Aim for Purity
Have you ever heard someone say that the best way to get someone to do something is by telling them not to? It works particularly well with children & young people (so watch out!). A similar thing can happen when we know that something is wrong, but we’re tempted to do it anyway. The act of repeatedly telling ourselves that we shouldn’t do it, can make the thing more attractive to us, and make us more likely to do it. [for me that ‘thing’ is eating biscuits]
But I’m not talking about biscuits. Today I’m talking about purity. For the Jews, remaining pure was mostly about what they ate. For Christians it’s much more about what we do and what we think; about our actions and our attitudes. When I was growing up it was a real challenge to remain ‘pure’ – to live as God intended us to live. There were dodgy influences all around me – trying to encourage me to behave in ways which I didn’t believe were right. But, times have changed, and now the challenge is a hundred times worse. The negative influences are everywhere, and they’re more subtle. It’s the subtle ones we especially need to watch out for – because they can change our behaviours and attitudes without us even realising.
Everything starts with a thought. If we think about something often enough then it will become an action; and action repeated often becomes a habit; our habits build and shape our character and our character, who we are, will determine our destiny. All that from a thought!
‘God blesses those whose hearts are pure for they will see God.’ – Matthew 5:8 NLT
There are a number of reasons why it’s important to remain pure – to live as God intended. When we behave in a way which makes our hearts impure, it doesn’t just displease God, but it affects our ability to see, hear, & know Him. It has a massive negative effect on our relationship with Him.
With so many negative influences around, what can we do to remain pure? There is no special formula or plan that will keep you pure in heart, mind and body. Although in the passage it says ‘heart’ it means our whole ‘being’ so includes mind and body as well. What is on our minds will affect our heart and our attitude to ourselves, to others and to the things we value.
‘How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.’ – Psalm 119:9 NLT
It is a question of obedience. Are we more concerned about living life in a way which pleases Jesus, or about the temporary thrill/excitement that comes from giving in to temptation? You might be thinking to yourself, ‘hey, I’m not so bad – I don’t give in to the thrill of temptation – I’m not living an impure life’. But consider the following:
‘You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.’ – Matthew 5:27-28 MSG
So the next time you check out the fit guy/girl in the year above you at school, or lust after your particular favourite model/singer/celebrity, remember that even that can damage your relationship with Jesus. Unless you keep those thoughts/attitudes in check, they will become the new ‘normal’ for you and the temptations (and associated consequences) will increase. Aim for purity…
– picture your thoughts being shown on a cinema screen
– would you happily sit and watch them with over a bowl of popcorn with your Mum/Dad?
– what areas of my life do I need to clean up?
– how can I ensure that I check my attitudes/actions against Jesus’ standard of purity?
Father God, show me where my heart and my thoughts need to be cleaned up.
Help me to be honest with you about the things I struggle with.
Jesus, create a pure heart in me, and make my spirit strong again. [Psalm 51:10]
Show me those unhealthy attitudes & actions which I’m blind to.