Maintaining Your Integrity When Temptation Comes [Brett Clemmer]
When temptation comes, RUN.
If it catches you, RESIST.
If it defeats you, REPENT.
If it gloats, REMEMBER
the Gospel: “It is finished.”
James 1:13-15, Proverbs 15:31-33; 19:20, Genesis 3
Every man has faced temptation. Sometimes we succeed in resisting it and sometimes we fail, often at the expense of our integrity. Join Brett Clemmer as we talk about where temptation comes from, and how to overcome it.
The Journey to Biblical Manhood
Challenge 9: Integrity
Session 3: Maintaining Your Integrity When Temptation Comes
Patrick Morley: Good morning men. So each year since 2007, we have honored someone who has demonstrated gifts of service, and the first recipient of the award was Jim Siebert. We named the award the Jim Siebert Distinguished Service Award. It’s been given annually since then. Wow, I just loaded IOS 11, so now it wants to know if “Do not disturb while driving.” Whatever. The recipients, 2007 and following have been Jim Siebert, and hold your applause and we’ll give all these men applause at the end, John Barber, Jim Angelakos, Don Walborn, Tom Watson. (You can get the underlying theme here of serving others just by hearing their names.) Keith Thomas, Steve Jones, Jeff Taylor, Steve Hall and John Anderson, and so I wonder if you just had your name called, would you please stand wherever you are, you men who have received this award. Let’s give these men a round of applause. Thank you men for serving God so faithfully. In fact, it seems like your service continues to accelerate, so that’s a marvelous thing. Today, we want to invite and welcome another member into your ranks, and that man is a leader here at the Bible Study. He happens to be on the board of directors of Man in the Mirror. I’m going to tell you a little bit about him, but I’m going to do it differently today. I’m going to invite the recipient to come forward.
I’m going to tell you a little bit about him, and if you will hold your applause until we present the award that would be great, but without applause I’m going to ask at this time, this year is … This is going to be hard to do. Go ahead and clap. This year’s recipient is Fred Mateer. I wanted you to be able to see Fred as I tell you a little bit about him. Fred has been married for 46 years to Deb. They have two children, and they have eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I fell over when Deb told me that, and another one on the way for crying out loud.
Fred spent 30 years in the banking and HR industry. He was in charge of HR for Ford Motor Credit, like all of Ford Motor Credit. One story Fred told me one time, in total humility, and this will be an embarrassment to him, but since Ford Motor Credit has employees all around the world, he would travel to different places and it was such a big job that he would be driven to the airport and somebody would get the door for him. He’d walk into a G8 and fly someplace around the world and then come back home that night for dinner, and so he said it was a little bit of a rude awakening when he had to start opening his own doors. He and Deb moved down here in 2004. It was there, they’ve moved 15 times in their 46 years, 15 times in their 46 years. Deb told me that he was able to find her every time.
He’s on the board at Kensington Church, a founder of Kensington Church as well. For 11 years he has been mentoring leaders at CRU, has a background in the Camp Ministries in Michigan and Indiana, and moved here in 2004. I think you probably came right away to the Bible Study, it seems like it. I instantly recognized that we had a one-of-a-kind type man. He is the dog on a bone, let me tell you. What does one-of-a-kind mean? Well, in his case, one-of-a-kind means that Fred just sees the best in everything and in everybody. He’s the most, like one of the most incredibly positive people that I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. So it is an honor to serve with him.
Deb makes the point that his dedication is both to ministry and to mentoring. That’s where Fred’s life exists. I wonder if you would join me, I’m going to read the inscription on this beautiful vase, or vase, whichever you prefer. It says the Jim Siebert Distinguished Service Award, Fred Mateer, Man in the Mirror Bible Study 2017 and then Ephesians chapter 3 verses 14 to 21. So would you welcome me in recognizing our 2017 Jim Siebert distinguished service award winner, our own Fred Mateer?
Fred Mateer: They had asked if I wanted to say anything and I don’t. This is unbelievable. Thank you Pat.
Patrick Morley: You’re so welcome. Great, and with no further ado, let’s welcome to teach us this morning, none other than the President of Man in the Mirror, Brett Clemmer!
