Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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by George C. Clark, Sr.
This is a time of moral decay among the children of God that makes every true minister of God cry out in protest. Through the centuries, Paul's command to young Timothy, "Keep yourself pure", has greatly encouraged the body of Christ to pursue "holiness, without which no man shall see God " and it speaks with as much relevance to the saints today as any commandment ever left on record from the pen of that great apostle.
It is, of course, impossible to be clean and pure without an experience with God. Once cleansed by that experience, one must cultivate the habit of clean living by avoiding vulgar associates that poison the soul and by choosing clean friends. Above all, followers of Jesus must stay away from those who would lead them into immorality.
One can fail to keep himself pure in two ways: in motive or in action. We know that a sinful act can defile us, but Jesus said that if a man so much as "looks on a woman to lust after her, he has committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Mt. 5:28). This means that if someone welcomes and broods over an unclean desire, and then fails to commit the act only because he lacks the opportunity, he is guilty of that sin before God.
After taking Uriah's wife, King David cried out in anguish of soul (Ps. 51:1), "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to your lovingkindness. According to the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me." No doubt, as David offered this great prayer of confession, he was thinking of his former relationship with God, one that had enabled him to write the sweet words of the 23rd Psalm, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
In his prayer, David did something that only a few backsliders ever do; he plainly admitted that he had sinned. Only those who, like David, truly love God will make a true confession of sin. One reason some who have sinned never get back to God is that they offer apologies to men instead of heartfelt confessions to God, the One against whom they have actually sinned. In his confession, David declared, "Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." David knew he had to be cleansed and made pure again; therefore, he cried to the One who is able, "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin."
There are multitudes in need of this cleansing. The bitter cry of condemnation echoes this moment in the hearts of thousands of backslidden saints who once were clean and pure but who have been defiled, either in motive or in action. Their guilty conscience needs no accusation, for memories that burn with sin continually vex the soul until one is forgiven and washed. No matter how well one's sin is shrouded in secrecy, the haunting fear of discovery is always present. As Solomon said, "The wicked flee when no man pursues." To live in fear with the ghost of guilt is an assurance of hell. To live with a condemned heart is to walk in "the valley of the shadow of death". But God never intended for us to walk there. He calls all His people to purity and holiness.
The Master sails with his followers over all of life's troubled seas, calming their hearts and speaking peace to their spirits. God's saving strength will preserve through any trial every soul who loves Him. His saving power has proved to be sufficient for any occasion. Joseph, for example, when enslaved in Egypt in Potiphar's house, came face to face with circumstances that made impurity easy and purity difficult, for "his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph, and said, Lie with me " (Gen. 39:7). Standing true to his God, young Joseph refused. His heartfelt answer to that perverse woman stood as a mighty bulwark against her sin: "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" (Gen. 39:9).
Joseph suffered because of that decision, but it was one he never regretted, and it was later greatly rewarded. And God will reward us if we do as Joseph did. No one who has dared to pay the price of this holy consecration has ever been disappointed in Jesus, who issued that deeply involved exhortation, "Be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect." And if we keep ourselves pure before God, our hearts may proclaim with David, "The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower" (Ps. 18:2).
After he was restored in faith, David offered this splendid challenge to his Maker: "Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts" (Ps. 139:23). By attaining to such confidence, one stands to receive God's greatest blessings. So, let us strive to keep ourselves pure, despising every impure passion of the flesh. This may not make one popular with men, but it will win God's approval and give us a clear conscience.
But suppose you have failed, and many have, to keep yourself pure? What if you cannot testify to a true and blameless life since you came to Christ? Let me tell you, just here, that no failure need be final except the failure to repent and start anew. To the woman taken in adultery, Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn thee. Go, and sin no more" (Jn. 8:11). How could this woman sin again after experiencing such mercy as this? We are told nothing else of her; yet, I am confident she returned no more to her former unclean ways. And I look to see her on that day when our Lord makes up His precious jewels.
Jesus offers all we need to be able to stand clean before God. Can't you hear those tender words of our dear Savior, "I will never leave you nor forsake you"?
When one sees the eternal blessings now available because of the suffering of the Lamb of God on Calvary's cruel tree, he will quickly and gladly respond to God's commandment through the great warrior Paul: "Keep yourself pure."