(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Purity: A Definition
By Sarah Komisky
“But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’”
– 1 Peter 1:15 (NKJV)
The pages of my journal were nearly soiled in tears at the words I wrote out in my journal from Leviticus 13:45-46:
Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean! He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.”
Something was wrong. Someone was left out. Someone was hurting and it was enough to leave me undone. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a heart for the outcast and I can’t stand to see someone on the outside looking in. Not one to shed tears easily (just apart of my makeup) I had to ask God why I felt the way I did only to discover an illustration that would grip me to my core – an illustration of my own humanity.
Back in ancient days, leprosy (now known as Hansen’s disease) was an infectious disease that was prevalent, obscure, and left one isolated from the community. Often leaving the victim with scabs and boils, the visible condition was detestable to look at and left the victim unclean.
In the Old Testament, God gave a law that called people with the worse case of leprosy to be examined by the priest (head of the church) and quarantined if their case was extreme so they would not infect the rest of the group. When the reader finds themselves faced with this illustration that rattles them it may be because it resembles our very own. Although we are no longer in the Old Testament period, our malady remains the same. No, we don’t have leprosy but we do have a problem even more serious than a skin condition. This disease permeates and erodes not only the physical and emotional but also the spiritual – it is called sin.
Sin has effected and will effect every human on the planet. We are all infected with the ugly incurable disease when Adam and Eve (the first flawless humans) decided to willfully detach and rebel against the God who loved them. Sin entered and was passed down the generations and we now bear like the leper, the hideous sores of anger, pride, jealously, lust, rebellion, selfishness, and so on. Consequently, there was a tragic splitting and separating from a relationship with a holy and pure God because of our sin. Leviticus is a reminder of that.
We lepers, apart from Jesus Christ are disconnected, distraught, and demoralized. We are left outside God’s camp unable to fix ourselves and detached from the blessings that could be ours. Our disease has left us searching for a Healer, a Savior, Jesus Christ the Lord.
In the New Testament, under a new kind of covenant God made with humanity, He addressed the leprosy that would invade our soul (sin) and sent His son, Jesus Christ to cure us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 in the Message translation states, “…God put the wrong on him who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.” That means Jesus, completely holy, perfect, and pure was willing to draw near to the sinner and contaminate Himself with our mess. He willingly and lovingly came into it and experienced the fullness of our aliment. Loving us, He treated the problem by offering forgiveness and healed us so He could have relationship with us. Placing His pure righteousness in our spiritual bank account, He then looks at us as if we never sinned. Then He shares with us all the blessings that belong to Him which include adoption, acceptance, and grace (unmerited favor) to name a few according to Ephesians 1: 1-14.
In the same chapter in the forth verse God also shared His heart for us saying, “…He chose us in the Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” Additionally, His heart is also that we would come to understand the call to a life marked by purity and the blessings that He desires to give us (Ephesians 1:17-19). Purity is a calling to holiness, an upward calling made possible by Jesus Himself that encompasses all beauty, fulfillment, and wonder.
This is the life of purity God has for us. The reason we are here. The reason we write. Once we get a glimpse and see the wonder and beauty of it, we never want to go back to what we once had. So if you find yourself in tears because of your gratitude to the God that healed you, you can rejoice. However, if you find yourself squeamish as you are confronted with your condition or rocked with the realization of the seriousness of your aliment, take some time to answer the call from Jesus to live a life of purity by acknowledging your sin condition before Jesus. Turn from your old lifestyle, and experience the joy, cleansing, fulfillment, beauty, and blessing from the One who can make your sin that is scarlet white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) and help you live a life marked by purity.
For God did not called us to be impure, but to live a holy life
– 1 Thessalonians 4:7 NIV