Mary - The Preparation of Purity

Steve Viars December 2, 2006

- Toward the end of His teaching ministry, Jesus Christ told a parable, or a story about 10 young ladies to illustrate the importance of being prepared for what God might want to do in your life...
- it went like this...
- Matthew 25:1-13 - At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
- the reason Jesus told stories like this was to encourage the listeners to ask the obvious question...which group of persons am I like?...am I prepared for what God might be planning to do in my life?...
- let me ask you this – do you agree with the notion that God has a plan of what He intends to accomplish this Christmas Season, and on into the coming year?...would you agree with that theologically?...
- and would you also agree that God uses people like you and me to accomplish His plan?...
- then I would ask you this...is it important to you that you are prepared as possible so that you could be used of God in way He desires?
- or perhaps to sharpen that a bit...as you think back over this past year, what evidence is there that you purposely took steps to prepare yourself for what God has next for our community, for our church, for our world, and for you?...and what would a person who was truly prepared even look like?...
- that is the theme we want to explore this Christmas Season...
- you may have wondered...how in the world are we going to go from Gearing Up for Greater Effectiveness to O Little Town of Bethlehem?...
- the truth is, that is pretty simple...because for each of the key persons involved in the Christmas story...they were only able to do what they did in what the apostle Paul later called “the fullness...at the perfect time...”...they were able to function that way because they were prepared...
- here’s the plan...this morning we would like to study the life of Mary, and talk about...
Gearing Up for Participating in Christmas
December 3rd – Mary – The Preparation of Purity
December 10th – Joseph – The Preparation of Faith
December 17th – Christmas Musical
December 24th AM – Jesus – The Preparation of Submission
December 24th PM Candlelight Service – God the Father – The Preparation of Love
- with that in mind, would you please open your Bible to Luke chapter 1...[page 43 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you...page 1272 of our Chinese English Bibles]
- I realize that for many of you, you have studied the Christmas story many times...one of the things I love about the Scripture is that it is eternally fresh...it never grows old to the person who loves the Lord...as I was studying this passage I found myself saying things like, I haven’t thought about that in some time, or I don’t remember seeing that in this text before...thank the Lord that His Word is, as the writer of Hebrews tells us, alive...and powerful...
- we also understand that there will be many here today who are studying the Christmas story comprehensively for the first time in your life...because this is the year you became a follower of Christ...
- we want you to know that we view you as one of God’s Christmas presents to us...and we are very glad that the family has experienced a number of new births this year...there’s an excitement and life that goes with that which is marvelous and almost overwhelming...

- now let’s read beginning at Luke 1:26—but please pay careful attention to Mary...
- and I should probably point out that most conservative Bible scholars believe that Mary was about 14 years old at the time this occurred...
- but please think about the preparation that was necessary in order for her to be in this position, and respond the way she did...
- read Luke 1:26-56

- so we’re talking Mary, and the preparation of purity...
- and I would like to suggest to that from these verses, we can find Four characteristics of Mary’s purity.
- these are ways in which she was prepared, so that when God wanted to show His favor on her by giving her a marvelous ministry assignment, she was a “vessel fit for the Master’s use...”
- and of course the question all throughout the morning is...are you prepared in this way?...
- the text starts here...

I. She was Pure in the Way She Disciplined Her Body.


- it is very important to carefully note...
A. What the text says.
- there is repeated emphasis on the fact that Mary a virgin...
- in verse 27 that point is made twice in just one verse...
- Luke 1:27 - to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
- Mary confirms it by her own testimony in verse 34...
- Luke 1:34 - Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
- and perhaps the fact that the person used to write this book, humanly speaking, was a medical doctor should be brought into the equation as well...
- but over and over God’s Word makes the point that Mary was able to be used of God in this way in part because she had disciplined her body...

