Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dearest Sister: Beware of Prideful Purity

As I stood there at the altar with my (very handsome) Groom, my hand in his, Daddy gently lifted my veil, kissed my cheek, and "gave me away" to him as he presented him with the tiny silver ring that had gracefully adorned my left ring finger since that special Valentine's night when I was sixteen.

That small silver ring symbolized my purity. Daddy and Mom had presented it to me to be an ever-present reminder  (a much better alternative to the blue tassel!) of my promise to God that night to remain pure for Him and through Him until my wedding day. 

And, by God's grace and only by His grace, Matt and I shared our first kiss at the altar and did not engage in physical intimacy until we were joined as husband and wife. 

But, leading up to our wedding day, God had convicted me of something that I think there is great danger of today: Prideful purity. Remaining pure, never having been kissed, only holding hands when engaged... all of this can easily feed our sinful flesh and entrap us in an "I'm saving myself" mentality. 

Purity is a beautiful thing, and God has called us to remain pure. But, it is so vital to remember that we don't purify ourselves or keep ourselves pure by adhering to a set of rules about what we will or won't do before marriage. Christ is the one Who has cleansed us from ALL impurity, transforming the deep crimson stains of our sin to the glorious shining whiteness of snow! (Is. 1:18, 1 Cor. 6:11) And He is the One Who promises to keep us and to work in us to follow Him and to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13) The only way that we can be pure is through Christ. He cleanses us from impurity, and He equips us to live pure lives. 

That being said, in seeking to live pure lives, be careful of...

- Idolizing purity. I recently read this article, which really caused me to think about the way that we speak about purity. The focus should not be on purity itself, or on virginity, or on not kissing (this only leads to pride), but on Christ and living in a way that brings glory to Him. Some friends or girls you may be ministering to may have had their virginity taken from them or they may have engaged in sex outside of marriage before they became believers. This might be true even of your future husband. But this does not mean they cannot be pure. And marrying someone who is a virgin or who has never kissed before or who has only held the hand of one other girl is not the point. Purity of heart is what Jesus desires in His children. 
- Self-righteous purity. As hinted at above, be careful of slipping into an "I'm saving myself" mindset. Thinking that you can keep yourself pure can only cause you to become prideful and boastful of yourself. Always be mindful that Jesus is the One Who cleansed your heart from ALL sin. And He is the One Who has given you even the desire, but also the ability to live a pure life. 
- White-washed purity. Being "pure" is not merely about physical purity. God knows our hearts. And He desires purity of heart. Lust, self-righteousness, pride, covetousness, jealousy- all these can be lurking in the heart of a person who is technically physically "pure." Our hearts are deceitful and wicked and we cannot change them ourselves. But Jesus can! Look to Him to "search your heart and see if there be any wicked way in you and to lead you in the way everlasting" (Ps. 139:23-24)

But how do we live pure lives in His strength and not our own? What does that look like? 

- by renewing our minds according to His Word.  (Psalm 119:9-16)
How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
    By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
    all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
    as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
    and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
    I will not neglect your word.

- by obeying His commands- putting off impurity and putting on love  (Col. 3) Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality,impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of Godis coming.[b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old selfwith its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised,barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
- by looking to Christ to search our hearts and lead us in His ways (Psalm 139: 23-24)

In conclusion, living pure lives is not something we can do through our own discipline or rules, but through filling our minds with God's Word, praying, and obeying His commands as He works in us, giving us the desire to obey, and equipping us with the strength to do so. We strive after purity not so that we look good, or so that our parents think highly of us, or so that we will have more "value" for our future husbands, but because He Who called us it pure. He saved us from a life of sin and impurity. How can we then return to it? He cleansed our sinful hearts and freed us from impurity to live purely as He is pure. And all of this is not for our glory, but for His. It's not about us; it's all about Him. 

I am praying that God will keep you walking purely in mind and body so that your life will bring glory to Him. 

I love you forever and always, 
Your oldest sis

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