Choose to Be Pure
It is almost laughable to talk about purity these days. The culture that surrounds us has elevated immorality, rudeness, selfishness and the like to the status of virtues while mocking, harshly or gently, those who attempt to be pure, polite, and compassionate. These are concepts which belonged to a distant generation. It was quaint that our grandparents practiced them. It was irritating that our parents tried to impose them. Now that we are “of age” we’ll have nothing to do with them. Our standup comics and other media heros regularly lampoon anyone who takes them seriously.
But purity remains a virtue and though often associated with sexuality, we’ll broaden the context to include other areas. Here are a couple of quotations from the New Testament which refer to purity: “Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm.” (1 Timothy 1:5-7) Notice the focus of the apostle’s attention: love from a pure heart, a good conscience and sincere faith. It is natural to be corrupt, to be contaminated by the world, to be polluted by our own thoughts and desires. If we are going to be pure we have to choose to be pure. I don’t think anybody ever practiced purity by accident.
Now, consider some words of Peter: “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.” (1 Peter 1:22) Again, in this context, the apostle is concerned with how we relate to one another in the body of Christ and the need for that to be out of a pure heart.
If you were to look up the word “pure” as used in the Bible, you would find it most frequently as an adjective used to describe the quality of gold. If I were to sell you an ingot of pure gold, how much copper, tin and brass would you expect to find in it? Of course, none! If it’s pure, it has no other metals alloyed with it.
At least one of the words in the New Testament that is translated pure contains this idea of nothing added or mixed in. So when a Christian is pure he allows no personal or worldly or demonic influence to mix with his Christian values and character, his ethical system, his morality, his spiritual life.
Lots of additives around us seek a place in our character, in our world view, in our morality. Contaminants surround us. One day, I was sitting in a restaurant having a meal with a couple of my children. Televisions were set up to be visible from every seat in the place and as I looked up, something caught my eye. It caused me to quickly redirect my sons’ attention. What I’d seen was part of a commercial and the level of innuendo was frightful. Anyone who saw it would know exactly what it was communicating.
You don’t even have to watch electronic media to be exposed to things that would disrupt the flow of your thoughts. Just glancing at the suggestive poses of models on billboards or in magazines diverts the mind to sensual thoughts. Much of the sin of impurity can be entirely contained in the mind. It may never find expression in actions. We may be able to control it so we don’t act it out but our mind is still contaminated.
I’ve emphasized the sexual aspect of purity, but demonic, worldly and personal temptations can lure us into feelings of conceit, hate, contempt, rage, greed, pride, escapism and more.
Purity of thought is where it all starts. It is important to keep your mind pure because the mind is really the initiator of all of our words and actions. If you allow your mind to become contaminated, it will find expression in the way that you talk and the way that you act. So it is crucial to keep the mind pure.
In a radio broadcast, I heard Chuck Swindoll comment on some verses in Ephesians 5 where Paul warned against coarse jesting and filthiness in speech. He made the point that joking about immoral things lowers your resistance to it. Once you have laughed at something, you find it easier to embrace it.
I’ve been intrigued by some of the minority lifestyles in our culture whose agenda includes having their representatives go out as comedians. In effect their message is, “Laugh at me. Laugh with me. Hey, I’m one of you!” We move from seeing them as different, to feeling indifferent, to embracing them as no different.
Choosing to be pure is about choosing to control our thoughts and that is one of the biggest challenges that any of us face. That is why it is important to fill our minds with God’s Word. You wouldn’t be able to have a thought in your head given the noise in our culture. You may find it necessary, as I have, to choose silence, so your mind can dwell on spiritual things.
Purity is God’s standard for us. Choose it for your blessing. Ignore it at your peril.
© May 2009