- now, another piece of this story that I would like to at least mention is that so much of what we are reading is the polar opposite of how human beings would have expected this story to go...
- like the fact that Mary was from Nazareth, in Galilee...a place despised by many Jewish individuals because it was small and corrupt and known for having a population that was part Jewish and part a lot of other things....
- you may remember later in the life of Christ when somebody mentioned Nazareth to straight talking Nathaniel---do you remember his response?...John 1:46 - And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”...
- I like the way Kent Hughes describes this scene in his commentary on Luke...From all indicators, her life would not be extraordinary.  She would marry humbly, give birth to numerous poor children, never travel father than a few miles from home, and one day die like thousands of others before her—a nobody in a nothing town in the middle of nowhere (Kent Hughes – Luke, Vol. 1, p. 33).
- here’s the point---often people in these circumstances would conclude---what’s the use in trying to live a life of purity?...who knows?...who cares?...what does it matter?...
- had Mary concluded that...she would not have been prepared to serve God in this marvelous way...and she would have been passed over...
- you say, how do you know that?...because the Messiah had to be born of a virgin?...why?...
B. Why this is so important. 
1. The honor of God’s Word was at stake.
- several hundred years before, God had predicted through the prophet Isaiah...
Isaiah 7:14 - Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
- and I realize that theological liberals like to say...well, Isaiah didn’t really mean virgin, he really meant “young woman”...
- that doesn’t even make sense if you compare the first half of the verse to the second...there’s no sign from God when a young woman has a baby---that happens every day...
- God meant what he said and He is powerful enough to do what He says...
- that’s what the angel later proclaimed by the way... Luke 1:37 - For with God nothing will be impossible.”
- by the way, if you are here this morning and you have never trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord...can I just point out to you that what we are talking about right now is one of the many strong reasons to believe...the issue of fulfilled prophecy...
- what is your answer to the fact that God clearly laid out exactly how and where His Son would be born hundreds and hundreds of years beforehand and then He did it?...
- and if God was right about the future of His Son, maybe He’s right about your future as well...
- maybe there’s something to that notion about everybody spending eternity somewhere...
- and the importance of being prepared for what happens one second after you die...
- and about how there really is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned...
- why else was the virgin birth important?...
2. The purity of the Messiah was at stake.
- The only was the Savior could someday die for your sin and mine is if He was absolutely perfect...the spotless Lamb of God...
- and since Scriptures teaches that the sin nature is passed down through the means of normal procreation, there had to be a way for Jesus to truly become a man but without the transmission of a sin nature...
- there is only one way that could have happened...and it took somebody really smart to figure it out...smart like omniscient king of smart...it required a virgin birth...
- that’s why Paul could say...
- 2 Corinthians 5:21 - For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- thank God for a young woman was characterized by purity...
- now, it is also important for us to mention...
C. What this text does not say.
- while it would be wrong for us to think too little of Mary, it is equally wrong for others to think too much of her...
- regrettably some have added notions to the Biblical account that are extremely unfortunate...
- for example, the notion that the angel was saying that Mary was full of grace that was intrinsically hers...Hail Mary, full of grace...
- that is clearly not the point and the angel would have used entirely different terminology if that is what he intended to say...
- the idea is not that she was a dispenser of grace but that she was a recipient of grace...
- God is choosing to show you His unusual favor...and anytime God chooses to use any one of us in any way, yes we have to be prepared but yes it is always an extension of His grace to us...
- the notion that people should pray to Mary is unheard of in Scripture...
- we are always taught to pray in Jesus’ name...
- 1 Timothy 2:5 - For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,
- it is a significant error theologically to suggest otherwise...
- and of course when the pronouncement was made in 1854 that Mary too was not affected by the stain of original sin...the so-called Immaculate Conception...that notion is found nowhere in the Word of God...

- but please don’t let all of tat take our attention away from the main point...thank God that Mary was prepared...she disciplined her body sexually...
- now, let’s bring that down to where we live...what does that have to do with God’s willingness and ability to use people like you and me today?...
- we must be doing everything we can, so we can say with the apostle Paul...
- 1 Corinthians 9:27 - But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection...
- or to - Romans 6:13 - ...present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.