Brett Clemmer: Yes. Good morning. That was energetic. Not Fred’s acceptance speech, but Pat’s introduction. Fred’s acceptance speech is going to require some No Doze, I think. Fred is so humble. He’s so humble every time he opens his mouth. His tone of voice, just says, “I don’t deserve to be here.” It was a joke. It was a joke. Fred is a humble guy and an amazing past, and a great mentor, and I shouldn’t say that because now people are going to be flocking to him trying to get his time, but I’ve really appreciated Fred’s time on our board as I’ve moved into this role over the last year. Your wise counsel and your steady hand and your unflappableness … Is that a word? Unflappableness has really been a gift to all of us, so thank you Fred for all you’ve done and all that you’ve done with the guys at your table and in the ministry here at the Bible Study, so that’s fantastic. Well, good morning guys.
It is great to be with you. The first thing I’m going to do is I owe you all a debt of gratitude. Thank you, thank you, thank you for not singing when they told you that it was my birthday.
No, no, no, no, no, no. No, it’s too late. It’s too late. You missed the opportunity. No, you missed the opportunity. No. You can be belligerent if you want, but you missed it. Awesome. It’s just taking my gratitude and throwing it right back in my face. That’s all, that’s all. Hey, we are … This is a great, we’re in this journey to Biblical manhood series. We’re on challenge nine. We’ve been through this, going on this journey all year long and have covered a bunch of great topics, really sore of all the major topics that you would think about covering when you’re thinking about Biblical manhood.
We’re on integrity, is the ninth challenge. As we jump into the bible story, we want to welcome our latest group of guys who have registered online. This is the Mighty Men of God. Hey Mighty Men of God. This is a group of 10 guys who join us on Sundays at 6 o’clock in the evening and their groups desire is to reach, teach, equip and send out. So Doug and the guys at Blountstown First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Blountstown, Florida we want to welcome you guys. Let’s give them a round of applause.
I just want to say if you’re out there and you’re watching this Bible Study and you want to know how we get these shout outs, if you’ll just register your group on the Bible Study webpage, MIMBibleStudy.com, and you go and register your group, and then you can fill out a little form. We would love to recognize you here on the video. Welcome to those guys, welcome to all of you guys here in the room. As we jump into that the journey challenge nine, as I said we’re talking about integrity, and we’ve been talking about integrity from the same standpoint that we’ve talked about all of our topics. What do men need to know, what do men need to believe, and what do men need to do? Head, heart and hands.
So we’ve had faith and life objectives and the faith and life objectives for the integrity challenge are: I will understand what it means to live as a man of integrity, to exhibit the character of Christ to a watching world, I’ll pledge to be a man of complete integrity in every situation with my whole heart by relying on the example and power of Christ, and I will know how to live with integrity in my relationships, work and finances. Today we’re going to talk about how do you maintain your integrity when temptation comes? What’s the ways that you do that? But I wanted to remind you of the big idea earlier in the series because I think this is one of, if not the best, definitions of integrity that I’ve ever seen, that integrity is the one-to-one correlation between our Bible, our beliefs and our behavior.
Now, everybody has integrity or is seeking to have integrity, even if they replace the Bible with something else. It’s going to be their … Where do they get their worldview from? Maybe you get it, like Eric Greitens is the governor of Missouri, great guy. Wrote a book called Resilience. His worldview is Stoic philosophy, so it would be the Stoic philosophers in his beliefs and his behavior, but we as Christian men where we get our worldview from, the unchangeable place that we define what it means to have integrity is in the Bible. So you either believe it or you don’t, and then you either live it out or you don’t. When your Bible and your beliefs and your behavior are in sync, you are living a life of integrity. So that’s sort of a foundation for everything that we are talking about.
Now, when your integrity is threatened, your integrity is threatened when you are tempted, really when you’re tempted to violate your own integrity, when you’re tempted to violate the Scriptures, when you’re tempted to sin. These are the times that your integrity is threatened and so let me ask you, what are some of the temptations that you see around you that you maybe experience in your own life or you see around you in men? What are some of the temptations that you see men facing? Just shout them out.
Brett Clemmer: Say that again.
Brett Clemmer: Cheat on your …
Brett Clemmer: Spouse, okay. What else?
Brett Clemmer: Cheat on your taxes. What other kind of temptations do you see guys facing?
Audience: Spontaneous purchases.
Brett Clemmer: Okay, spontaneous purchases, like just buying stuff that you … I’m assuming spontaneous purchases that you can afford.
Audience: Yeah, a 60 inch TV just because the game is coming on.
Brett Clemmer: Yeah, just because the game is coming.
Brett Clemmer: Amazon can be a temptation. Yes, the temptation of 1-Click ordering. That’s like, “Oh, man. That’s just so … Yes, I’m going to get that.” What else? Anything else you can think of? What are some temptations that men are facing?
