Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is pure…think about such things.
James 3:17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
1 John 3:2-3 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
The fourth characteristic of God upon which we should focus our intellectual energy is to think about whatever is pure. As temples of the Holy Spirit, our lives are the dwelling place of Christ. He brings to us the wisdom of God so that our thoughts and actions may be honoring to Him.
James describes the wisdom of God as first of all, pure. We cannot claim to be under the influence of the wisdom of God if what we are thinking or doing is not pure.
I have had too many personal experiences with people who claim to have prayed for wisdom from God about a decision, and then make a choice that directly contradicts the teaching of Scripture on that subject. They claim that they are in the right because they have peace in their heart after praying. Well, I don’t know who they were praying to or what voice they heard, but it wasn’t God’s wisdom. God’s direction and guidance is always pure and holy. I suspect that what they did was to talk themselves into getting what they wanted rather than really listening for the wisdom of God. The reason for this is that their thoughts are on the things of the world and not on the things of God.
The Apostle John deals with this in his short letter he wrote to the churches. He says that the children of God will think about the things of God and the return of Jesus Christ. This will fill us with the hope of glory rather than hope in this world, and as a result we will purify ourselves so that our thoughts and actions are holy, just as God is holy.
We all live every day with two choices – to be like the world or to be like Jesus Christ. Our actions are the visible proof of our choice and the condition of our heart. When we choose to attach ourselves to the world, it is because our thought life is worldly and not pure. However, our minds can be transformed.
What does Paul mean by the word pure? The basic meaning of the word is sacred. It is derived from a word that means physically pure, morally blameless, and ceremonially consecrated. Let’s look at our lives right now in light of those three aspects of purity.
First, are our lives physically pure? One dictionary of the Greek language defines it this way – to be pure from carnality, chaste, and modest. We are bombarded every day with sexual images and messages from a decadent society. Magazine ads and articles, television commercials and programs, movies, and personal friends all use the carnal pleasures of the flesh to influence us or make us laugh. It has become such an accepted part of our lives that we quickly excuse it as being insignificant. We are no longer disgusted by the disrespect and dishonor it displays towards God, but we accept it as a part of life. We even participate in it if it means fitting in to the group of people we are with or if it brings us pleasure. We re-tell the off-color jokes. We silently and secretly lust at the sight of sexual images. We buy into the immodesty of our culture by buying the clothing that shows more skin than is appropriate. We have become far too much like the world in our physical appearance and behavior.
The second part of purity is to be morally blameless. While we may be able to claim that we have not physically committed sexual sin, we probably cannot claim purity in our thought life. Jesus says, ”But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
In Romans Paul speaks of the constant battle in our minds between knowing the truth and desiring to please the flesh. A little boy was caught pulling up flowers in his mother’s garden. She placed him in a chair in the house and told him to sit there for 15 minutes. As she walked away she heard him mumble, “I’ll sit here, but I’m going to imagine that I’m still outside pulling up flowers.” That little boy was not morally blameless. We only become morally blameless when we come into agreement with God’s purity. We can desire holiness rather than the satisfaction of the flesh.
Finally, purity means to be ceremonially consecrated. In the Old Testament items for use in the temple were ceremonially consecrated for a sacred purpose, and they were never allowed to be used for anything else. God also asked the people of Israel to consecrate themselves to Himself, and be determined to accomplish His purpose and no other.
In Romans 12:1 we read, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” It is our privilege to come before God as an act of worship and consecrate ourselves to Him as holy, so that we might serve Him and Him only.
This act of consecration is not just a one-time thing we remember doing years ago, but no longer consider it significant. It is an act of daily submission to the One who gave His life for us on Calvary. When we recognize the purity that has been freely granted to us by God’s grace, and we consecrate ourselves to bringing our lives into conformity with our exalted spiritual position, it is the first step in becoming morally blameless and physically pure. May that process be renewed in all of our lives today.