- now, what about the person who would say?...but I have sinned sexually in some way...
- here’s the response to that...stand in line...
- the Scripture makes it clear that sexual sin is not simply a matter of the body but it is also a matter of the mind and the heart...is there anybody here who would say, I have never sinned sexually in any way in my inner or outer man?...
- OK, so now that we have that cleared up...if the issue isn’t perfection, what is the issue?...trying to get better...trying to grow in spiritual discipline of the body...avoiding bringing anything into our minds or hearts that would displease God...cultivating a hatred for sin...longing for, and praying for, and working for purity so that we are in the best position to be used of God...
- and I realize that there are people here today who could honestly say---PV, we have a long way to go, but we’ve made a lot of progress in this area this year?...we’ve gotten rid of some reading material in our home...we’ve gotten rid of some of those premium channels...we’re taking steps toward personal purity...we have some accountability going...
- friend, I would say this tongue in cheek...get ready for a visit from an angel...
- and you know I don’t literally mean that...but I hope we all understand this...the Christmas story has not been entirely written, yet...
- I know we all believe God intends to do things in this community this year at Christmas time...
- the question is...are you, like Mary, prepared so He can use you?...
- are you working toward becoming pure in the way you discipline you body?

- now, how else did Mary’s purity manifest itself?...I would suggest this...


II. She was Pure in the Way She Viewed Herself.


- there is a sense of humility that runs through this text that is an important aspect of being best prepared to be used of God...for example...
A. In her initial response to the angel.
- what does the beginning of verse 29 tell us?...
- v. 29 – But she was very perplexed at this statement...
- that, by the way, really throws a wrench in the view that Mary was full of grace that she had somehow developed of her own and now she was able to dispense it to others...
- she didn’t say to the angel, it’s about time you showed up...I’m obviously better than everyone else around here and Jesus is really going to be lucky to have me on the scene...
- no, she was amazed because she was a person of humility....this also comes out...

B. In her later statements to her cousin.
- how does she refer to the Lord in verse 27?
Luke 1:47 - And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
- why would Mary be talking about God as the Savior?...because she realized that she needed one...
- the notion that she somehow was going to become the unofficial fourth member of the trinity never crossed her mind, and never is taught in Scripture...
- there’s great humility...that’s why she says in the very next verse...
- Luke 1:48 - For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
- and she’s amazed at that...

- that is why it is important to note that this announcement is primarily about the Son, not primarily about the mother...
- that’s true of what the angel said...and it is true of what Mary said...
- I remember being in Mexico and visiting a religious site where people had painted little signs about the size of a license plate commemorating different things that God had supposedly done for them...
- and these signs had been attached to large walls very close together and as you read them, or had them translated, they were almost exclusively about Mary...
- Mary did this, and Mary did that...Mary, please this and Mary please that...
- that is so far removed from the way this story actually occurred...
- and because Mary was characterized by humility...because she possessed, what her Son would later teach as being poor in spirit...her humility became an ideal stage for the glory of Jesus Christ to be displayed...
- the point of all of this is...the people who are best prepared to be used of God are those who are consciously trying to grow in the grace of humility...
- it’s like John the Baptist who will later say... John 3:30 - He must increase, but I must decrease.

- now, let’s bring that down to where we are...is this one of the ways that you are becoming prepared for how God might want to use you this Christmas season...or in the coming year?...Is John the Baptist’s testimony your testimony?...
- could you say with the apostle Paul... Colossians 1:18 – he is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
- you can’t be useful in ministry unless you have a right view of self...Mary understood where she fit...do you?...
- He must increase but I must decrease...
- he must come to have first place in everything...is that the kind of heart and life you are preparing?...

- one of the tragedies of this time of year is that some times Christmas is the season where followers of Christ are least like their Lord...
- it can be a time of incredible selfishness...and I’m not just talking about the little kids whining about their presents...
- I’m talking about adults fighting about the holiday plans, and the holiday trips, and the holiday meals, and the holiday spending...
- it has to be my way...its all about me...don’t cross me...don’t disappoint me...don’t ask me to do something I don’t want to do...
- some people get so wound up in having everything their way that a ministry opportunity comes, and a ministry opportunity goes...and they don’t even see it, much less embrace it...because their eyes are focused on their own thing as if they are the center of the universe...