Brett Clemmer: Passivity. Say more about that. Whoever said that, say more about that.
Audience: You’re not doing the things you should be doing as a leader.
Brett Clemmer: Excellent. Not doing the things that you should be doing as a leader. We know as men, we’re facing all kinds of temptations. So what we want to talk about this morning is how do we maintain our integrity when temptation comes, because let me tell you temptation is coming. Some of you are being tempted right now. You’re being tempted to, I don’t know, check your email while I’m talking because you have a smart phone, or your Facebook or whatever. You’re going to Google some word that I said. Temptations come. You’re going to walk out of here, you’re all being tempted by the woman that just walked by the window. I see five guys over here going, as she walks by, right?
We’re being tempted all the time. It happens to us all the time so it’s not about avoiding temptation. It’s about how do we deal with temptation when it comes? Here’s what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about the temptation cycle, we’re going to talk about how do you beat that temptation cycle, and then how do you recover from failure, how do you recover when the temptation gets the better of you and you sin? So if you have a Bible, turn to James chapter 1, James chapter 1. Let’s talk about the temptation cycle. Let me ask you a question. Where does temptation come from?
Audience: The devil.
Brett Clemmer: The devil?
Audience: The world and the flesh.
Brett Clemmer: The world and the flesh. Good. The temptation comes from the devil, the world and the flesh. Where does the temptation not come from?
Brett Clemmer: God. God does not temp you. James 1: 13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one.” God does not tempt us, but James goes on to explain how temptation works. This is just a fantastic way of explaining how temptation works, and so here’s what he says. Verse 14, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire, then desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
Now, can you look at … If you look at these verses, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Can you guess what James did for a living? There’s a word in there that gives it away. He was a fisherman, right? Lured. James is very much using a fishing analogy here. So what he’s saying is like we’re like fish and everything is great. Swimming along in the water, everything looks good and then a lure drops in front of us. This is temptation, is the lure that drops in front of us, and we’re enticed by our own desire.
What he’s saying is, is that the lure looks good. You wouldn’t be lured by, “Well, I’m going to over report my income on my income taxes so that I can pay more money.” That’s not a temptation to overstate your income, right? When you lust, you’re lusting after some set of features, I’m going to try to be careful here, that appeal to you, not by some set of features that don’t appeal to you. You’re not lured by things that aren’t appealing. You’re lured by things that are appealing to you.
In other words, there’s something in your own heart that is drawn to the temptation. Temptation doesn’t work unless it’s touching on something that’s existing in your own heart. It’s what you’re drawn to. We’re drawn to positive godly things but we’re also drawn to negative sinful things, and so temptation is when we’re drawn to those tempting sinful things and so that lure that’s put in front of us looks like that thing that we want. Then desire, so we’re enticed by our desire, then desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. So the cycle looks like this: we have desire the way that we’re wired. Then there’s a lure, and when we see that we’re enticed, and then desire is conceived.
Then if we fulfill that desire, that’s sin and then sin leads to death. Sin leads to separation from God. Sin leads to consequences. Then what? Then the next lure drops in the water in front of us again, and so James gives a great definition of how this works. We talked before about where does this desire come from, and you guys nailed it. The world, the flesh and the devil. Well, where does that come from? That actually comes from Scripture. Ephesians 2: 1-3 says, “You were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that’s now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind. We’re by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind.”
By nature. The lure works because our nature draws us to it. So how do we replace that nature? Scripture, Holy Spirit, prayer, by pursuing Christ. We replace that nature by the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t live in us, the only thing we’ve got is our own nature, for when the Holy Spirit is living within us, when we’re passionately pursuing Christ and making a decision to be a Christ follower, we invite the Holy Spirit to come and dwell within us. Then the spirit is fighting against our nature on our behalf and temptation becomes less and less enticing, less and less of a lure. The lure doesn’t look as good as it used to look.
You begin to say, “Wait a second. That’s not a worm. That’s a piece of rubber. That’s not a desirable woman. That’s a woman that could ruin my life. That’s not a few more bucks back on my taxes. That’s me losing my honesty and my integrity for a few bucks, and maybe even if I’m a real knucklehead even something I’d go to jail over.” You begin to see the reality of what the lure is. It’s a rubber worm. It’s not real. It doesn’t represent what it’s purporting to represent. That’s what temptation does to us. It pulls us towards things that aren’t really what they seem to be.
