(Photo by Maylin Rowe)
By Michelle Ochen
Those of us who grew up in the Church have been exposed to many teachings, books, and ideas on the subject of purity. How often does something called “pure” translate in your mind as something unspotted, unstained, or unblemished? It certainly does to me because of how it has been taught. Similarly, it tends to lean heavily on the idea of virginity until marriage. With such definitions, many young women have only a partial understanding of purity. It gives the impression that once one’s purity has been stained by a mistake, compromise, or sin our purity is no longer pure. It gives a false idea that purity is something we have been given as if we own it and based on our actions and decisions can keep it or lose it. Yet as I’ve grown older, God has given me a new view on purity- a humbling view as I see that our purity is not something we own, but something given by God. God’s Word says, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God,” (Matthew 5:8). The pure in a physical sense? The pure in a mental sense? No, the pure in heart. Again, Scripture speaks that the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things and hard to understand (paraphrase of Jeremiah 17:9).
So how can this wicked heart be pure? The answer can only be found in a relenting of ownership over our own purity, and a proper understanding that purity is a gift from God, a work of God in our lives, and not something we own. Despite what we have been taught, our purity is not clean only until we allow it to be blemished. On the contrary, it can only be made genuine by the crimson stain of Christ’s blood. We are born into impurity and he alone can make us pure. When a woman walks in purity and keeps herself unspotted from the compromises of this life, she is then able to offer her purity to the Lord as a crown- as a reward, precious in his sight. If a women has been spotted by the world, however, it does not mean that her purity is lost, for you cannot lose what you never had. Purity is given by God and maintained by only by God. We were given wicked hearts as we were born into this fleshly nature, but he blesses us as he makes them pure when we spend time pursuing him. He is the one who makes them unspotted and clean, through the cleansing power of his Word. It is humble hearts that give God access to make them pure. For some that humility comes from failure. For others who define themselves as having walked in purity this may be a sobering thought. Someone can be technically “pure” according to that false idea, one can be a virgin, but still be stained and spotted on the heart. Without humility, true purity cannot be found. Purity comes from a dependency upon the only one who is pure- a reliance upon the Lord in all things. A reliant heart is a heart the Spirit can work his characteristics in, and make pure. Another necessary characteristic is self-control because it enables one to keep their heart physically pure. Peace works similarly and keeps the mind pure.
Perhaps you feel that your purity has been lost. Or perhaps you feel that you have done a good job keeping yourself pure. Let me challenge you to take these thoughts before the Lord and allow him to reveal his purity to you. Your purity is not yours to define as lost or kept. Purity is a fruit of his Spirit at work in your life. Stains are easy for him to remove; his crimson blood covers all. I believe that God’s view on purity is not based on yesterday’s mistakes or today’s struggles, but on a heart set to please him and pursue him today and trust him with tomorrow. Allow him to give you true purity- a purity not dependent upon your actions but dependent upon him. Pursue him and you will find a lifestyle of purity. The pure are truly blessed for when they pursue God they are able to see him.