The Power for Purity

God requires purity of heart in order for us to be saved and thus to see Him (Matthew 5:8). But our hearts rebel against His laws and wander away in idolatry, covetousness, and lust. The penalty for persistent indulgence in lust is eternal hell, as Jesus teaches here. What can we do to avoid condemnation? More importantly, how can we please our God and fulfill His holy purposes in our lives? Where can we find power for purity? First and foremost, we must admit our spiritual poverty, mourn over our inherent rebellion, meekly submit ourselves to God’s will, and “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (5:3-6). In other words, we must desire holiness and hate sin so much that we will do anything, pay any price, to pursue purity. Then we need to focus our attention on God’s Word rather than on the world. “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word… Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against Your” (Psalm 119:9,11). As we meditate upon God’s truth in the Scriptures, we should pray for God to “create in [us] a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within [us]” (Psalm 51:10). Self-control comes from the work of the Spirit in our lives, and we can ask for this miracle, trusting God to demonstrate His power and pity by transforming us (Galatians 3:5; 5:19, 22-23). Of course, we cannot hope to break free from lust unless we avoid all occasions of temptation. The father (representing God) in Proverbs warns his son to “remove your way far from her [the seductive woman] and do not go near the door of her house” (Proverbs 5:8). Movies, TV programs, videos; people, places, activities – whatever tempts us to lust must be avoided at all costs. Finally, we can find strength in the prayers of a spiritual partner of the same sex. “Bear one another’s burdens,” advises Paul, who almost always had one or more brothers with him to strengthen him (Galatians 6:2). Praying for each other and holding each other accountable will enable us to stand firm. If we do fall, then we need to confess our sins to God, “who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness [i.e., guilt] “The blood of His Son cleanses us from all [the guilt of ] sin” (1 John 1:9,7).