We see this, the best story of this I can think of is in the garden of Eden, in Genesis 3 in the story of the fall. The serpent is tempting Eve and he’s lying to her. He’s using misdirection, he’s dangling a rubber worm in front of her and he saying, “This is the good life,” but it’s a rubber worm. There’s a hook embedded in it, and so she doesn’t have the … She’s missing a couple things. One is she’s missing the insight to recognize that that’s a rubber worm, and the second thing she’s lacking on, a husband who stands there and watches the whole thing and doesn’t protect her, doesn’t lead her, and so they both could just get sucked into biting down on a rubber worm with a hook inside. It’s a piece of fruit, same thing.
This is how temptation works in us. This is the cycle that temptation does. Then how do we defeat it? How do we beat the temptation when it comes? Let’s get practical here, okay? I’m just going to give you five tips here, very practical tips. First, if you’re going to beat temptation, you need to know some Scripture. You need to know some Scripture. You need to have the word of God written on your heart, which means you need to have it memorized so that you can bring it up when you need it. You might … Some of the Scriptures you might want to remember are things about God’s promises. So for instance First Corinthians 10: 13 says, “When temptation faces you, God’s always going to provide a way out.”
So when you’re tempted by something and you’re like, “I don’t know how I’m going to get away from this,” you’ve just got to remember, God promised there’s always a way out, so look for it. You might also remind yourself of sins consequences, of James 1: 15 that talks about sin leading to death. You might think about the consequences that some men in the Bible have had for their sin. Noah losing his dignity when he got drunk after the arc landed, Abraham having to actually send his son away, his son Ishmael away, that he had sinned and had sex, not trusted God and had sex with a servant instead of waiting until God fulfilled that promise with his wife and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, people that just gave into temptation and sin had incredible consequences.
You need to know those stories. You need to have that Scripture written on your heart so when the temptation comes, you can pull that up. The second thing you need is you need to have some brothers. Ecclesiastes said, “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” I’ve got guys, I’ve got a couple guys, one in particular that when I go away on a trip, when I come back he looks me in the eye and he asks how my trip was. He’s not asking about the meetings. He’s asking about the hotel room at 1 o’clock in the morning when I couldn’t sleep and they had a TV in there. That’s what he’s asking about because I have some brothers that are willing to look me in the eye and ask me how things are going and watch my face to see if I’m lying.
Proverbs 7 … Excuse me. Proverbs 27 is a great chapter about the impact of brothers. Proverbs 27:6 talks about the wounds of a friend, the wounds of a friend are sweet, are faithful, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Profuse are the kisses of an enemy,” and then if you keep going in Proverbs 27, you come down to that famous verse 27: 17. What’s that? “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Little note about this verse. Do you know how iron sharpens iron? Yeah. Do you know what happens when iron sharpens iron?
Brett Clemmer: Friction, a lot of sparks. It’s not really a fun thing. Sometimes I think we go, “Oh, yeah. We’re going to be iron sharpening.” It’s not so fun. Brothers who love you, they’re going to tell you the hard things. They’re going to confront you with reality. You need to have guys like that in your life that will be willing to inflict the wounds of a friend, that will be willing to be sharpening you, that will create friction with you, that will let the sparks fly because they love you so much they’re not going to let you go to death.
Third, you need to know your triggers. This is a huge thing that I’ve talked to a lot of guys about is that everybody has triggers. You have sin triggers. For a lot of guys, when they’re unhappy, mad, frustrated, those are triggers. Just like a drug can be something that makes you feel better when you’re not feeling good, you can have sins in your life that you go to and you medicate, you self-medicate against those bad feelings with sinful behaviors. The problem is is just like drugs, you can get addicted to those things. Just like drugs, it’s only a temporary fix, and just like drugs it’s not good for you. Eventually it’s going to lead, again, to death.
You might have physical triggers. When you’re tired, when you’re sick, these might be times when you’re tempted to give into temptations, maybe the temptation of just feeling sorry for yourself, the temptation of being a miserable human being to be around because you deserve it, or spiritual triggers. I know a lot of times when I feel like ministry is going great, when I talk to a group of guys, for instance, and the guys are so wonderfully responsive and say, “Man, that was really good,” and they come up, and they share a story with me about how it impacted them or something like that, I am so tempted, and like the next 6 to 12 hours are terrible. It’s like the better things go, the more Satan uses that to weasel into the cracks in my pride and start tempting me with things because I’m a big guy.
