Suppose I bought an old 1925 Ford that I wanted to restore. It is missing some parts: the headlights, the wheels and the steering wheel. But the engine and the body are intact. So I strip down the engine and then rebuild it. Then I begin to work on the body of the car, and after hundreds of hours of work, the body gleams.
Then I put on some nice, square halogen headlights; some big, wide tires with beautiful mag wheels and a little racing-type steering wheel. I am completely proud of my achievement, so I drive downtown to show off my handiwork.
There’s an old man on the street corner who looks somewhat bewildered. “Well, what do you think of my 1925 Ford? You must have seen one.” “Well, that doesn’t look like any 1925 Ford I’ve ever seen”, and he then begins to point out the things that aren’t right.
I wonder if the Apostle Paul would be visiting the world today, would he even recognize us Christians? Or would he be convinced we had so intermarried with the world that we were actually neither one nor the other. If I am going to rebuild my life or a 1925 Ford, I need to refer to the Designer’s Book to do it right.
A preacher was walking down a street when he met the owner of a company that made soap. As they talked, the soapmaker said, “The gospel you preach can’t be very good for there are still a lot of wicked people in the world.”
The preacher noticed a child nearby making mud pies. The tot was smeared with dirt from head to toe. The preacher said to his friend, “Your soap can’t be very good, for there is still a lot of dirt in the world.” The man responded, “Well, it cleanses only when a person uses it.”
“Exactly!” said the preacher.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalm 51:1-2)
Early Friday morning I woke up, turned over and tried to go back to sleep. In that half awake state I had a vision. I saw myself lying there looking up at the ceiling. There I saw a bunch of tiny black caterpillars making a nest in one corner. Each was less than a half an inch long, but they were busily working away at their spider-web like nest, about a foot in diameter. As I lay there, I thought in my mind, should I clean those things out now, or try to get back to sleep and do it later.
Then, I had the awareness that if I did not do it now, the nest would get larger and larger, the caterpillars would multiply in number and size, and the task would become more and more difficult. I was suddenly awake and aware that God had just revealed Himself to me. The lesson was clear. If we Christians don’t act now to clean areas of our lives up, the task only increases and gets more difficult. Those caterpillars were making a home, not just visiting. It was a lesson on sin and holiness.
Aaron Wilburn said that one of the main differences between men and women is that if you want to know if a shirt is dirty or clean, a woman will look it over, but a man will smell it. A boy was dressing to go out for the evening. He called to his mother who was in the adjoining room. “Mom, is this shirt dirty?” Without so much as looking she replied, “Yes, it’s dirty. Get a clean one.”
When he had dressed he entered his mother’s room and inquired how she knew the shirt was dirty when she had not even looked at it. “If it had been clean,” she replied, “you would have known it and would not have asked me. Remember, son, if it’s doubtful, it’s dirty.”
There a sermon in this little story. If it’s doubtful, it’s dirty.
Once upon a time there was a prince and a peasant who fell in love. They were so different. He was the stately prince. She was the common peasant. He was peerless but she was plain. She was not ugly, but she could be and often was. She was solemn, moody, sour, cranky and selfish – not the kind of soul you’d want to live with, but to the prince she was the kind of soul he could not live without. He proposed to her and she said yes. And he promised, “I’ll return for you soon.”
The oddity was not in his departure, but in her behavior while he was gone. She continually forgot that she was engaged. Some who were closest to her never heard her talk about it. There were even times when she was seen on the arm of other men. She forgot that she was engaged.
This is the story of the church, the Bride of Christ who often forgets She is engaged while She flirts with the world. How’re you doing?
For the next couple of days I want us to talk about Holiness. I observed a great object lesson on holiness a couple of years ago. I traveled to Manaus, Brazil, to participate in a dedication service for a new church building we had helped to finance. Manaus is a rapidly growing city in the heart of the Amazon rain forest. In Manaus two major river systems converge: the Negro River and the Amazon River.
The Negro River is named such because of its color. The Negro’s pure waters are tinted black from decaying leaves at the bottom. However, the Amazon’s churning waters are murky with light brown mud eroded from the Andes Mountains. When these two rivers converge, for miles one side of the river is black, while the other side is brown. But after a few miles, the waters merge. And guess which side wins. You’re right, the pure waters do not purify the muddy waters, but the muddy waters contaminate the pure waters and the entire Amazon River continues on its muddy brown path.
Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:14-15: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what does righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?“