by Daniel Bramlett
Purity is the word that describes our conversation today. We love the word. We enjoy pure water and would never drink anything contaminated. We love food sourced from pure environments. We enjoy pure relationships, rightly believing poisoned, chaotic relationships will be toxic. We know purity is a gift that comes from God.
We see it first in the Garden in the beginning. When did the Garden cease to be pure? When sin entered in. It didn’t lose its ‘pure status’ when chemicals were introduced into the water or pesticides were sprayed on the crops. The world didn’t suddenly spoil when the first bullet was cast or the first war was fought.
God’s creation was unspoiled until His creation chose to rebel against Him. That moment introduced a darkness, an evil that has been present ever since. It’s presence in our existence accounts for all of the dark, deathly scenes we see and hear about today. The ghastly pictures and stories being seen and heard for the first time in the Ukraine aren’t the result of contaminated water, but contaminated hearts.
Every stitch of evil we’ve witnessed in this battle-scarred world is the result of broken hearts, dirtied by sin and bent on casting God out of every square inch of their lives. Purity is possible for the believer because God has effectively dealt with the rebellion in our hearts.
Preacher Paul writes in his first letter to the shaky new Church in Thessalonica, “For this is the will of God for you: your sanctification.” What does this word mean? Its synonym is holiness. It is God’s design for you. It is what you were made for. It is the idea that you were built to be a container for God’s Spirit and the more you look at Him, the more you will become like Him; the more you learn to listen to Him and obey His voice, the more holiness will become your nature. This is why purity is such a big deal.
We tend to brush off the day to day, only focusing on the bigger picture. We think, “We’re saved and that’s all that matters. The rest of this stuff will work itself out.” That’s not true. God wants to work it out now, today. We want to put off the work of holiness for later. We’re too busy today. But that’s not faithfulness. That’s not the way the Lord works. If you want to be what He wants you to be, you need to dedicate yourself to purity. Let me explain what that means.
Paul takes the route of pure bodies in this discussion. He does that because it is the easiest and fastest way for us to get a fix on what is happening in our hearts. If our relationships aren’t pure, our hearts will most likely follow suit. If we aren’t walking in sexual purity, we know that our hearts are not in the right place. So, let’s follow Paul’s lead and begin there.
The Bible tells us that our common enemy lures us/tempts us with our own desires. He places attractive things in front of us that he knows we will be drawn to. We should not be surprised that Satan uses our tender hearts to lure us into rebellion. But we do need to know that is exactly what it is when we muddy the waters sexually: rebellion. Satan’s goal is to defeat you. God’s desire is to build you up in Him. You get to choose the path you want to walk.
How do we control our bodies? We submit them daily to the Master of our souls. As soon as a rebellious desire is uncovered, we don’t hide it or ignore it. We submit it to the Lord. The mastering of our bodies is not as hard as it might seem. Can you see why we don’t want to let our bodies have full reign? I want to encourage you to stop playing games with yourself. If given the opportunity, you and I will let our bodies run free. We will find ourselves in all kinds of destructive behavior. Give yourself to the Lord and watch Him begin the transformation in your bodies.
There is a warning here from God and the motivation for that warning. Paul reminds us that God is the Avenger. He will not ignore our active rebellion. Our sin will be punished. This is comfort for those who are being sinned against and a charge for those who are caught to surrender and submit to the only One who can set them free. God has invited us to a free life in Him. This life is not defined by impurity but by purity. He says whoever disregards this, disregards God and the Spirit He sent. Whoa.
I don’t know if I can do justice to this statement. To a culture that is close to God, a culture that loves the Lord first and last, this statement would bring us to tears. To a culture that has relegated the Lord to such a back burner position that it considers itself able to rescue and redeem, a statement like this is brushed off like junk mail. We consider the claims of God the Avenger like we would consider the grocery mail out, briefly scanning the coupons and then tossing it in the trash. “There’s nothing there I’m interested in today. Maybe next week.”
There must be a strong element of confession, where our sin is recognized and offered up, and repentance, where we turn from our sin and ask for the strength to do so more and more. We must not fix our attention wholly on our sin and forget the possibility and offer of restoration. God will forgive! God will restore! The immediate evidence of that restoration is a fire God lights in the hearts of those who turn to Him. We walk away from worship with a renewed desire to meet the Lord in the splendor of His holiness and gain whatever it is He would offer us, namely Himself! We see immediate, lasting change begin to occur. This is the hope and deep desire of every believer! We do not want to stay the same! We want to be more and more like Jesus with each passing day.
Do you want to be restored? Do you want to know the riches of God’s holiness prepared for you? Do you long to be rescued from the passions of your body? Ask Him to purify you and then reach out for help to someone you know is walking that path. God’s goal is to clean us up. Will you let Him do what He wants to do today?