It can go the other way too, like when you’re spiritually down, when you just … One thing feels like a snowball is accumulating so you’ve got to know your triggers so that you can go to your brothers and go to Scripture and protect yourself, but you’ve got to know your triggers. The fourth thing is is to pray. Now, why didn’t I put this first? Because if I put it first, you would’ve just been like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I need to pray,” but no, you’ve got to pray always and frankly, having those other three things in line helps you pray. Think about this promise, First John 5:14 and 15. It says that he hears our prayers and he provides for us when we pray. That’s a pretty good promise. When you feel tempted, when you’re sitting in a situation that’s a difficult situation for you to be in and you’re feeling tempted and your integrity is threatened, you’ve got to remember these promises of Scripture that God is with you and pray.
Say, “Lord, I am really tempted right now.” He knows. It’s not like if you don’t tell him, you’re going to hide it from him. It’s not like if you don’t say, “Lord, I really, really want to go and go to some websites right now that I shouldn’t go to.” He knows that. You’re not like, “Oh, man. I better not tell God. He might be mad at me.” He’s there. The spirits inside of you, he knows and he wants you to come to him and pray so that he can give you strength, so pray always. Then finally, have a plan. Have a plan. When you know … Look, when I walk into a hotel room, the first thing I do when I’m on a trip, I walk into a hotel room, I turn the TV on and I see if it has porn on it.
You’re like, “Way to go Brett. That’s nice. You’re looking for … Walk in a hotel room, you’re looking for porn.” Here’s why. Because when it has porn, it has a child lock, so I go to the child … Let me tell you, when I check into a hotel room at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I’m in a pretty good state of mind. When I can’t sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning, I’m a moron. So at 3 o’clock in the afternoon when things are good, I go to the porn thing, the child lock thing, and I close my eyes because you have to put a four digit code, and I close my eyes and I just mash numbers. I don’t know the code. I just pressed four numbers. I have no idea what they are, and the thing is locked and I can’t get into it. Then I pray, “Lord, please make that lock last for a whole year for everybody else that uses this room after me.”
You’ve got to have a plan. Figure out, if you know your triggers, you can figure out how to avoid those triggers or get accountable. Say, “Hey man, I’m going to be in this situation. It’s going to be difficult for me, so could you just check in with me afterwards?” So you have to have a plan. These are practical ways that you can have a better chance of beating temptation when it comes. So this leads us to our Big Idea. I know it’s long, but you only have to remember four words, actually five.
When temptation comes, run. The Bible says to flee temptation. If it catches you, resist. The Bible says if you resist Satan, James says if you resist Satan, he will flee from you. If temptation defeats you, repent and when your failure gloats, when you failed and you’re feeling terrible and guilty, and the devil is gloating, the temptation feels like it’s just, “Na, na, na, na, na,” remember the gospel. Your sin is paid for. Jesus paid for all on the cross. Your guilt, one of the problems with guilt is, and when you can get through the guilt … Guilt is good. Shame is bad. Guilt is just a legal standing. Either you did something wrong or you didn’t do something wrong. You’re either guilty or you’re not guilty. That’s just a factual statement, but shame is what separates you from God.
When guilt turns to shame, that’s when we’ve got to remember the gospel, that Jesus died, he paid for your sins, and he knew what he was doing. He knew when he died for your sins, he knew what they were going to be before you had even conceived of them. He knew what they we’re going to be and he chose to die for them anyway so remember the gospel. When temptation comes, run. If it catches you, resistive. If it defeats you, repent. If it gloats, remember that Jesus paid for it. Remember the gospel. It is finished, and then repeat. Just repeat over and over again until we get to the other side.
Then how do you recover from failure? Well, the first thing is you can’t recover from failure if you’re not willing to confess your sin. First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is …” what?
Brett Clemmer: “Faithful and …”
Brett Clemmer: Just. Wait a second. Why is it just, why is there justice if I just tell Jesus that I did something wrong and then he forgives me? That doesn’t seem like justice. I haven’t paid any penalty for that. Right, Jesus paid the penalty for it, so there is actually justice when you confess your sins and God forgives you for it. He forgives us our sins, and then what does he do? Cleanses us from unrighteousness. We get to go back and start with a clean slate. Now, if you’re going to confess then you need to repent, so confession is good. Confession is saying, “I did wrong.” Repentance is the next step. Repentance is turning away from that. It’s intentionally turning your life away from those sins that you’re committing and for helping you stay away from temptation.
