It is important to live pure and please God; and enjoy the mercies and blessings He bestows on those who seek to live pure lifestyles of godliness and integrity.
“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT).
Indeed, God favours the pure. He uses pure vessels, but we must beware. Some self-righteous person or leaders can literally put “impurity guilt” on us. "If you don’t follow our church practice or tradition in this or that, then you are impure before God."
These include church practices or traditions such as “monthly tithe giving without fail”; the clothing you must wear to women’s ministry meetings; the dress you must wear for the blessing of your marriage in church, and the anointing oil or holy water you must use to be acceptable to God, among others.
The Lord Jesus Himself experienced some religious leaders trying to push “impurity guilt” on His close disciples because they did not follow the Judaism tradition of ritual washing of hands (or ablution) when you come in and before eating. “So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, 'Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony'”. (Mark 7:5 NLT).
The Lord Jesus answered: “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, 'These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” (Mark 7:6-8 NLT)
The Lord Jesus went on to illustrate the key point He was making here: “You skilfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honour your father and mother,’ and 'Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.' But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.” (Mark 7:9-13 NLT).
But what actually makes us impure? What do we really need to pay attention to in our day-to-day living? What do we need to clean up so we can please God?
Next, the Lord Jesus goes on to teach on what actually makes a person impure. “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:20-23 NLT).
According to the Lord Jesus’ teaching here, we can look into our own lives and see the practices and activities that have actually made us impure. We must clean up. We must seek to turn away from the things that make us unclean! In what areas of your life will you need to clean up? We must seek to be pure and live pure!!
The Bible warns us again and again about the consequences of impure lives:
· “Don’t you realise that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practise homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NLT).
· “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14 NLT).
Of course, the emphasis in the Old Testament and New Testament teachings is that God honours and blesses pure living, godly living with integrity. The pure see God – they experience God’s awesome presence and worship Him in the beauty of holiness; they see God work in them, for them; and through them to fulfil His purposes!!
There is a grand benefit of living a life of purity: “Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” (1 Timothy 7 & 8 NLT).
But why is it that we see many people caught in practices and lifestyles of impurity? These include royals (kings, chiefs and queens), Presidents and national political leaders, business executives, professionals, professors and intellectuals, as well as ordinary citizens, the poor and the marginalised.
The “sin of impurity” disease is no respecter of persons. The only valid cure is cleansing, forgiveness and a new heart (the gift of new life) from God. The Prophet Ezekiel describes God’s promise of new creation, new life this way: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.
"And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. You will be my people, and I will be your God. I will cleanse you of your filthy behaviour.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27; 28b-29a NLT).
This wonderful promise is to every human being, including you and me. It is God’s Good News of His love and new life to those who will believe in Jesus Christ as their sin bearer, redeemer God and Saviour. They will receive His forgiveness and cleansing and the new life He gives. They are given the ability or capacity to live pure, godly lives of integrity. They honour God with their body, time, talents and treasure! We can live pure in God’s eyes!
The author is a consultant in authentic Christian Spirituality and Discipleship and former CEO of Scripture Union.