He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. -- 1 Corinthians 1:30
Friday, August 22, 2014
The Power of Purity
This has been a lost week. I’m not sure what kind of dysfunctional disorder I have, but not being in my usual space disrupts all my other routines. My wife normally complains that she doesn’t see me all day holed up in my office. This week she is complaining that I’m messing up her kitchen. Somebody else does not like their routine disrupted.
I have been doing some reading in old books, and there is a lot of talk about purity. Purity does not seem to be a popular topic these days. Perhaps some are put off by the connotation of being a Puritan. Puritan is virtually equivalent to Pharisee, having a reputation of being staid, boring, strait-laced, judgmental, and hypocritical. No one, after all can be pure.
It’s true that when I hear the words of those from two or three centuries past talking about being set apart from worldly thinking, influences, and imaginings, I wonder if it wasn’t easier in an age without moving images of pretty girls selling hamburgers through sexual suggestion. Hardee’s does make a decent burger anymore, but I usually refuse to eat there for fear I will have to surrender my sandwich to a starving supermodel. It’s probably best to stick with the drive-thru.
Nevertheless, the Bible calls us to be pure as Jesus Himself is pure and holy as our Father in heaven is holy. If we are so commanded, we know that the Lord has made provision to enable us to obey. That which is impossible for man is possible with God. What does Jesus tell those who come to Him for healing and deliverance? Be it unto you according to your faith. All things are possible if you can believe.
I am less impressed by those who can believe for a Lear Jet or believe they can swing a million dollar home mortgage than I am by the man who believes he can be faithful to his wife and a responsible father to his children. I believe that a pure life is a powerful life, that a holy and righteous life is a courageous and heroic life. I believe that I can live such a life through Christ -- who has been made my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. The only question is whether or not I want to live it. Does it make any difference?
This is something Julie commented on the other day. When we were unenlightened, most of us figured that what we think and what we do that “doesn’t hurt anybody else” does not matter. It turns out that it really only matters if we would rather not live in hell. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled (Titus 1:15). The purer we are, the purer the world we inhabit. It’s funny how that works.
God is particularly gracious to me in this regard. When I indulge my old nature, the harvest comes in quickly – the same day sometimes, sometimes within the hour. Do you remember the old Foghorn Leghorn cartoons where Foghorn is constantly tormenting the hound? Sometimes there is a white line or a sign where the hound’s rope runs out. He pursues the rooster until suddenly he hits the end of his slack and is stopped violently and abruptly. That’s me. I know how he feels.
As we say so often, not all the ugly and unfortunate things that happen in our lives are the result of our own sins. Holy people struggle, lose, and suffer just the same as the unrighteous and the defiled. Jesus said, To the one who has, more will be given. When the pure suffer, they see it as being from God for the purpose of further purification. As a somewhat enlightened head once said, the pure will love it the way it is, and the world will be full of light. Walking in holiness will enrich us with greater holiness. Walking in the grace of God we have been given will lead us to receive more grace.
For some of those who reject the call of God to live in Christ and have the righteousness of Christ credited to them, getting jerked up short may cause them to start thinking differently. For others, it only makes them more certain of the world’s unfairness and meaninglessness. They may become perpetual victims demanding more and more from those around them to assuage their emptiness and longing. They may give up and seek some form of anesthetization. They may go feral and prey upon all who come within their reach, glorying in their ability to destroy and feeding on the misery they cause in others.
There are many frustrated Christians who have not been taught or have been unable to comprehend the truth about holiness. They cannot understand why their lives are so filled with pain and chaos, as if their confession of Christ and their efforts to follow Him are all for naught. Perhaps they lack discipline because, though they have accepted the message of the gospel, they have not become disciples, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. I can’t do it on my own, and I can’t be much help to anybody else. But the Holy Ghost can. In fact, it’s in His job description.
Sanctification is what we need, and, as impossible as it is for the natural man, this deliverance and freedom is available to us in Christ Jesus – if we believe it is ours, if we accept that it does matter and it does make a difference. We can be pure as He is pure because He is our purity.