What is purity?
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines purity as this: ‘to be free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter.’
The topic of purity can be a sensitive one. From what I’ve seen in today’s world, it often seems to be handled in extremes and is then usually misunderstood.
Some people take their pursuit of purity so seriously that they risk alienating themselves from everyone else. They might try so hard to keep themselves separate from every little thing they deem unclean, or wrong, that there’s very little left that they can do, say, or be.
Others aren’t concerned one bit with purity, at the risk of seriously harming themselves and others in the long run. Nothing is off-limits; they feel justified in whatever behaviors they feel like pursuing, no matter what anyone else thinks of it.
Just like everything else in life, I personally feel it comes down to balance. Everyone holds different opinions on what purity entails of. If being pure means staying away from things that ‘contaminate’ you, then how do you determine what contaminates you? How do you know what to stay away from, and how extreme you should be to do it?
For Christians, the topic of purity may not be more straightforward in application, but we do recognize that what defiles us is sin. The Bible details many sins that we encounter in our lives, and warns us to stay away from them.
Some things are obvious for most people, no matter our beliefs. I don’t think there’s anyone who believes things like murder, theft, abuse, and infidelity can ever be considered pure.
But the line goes get fuzzy sometimes. What about how we’re supposed to dress? The media or food we’re meant to take in? Our vocabularies?
Everyone draws that line where they personally feel it should be. Very few people, if any, are going to agree on every exact boundary. We each have to study, pray, and examine ourselves, then decide based off what we’ve learned, and follow those convictions.
Of course, what the Bible explicitly deems as impure, wrong, or sin, should be followed. But if there’s not clear reference to a situation in the Bible, we have to make our decision based off principles and similar issues that it does talk about.
I’m not here to argue over specific situations and issues, but to share the main thing that I believe purity boils down to. And that’s our thoughts.
What we dwell on in our hearts and minds affects everything else. If we’re continually choosing to think about things that make us angry, fearful, insecure, or depressed, our actions and words are going to match that. Our moods will suffer and we’re going to hurt not only ourselves, but the people around us too. Even if we don’t mean to.
If we continuously put ourselves down, hold grudges, dwell on revenge or past hurts, obsess over what the world thinks of us, or keep our minds filled with impure things, we’re going to remain contaminated.
We can’t properly love, trust, have faith, comfort, encourage, inspire, show patience or grace, or bless others if our hearts and minds are full of rotten things. There’s no room left for good things. And what we contain inside is what we show on the outside. Sooner or later, those impure thoughts are going to reveal themselves through our actions.
But keeping our motives pure is obviously very difficult. I wish it were easy, but we still live in a broken world. One that was never meant to contain the filth and impurity that it does. But until Heaven, it’s how it will remain. We can’t make the world pure, but we can strive to keep ourselves free of contamination.
Philippians 4:8 is my favorite verse discussing this: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Whenever I’m struggling with my thoughts, or not sure if I should be dwelling on something so much, I often find it helpful to come to this verse. I can check whatever I’m thinking of against the list, and if it doesn’t match one of those qualities, I know I need to pray and work hard to focus on something that’s good.
That, to me, is where purity starts. When we keep ourselves focused on the right things inside, it’ll be far easier to act with purity – in ways that will help and bless those around us. That’s how we can be a testimony of Christ’s character and what He can do in our lives. He’ll help us.
There are many double standards in this world when it comes to purity. The world values and praises clear and uncontaminated things. Clear skin, crystal waters, undefiled natural parks and beautiful landscapes…blemishes, flaws, and filth are detested. And yet, the most widely-celebrated lifestyles in our cultures are often far from clean and clear.
Ultimately, it all comes down to what we choose to dwell on, and how diligent we are to seek God’s help in our lives. I pray we’d all be able to keep our hearts, minds, and consequently, our actions, as pure as we can on this earth. So today, here are some of my favorite quotes about purity, with the hopes that they inspire you as much as they inspire me.
1. “Purity is the power to contemplate defilement.”
2. “I would sooner be holy than happy if the two things could be divorced. Were it possible for a man always to sorrow and yet to be pure, I would choose the sorrow if I might win the purity, for to be free from the power of sin, to be made to love holiness, is true happiness. “
3. “The way to preserve the peace of the church is to preserve its purity.”
4. “To be pure, to remain pure, can only come at a price, the price of knowing God and loving Him enough to do His will. He will always give us the strength we need to keep purity as something as beautiful for Him.”
5. “God bestows more consideration on the purity of the intention with which our actions are performed than on the actions themselves. “
6. “A pure soul is like a fine pearl. As long as it is hidden in the shell, at the bottom of the sea, no one thinks of admiring it. But if you bring it into the sunshine, this pearl will shine and attract all eyes. Thus the pure soul, which is hidden from the eyes of the world, will one day shine before the angels in the sunshine of eternity.”
7. “God would not rub so hard if it were not to fetch out the dirt that is ingrained in our natures. God loves purity so well He had rather see a hole than a spot in His child’s garments.”
8. “The proof of spiritual maturity is not how pure you are but awareness of your impurity. That very awareness opens the door to grace.”
9. “When a man’s heart is right with God the mysterious utterances of the Bible are spirit and life to him. Spiritual truth is discernible only to a pure heart, not to a keen intellect. It is not a question of profundity of intellect, but of purity of heart.”
10. “Our world does not need to hear more people talk about God or even about Jesus if those people do not have a lifestyle that reinforces every word they utter. The interesting thing is that the closer we walk in intimacy with God, the less we have to say. Our very lives become a bold and beautiful testimony to the purity, the freedom, and the beauty of the Lord Jesus.”
(Dennis F. Kinlaw)
Purity in such a dirty and damaged culture is difficult – there’s no doubt about that. But it’s worth it. When we pursue cleanliness of heart, it shows. Our actions, words, and motivations can all serve to bless others, and reveal more of God’s nature to the world around us. So my prayer for all of us is that we’d strive to keep our thoughts and deeds pure, and therefore, precious.
Did any of these quotes speak to you today? Go ahead and let me know your favorites in the comments, as well as if there is a certain topic you’d like to see more quotes about. While you’re there, I’d love to hear something YOU’RE learning about staying pure!
“Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.”
(Matthew 5:8 NIV)
1. I shared more of my quote collection in many previous posts, which you can find here.
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