Often, the Christians we characterize as pure are the more timid and gentle ones of us. Normally the more outgoing, Type A personalities don’t get thrown into the pure group. They are more often the ones we say are “bold” or “courageous.” It seems like people use the word “pure,” more often than not, to describe the wallflowers. Those who don’t talk much or are shy often get put into the pure category, but purity and timidity don’t go together… at all! As Christians, we seem to have developed this subconscious idea that the “pure” are the ones who have little to say or little to stand for, the more timid ones of us.
Now, if you were to ask us directly if we think “pure-hearted” people are timid or shy, we wouldn’t say yes, but we subconsciously think it nonetheless. Before you disagree with me, who is the first person that comes to your mind when you think of someone who is pure-hearted? They’re probably more on the quiet and shy side, right?
Misconceptions About Purity
Let’s dispel this misconception right off the bat: purity isn’t something you’re born with. We don’t come out of the womb possessing biblical purity and then progressively get polluted (Psalm 51:5). We are born into sin by our very nature. Biblical purity isn’t something that is lost, it’s something that we gain. Our Christian culture talks a lot about remaining pure, especially in regard to physical purity. It seems that purity has become something that we fight to keep instead of something that we are actively pursuing. When the Bible uses the word “purity,” it means refined. When gold is being refined, it doesn’t start out pure. Refinement is the result of a process. As gold is refined, it is placed in a furnace where it is melted down and the impurities are identified and removed. In the Christian walk, refinement means walking through the fire and coming out cleaner and stronger on the other side.
What is biblical purity? The purity that the Bible talks about doesn’t necessarily mean not having a dirty mind or bad intentions. A clean mind and righteous intentions are results of purity, though. Biblical purity, however, is having a heart that is solely devoted to God and as a result the rest of your life becomes pure.
Psalm 119 starts off by saying, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart!” (Psalm 119:1-2) Do you notice how the psalmist connects the “undefiled” with those who seek God with their whole heart? Another way that the phrase “blessed are those who keep His testimonies” could be translated is “blessed are those who guard His laws.” Guarding implies a fight. Guarding is a battle.
What Do We Do Now?
So, do we simply distance ourselves as far as possible from the world and hope we stay clean? No. Jesus prays in John 17:15-16, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” Jesus calls us to be in the world but not of the world.
In verse 9 of Psalm 119 the psalmist asks the question, “How can a young person stay pure?” The answer? “By obeying [God’s] word.” A person keeps his or her way pure by learning how seek God above all else. In Psalm 86, David petitions God to give him a heart that is purely devoted to Him saying, “Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” The specific reason David asks for an undivided heart is so that he will have a greater fear and reverence for God.
Walking through fire isn’t a pleasant experience. Taking a step into the flames isn’t a task for the fearful or faint of heart, it’s a journey for the courageous among us who desire a purer pursuit of God, and not just in regard to physical purity, but purity of heart. A heart purely devoted to God where all impurities have been burned away requires tenacity. The fight for purity of the heart, the mind, and the body is a battle that has to be fought, so let’s go after it!
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