Power in Purity, Are You Plugged In?

By Doug Batchelor

An Amazing Fact: In Asia lives a remarkable little spider that has its home under the water. This water spider spins a tiny web in the shape of a bell and attaches it to stems of water weeds and plants just below the pond surface. All spiders must breathe air, so the water spider takes its air along like a skin diver. On the surface she traps tiny bubbles in the hairs of her body, then hurries home and releases them under her web. The spider makes many trips to bring air bubbles back for her home. The waterproof web becomes inflated with trapped air and makes a perfect diving bell where she lives, eats, and lays her eggs. If the air is used up, the spider surfaces to breathe and collect more fresh bubbles for her home below. Living below, and yet breathing the air from above, this little spider is constantly surrounded by water, yet remains perfectly dry!

The water spider knows a vital secret that represents the essence of what every Christian must learn. It lives in the water, a foreign realm, and yet remains separate from it, maintained by contact from above. In a sense, this illustrates how Christians can sojourn in this wicked world without being polluted by it.

The Word of God is very clear-purity of heart is a crucial prerequisite for salvation and entrance to heaven.

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14).

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).

"And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life" (Revelation 21:27).

One of the most complex challenges for Christians is learning how to live in this impure world without allowing the world to live in us. How are we to work for and reach the lost without living like the lost? Jesus came, in part, to demonstrate how to balance loving and redeeming the publicans and prostitutes without walking in their ways. Like the water spider, the key is found in learning how to breathe the atmosphere of heaven while existing in this evil empire below. Jesus outlined this challenge when praying to the Father.

"I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil" (John 17:14, 15).

Ambassadors and Embassies
The most crucial secret for enjoying purity of heart is to follow Jesus' example of maintaining constant communication with the Father.

"And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35).

The American embassies located throughout the world all have a dedicated phone, a hotline if you will, so they can stay in continual communication with their mother government. They give reports and receive regular instructions from their superiors regarding how to represent the United States in these foreign fields. They also serve as a haven, giving assistance to American citizens or those who might want to seek asylum and become citizens.

Our churches are something like embassies in a strange land, and each Christian is an ambassador for the kingdom of heaven. Only through regular prayer, Bible study, and church attendance can we thrive in this world as ambassadors of another kingdom without adopting the customs of the enemy. This is our only hope to maintain our independence from the devil's government and preserve the purity of heart that is a trademark of the redeemed.

"These all died in faith, … and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).

Starting Inside
A common mistake in approaching the concept of purity is to think that if we can convince others that we are pure, God will give us credit for their votes of confidence. This was the flawed philosophy of the Pharisees who did their praying, fasting, and giving to be seen of men (Matthew chapter 6).

Paul said, "But they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise" (2 Corinthians 10:12).

Jesus made it plain that all acts of outward holiness that do not spring from the new heart are, in reality, hypocrisy. God sees the action as well as the attitude. Authentic purity must first be born in the heart before the fruit of holiness can be seen in the life. This principle of inward purity is found all through the Scriptures.

"Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also" (Matthew 23:26).

"Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded" (James 4:8).

"Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently" (1 Peter 1:22).

Salvation and Purification
It's clear enough that we need new and pure hearts, but where do we begin? The science of salvation is really about a process of purification. It begins with the free gift of a pure life record. When we confess our sins and accept the sacrifice and blood of Jesus to cover our transgressions, we are justified by virtue of the pure merits of Jesus' life. God the Father gives us credit for the spotless life of His Son and looks upon us with approval as if we never had sinned.

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

As we accept this incredible gift by faith, a new heart and a desire to preserve this new experience and relationship is born within us. But even this act of total surrender is possible only through God's power.

"No outward observances can take the place of simple faith and entire renunciation of self. But no man can empty himself of self. We can only consent for Christ to accomplish the work. Then the language of the soul will be, Lord, take my heart; for I cannot give it. It is Thy property. Keep it pure, for I cannot keep it for Thee. Save me in spite of myself, my weak, unchristlike self. Mold me, fashion me, raise me into a pure and holy atmosphere, where the rich current of Thy love can flow through my soul" (Christ's Object Lessons, 159).

It is not necessary that we understand all the dynamics of how this metamorphosis operates in order to enjoy its benefits. Evangelist Billy Sunday once said, "I cannot explain how blood can wash away sin, but I also do not know how a black cow can eat green grass and make white milk and yellow butter, but I still enjoy milk and butter."

A New Point of Reference
We've learned that the starting point is simply to receive Jesus into our hearts, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith" (Ephesians 3:17). He stands knocking at the door of our hearts, but we must choose to let Him in (Revelation 3:20).

As we allow Him to abide there by faith He has a purifying influence. "Purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:9).

