A Lifestyle of Purity: Overcoming Uncleanness7 min read
We have looked in the past at sexual sin and its results, as well as pornography. These could be classified as actions, but we still must address the issue of impurity in lifestyle: uncleanness. One may not be addicted to pornography. One may not have fallen into fornication. But there are many who put on “holy” faces, while compromising in speech, association, thought, convictions, etc. While true that Christians would not live in promiscuity and shameless lust, the flesh still has these tendencies; and these tendencies often show themselves in our lives, but in ways we overlook. So then, we begin a brief study on uncleanness and lasciviousness – the way it comes forth in many of our lives – the subtle ways which we overlook.
It is nice to have an opinion on what uncleanness is – and hopefully it is worth having – but if it is not consistent with Scripture, it is certainly and completely worthless. What does God say about this?
We first of all notice a principle in Leviticus 5, which is that a man was considered unclean when he touched the carcase of a ceremonially unclean beast. This actually tells us two things: (1) contact with uncleanness makes one so, and (2) contact with that which is dead makes one unclean. It points us to the character of the world in that it can only produce dead works at best, and they dwell in unholiness. Association with the world and their darkness defiles the Christian.
Furthermore, we see in Matthew 23:27 the link between hypocrisy and uncleanness. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” It is commendable to have a good reputation: in fact, it is necessary. But if that reputation is simply a huge lie, then that person is nothing more than a hypocrite “full of uncleanness.” It is the man’s heart that makes him who he is. Don’t tolerate things in your heart that is inconsistent with the name and identity you claim. You are a Christian. Be a Christian.
And of course we also see in Romans 1 the connection between uncleanness and sexual immorality. The issue there is lifestyle, and thoughts which evidenced themselves in actions.
These things are but a brief consideration of the nature of uncleanness, and none of them are true in their fullest form of genuine believers. Nevertheless, they maintain principles that our flesh has tendencies toward, and at times we see glimpses of these things in our lives. We are not be putting on a completely fake show, or totally intermingling with the world and its teachings, or embracing the sexual actions of some. We have been called away from that. But we have certainly seen a decline in convictions over the seemingly little things: the music we listen to, the jokes we tolerate, the movies we watch. We willingly sing along to implicitly sex-themes songs. We find no problem with jokes that would be grieved over in a past generation. We watch movies that glorify sexual themes without shame, when if those things were before us in real life we would be shocked – especially in the comfort of our own apparently godly homes! We have digressed to thinking that as long as we do not lust or commit adultery, then we are fine. But this is simply not true. Purity encompasses thought-life, tolerance level, the heart, our sensitivity to sin, thematic implications, words, and so many other facets of life that we quickly forget the importance of. Do these things not matter to us anymore? We aren’t called slightly away from sin, but fully unto Christ. There is no room for compromised holiness in that.
So then, what is the true standard for believers? What does God call us to? Let us not pretend that we can decide. We are not our own, but bought with price. Beloved, how much does the blood of Christ mean to you? Do you not realize that its preciousness is directly linked with your holiness?
First Thessalonians 4:7, in the context of knowing “how to possess his vessel (body) in sanctification and honour” tells us this: “God has not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.” There is no intermediate position. And when God calls us to something, He does not call us to a mediocre version of it, but to the fullest form which coincides with His character. Should we really believe that what many Christians are permissive toward are those things which exemplify the greatest expression of holiness? If not, there is something more we must strive unto, and we must rethink our convictions. Ephesians 5:3 “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints.” Are our convictions “as becometh saints?”
But purity also has implications in the gospel: “For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor uncleanness, nor of guile. But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” (1 Thess. 2:3-4). It this really the picture of a Christian with weak convictions toward holiness? Obviously not, because the focus of Paul is his desire to please God in heart and in lifestyle. He wanted nothing to do with that which was unclean. This is why he was so mightily used in evangelism. Dear believers, let us not compromise gospel work because our focus is on man’s standards, not God’s.
Thirdly, impurity is totally inconsistent with a life yielded to God’s control. Romans 6:19 “I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.” Here is the issue: one cannot yield himself to God if he is subjecting himself to that which is unclean. At best, one can only pretend to be Spirit-led if he succumbs to uncleanness. One cannot be sensitive to God’s will for his life if he is rejecting sensitivity toward His holy character and commands.
In light of these things, perhaps a few words from Paul would solidify them in our minds.
2 Corinthians 6:16-7:1 “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
We are called to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Is that consistent with our lifestyles currently? We cannot compromise purity in any way if we are to live for God. The question is, how desperately do we wish to live for God? How sincere are we in our Christianity? Another question of challenge is this: if you were the only example of Christ your Christian friend had, what would he think of Him? If you were chosen to represent Christianity based on your lifestyle before the whole world, what would they think of God’s people? Would they see us as a holy people? We must be a holy people – not partially, not arbitrarily, but fully for God. No one ever furthered the Kingdom of God through determining his lifestyle by what he found preferable and tolerable. Rather it has always been furthered by men with radical faith and seemingly radical convictions to the liberal mind. Are you willing to be pure in order that you might have radical faith? Are you willing to strengthen your convictions for the sake of holiness? Or would you rather what your flesh finds its preference in? We need to live for God and make a difference in our lives. But we aren’t going to do this if we aren’t willing to change and perfect holiness in the fear of God.