Keeping Ourselves Unstained
Several years ago I ran across an interesting item concerning an animal that I had never heard of: the ermine. This little creature is small by comparison to others in the weasel family, being only 5-10 inches long in body length with a tail 1-6 inches long. Its habitat is the northern regions of Europe. It has soft, white fur with a black tip on its tail. Its highly prized fur is used generally for women's coats. However, the value of the fur is such that it is coveted for people of rank. The state robes of judges is trimmed with this precious fur because it is considered symbolic of purity and honor.
This little weasel takes great pride in its fur coat and does everything possible to protect it against anything that would spoil it. It is said that fur hunters take cruel advantage of the ermine's care to keep its coat clean. To catch this wiry little creature hunters will find its home and daub the en-trance and interior with filth. Then their dogs give chase. Frightened, the ermine heads straight for its refuge. When it finds its quarters covered with uncleanness it refuses to enter because it will not spoil its coat. It had rather face the fierce onslaught of the hounds rather than spoil its purity. It will not allow itself to be contaminated with impurity even though it costs its life.
We, as Christians, should be just as concerned about our purity. It should be so precious to us that we would protect it at all costs. Having been washed in the blood of the Lamb of God (1 Pet. 1:19) and our robes having become white as snow (Rev. 7;14), we should abstain from "all appearance of evil" (1 Thess. 5:22). The Christians in Rome were told to "abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good" (Rom. 12:9). The Christian of the 1990s, like those who have gone before us, must have a devotion unpolluted and unmixed with the world. The failure to keep oneself from fresh defilement will result in a faith that is weakened and a diluted devotion. James tells us to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27). We must guard ourselves against the contaminations of the world, its pursuits, ambitions and sinful pleasures. If we want to live with God eternally then our faithfulness should be our first concern. It should be our priority in life. The word "unspotted" means "without spot, blemish or stain." We cannot allow the world to splash us with its filth and pollution. The world can make us unclean (1 Jn. 5:19). "Friendship with the world is enmity with God" (Jas. 4:4). In light of this, how meaningful are Peter's words: "but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy" (1 Pet. 1:15-16). Would you go into a coal mine while you were wearing a white tuxedo? Certainly not! You would give it wide berth. You would not even see how close you could get and stay clean. It requires rare moral courage to resist evil, and to brave the contempt that could result from living a worthy life ("wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you," I Pet. 4:4). God will take nothing less than a pure life (Jn. 17:15-16).
Some may ask, "How do I go about keeping myself pure and clean?" The answer is contained in many references that have to do with the Christian's salvation. However we will look at that of James 1:27 and see the importance of keeping ourselves undefiled with the world. The word "keep" stresses the idea of practice and the word "unspotted" denotes being unstained. This same word was used to describe Christ as a lamb for sacrifice (1 Pet. 1:19). This is obviously the significance of Romans 12:1-2, that is, the offering of ourselves as a "living sacrifice."
Perhaps purity is not the dearest thing in our lives becuase we have never experienced the joy of the cleansing of the old man of sin (Rom. 6:6). Because all have sinned (Rom. 3:32), all men need the defilements of sin removed. This is done by the blood of Christ (Rom. 5:8-9). The blood is applied in baptism (Rom. 6:1-6), and even after walking in "newness of life," his blood continues to cleanse when we meet the conditions for forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:7-9). Like the ermine of the northern countries we too must purpose to keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21). This is the meaning of working out our salvation and the purifying of our-selves (1 Pet. 1:22; Phil. 2:12).
Imagine the effects in this life of not allowing the demoralizing influenceof the world to impact our personal purity (Jas. 1:27)! Look at a couple of them: (1) For us personally, it demonstrates that in view of the second coming of Jesus Christ we are diligent to be found by him spotless and blameless (2 Pet. 3:14). (2) As far as others are concerned, we are trying to effect an influence for good (Matt. 5:16). Negatively speaking, the unspotted life keeps one from becoming a stumbling block (Tit. 2:7-8).
Our society is "adrift without moral rudder" (Cal Thomas, The Tampa Tribune). The primary reason is the failure of individuals within it to develop right values and to resist evil. To change the direction in which things are turning, we, ourselves, must be willing to comform to the will of God. "Keep thyself pure" (1 Tim. 5:22). The challenge must be recognized and accepted. Only then will our influence and that of the church affect our society for good. "Neither yield ye yourselves as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God" (Rom. 6:13).