Just how pure a walk does the Lord call us, His followers, to? Several passages raise our sights in this matter. 1 Thessalonians 3:13 tells us the Lord wants to remake our hearts “faultlessly pure and unblamable in holiness.” And 1 Corinthians 3:3 declares that we are not to “behave after a human standard and like mere (unchanged) men.” “For this is the will of God,” 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 states, “that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice, that each one of you should know how to possess (control, manage) his own body in consecration (purity, separated from things profane) and honor.”
Admittedly holiness is an acquired taste. It’s delicious, though. The seductions of the world, the demonic, religious practices, and the appetitive flesh feel so strong. However, once it’s discovered that increase in holiness results in a precious and so valuable kindred spirit relationship with Jesus Himself, all defiling lures pale. John 14:21 makes it expressly clear that obedience to Holy Writ leads to the experience of His presence and His love: “The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me, and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father. And I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him – I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.” Jesus said on the Mount, “the pure in heart…they shall see God.” And Proverbs 22:11 instructs, “He who loves pureness of heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king (a type of the King of Kings) as his friend.”
The rewards of purity are great. The first chapter in the Song of Songs reveals that it is the chaste believer who can sing, “Your anointing oils have a pleasant fragrance; Your name is like ointment poured forth; therefore the virgins love You.” In Revelation 4, the first overcomers are also described as virgins: “For they are spiritually undefiled, pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever He goes.” The pure among us are able to love the Lord with the whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. Plus those who “live and walk in the Light” have “true, unbroken fellowship with one another” according to 1 John 1:7. The pure experience pure pleasure in God.
So how does a carnal or flesh-dominated believer get pure? At the cross, Jesus’ triumph broke the power of sin in our human natures. Now we, in Him, must die to our flesh nature; we must crucify it. [See Watchman Nee’s The Normal Christian Life for a clear teaching on the believers’ co-crucifixion with Jesus.] Jesus’ spilled blood has the power to instantly and continuously cleanse us from sin in all forms. And the Lord cleanses us, too, “by the washing of the [spiritual] water in the Word.” [See Ephesians 5:26.] Upon turning to Him, the Lord’s very presence brings recovery. Peter preached in Acts 3:19, “So repent – change your mind and purpose; turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out, wiped clean), that times of refreshing – of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air – may come from the presence of the Lord.”
Is it possible to be so washed or cleansed that one’s memories – even body memories no longer defile? Yes, it is! King David’s plea in Psalm 51 after his grave transgression with Bathsheba attests that God can do miracles in the way of the restoration of a soul. A few verses give us the truths we need. David cried, “According to Your steadfast love, …mercies, and lovingkindnesses, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt, and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin! For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only have I sinned…. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean…wash me, and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow.” Then King David adds, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me…. Take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation….” The mention of hyssop, a medicinal plant used to paint doorposts with the blood of the Passover lamb in order to mark the Hebrew families saved from God’s destruction the night of their Exodus, signifies that David looked ahead to the cleansing blood of Jesus – the real Lamb of God. Jesus’ blood cleansing can be so profound that a heart response of pronounced love happens. In Luke 7:47, Jesus stated that because the woman cornered in adultery truly had experienced great forgiveness, “she loved much.”
Practically speaking, where are we as the Body of Christ corroded? A few areas come to mind. I am sure others will occur to you. [Feel free to post your thoughts.] First a note from 1 Corinthians 3:17 re: how valuable our very bodies are to the Lord: “For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that (temple) you [the believing church and its individual believers] are.” Because we are His “sacred space” we must discern whether we are indoctrinating ourselves in carnality with the internet, video, music, and print matter we ingest. The truth is: Jesus in Living Word and Book form offers “the true refreshing.” He is “the true rest [the way to true comfort and happiness given to the weary.” Most of the words and sounds out there come from people whose souls are not governed by the Word and the Holy Spirit. This is even true of the likes of Walt Disney movie characters and family-type TV reruns. The characters do not “walk in the spirit” or operate in “the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 5:16 and Romans 8:2.) So consider that we really do tend to copy the media personalities we watch.
Re: food. Ezekiel 16:49 speaks to us today: “Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: pride, overabundance of food, prosperous ease, and idleness were hers and her daughters’; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Proverbs 13:25 seconds the call to temperance: “The good man eats to live, while the evil man lives to eat.” There are such things as demons of gluttony, and there is deliverance in Christ.
Re: relationships. Are we trying to find life through emotional feeding off of one another when Jesus said in John 6:48, “I am the Bread of Life [that gives life—the Living Bread].” Is there an excess of social activity at the expense of solitude and bonding with Jesus? And, too, the warning from the Bible re: going even further astray speaks for itself. I quote 1 Corinthians 6 from the Amplified first and then The Message. It’s a heavy duty Bible truth that spiritual adultery vis a vis our Bridegroom God precedes actual sexual adultery. We first turn from the union with God we are made for before we fall.
“But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. Shun immorality and all sexual looseness – flee from impurity [in thought, word or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is the temple – the very sanctuary – of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, you were bought for a price – purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your Body.”
“There’s more to sex than mere skin on skin. Sex is as much spiritual mystery as physical fact. As written in Scripture, “The two become one.” Since we want to become spiritually one with the Master, we must not pursue the kind of sex that avoids commitment and intimacy, leaving us more lonely than ever – the kind of sex that can never “become one.” There is a sense in which sexual sins are different from all others. In sexual sin we violate the sacredness of our own bodies, these bodies that were made for God-given and God-modeled love, for “becoming one” with another. Or didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.”
Finally, I commend three writings to further you in your response to the Lord’s heart cry to come and experience kinship with the Lover of your soul. A cry that is bound to His directive in 1 Peter 1:16 to “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Biblical Foundations of Freedom by Art Mathias [Go to www.akwellspring.com to order.]
How to Get Rid of Self by Betty Green [Go to www.bettygreenministries.com to order.]
The Veil of Self by Art Katz [Go to www.artkatzministries.org/articles/the-veil-of-self/ to read online.]
And I leave you with three quotes to ponder re: the path of purity. They hail from a deep and beautiful study of the Song of Songs by Father Juan G. Arintero. (1860-1928).
“Inner beauty is nothing else but purity.” P. 275.
“As soon as she surrenders herself completely into the hands of the Lord that He might work in her whatever He wishes, she resolves to sacrifice for love of Him the things that cause imperfection in her or prevent her from being united with Him. She then begins to experience Him as her sweet Lord and most loving Spouse, Who is so pleased to take recreation in souls that are pure.” p. 282.
“Happy the soul…who has been made God’s garden, adorned and beautified with a variety of virtues! There He finds entertainment and recreation…” p. 288.
1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God consists of and is based on not talk but power (moral power and excellence of soul).”
Thanks to Janie McManus for editorial suggestions.