Summary: Our personal purity reflects the character of God.
We are constantly surrounded with concern for purity and assume its presence so much it is often taken for granted. We go to the refrigerator or the faucet and get a drink of water, without questioning its purity. In so many countries where we travel we have to drink bottled water. At the grocery we purchase food with USDA stamp of approval. When a single cow was found with mad-cow disease many people became concerned, but I doubt if very few refused to eat hamburgers or refused a steak. We believe in the purity of our food supply. At the pharmacy we secure medication, assured of their quality and purity. We receive a blood transfusion believing it is pure.
We are constantly surrounded with issues of purity. We expect it and want it. Why is it then that people get bent out of shape when we talk about moral purity? Why are we accused of being a prude? “That’s something from Victorian days; we don’t need that now.” Oh, but we do. It’s part of the Bible. The Massachusetts Supreme Court may not agree, but we’ll have to listen to a higher authority.
The word of God says, “Be an example of the believer … in purity. Keep Yourself Pure.” The word “pure” used here refers to sexual purity. The challenge doesn’t mean sex is wrong, or dirty. Some people think you shouldn’t talk about it, and think it is dirty business. But God created us male and female and pronounced human sexuality “very good.” The Lord created sexuality to be fulfilled within the parameters of marriage. It was our personal rebellion that changed things. Before personal rebellion Adam and Eve enjoyed the provisions of the garden and lived together in harmony, not even realizing they were naked. After the fall, they had a sense of shame and hid themselves. It’s been getting worse ever sense. Sin degrades sexuality. Sin treats people as objects for personal gratification rather than God’s creation to the respected. The half-time Super Bowl show gave us an indication of how sin affects human sexuality.
Keep yourself pure. Sexual purity is only part of an attitude, a lifestyle of purity. I can’t expect a non-Christian to practice this standard. I’m never surprised when an unbeliever thinks this is irrelevant. But this is the Christian standard.
Purity reflects the character of God. Recall the Old Testament passages on the tabernacle and the temple, places where the people of God met the Lord God in worship. Specific instructions were given for preparing these structures. The furnishings were covered in “pure” gold. The incense and olive oil used in the services was to be pure. The priests came to preside after personal “purification.” Why all this emphasis on purity? Because we worship a pure God. Purity is His character. In the New Testament when heaven is symbolically described it is a city with streets of pure gold; near the altar flows a river of pure water. No one will enter the eternal city with impurity of sin. Purity reflects the character of God.
In 2 Samuel 22 and Psalm 18 it is said, “To the pure [God] shows himself pure.” Purity is His character. Psalm 24 asks, “Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord and who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
Because purity reflects the character of God, purity is a characteristic of God’s people. The believer is to be an example to others of purity.
This is stressed in Titus 13-14. Because the grace of God has come to us we are to “deny ungodliness and “worldly lusts.” The Bible uses lust in two ways. It means desire. Worldly desire is selfishly driven and uses other people without respect. A Christian man marries a Christian woman and the marriage is sexually consummated. The two express desire toward each other; there is passion in the union. That’s “very good;” God created us with those desires. Outside of Christ, outside of committed marriage in Christ, sexuality is motivated by “worldly lust.” We must deny that.
The grace of God came to us so that Christ might “purify unto himself a special people.” Purity is a characteristic of God’s people. Purity is only possible with God’s help.
Purity is the character of God. Purity is the characteristic of God’s people. So we are asked to keep ourselves pure. This reflects a personal responsibility. Each Christian is to watch out for personal purity. “Don’t share in other people’s sins.” Draw the line; say no. Be careful about friendships, movies, music, dating practices.