By Doug Roush
God expects his contemporary earthly dwellings to be as pure as his earthly dwellings of ancient times.
Imagine that God commissioned you to construct the tabernacle. What material would you deem suitable to use in its construction? Remember, this structure represents God’s dwelling among his people (Exod. 29:43-46). I imagine Moses was as thankful as we would be that God did not leave these matters for him to contemplate. Rather, God revealed to Moses every detail concerning the construction of this most important dwelling place.
One of the most consistently striking aspects of God’s instructions concerning the construction of the tabernacle was that it was to be constructed of valuable and pure raw materials. This is most evident with regard to the furnishings within the holy place and the most holy place. The table of shewbread, the ark of incense, and the ark of the covenant were overlaid with pure gold. The candlestick, the mercy seat, as well as each of the articles that sat on the table of shewbread, were made entirely of pure gold. In addition, the olive oil, myrrh, and frankincense that were used in the tabernacle were to be in their pure form. Only the purest form of these valuable elements was permitted in the representative presence of God. Later, God authorized Solomon to construct the temple. It, like the tabernacle, represented God’s presence and needed to be built of pure materials.
We have been reminded of these Old Testament facts to impress upon those who follow Christ that they are now God’s representative dwelling place. Peter spoke of the “tabernacle” of his body (2 Pet. 1:13-14). Jesus spoke of the “temple” of his body (John 2:19-21). The inspired word of God reveals that every Christian is the “temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16). Certainly, God expects his contemporary earthly dwellings to be as pure as his earthly dwellings of ancient times. It is the purpose of this article to help us appreciate the importance of purity in the life of the Christian.
The Meaning of Purity
The word “pure” is translated from three different Greek words. A comprehension of the similarities and differences of these three words will help us to appreciate the fullness of the characteristic of purity.
“Pure” is translated from hagnos in four New Testament passages (Phil. 4:8; 1 Tim. 5:22; Jas. 3:17; 1 John. 3:3). The word means, “. . . pure from: carnality . . . every fault . . .” (Thayer). Of particular significance is that it shares the same root as the word from which “holy” is translated. That word is hagios; which means, “separated from sin and therefore consecrated to God” (Vine).
Eilikrines signifies “without alloy.” It is translated “pure” in 2 Peter 3:1, and “sincere” in Philippians 1:10. Thayer’s definition includes, “to be found pure when unfolded and examined by the sun’s light.”
The word from which “pure” is most often translated is the Greek word kathros, meaning, “clean, pure.” Kathros is translated into one of these two English words throughout the New Testament.
Each of these three words conveys the same thought. To be “pure” means to be free of anything foreign. Christians are not to mix God’s righteousness with any “alloy” of sin. Rather, we are to “separate” ourselves from sin. When the deepest folds of our spirit are unfolded and exposed to the light of God’s truth, they are to be found pure.
The Motivation For Purity
All Christians acknowledge that God has called them to purity. Nevertheless, we also realize that we are less than pure. Thankfully, God has furnished us with some things to consider that motivate us to strive for purity.
In his opening remarks of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). Many of the points of this sermon are focused not merely on impure actions, but on the impure heart from which the action proceeds. The desire to “see God” should motivate us to be pure in both thought and action.
In 1 John 3:2 our attention is focused on our eternal hope. Verse 3 reads, “. . . every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” Our eternal hope should motivate us to strive to be as pure as the One we claim to follow.
1 Timothy 1:5 reads, “Now the end of the commandment is love out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience . . .” This passage speaks to the purity of the selfless characteristic of true love. Yet it is also true that pure love for God is a major motivation to be pure. Our desire to honor and glorify our Savior should motivate us to be pure, “even as he is pure” (1 John. 3:3).
The Call To Purity
In 2 Timothy 2:19-22, we read “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
These verses reveal what we con- firmed earlier: we are called to purity, yet we are aware of and acknowledge our impurities. We have come to appreciate our true value through God’s revelation and by Christ’s sacrifice. Righteous characteristics are avowed by Christians to be honorable and more valuable than silver and gold. We admit that our dishonorable characteristics of unrighteousness are temporal and corruptible and of no eternal value. Therefore, we are to purge ourselves of those characteristics that are dishonorable, and permeate our character with those things that are righteous and honorable.
This sanctification process makes us suitable vessels for the good works in which God instructs us (2 Tim.
3:16-17). The true Christian must go beyond the mere appearance of righteousness, faith, charity, and peace. The Christian is to display these characteristics from pure motives and a pure heart.
Manifestation Of Purity
In James 3:17, we read, “. . . the wisdom that is from above is first pure . . . without hypocrisy.” God’s wisdom calls us to be pure. To respond to God’s call to purity, we must first be committed to purity in the characteristics and manifestations of godliness.
Hebrews 10:22 reads, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Christians are fully assured that their sins are forgiven when they have fully obeyed the gospel, being immersed in water for the remission of their sins. Likewise, the full assurance of our faithfulness is confirmed when we are committed to separating our hearts from an evil conscience that excuses and justifies impurities. A pure con- science has been instructed in God’s pure righteousness and has conformed to its instruction; convicting its owner of unrighteousness while encouraging him in the way that is pure.
Christians are encouraged to be “holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience” (1 Tim. 3:9). The mystery of the faith has been revealed in the gospel (Eph. 3:3-9). Christians are instructed to think on those things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report; those things that promote spiritual excellence and are praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). Such things confirm the true heart of the faithful Christian.
The souls of Christians have been purified by the blood of Jesus in obeying the Spirit-revealed truth (1 Pet. 1:22). True Christians rejoice in their purification and are committed to the eradication of every impurity from their life. They are committed to purity in the practice of the truth and have a valid reason to trust in God’s promises and the spiritual blessings that are available to them.
The spirit and the deeds of the pure and impure are vividly contrasted in Titus 1:15-16: “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Like Timothy, every Christian is exhorted to be “. . . an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
Reward For Purity
We began this article by calling attention to the purity of God’s representative earthly dwellings. It comes as no surprise to find God using the imagery of those things that are valuable and pure to describe his eternal dwelling.
In Revelation 21:18, we are told concerning heaven, “the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.” Revelation 21:21 says, “the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.” In heaven, we find the source of the spiritual sustenance that has instructed the conscience of every faithful Christian, the “pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1).
God invites everyone who hungers and thirsts after righteousness to drink from this “fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Rev. 21:6-7). “For this ye know, that no . . . unclean person . . . hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:5).
Those who are committed to providing a pure habitation for God’s righteous presence on earth will be rewarded with being in the eternal presence of he who is pure. In the inspired words written to Timothy, Christian, “keep thyself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22).