I was out shopping one afternoon when I was approached by a large, muscular, young man. He was holding a single, white, long-stemmed rose.
“What does the color white mean?” he asked me, gesturing at the rose.
I assumed he was selecting a rose for his girlfriend and wanted to make sure the color matched the sentiment he hoped to convey.
“It means Purity,” I responded without hesitation.
He looked at me, puzzled.
“What’s THAT?” he muttered, as he turned away.
He chose a yellow rose instead!
Though this brief exchange took place years ago, I’ve never forgotten it and have often pondered how I would answer the question that went unanswered: What IS purity?
Is it just an old-fashioned and outdated concept? Is it even possible in this day and age? The Bible has plenty to say about it…
Purity is puzzling.
Purity doesn’t make sense apart from a knowledge of God. God is Pure. The dictionary defines pure as: “free from moral fault or guilt.” Because God is pure, He calls His followers to live in purity:
And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:3, NLT)
Sexual purity is a foreign concept in a society that promotes passion with little restraint. Yet children of God are not to conform to the world’s ways. We are to be set apart, holy:
For it is God’s will that you should be holy: You must abstain from sexual immorality… (1 Thessalonians 4:3, BSB)
A Holy God has determined the boundaries for our sexual conduct. A biblical definition of purity could be simply this: abstinence before marriage and faithfulness after marriage. But purity is more than just seeing how close we can get to the boundary lines without crossing them:
But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. (Ephesians 5:3, NIV)
Not even a hint. Not even a second look or a lustful thought. Because even the tiniest speck of contamination renders a substance impure.
Sounds completely unattainable, doesn’t it? Yet…
Purity is possible.
Whenever God issues a command, inherent within it is the power to obey it. Believers in Christ have His Holy Spirit within them, and ready access to His strength. I personally know dozens of Christian couples who remained sexually pure until marriage, and many more who are staying faithful after marriage. For with God, nothing is impossible.
But this doesn’t happen without some serious intentionality. We must get practical about purity. These biblical principles can help:
1–Trust your Father’s heart. He’s not trying to deceive or deprive you, but to protect and provide His very best for you, His beloved child.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 3:17, NIV)
2–Let His Word be your guide. God’s timeless instructions must be the basis of your moral convictions, not the changing opinions of the world.
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (Psalm 119:9, ESV)
3–Avoid whatever might encourage sexual compromise. This would include websites, movies, music, etc. Seek out others who share your desire to live a holy life.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. (2 Timothy 2:22, ESV)
4–Ask God for help when you are tempted. Look for His way out–and then take it!
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT)
5–Take sexual sin seriously. God does. He knows the heartache it can bring, and He cares about your well-being.
Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. (1 Corinthians 6:18, NLT)
Purity isn’t perfection.
But what if you’ve already blown it? We all stumble in many ways. Only Jesus led a life of perfect purity. His perfection purchased our pardon.
One of the most wonderful verses in the Bible is 1 John 1:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV)
Did you notice the word “purify?” If you’ve stumbled sexually in the past, your purity can be restored! Go to God, sincerely confess your sins and gratefully accept His forgiveness.
You can begin again, clean and pure in His eyes.
I recently counseled a young, single college student who was very relieved when her pregnancy test came back negative. After this scare, she was ready to make some changes. She eagerly accepted the invitation to pray and recommit herself to a lifestyle of sexual purity. She even planned to buy herself a purity ring as a reminder of her cleansing and commitment!
“Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18, NLT)
God can make a red rose white again.
Friend, may I encourage you to become passionate about purity? It’s never too late to begin doing what is right! Your commitment may not be applauded or understood. You may not do it perfectly. But purity IS possible, with God’s help!
A life of purity is like a rare and fragrant flower, beautiful in His sight.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8, NIV)