In his book, "I Shall Not Want," Robert Ketchum tells of a Church Youth group teacher who asked her class of very young children if anyone could quote the entire Twenty-Third Psalm. A golden-haired four- and- a-half-year old girl was among those who raised their hands. A bit skeptical, the teacher asked if she could really quote the entire Psalm. The little girl came to the front of the room, faced the class, made a perky little bow, and said: "The Lord is my shepherd, thatís all I want."
She bowed again and went and sat down.
Well, she certainly summed up the Twenty-third Psalm with a few words. But her words were simple and pure. Thatís a result of the innocence of youth, and that is the kind of purity that we need to have as a Christian.
Becoming "pure" is not an easy task. It takes work and effort.
Letís look at a story that shows the work involved in the process of the purification of silver which is a very tedious and precise process.
There was a woman that called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flame is the hottest. By doing this, it will burn away all the impurities.
This made the woman recall Malachi 3:3 which says that God "will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."
Then she asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. He answered yes, that he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman didnít say anything for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and said; "Oh, thatís easy, when I see my image in it."
So, whatever happened to purity? Itís a rare commodity today, but as Christians, we should be reflecting that character of God. We need to be pure because God is pure. One of the prerequisites for service is purity. Itís also a prerequisite for blessings. But how do we remain pure in a world like today?
I want to go over five brief points that can help us to become and remain PURE.
Be Careful What You See
(2 Samuel 11:1-5)
Davidís sin began with simple sight. He rose one night, walked out on the rooftop, and looked on the houses below. On the south side of Jerusalem is the little village of Silwan, with houses built one on top of another, directly across the valley from where Davidís city was located. There David saw Bathsheba.
Had he not seen her bathing, thereís a good chance that he would not have committed the sin of adultery. Itís true that David didnít go out looking for Bathsheba. He accidentally saw her. But sometimes accidents happen on purpose, like in a motel room, flipping through the channels on television, we donít know what we may see. We have to be careful. Job said in chapter 31:1 that he made a covenant with his eyes (Job 31:1).
Long before the advent of television, philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote: "Suppose someone invented an instrument, a convenient little talking tube which, say, could be heard all over the whole land. I wonder if the police would not forbid it, fearing that the whole country would become mentally deranged if it were used." Kierkegaardís words have come true.
David Frost, who made his living on television, said, "Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldnít have in your home." Many movies and TV programs arenít fit for human consumption, let alone for a Christian. So, we must be careful what we see.
Be Careful Where You Go
Samson was a great champion for God, but his feet led him into trouble. Here we see he went to Gaza, one of the Philistine cities. Samson had no business there. In Gaza, he saw a harlot and went to her. Later he went to the Valley of Sorek where he met Delilah (v. 4).
Samsonís problem was that he went to all the wrong places. If we go to the wrong places, weíll see the wrong things and become the wrong kind of people (2 Timothy 2:22).
Be Careful What You Desire
(Judges 14: 1-2 )
The greatest achievements in life are accomplished by those with passion. Do you remember Bob Feller? As a child, Bob loved to throw a baseball. By age five, he had spent hours every day pitching through a hole in a barn wall. At age 10, his father provided him a playing field on the family farm. By thirteen, Bob was pitching for a local team. At age seventeen, he began playing for the Cleveland Indians. During his career, he had 266 wins and set a record 348 strikeouts in one season. Today he belongs to Baseballís Hall of Fame. Thatís not just due to his abilities, but also to the fact that he had one desire--baseball. Whatís our desire? What drives our lives? If our desire is to be pure before God, we need to be careful of what we see, where we go, and what we want.
Be Careful What You Think About
If being pure before God is not on our list of things to do today, then we can think about anything we want. But if losing our purity concerns us, Then we must be careful what we think about. Emerson said, "A man is what he thinks about all day long." Marcus Aurelius said, " A manís life is what his thoughts make it." Letís take a look at Philippians 4:8 which says "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." So in other words, "As a man thinks in his heart (his mind) so is he." We need to ask ourselves: Are we pleased with the things that have entered our minds this past week? We have to be aware of whatís on our minds.
Be Careful Why You Live
(I John 3: 1-3)
Does life make sense for us? Or, as Shakespeare said, it is "a tale told by an incompetent person, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing?" One of the best ways to lose our purity is to decide to have nothing eternal to live for. We have to make sure that this doesnít happen to us. Letís notice I John 1:3 "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ." This is a great reason to live, this gives us the hope that we need in todayís world.
And finally letís look at one last scripture to see what being pure does for us. We can see the ultimate reward recorded in Matthew 5:8: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
We need to realize how wonderful it is to know that Christ can make us pure. How wonderful it is to know that He can keep us pure. And also, He can help us live practical lives of daily purity.
So as we conclude letís remember that we can put these steps to work in our lives and use them to help make us pure and develop the purity that God intends for us to have.
And also remember that God will sit as a refiner and He will allow us to be in the heat, not to the point of destruction, but, to the point of purification, to the point at which He will be able to see His reflection in us.