When we talk about Purity in the Christian life, thoughts immediately turn to SEX!!! Yep, I said it. SEX!!! It’s a big deal to Christians, because, IDEALLY, sex is supposed to be reserved for marriage, and IDEALLY, it’s supposed to be between men and women. After all, GOD made Adam and Eve, and well, you know the rest of that statement. I remember working with my youth group in the 90’s and the big catch phrase and promotion was the “True Love Waits” movement, the Josh Harris book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, and purity rings. Let’s fast forward about 20 or so years to today. Most Christians (teenagers or adults) aren’t waiting, Josh Harris has even come out to say he doesn’t believe in what he wrote and will be doing a huge rewrite, and purity rings in Christian circles are almost laughed at. But is that all Purity is? Is that what Jesus meant when HE talked about it? That’s what I’m going to focus on in this study for the next couple of weeks, so join me as I learn what Jesus said about purity.
Matthew 5 is a good place to start. It’s Jesus’s first recorded sermon before a large audience, The Sermon on the Mount. He had previously kept his teaching to the synagogues in smaller groupings, but this sermon was his declaration. Verses 1-12 are the Beatitudes and they give the Characteristics of the ideal Christ Follower, perhaps that’s a study to be done separately, but it’s the following verses that sets out Christ’s belief and teaching on purity. He begins this teaching with an illustration, well, here’s what HE Says:
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Salt and light. Those terms have become standard Christian themes for books, music, movies, and even meme’s. I don’t think we fully comprehend the meaning of those terms anymore. Salt is a basic ingredient in…well, almost everything. Light, well, that’s self-explanatory. As Christians, followers of Christ, we need to be the flavor and the light that shines towards Christ. If we throw up our hands in surrender because it looks like the world is more “interesting”, then we dim the light of Christ and the world loses a bit of flavor. As Christians, we must keep our standards high, not just about sex, but about our behavior and language as well. In the 90’s the big Christian Fad was WWJD (What Would Jesus Do), it was simplistic and a bit childish….in fact that statement was used on me this week in a debate about voting for Donald or Hilary (hint: The person using that statement was trying to sway me to vote for Hilary). Vs 16 says to “let your light shine before others, that they may see…..”. If non Christians don’t see a difference in your life, then they question the very purpose of our faith. There is an old saying/cliché that goes “we are the only Bible that some people will ever see”, and that is so true. Most people won’t pick up a Bible and crack it open, but they will watch a Christians behavior. Are we behaving like we’ve been redeemed? Do the words coming out of our mouths reflect Christ? Are our actions showing love and integrity? What about our private life? Ow, now I’m stepping on my own toes. In private, does what we view, think, and even imagine bring glory to GOD?
Matthew 15:16-20 says:
16 “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”
Let me put that in context for you. The Pharisees and other religious leaders approached Jesus and were accusing HIM and the Disciples of not washing before they ate, therefore, they were disobeying the law. I would suggest reading the chapter for yourself, because it’s pretty epic how Jesus turns every argument against HIM around, but to summarize Christ’s reply, HE pretty much called the Pharisees out for making Judaism more complicated than what it was intended to be. Verses 18 and 19 are the key points in these verses. What comes out of the heart is what defiles a man, and JESUS lays out the things that come from the heart. Purity is a condition of the heart, and a decision from the mind. It’s a decision we make that is completely personal and one we make not just on a daily basis, but on a moment by moment basis.
The Sermon on the Mount consists of Matthew 5-7 and spells out Christ’s teaching and touches on such topics as fasting, worry, faith, discipleship, and much more. Take a couple of days and study these chapters because it will give you the foundation of what a Christian life is supposed to look like. However, for the topic of purity, I’m going to step back to chapter 5 before I close this and touch on the topic of sex….well, not sex, but lust. Lust is more than sex, it’s a condition of the mind. If you think it, then, well, you’ve committed to it. Matthew 5:27-30 says:
27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[e]28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Now, I personally believe He was speaking metaphorically HE said to gouge out your eye and cut off your hand, BUT, that’s how seriously GOD takes lust. Further into this study we’ll see HE says to flee it, to run from lust, and that’s good advice. We (I) need to keep this in mind on a daily basis, run from lust. Lust is a destructive and addictive behavior that men and women have to be careful of and aware of in their lives. As it said in Chapter 15, what comes from the heart is what defiles you, and if you allow the look to fester and dwell in your mind, then it affects your heart and you’ve committed to it.
I’m going to close it here. There’s much more to go, Jesus had a lot to say about purity to stick around and humor me, comment if you have a question or think I’m completely off base.