Ever since I was a young girl, my parents taught me what it meant to be "pure." They taught me what it meant to honor the Lord with my body and save my virginity for the man that I would marry, the man that God had for me. When I was fifteen, my parents gave my brother and I purity rings. In addition to that, they gave us each plaques with verses on it, all about purity and honoring the Lord. For me, it was a beautiful gift and I was head-over-heels excited... but perhaps not for all the right reasons.
Wearing that beautiful ring with three little diamonds was more of a "look-at-me" kind of thing, and not always a solely God-honoring symbol. I wish I could say that I took purity seriously when I was younger and woke up every day looking at the ring and saying, "Okay God. I am going to remain pure for you in everything I do." But I'm human — and that didn't always happen.Here's what people don't always tell you about purity: Purity is hard and it is a constant process of putting off and putting on. In the church, purity can give off the impression that it is a list of rules, a list of things NOT to do. Purity can be seen as a scary thing; if you don't remain pure, you are damaged goods and the worse kind of person you could ever be.But that could not be further from the truth.
To know what true purity is, we must go to the Bible and ask God what He has to say about purity and why He calls us to put on purity. First of all, we have to consider our hearts. The Bible is riddled with passages on our hearts, and how our hearts are essentially who we are (Matthew 6:21). Our heart determines what we say, both good and bad (Matthew 12:33-34). Essentially, our heart reflects who we are — and at our core, we are all broken and in need of saving. We are all in need of pure hearts, clean hearts, right hearts. And that is why Jesus came to die and save us. God values purity so highly; so highly in fact, that He sent His Son, Jesus to save the entire world from their imperfect hearts, their impure hearts and lives. God saw that there was a deep need for our hearts to be washed and made clean by the blood of Jesus Christ.So, purity in its essence is the act of living guiltless, blameless and upright lives for God. Purity, in Christ's eyes, is living in our identity in Him — recognizing that we have been washed by Jesus' blood and we no longer have to live in our sin, but we can embrace our new life as clean and renewed individuals.
"If we confess our sins, He [God] is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." // 1 John 1:9 ESV
If we love Jesus and have committed to follow Him, He promises to forgive us and wash our lives free of sin, guilt and every vile thing. He doesn't promise that we will never face temptation or hard times, but He does promise to wipe our slate clean. Remember how I said that purity is a process of putting off and putting on?
"Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." // Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
Striving to remain pure is a constant process, a day to day challenge, to put off the dirty, sinful ways and put on your new self, which has been renewed and cleansed because of Jesus Christ. I'm here to tell you that it won't be easy — there will be days where you have extremely impure thoughts and do impure things. We live in a world of temptation all around us. But that does not mean that we don't have any way out of it. It doesn't mean that we have to give into it. The Psalmist David asks God in Psalm 51:10 to "create in Him a clean heart". David knows that none of us are born with a completely pure heart -- we all lust, we all sin and we all give into bad things. He knows that God is the only One who is able to help us by literally creating a pure and clean heart.
Maybe you're thinking, "Okay Tara... That's cool and all, but I've done some really bad things. I have made some horrible physical mistakes. I have thought some horrible things. I have done some very terrible things. I love God, but I don't know how I could ever be called pure again after what I've done..." My dear friend, I want to remind you of what the gospel is all about. IT'S ALL ABOUT GRACE. IT'S ALL ABOUT FORGIVENESS. IT'S ALL ABOUT RENEWAL. Jesus came to die for you, knowing that you would make mistakes and you would mess up. Heck... we all do! But He came so that we could have life, and life to its fullest. He came so that we could have a renewed mind and life — He came so that we would not have to face these temptations alone.Sister -- there is always the opportunity to be cleansed and renewed again. If you have lost your purity, you can be made new. There is no denying the sin we have committed, but God promises that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive, set us back on our feet and help us walk again (Ephesians 1:7). This doesn't mean that we should keep sinning just for the fun of it, but we should strive for a better life -- we should strive to wake up every morning and put on our new selves.
You don't have to live in the regret or shame of your past. All you have to do is ask for God to cleanse you and He will restore you. You don't have to live in your old ways any longer — you have help and He is your Heavenly Father. Lay your burdens on Him. Ask for Him to cultivate a clean heart in you. If you're struggling with remaining pure, ask Him to combat that. Come up with tangible "roadblocks" so that you won't keep running back to the temptation of impurity. Get accountability. So dear friend, please don't let the word "purity" intimidate you. Don't look down at your purity ring or think of the word as a list of what NOT to do. Think of it as a gift — a wonderful gift to be transformed by God. A wonderful opportunity to be made more like Jesus and strive to honor Him in every area of your life — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.