I once read an interesting story about a rather rough, uncultured bachelor. This man fell in love with a beautiful vase he saw in a shop window each day as he went to and from work. Eventually the man bought this exquisite vase and put it on the mantelpiece by the window in his room. There, its beauty stood out in stark contrast with the messy apartment, and it became a bold judgment on its surroundings. He had to clean up the room to make it worthy of the vase. The curtains looked drab and faded beside it. The old chair with the stuffing peeking out no longer fit in. The peeling wallpaper and paint needed renewing. Gradually, one project at a time, he had the whole room renovated until all was transformed by the beauty of this one object.

This story illustrates the same transforming influence that the presence of Jesus has when He is received into an impure heart. I cannot improve on the explanation of this process found in the book Steps to Christ:

"One ray of the glory of God, one gleam of the purity of Christ, penetrating the soul, makes every spot of defilement painfully distinct, and lays bare the deformity and defects of the human character. It makes apparent the unhallowed desires, the infidelity of the heart, the impurity of the lips. The sinner's acts of disloyalty in making void the law of God, are exposed to his sight, and his spirit is stricken and afflicted under the searching influence of the Spirit of God. He loathes himself as he views the pure, spotless character of Christ" (29).

This was the experience of Isaiah, Daniel, and John when they stood in the pure, blazing presence of the Almighty. They were overwhelmed with a sense of their own defilement and then longed for holiness.

"The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Romans 2:4).

There Is Power in Purity
One of the knights of King Arthur's Round Table was Sir Galahad. Sir Galahad was called the "Maiden Knight" because of his pure life. (Not to be confused with Sir Lancelot who had an affair with King Arthur's wife, Guinevere.) English poet Alfred Tennyson reports Sir Galahad as saying, "My strength is as the strength of ten, because my heart is pure."

We do not become strong for God by virtue of our own righteousness, but many professed Christians are handicapped in their service-a sense of their unforsaken sins cripples their confidence and saps the vitality from their faith.

Remember, it was after the disciples had spent ten days in the upper room humbling themselves and putting aside their differences that God poured upon them the power of the Spirit.

"The children of Israel could not stand before their enemies" when the secret sin of Achan was buried in the camp (Joshua 7:12). Gideon had to destroy the idol in his home before God could give him victory against the enemy (Judges 6:25). And, of course, Samson lost his strength by compromising his convictions with the temptress Delilah (Judges 16:19).

In contrast, when we know that our lives are in harmony with the will of God, we will enjoy a holy boldness and enter every battle like David, allied with omnipotence. There is power in purity!

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

The Word Is Our Gauge
A visitor in the studio of a great painter found on the painter's easel some very fine, brilliant, sparkling gems. When asked why he kept them there, the painter replied: "I need them there to tune up my eyes. When I am working in so many different pigments, imperceptibly the sense of color distinction becomes weakened. By having the color of these pure unchanging gems before me to refresh my eyes, the sense of true color is constantly renewed just as the musician's tuning-fork helps him maintain the perfect pitch."

With the nebulous standards of the world ever evolving and drifting downward, most people have convinced themselves that their lives are good enough. But the values of the world will not be the basis of the great judgment.

"All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits" (Proverbs 16:2).

If we hope to combat having the pallet of our conscience numb to truth and our perception of holiness stretched out of tune, we must have our values calibrated each day by the pure, unchanging Word of God.

"The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Psalm 12:6).

"The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Psalm 19:8).

"Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it" (Psalm 119:140).

"Every word of God is pure" (Proverbs 30:5).

When the pure Word is proclaimed, hearers discover that their lives are out of tune, and they will begin to long for the forgiveness Jesus offers. This was the experience of those who listened to Peter preaching the Word at Pentecost. Shaken to the core from their complacency, the Spirit awakened within them a yearning for pardon and purity.

"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).

Pure Food?
Now I'm going to take what some will consider a detour from the typical principles of purity. Not only is it important that we "desire the sincere milk of the word" to grow in sanctification (1 Peter 2:2), but I believe this study would be incomplete without remembering the fact that eating and drinking forbidden and impure physical food also weakens us spiritually.

The book of Daniel begins with four young men resolving that they would not defile themselves with the corrupt food offered them by the Babylonians. God rewarded their self-control with clear minds, long lives, and pure hearts. There is power in purity. Many who eat rich diets loaded with fat and sweets wonder why they have no moral strength and little inclination to resist the temptations of the enemy. Their blood is so congested with bad nutrition that their brains are clouded and numb and their ability to discern between good and evil is hindered.

I know that even as some are reading this they are thinking: "Didn't Jesus say that it's not what goes into a man's mouth that defiles him, but what comes out?" (Mark 7:18). True, but what enters the mouth can have a direct influence on what comes out. This is why drunks curse and shout! We cannot ignore the truth that the body and spirit are joined.

