See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure
– 1 John 3:1-3 NAS
Purity is a “thing of the past” for our culture. Not only is actual purity somewhat obsolete but it is hard to process this concept when everything around us seems very fluid. What works for one person may seem obsolete to another. Few are compelled anymore with absolute right and wrong. There is still a strong sense of community care that still advocates concern and consistency with “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” but even here there is a strong sense of relativeness in decision-making.
Personal purity is a challenge. We see behavior promoted constantly around us that is contrary to what we believe we should be doing. This behavior saturates the culture, media, and every avenue of advertising that you can think of. The reason for our struggle is that this is now considered “normal” behavior and anyone who disagrees is considered weird, phobic or intolerant.
Interestingly enough, right before this statement from the Scriptures listed above is John’s statement in 1 John 2:15-17:
Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever
– 1 John 2:15-17 NAS
We are caught between a rock and a hard place…sort of. On the one hand life is a marvelous experience. We can enjoy all of what God has created, have fun with family and friends and enjoy the good gifts that God has bestowed on us and everyone else. At the same time we have to realize that our world is broken because we have spurned God and sided with the opposition. The spiritual and moral fabric of our lives and all creation has been affected and infected with death and suffering. While many would simply accept suffering and death as the reality of life we usually do not explore the issues to know “why” it is that way.
The key to our purity is not our opinion or even our own conscience (1 Cor. 4:1-5). Not that our conscience is irrelevant but it is not the final authority as to our spiritual quality control. Only God has the final say as to the proper vetting of our spiritual health and vitality at least for believers. Only God will provide a final determination as to our purity and holiness. But our conscience, guided by the Spirit of God is our next best measure of our own spiritual health. Only at the Spirit’s leading can we have any objective sense of how well we are avoiding evil and embracing the righteousness of God.
The one thing we do know is that we cannot take our moral or spiritual lead from the world. The value system, the moral compass of the world in general, the spiritual footing is not grounded in God’s character and righteousness so we must always be careful about embracing the values of the world rather than Christ.
God’s standard of purity is high… really high; in fact impossible on our own. The reason – God deals with the thoughts and intentions of the heart not just the physical action of doing something wrong (Matt. 5:27-30, 1 Cor. 4:1-5; Hebrews 12:4). Purity begins with complete surrender to the Spirit of God and commitment to the truth of God.