I used to assume that the idea of purity in itself motivated purity.
Anytime that I glimpsed purity… purity in others, purity of the Lord, purity in the Word or purity manifested in the world I would be very drawn to it. Purity was, and still is, very appealing to me, beautiful to me, desirable to me and valuable to me. It’s compelling. Alluring.
I remember when I was younger, probably around 11 or 12 years old, I used to be so enamored with one of the older girls in our church. She was older than me, in high school, and seemed very godly. I really looked up to her. Anytime I saw her in church she was always worshiping God with such pureness and happiness. I used to think…I want to be like her. I want to have the peace and joy that she does. I didn’t know her very well but I knew her family, and I always wanted to tell her just how much of an impact she made in my life as a positive role model. There have many instances since then that I’ve remembered her and the goodness that I saw in her and it has always helped my heart so much. To see the manifestation of purity in others reminds me that it does really exist. This isn’t to say that people are perfect and that certain people are the paradigm of existence, but it does serve to show just how impactful people are in our lives when they demonstrate the love of Christ. I want to be that kind of person. I want you to be that kind of person. Man, how our world would change if we, the body of Christ, were known as such.
But the sobering reality always surfaces… realizing just how impure I am…and feeling like there’s no way I can emulate purity the way that I hope to.
I know myself too well.
And I always fall short.
No matter how close I think I’m walking with God, I always do something or think something or say something that is not pure whatsoever. And in those moments I know that God sees me and it is devastating to be uncovered before Him like that. But thankfully, Christ showers His grace on us so generously in a way that I would never allow for myself. He’s much more kind. Much more understanding. Much more loving.
John 1:16 says, “Indeed, we have all received grace after grace from His fullness.” (emphasis mine).
Christ keeps on giving grace. Keeps on giving grace. Keeps on giving grace.
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift – not from works so that no one can boast” (emphasis mine). Our salvation hangs on grace, not perfection. Grace, not godly progress. Grace, not even purity. Purity is something that the Lord does within us, not us. It doesn’t save us. It’s not some kind of barometer by which God measures the worthiness of His chosen ones. As if we could be worthy. No.
Now, I see that I had it all wrong.
Purity doesn’t motivate purity.
Grace motivates purity.
Because purity is just never attainable.
Even when I think that I have accomplished purity in a certain situation or area of life, I find a way to mess it up. I fail. I’m too aware of what’s in my heart to try and tell myself otherwise. I know what my mind is capable of. This isn’t to say that we can’t be pure at all… that’s not the point. Christ surely can and will cultivate purity in us as we ready ourselves for the day of Christ, as Paul talks about in Philippians 1:9-11. And we can still glimpse purity in others, as I always saw in JoAnn, the girl who I admired growing up.
But now, I realize that even the purest of people still stumble. Even the purest of hearts are tempted. Even the purest of minds are challenged and attacked by sin. Which just shows that we can’t count on our own efforts to make us pure or to make us loved by God.
There’s only one thing we can count on…grace.
Grace is the only thing that makes us right with God.
Grace compels my heart to see God in a totally different light. It makes me wonder why He could possibly keep forgiving me and remaining with me in the middle of my sin against Him. It paints a picture of relentless love that has become a reminder of Christ’s relationship with me…
I picture myself looking away from Jesus to something else, totally ignoring Him and oblivious to His pursuit of me.
I picture myself running away from Him to what I want, to what I see…and what I see looks so enticing, so desirable, so satisfying.
I picture Jesus holding onto me, whispering in my ear how much he loves me, even while I’m turning to walk away from Him.
I picture Jesus following me, holding my hand…still numb to His touch.
I picture Jesus dancing with me, as I keep turning around and looking back at what I want.
But Jesus just won’t let go of me.
He’s still here.
He’s still holding onto me.
He’s still loving me.
And I stop.
Suddenly I feel Jesus here.
I turn around and I see Him.
I gasp as I don’t understand why He would still be here…
I tell Him to let me go…I’ve rejected you Lord, I’m so sorry. Please just leave me be. I know I’ve hurt you enough already. I’m so sorry that I’m unfaithful to You.
But He remains.
Jesus won’t let go of me.
And as I glimpse this grace of my Savior, I am so compelled by it.
I am drawn to it. I see it as so perplexing, yet desirable and lovely and beautiful and valuable.
I start to turn around from what I was pursuing.
And I see Jesus.
Still with me.
And my heart starts to turn back to Him, already embraced by Him in His love.
Now I receive it.
Now I want it.
Now I am compelled by grace.
Compelled by grace to see Jesus.
Compelled by grace to want purity.
This is the picture I get when I experience the grace of the Lord drawing me back to Himself. Not because of what I’ve done. But in spite of my wayward heart. His illogical love can’t help but to remain.
His grace motivates our hearts. It motivates a desire for purity.
And though I continue to fail and I continue to turn my back on Him, He remains. And I become more and more aware of His presence with me. Then it becomes more natural for me to turn to Him instead of to what I want. He’s helping me by His grace.
It’s so important that we remind ourselves not to get discouraged when we feel like our impurities are just stacking up against us. Receive the Lord’s grace. Invite Him in. Remember that He has never left you. Know that He wants to talk to you about what you’re struggling with. Talk to Him. Then He can purify.
1 John 1:9 says this, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We must confess. We must be vulnerable with God about what’s in our hearts. We can’t ignore it like it’s not there. We can’t try to hide it. Just be honest with God. He’s far more gracious with you than you realize.
And He’s not surprised by your sin.
God will actually help you as you join with Him in acknowledging it.
So through Christ, we can let Him cleanse us in a way that cultivates purity within us more than we realize.
Philippians 4:8 says this, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.” Anything worth dwelling on comes from Christ. That’s it. Only from Christ.
I used to get so fixated on methodologies of overcoming sin and keeping myself out of situations that might cause me to sin.
But now, I realize that all these methods never work.
The only thing that works is glimpsing Jesus. Seeing Him by His presence. Seeing Him in the Word. Seeing Him in others. Seeing Him in the way He works in His people. Focusing on Him. Considering Him. He is grace and He is purity. He is true. He is honorable. He is lovely.
Dwell on Him.
Dwell on the Lord.
And may His grace motivate our purity.
If you are in Christ, I pray that God would remind you that He is, always has, and always will remain with you, even in the midst of your sin and wandering away from Him. I pray that you would receive Christ’s grace and let that motivate your love for Him. I pray that you would glimpse Jesus in your everyday life. I pray that you would see Christ’s glory and His reflection all around you, attesting to the One who compels our hearts to purity and goodness by His grace.
“The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
–John 1:14 –
Questions for Today:
- Why does grace motivate purity?
- Do I recognize Jesus remaining with me even in the midst of my sin?
- How should this compel my heart to follow Christ?
- Why is it important that I confess my sin to God?
- What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?
“You Don’t Miss A Thing” by Bethel Worship ft Amanda Cook