“If you remain pure, God will bring you the perfect man for you.”
We’ve made purity into a math equation: If I uphold purity, God will give me what I want.
We first hear this message at fourteen. It’s harmless; just the hopeful anticipation of a purity pledge. But at twenty-five – when we’ve followed the check list, obeyed the rules, done the courtship thing – and the ‘promise’ remains unfulfilled? This is when good girls rebel.
Because for the past thirty years, purity has largely been taught with flawed theology.
We’ve made purity all about sex instead of embracing it holistically. Purity itself is not the problem, but because many Christians see purity as a means to an end – not as a lifestyle God expects from His children – they’re quick to compromise when the going gets tough. They are not taught that when we accept Christ, we accept purity. They don’t understand their righteous standing. They think purity is something we do, not who we are.
God never said a pure life would bring you a spouse. Holiness is not a math equation: It is not me + purity = marriage. This is the unspoken lie behind many purity teachings.
Why then do we pursue purity? Here are four biblical reasons to do so.
To Be Holy as He is Holy
(Lev. 20:26, 1 Pet. 1:16, 1 Thess. 4:8)
“Holy, Holy, Holy; Lord God Almighty…” We sing this hymn in church on occasions, a hymn based on the depictions of heaven in the books of Revelation and Isaiah. We have a glimpse of God’s majesty in the beautiful book of Isaiah:
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place… “(Is. 57:15) “
We look around this world of evil and wonder, How can there be a good and holy God in a place like this? This question takes us back to the beginning of time. This current world was not God’s intention; He created a perfect one, where He gave Man a choice: trust Me and choose Life; or doubt Me and choose death. Man chose death (Gen. 3), the biblical definition of which is ‘separation from God’. Evil in this world is evidence of man continuing to doubt God and choose death.
But God extends a second chance. We are able to ‘be holy, as He is holy’ through Jesus Christ, the second Adam, the spotless Lamb who paid our debt. By trusting God through Jesus, we choose life – and gain holiness.
So God no longer only dwells in the ‘high and holy place’, but also with she “who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Is. 57:15b) As holy people, we choose purity because it is who we are. “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” (1 Thess. 4:8)
To Know God’s Will
(Ps. 24:3-5, Matt. 5:8)
The oft-quoted verse from the Beatitudes states: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is used to emphasize the need for pure hearts, which lead to pure minds and therefore pure bodies. But I don’t think this verse is about us and our pure hearts.
It’s about the ability to see God.
Do you want to know God’s will for your life? Do you want clarity in your choices, both for relationships and beyond?
Then choose purity.
Psalm 24 says:
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.” (v. 3-4)
When we define sexuality for ourselves we lift up our souls to the idol of autonomy. We can justify our actions, quote verses out of context, claim ‘my body, my choice’, and have sex with whoever we want – but in such a state we are never able to stand in God’s holy place. Blinded by our own pride and self-will, we cannot see God’s will for our lives.
If you want clarity in your life, choose purity.
Purity is the Will of God
(1 Thess. 4:3-5, Jas. 1:27)
Do you claim to be a Christian? Do you wish to receive all the benefits of peace with God, righteous standing on earth, and eternal glory in the next life? Then here is ‘pure and undefiled religion [faith]’: to keep oneself unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27).
If you refuse to remove yourself from the world, to painfully separate (Matt. 5:29) from their interpretation of sexuality, your faith is both impure and defiled. God takes holiness seriously, and only by aligning ourselves with God’s standard of holiness through Christ are we acceptable in His eyes. It’s not because He doesn’t love us; He does. But His pure, holy nature requires that we also be holy in order to have communion with Him.
Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica,
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God…” (4:3-5)
Our continual sanctification is God’s will.
This is why understanding grace is so pivotal to purity: God makes us holy by His grace; He helps us walk in holiness by His grace; and we are progressively sanctified only by His grace. Don’t get discouraged when you fail! Get up, run back to Jesus, trust Him and choose Life.
Navigating life this way is a continual journey of trust and love. As you walk through life, if you ever wonder what God wants of you in a relationship, the answer is this: His will is purity. Stop asking “How far is too far?”, and ask instead, “How holy can I be?”
God Rewards the Righteous
I tear up as I write this because I know some of you are thinking, “Does this mean I’ll never meet a man who loves me?” God created men and women for relationships. It’s normal and healthy to desire one! I, too, went through years of worry and wonder over whether I was called to singleness.
But like I wrote in my post, “Guarding Hearts and Kissing Frogs”, I finally took that desire and poured it out at His feet, confessing: “Father, I want someone to walk beside in this life and I believe that desire is good and holy, that you made it, that you gave it to me, and that you will fulfill it – or you will give me the strength to go it alone.”
I stopped worrying. Either way, God would reward me for walking in righteousness.
And He did. He rewarded me with a fruitful single season, and eventually He rewarded me with my marriage. Both are rewards because both were His will for that season of life.
Oh friends, our God rewards the righteous.
“So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.” (Psalm 18:24)
“Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.” (Proverbs 13:21)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24)
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9)
We don’t pursue purity to earn good things. He gives us good things out of His gracious, kind heart. He gives them when we don’t even deserve them.
Before you assume God is not being good for His word in your life, look at the promises you believe. Are they God’s, or are they man’s? Adding material qualifications to God’s commands is prosperity theology: That if we ‘have enough faith’ or do the right thing, God will bless us with what we want. The only difference is that we want relationships instead of houses and cars.
Purity is not a math equation. Our good works will never earn grace, but our pure choices reflect our gratitude for it. When you want to give up, remember the life from which Jesus pulled you or the choices from which He preserved you. You are holy because He took the debt you owed. You are pure because He stood in your stead.
You are given abundant-quality life: Eternal life that begins now, because your name was written on the palms of His hands 2,000 years before you were born.
Remember grace, and choose purity.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:33)
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