How do we look at a word that seems out of step with the times? With a new vision. ◊
The word “purity” is enough to make most people roll their eyes or run for the hills either in shame or discomfort. It seems so sanctimonious and old fashioned. Like a word from a bygone era simply not realistic or even very relevant today.
Is that how it strikes you? Why is that?
If you’re not a Christian, you’ve got no problem with the word applying to personal acts or character as there is no moral constraint to bump up against. You can define behavior and actions as you like, perhaps with “purity” representing a nice ideal in heart and spirit but not necessarily more than that.
But for anyone who proclaims themselves a follower of Christ, i.e., a Christian, the word is fairly loaded. It’s difficult not to associate the word with personal failure, guilt, and shame. Have any impure thoughts lately? Seen anything inappropriate or impure online recently? With its standard definition of “freedom from contamination and immorality, especially of a sexual nature,” it’s easy to see how this makes many Christians today feel uncomfortable and inadequate.
After all, it’s Jesus himself that says: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8) Or other passages in the Bible make very clear and definitive statements about personal purity:
- Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18)
- For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
- Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality… (Galatians 5:29)
- So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22)
For the Christian, personal purity, whether a past or present point of personal failure or victory, is a target ideal we need to fight for and sustain a resolute focus.
Anything less will result in spiritual dullness and distance from God who would have us experience neither.
Spiritual Vision Through Personal Purity
We need a new perspective about purity. A new vision. Oswald Chambers points out that “Purity is not innocence, it is much more. Purity is the outcome of sustained spiritual sympathy with God. We have to grow in purity.” 1 Chambers notes that the spiritual life with God is not merely some lofty ideal. Stuff happens. But we have to fix it and get it right.
Many Christians discount themselves and live in guilt and separation from God. That is, it’s in their head. God didn’t leave them – they pushed away from God. Why? Because of guilt and shame. They succumbed to lust or sin or temptation. They looked at porn. They had impure thoughts. They acted immoral. They wished or treated someone ill.
They must address their guilt with God, confessing and resetting their course in a new direction. Any remnants of impurity must be purged and confronted. As there is none without sin except for Christ himself, we must confess our sin and understand that we are forgiven:
- If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:19)
- There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
Of course, that does not give us license to sin. Rather, we must proactively move forward with our new vision of purity. Like a temple, not only must the inner sanctuary (our minds) be kept right with God, but the outer courts (our bodies and surrounding world) as well are to be brought into perfect accord with the purity God gives us by His grace.
The Purity Fix
So, assuming our sinful nature as humans, how does one really move forward in spiritual sympathy with God or retain personal contact with the Lord Jesus Christ? Here are 4 keys to maintaining personal purity:
- Scorn to look at what is impure or immoral – even those things that seem fine but may lead to things impure. Our minds go where the eyes take us. Be stern and disciplined here, accountable to God. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” (Matthew 6:22)
- Scorn to do what is impure or immoral – our actions reflect the inner condition of our mind and heart. Control the body to do good and avoid evil again through proactive awareness and practiced discipline. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:15)
- Scorn to think about what is impure or immoral – in truth we are what we think, so take good care toward the development of your mind. And how we think of others around us. Be therefore transformed to the mind of God “by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:1) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:5)
- Go and sin no more – fortunately we have a Good and Loving Father who forgives us regardless of our personal purity sins past and present, and future. We should not be discouraged, but uplifted by our God who loves us like we love our little children who stumble yet mean well. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 1:1-2)
Take daily stock of these keys to personal purity and notice the formation of a new, healthy and peace-giving spiritual vision that aligns with what is good and right and pleasing to God.
Do you have spiritual vision through personal purity?
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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. – Philippians 4:8
1 Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, March 26, “Vision By Personal Purity.”