Then you need to accept God’s restoration, accept the promise of the gospel, and then finally you need to live in humility. You need to live in humility. Proverbs 31 … I’m sorry. Proverbs 15:31 to 33 says this, “He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding. The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom, and before honor comes humility.” So if we’ll live a life of humility, it’s going to make us wiser when we see that lure drop in the water and we realize that it’s just a piece of rubber with a hook in it. It’s not really something that we want. It’s not really something that’s good for us. So our Big Idea, when temptation comes, run. If it catches you … Let’s do this together. I’ll say the white words and you say the orange words, all right? When temptation comes …
Brett Clemmer: If it catches you …
Brett Clemmer: If it defeats you …
Brett Clemmer: If it gloats …
Brett Clemmer: Remember the gospel. It is finished, and then?
Brett Clemmer: All right. Let me pray for us and then we’ll go to our tables. Father, thank you so much for your love for us, for the fact that you would send your son to die for us so that we would have the power through the power of your Holy Spirit to resist and flee from temptation. Lord, I pray that you would make us wise and humble so that we would live lives, we would set up our lives, Lord, to avoid those situations where we know we’re going to be tempted, that you would change our hearts and give us wisdom when we see the rubber worm in the water to recognize that it’s not good for us, it’s not something that’s going to deliver on what it promises, Lord. Instead, it’s going to harm us greatly. It going to cause us to sin and it’s going to lead to death. Lord, help us to really grasp the importance of that in our lives, and bless these next few minutes in our discussion time, Lord. I pray that you would use this time to bond us together and connect us more closely with you. In Jesus name, Amen.
All right. We’re going to take about 20 minutes, a few less than 20 minutes, for the discussion time and then in about three or four minutes of, I’ll give you a heads up and then we’ll come back together and wrap.
All right, guys. When you talk about integrity and when you talk about temptation, it’s easy, or it can be easy, to get yourself to a place where you feel like you’ve already blown it and you’re not even sure … you’re coming but you’re dragging yourself in here because maybe there’s things in your past that you just feel like you’re never going to overcome. I want to read a verse, a quick story to you, from Mark chapter 1 verse 40. Jesus is walking along in Galilee, and it says in verse 40, “A leper came to him, imploring him and kneeling said to him, ‘If you will, you can make me clean,’ and moved with pity he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, ‘I will be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him and he was made clean.” Why do I read these three verses? Well, I want you to notice something. Jesus, first of all, was a Rabbi. He was subject to really strict laws in the Jewish faith. One of those laws was that lepers were what? Unclean, so unclean they had to walk on the other side of the street.
When they saw people on one side of the street, they’d walk on the other side of the street. They had to actually shout out, “I’m unclean. I’m unclean,” and this was a statement about who they were as a person. Sins effect on us, allowed to fester, it can have the same effect on us spiritually and emotionally as leprosy can have on a man physically, and you may feel unclean. The next thing I want you to notice is that Jesus did not heal him and then touch him. He did not make him clean and then touch him. He touched him in his uncleanness and then he healed him. That’s a huge, huge thing for him to have done because when he touched the leper, he became, in the eyes of the Jewish law, a leper.
I want to remind you that no matter where you feel like you’re at, no matter how unclean you might feel like you are, that Jesus comes right into that uncleanness with us, into that horrible crappy place that you might feel you are because you’ve not run from temptation, you’ve not resisted it, and you’ve not repented, and you feel terrible but Jesus will meet you right where you’re at. So I want to encourage you, if you are feeling unclean this morning, to let Jesus touch you in that uncleanness, and let him love you, and let him heal you, and let him forgive you, and let him make you whole. Let’s pray.
Father, we want to be men of integrity, every man wants to be a man of integrity, and we want, Lord, the things that we read in the Bible, the truths that we read there, the instruction that we read there about how we are to live our lives, how we’re to be in relationship with each other and in relationship with you, we want those things, Lord, to be in our lives fully and completely, but they’re not.
So Lord, we ask that you would build us up as men of integrity, that you would draw us through the power of your Holy Spirit, Lord, that we would have our eyes open, the scales would fall off so that when we see the rubber worm in the water that’s designed to draw us in and kill us, Lord, that we would see it for what it is, that we would flee from it, resist it, Lord, when we make the mistakes, that we would repent and accept your forgiveness, Lord, that we can become the men that you’ve called us to be, that we could lead our families well, that we could impact our workplaces, our communities, our neighbors. Lord, use us father. Help us to draw us close to you and then use us to build your kingdom. Use us to bring you glory. Be with these men now as they go the rest of today and through this weekend and next week, Lord, and make us men of God that everybody looks at and says, “That’s a man of integrity.” In Jesus name we pray, Amen. Have a great week guys.