Likewise, a pure diet and healthy lifestyle will greatly enhance our ability to live holy lives.

We Are Changed by Beholding
A godly pastor was approached by a physician in his congregation who was concerned about the pastor's hectic schedule. Handing the minister some theater tickets, he said, "You work too hard. You need some recreation. Go to this movie, and have a good time."

The pastor looked at the tickets knowing he could not conscientiously attend. He said kindly, "Thank you, but I can't take them. I can't go."

"Why not?" the physician asked.

"Doctor, it's this way. As a surgeon, when you operate, you scrub your hands meticulously until you are especially clean. You wouldn't dare operate with dirty hands. I'm a servant of Christ. I deal with precious human souls. I wouldn't dare to do my service with a dirty life." We must guard what we put into our minds as well as what we put into our bodies.

Probably the most lethal influences eroding the purity of the modern Christian are the TV and VCR. Many professed Christians who would never be found guilty of engaging in the actual deeds of murder, adultery, robbery, and lying participate in these things vicariously every week by willingly beholding them on TV and through videos.

King David declared, "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes" (Psalm 101:3).

Scriptures condemn those acts, and judgment is pronounced against those who "have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:32). In other words, those who enjoy watching others commit sin are themselves committing sin in their hearts.

There is a simple yet profound principle in Scripture that we are transformed into whom and what we worship.

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

As we turn our eyes upon Jesus and daily gaze at His pure and spotless life, we will find ourselves longing for that same purity. But in like manner, if we fill our minds with the wicked and frivolous programs that are so prevalent on TV, we will find that our hearts are constantly polluted with carnal cravings, our consciences will be seared, and we will lose our hunger and thirst for righteousness.

There is a dainty, bright blue butterfly of less than an inch wingspread that has jewel-like gold spots on its wings. It is very lovely to behold, but it has a disgusting diet. Instead of soaring heavenward in sunlight or lighting upon flowers as it might, it descends to earth and feeds on dung.

There are millions of professed Christians who look like butterflies in church but who feed on filth at home as they revel in watching programs and videos that profane God's name and violate every commandment. If we ever hope to be pure in heart we must guard the avenues to our souls from these corrupting influences.

Purging the Pure Gold
The most common use of the term "pure" in the Scriptures is in connection with gold. The phrase "pure gold" is found more than 45 times in the Bible. Gold is impervious to the ravages of time. It is not tarnished by air, water, nor most corrosives, and it can be melted down time and again without shedding any of its quality. In fact, a single ounce can be drawn out to make an unbroken wire 35 miles long or hammered into a sheet big enough to cover a tennis court! In the Bible, gold represents faith, hope, and love, the three purist principles that govern every true Christian (1 Corinthians 13:13). "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich" (Revelation 3:18).

When gold is found in the earth it is usually mixed with rock and soil that must be purged out, and this is accomplished with intense heat. Trouble, trials, and pain are often the tools God uses to purify our hearts from earthly attachments.

"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ"(1 Peter 1:6, 7).

"And he shall sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness" (Malachi 3:3).

Our task is to pray for patience and faith that we might willingly submit to this refining process as we are purged for purity.

Focused for Home
As Christian pilgrims make the journey to the city with sure foundations, the enemy is ever seeking to turn our attention away from our splendid goal. After receiving the cleansing that Christ imparts, we can nurture this purity of heart only as we stay focused on Jesus and our marching orders to "seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).

"Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1, 2).

Here is where so many fail. They become distracted by the world and lose sight of their eternal objective.

"Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10).

Paul said Jesus is coming for "a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:27). The only way we can keep our garments clean is by keeping our attention directed to our Saviour.

"And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

A man was visiting a friend in Massillon, Ohio, who had several homing pigeons in his back yard. The friend said, "See this white bird? She just flew the 500 miles from St. Louis non-stop!"

Stunned, the visitor said, "Non-stop! Now, how do you know? You weren't there. Did she tell you?"

He said, "Brother, there is a way to know-she came in clean. When she first arrived she had no maize, pollen, chaff, or mud on her feet-nothing on her to make me think she had stopped. She came in clean. She flew all day long, thinking only, 'I must get home; there will be somebody in the back yard waiting for me.'"

In the same manner, we get dirty when we become distracted from our goal. It is true that the blessed hope of Jesus' soon coming has a wondrous purifying influence on our attitudes and actions.

"We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:2, 3).

Ultimately, it is love for Jesus that will motivate the true Christian to keep his garments unsullied from the world (Revelation 3:4).

"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14).

Friend, are you longing for the peace and power that come as the fruit of a purified heart? You will find the cleansing

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