Character Traits of the Spiritual Life: Purity
Would you consider yourself a “pure” person? Most people wouldn’t think of themselves with this term, but, if pressed, they would claim that they indeed are pure. As Scripture says, “There is a kind who is pure in his own eyes, yet is not washed from his filthiness” (Proverbs 30:12). Even the impure want to assert their own purity! Yet no one can make this claim unless they have been forgiven by God. “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?'” (30:9).
Purity is absolutely vital if we desire to please God. Solomon wrote, “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11). He also wrote, “As for the pure, his conduct is upright” (21:8b). Purity of life is directly related to integrity, uprightness, honesty, and righteousness.
Do you want to see God and be in His presence forever? Do you long to be like Jesus and conformed to His perfect character? The way to do this is to be pure in heart and life. One of Christs beatitudes says it well: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8). This is saying that only the pure in heart will be with God in heaven to see His glory. This means that one who is impure in heart will not see God. David also said that the one with a pure heart will receive a blessing from the LORD (Psalm 24:3-5).
We can only have such a heart if we are willing to humble ourselves before the Lord. James admonishes us: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded (4:8).
How do we have a pure heart? By cleaning or cleansing our heart. How can we do this? Peter writes, Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart (1 Peter 1:22). We purify our soul through our obedient response to the Lord. Paul refers to our salvation in 1 Corinthians 6:11: You were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. God washes us of our sin when we come to Christ in repentant faith, and then we can be pure in our heart and soul.
Ananias urged Paul to come to Christ with these words: Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name (Acts 22:16). When one washes away his sins by calling on Christs name in baptism, he can experience this washing or purification (cf. Ephesians 5:26; Hebrews 10:22). A person is washed from his sins and this gives him a purified soul and heart, but this cleansing must continue.
John tells us how the blood of Christ is necessary in our washing and purification: If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). It is the precious blood of Christ that cleanses us, but we must live a life that seeks such forgiveness and cleansing. Paul urges us, Having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1).
When we are cleansed and continue in Gods cleansing, we will be living in His holiness. The Hebrew writer tells us how vital this is if we hope to be with God forever: Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification [holiness] without which no one will see the Lord (12:14). We cant find a home in heaven if we dont have a pure heart and holy life.
How can we focus on the Lord in our pursuit of purity and holiness? John answers: We know that when He [Christ] appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:2b-3). Christs coming for us at His glorious return will usher in our transformation at the resurrection to be like Him (cf. Colossians 3:4). And this glorious hope of being like our Savior will motivate us to purify ourselves just as Christ is pure!
If we want to live in purity, we must rid ourselves of all known sin. We must be cleansed in heart and body (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:1). We must crucify the flesh with its passions and desires and must live by the Spirit and walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:24-25). We must put to death the deeds of the body so that we might spiritually live (Romans 8:13) and find the life and peace that comes through setting our mind on the Spirit (Romans 8:6). If we live in purity of mind, soul, and heart we will be pure in heart. We will have the character God purposes for us and will be prepared to be like Him.