- now, somewhere along the line we need to be sure to have said this...we are talking this morning to people who have already trusted Christ as Savior and Lord...this is a preparation for ministry kind of discussion...
- if you do not know the Lord, please don’t walk away concluding, well PV said I had to clean up my life regarding sexual purity or humility and view of self...and I probably can’t do that...I’m not good enough...
- listen, the message of Scripture is...nobody is good enough...that is why Christmas had to take place...if we could have earned it on our own Jesus would have stayed in heaven...
- the first step in the preparation process is admitting your need and placing your faith and trust in Christ...


III. She was Pure in the Way She Exercised Her Mind.


- verse 29 also tells us... Luke 1:29 - and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
- you could say it this way...
A. She was thoughtful and contemplative.
- she wasn’t flighty, she wasn’t superficial, and she wasn’t just focused on the experience of being visited by an angel...she was thinking about the content of his words...
...so sure she was a teenager...but there was a lot of depth here that she had already developed...you only respond like this in the heat of the moment if you’ve prepared this kind of a heart and life...
- do you realize that if we do not guard against it, we can allow the busyness of this time of year to rob us of this very quality?...
- one 5th century writer said this...
Let all mortal flesh keep silent
And with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

- you know, that’s one of the reasons we have the Living Nativity...[develop – as a ministry to area families...to help them slow down and consider the meaning of the holiday...]

- please also note this...
B. She possessed “blessed inquisitiveness.”
- it is interesting that when Zacharias asked the angel a question he was judged with the inability to speak for nine months...when Mary asked a question she was patiently answered...
- that’s because God can read hearts and know when a person is objecting to God’s Word because of unbelief while others are asking out a sincere desire to know and understand...
- the angel said in verse 37... Luke 1:37 - For with God nothing will be impossible.
- and Mary’s cousin Elizabeth was able to report a few verses later...Luke 1:45 - Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.
- this is a critical aspect of being prepared to serve God...asking questions and studying and searching...and because of that....

C. She was then able to proclaim truth in a meaningful and profound fashion.
- when you read verses 46-55 and realize that a young teenage girl was speaking these words, you have to be amazed...
- she would not have had access to formal training or education...and of course God was helping her and guiding her...but she had certainly done her part by exercising her mind with as much biblical truth as she possibly could...

 

- [develop --- people who have taken FBI Classes this year, or ABF classes this year, stretching your mind with biblical truth...get ready for a visit from an angel...an opportunity to sit down with loved one in a quiet, non judgmental fashion and say...can I share something with you that I have been learning from the Word of God that has been a great help to me...and you might even say later, who was that talking?...that’s the new you...the prepared you...]

- [develop – objections – but I’m too young?...younger than 14?...
- don’t know enough...then let’s talk about the woman at the well...how much did she have to know before God could use her?...
- what about the man born blind---he just told his story – once I was blind but now I see...so if you haven’t been a believer very long---get prepared by writing out your story and get busy sharing it...
- also develop – what about those who are a lot older than Mary, and have walked with God a lot longer --- think about what God could do with you today...don’t waste the preparation...]

IV. She was Pure in the Way She Molded Her Will.


- don’t you love the way this text ends?
- Luke 1:38 - Then Mary said, “Behold the bondslave of the Lord! May it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

- now, you might ask...well, how will I know if a situation is really something God has prepared me for that I should embrace...
- that’s a great question...prepared for what and how will I know?...

- let’s respond to that with a  question...have you obeyed all of God’s will that He has already revealed to you?...
- John 7:17 – If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching...
- [develop ways that could be true...]

- [if time allows, could talk about ways God prepares us...by trial, by failure...]


- conclude by going back to the truth that the Christmas story is still being written...

- also deal with the question of what folks might be holding onto that is displeasing to God that will prevent them from possessing the preparation of purity...is it really worth it?

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video