“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Purity is something rarely spoken of today. In American culture, people associated with purity have different names with mostly negative undertones – “prudes”, “goody-two-shoes” (Whatever that means. Doesn’t everyone have two shoes?), “goody-goody,” “puritan,” “morality police.” The very idea of refraining from media (certain books, movies, magazines, websites), events, places, or objects based solely on the basis of a desire of personal holiness is laughable today. Where has the desire to remain pure gone?
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word”
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”
2 Timothy 2:21
“Now my the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and my your whole spirit and soul and body
be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Take, for example, the book (and upcoming movie) 50 Shades of Grey. Now, I have not read the book, but I’ve read enough excerpts and commentaries to know the plot and specifics. A mousy, shy woman falls in love with a handsome, rich, powerful man who has very specific and deviant sexual desires. A sexual relationship begins, but then it takes a darker turn. Bondage, sexual torture, restraints, sexual humiliation, whipping, and a singular desire to meet one’s personal sexual appetites at the neglect or expense of the other person are all prevalent themes, not to mention the fact that marriage is not in the picture (as if sex outside of marriage is considered wrong anymore!). The only problem is that these are all things the Bible calls sexual immoral and impure. It is an elevation of wickedness.
Not only that, but the book exalts sexual fulfillment and exploration as the END GOAL of sex. It is a perversion and distortion of how God, the Creator and Designer of sex, intended it. God designed sex as a gift within marriage, a sign and symbol of unity within the covenant, a selfless act of loving your spouse. Instead, sex is portrayed as a way to pursue individual satisfaction at the neglect, expense, pain, or humiliation of the sexual partner. It is twisted into a selfish act. And Americans (and Christians, in particular) are drinking this book up. It is disheartening to watch.
The very fact that this book was published and became a best seller should tell us something about the state of our purity as a nation. This really is a tipping point for pornography and sexual deviance entering into the mainstream our culture. Pornography has always been the ugly underbelly of our culture: no one talks about it, but somehow it is a multi-billion dollar industry. But what is scary about 50 Shades is that there this is the introduction of perversion, pornography and sexual deviance on a massive scale IN THE LIGHT OF DAY, and there is no difference between Christians and non-Christians in sales figures. I know plenty of Christians who have read the book and can’t wait for the movie. I see post of social media about it often. It isn’t even taboo. It has been embraced by Christian and non-Christian alike as a socially, emotionally, and sexually liberating novel that empowers men and women. God’s Word would beg to differ.
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous”
“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
“For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God”
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light.”
“I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away;
it shall not cling to me.”
Now, hear me when I say this: I’m not suggesting we elevate morality here. I’m not saying smoking, drinking, and dancing are evil. I am not suggesting that we institute some Orwellian state where everyone is monitored, shunned, controlled, or manipulated into correct behavior.
The Bible makes it clear that we are all sinful, we all do wrong, we all fall short, we are all dead in our trespasses and sins, we all broken outside of Christ. Jesus is our only Hope, our only Refuge, our only Strength, our only Righteousness, our only Life, our only Purity, our only shot at being whole. We do not elevate behavior or purity. We elevate Jesus Christ. We can be saved by Jesus IN SPITE OF our sinfulness and lack of purity. That’s why the Gospel is so liberating!
What I AM suggesting is that we know what God calls sin and purity, we know that determined, long-obedience to the things of God (one of which is purity) leads to joy in God and determined, long-obedience to impurity robs us of our joy in God and God of glory. We strive for purity because it brings God glory and us joy. We avoid sin because it robs us of joy and God of glory. We strive to please God. “Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:9. When Christ saves us, our hearts, ambitions, desires, and motivations begin to change. We are new creations, according to 2 Corinthians 5:17.
What I am saying is that somewhere along the way, we have lost our way when it comes to purity.
As Christians today, what do we do with the Bible and it’s call to holiness and purity? Do we perform mental gymnastics to somehow justify ourselves? Do we try to ignore our conscience, the Holy Spirit, the Bible? Do we say, “That was then, this is now”? Does the Bible apply to the early apostles and Church, but not us? Do we keep on sinning so that grace may increase?
I’m going to be honest. I’m scared for us. Everywhere I look, I see compromise. I see it in myself. I see it in others. I see blurring and blending of morality that makes no sense. I see Christians outraged at the abortion and extermination of babies, yet supportive of homosexual marriage, the LGBT community, unconfessed or unrepentant sin in their own lives…. Why outrage over the federally sanctioned sin of one, and yet not the other? I see boundaries that once were considered definite and uncompromising now chalked up to mere “personal opinion” and “issues of freedom.” I see Christians who own movies and watch shows that they would never let children watch because of sexual content. How is it wrong for a child to watch, and yet right for us to watch?
Jesus has called us out of the darkness and into the light. He has called us to greater things, desires. He has satisfied our thirst with His fountain of life and living water, He has clothed us in His robes of salvation and righteousness, He has washed us of our filth.
Let’s not willingly go play in the mud.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light”
1 Peter 2:9
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world”
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.
So glorify God in your body”
1 Corinthians 6:19
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”
Now, for those of us who tend toward legalism, the Bible has words for us as well.
If you think you are pure in heart on your own merit, you are either delusion or do not know God’s standards for purity. Trying to do this on your own will crush you. And this realization presses you to be honest about your situation – you and I cannot achieve purity on our own.
Being pure in heart is impossible without Jesus. Only He is perfect, only He is pure, only His righteousness will do. Only by trusting in Him and His victory over sin and death on the Cross and through His resurrection can I be made pure.
Also, purity is both a one-time event (2 Corinthians 5:17: you ARE a new creation) and a daily process through sanctification (He renews us day by day. We are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another beholding the glory of the Lord.) Happy, content, and joyful are you who are pure in heart, because you have Christ! Our goal is not heaven or eternal life. Our goal is that we get God.
AM I BEHOLDING THE LORD? AM I BEING TRANSFORMED DAILY INTO HIS IMAGE? If not, why not?
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”