love befitting of the gift he had been given – that of the Father’s love for all eternity. Jesus exhibited the ultimate expression of power by completely surrendering control of his flesh. To have power, he gave up control. His self-control was our penultimate example of Spirit-control.
You are free, but you have to fight to live that way. In 1863, slaves were given their legal freedom in the United States. But how long did it take before they could live as if they were truly free? If you broaden it out, you know that Jim Crow laws created a form of enslavement for African-Americans for nearly one hundred years after slavery was ended! The Civil Rights movement created more freedom equalities, but you could very rightly argue that we still fall short of freedom for all.
You were once a slave as well, a slave to the law. Your freedom has already been accomplished in the finished work of Jesus Christ. In the book of Ephesians, Paul writes of the “eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 2:11b) The eternal purpose has already been accomplished? Yes! You are free!
But we don’t live that way. We are still working out our freedom. Part of that exercise is to maintain your purity. In order to maintain the rightful status of “set apart” as a child of God, you must choose only those things which God desires for you. You must accept. As Christ stated, our expression of power is not in how much we can pick up or shoulder, but in what we choose to lay down.
What have you taken upon yourself? What have you taken within yourself? Is it pure, or is it the fruit which God has told you that you do not need and should not eat?
To realize that your ability to accomplish anything has nothing to do with you should be a very liberating experience. You are free to choose, but your strength, your power, comes from The Lord. The burden is not upon your shoulders. In that way, living a life controlled by the Spirit, you will reveal the ultimate expression of power.
Lay down your desires.
Accept God’s desires.
Experience purity.
Experience freedom.
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 2:12

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