To kick this off, I want to start with something really fun. What is it? you may wonder in excited anticipation. It’s definitions! Hurray!
Okay, it’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but I’ve learned that in any text you’re working with you often have to dissect the terminology the author uses. The same word can mean very different things to different fields.
I’m going to take baby-steps, here. First baby-step: defining things.
In a regular, old dictionary (I actually googled it, but I think that still counts), “purity” is defined as: “freedom from adulteration or contamination; freedom from immorality, especially of a sexual nature.”
In the Oxford English Dictionary “purity” is: “the state or quality of being morally or spiritually pure; sinlessness; freedom from ritual pollution; ceremonial cleanness; innocence; chastity,” and so on.
It’s a state of being separate from contamination, or things that make something unclean.
Throughout the Bible, purity is depicted as existing in a state just like that—set apart from the sinful/impure things of this world. Many those verses deal with sexual immorality, but that’s not the big picture.
Let’s go back to the verse I posted yesterday.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8
I decided to look up some of the Greek to dig deeper. So, here’s what I found about this verse almost word by word (if you’d like to check out where I got my translations you can follow the links for each word, and this link for the whole verse. Also, I’m not a Greek scholar. If you see that I’ve made a mistake here, feel free to message me about it!):
This is the word “makários” which “describes a believer in enviable (“fortunate”) position from receiving God’s provisions (favor)—which (literally) extend (“make long, large”) His grace (benefits).
Something that is “spiritually clean because purged (purified by God), i.e. free from the contaminating (soiling) influences of sin.”
This figurative use of “heart” refers to “‘the affective center of our being’ and the capacity of moral preference (volitional desire, choice…); ‘desire-producer that makes us tick’…i.e. our ‘desire-decisions’ that establish who we really are.”
“for they shall see God”
Which means “to be admitted into intimate and blessed fellowship with God in his future kingdom.”
So, altogether: Blessed are those who are separated from the sinfulness of the world down to the affective center of their being, because these people shall be admitted into intimate and blessed fellowship with God in his future kingdom.
But, don’t miss that God is the source of that blessedness because of His huge outpouring of grace and His action in purifying us.
Obviously, combing all those definitions into one sentence is slightly overwhelming and a little clunky (but hopefully I’ve helped make a little more sense of this verse!).
It can also be overwhelming when thinking about putting that into practice.
“How do I stay separate from sin down to the center of my being?!”
It begins with our belief in Christ. Take a look at 1 John 3:3:
“And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
For those who believe in Christ, who follow Him, and have their hope fixed on Him, we can be considered pure because of the sacrifice He made for us—because He has covered our unrighteousness with His righteousness.
I also looked up the words in this verse, and “just as He is pure” really caught my attention. When John says this, he’s stating that we can be like Christ just as He exists in a state of being pure. This phrase “is pure” was compared to when Jesus said “I am the way” or “I am the light of the world” (John 14:6; John 8:12) Who He is is pure, just like God is love (1 John 4:16). Wow!
There will be times we make mistakes, but His blood has paid for all our transgressions, and through His righteousness we can also be pure before God.
Now, there’s still the matter of living out our beliefs here on earth, which we’re going to get into in the coming days in discussing purity, but this is where it starts.
Being pure down to the center of ourselves is something only God can initiate because we are totally ensnared to sin until we come to Him for salvation. We can only be pure by accepting Christ who paid the debt for our sins.
But what an awesome gift salvation is, and how blessed are the pure in heart!