How Pure is Pure?
Friday - June 12th
Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: 1 Peter 1:14-16
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 5:33-37
"Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'”
1 Peter 1:15-16
Since leaving office in 1981, former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Roselyn have done an incredible amount of humanitarian work around the world. At 95 and 92 years of age, respectively, the Carters are not able to be as engaged in the work with which they have spent the second half of their lives. But, The Carter Center, established by the former first couple, continues to extend and expand their work to some of the most marginalized and overlooked people in the world. The Carter Center’s motto is simply “Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, and Building Hope.”
Most of us are familiar with the Carters’ hard work to build houses for the poor right here in the United States. Few of us know what the Carters and the center named in their honor have done to wage peace, fight disease, and build hope in our world. One of those things they have done is to help mitigate the diseases that plague developing countries – diseases that the western world has not battled for decades. In 1996, the Carter Center challenged researchers to develop a pill, a vaccine, a device, anything the inhabitants of Papua New Guinea could use to fight a small, but deadly worm found in the water sources available to their people.
From that challenge in 1996, the LifeStraw was developed. Initially, it only filtered water to remove the one specific worm from that one particular location on earth. But, now, according to the LifeStraw website, the product filters many more water-borne diseases and contaminants. It now has uses that expand beyond places in the world where people need it for basic everyday survival. It is now used by recreational hikers, campers, and adventurers when they have no clean water source available.
The LifeStraw website describes the most current version of the portable filter system: The original, award-winning ultralight personal straw water filter for outdoor sports, survival, and emergencies. The LifeStraw removes bacteria, parasites, and micro-plastics from any water source. It is durable and ultralight - weighing only 2 ounces (0.10 lbs). LifeStraw is the ultimate survival tool, preventing all of the significant water-borne diseases. The microbiological, membrane micro-filter removes 99.999999% of bacteria (including E. coli), 99.999% of parasites (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.), and 99.999% of micro-plastics. No portable product of its kind can boast that high a percentage of purification of water.
Wow, that sounds like you end up with some very pure water. But, notice it isn’t 100%. Can we say something is pure if it only may include a little contamination?
In the Beatitudes, Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). How pure does your heart have to be to see God? James 2:10 tells us that it must be 100% pure because any spec of unholiness will make the heart impure – guilty of all. So, the only way to see God is to have a pure heart made pure by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. When Jesus died, he took my sins on Himself to pay the penalty for my impurity. The Bible also teaches that Jesus, the one who knew no sin and became sin for us, makes it possible for His righteousness to be credited (imputed) to us when we receive His forgiveness in saving faith (2 Corinthians 5:21). So, in Christ, we are positionally pure before God. We have a pure heart. It is based on the finished work of Jesus, not my own efforts or good works, that I will see God one day.
What about our practical walk on earth right now? We still sin, and we will sin until we are with Christ. Then, we will be pure as He is pure both positionally and practically. Does God just overlook or put up with my sin now? Is it impossible for me to pursue holiness practically – not just rest in Christ’s holiness positionally? 1 Peter 1:14-16 answers that question. In verses 15 and 16, He says, “Just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’”
Yes, we can pursue purity in our lives today. We do not just drift in and out of sin with no aim toward holy living right now. God forgives us by His grace and empowers us to live holy lives by His grace. We pursue that purity. To do that we confess the unholiness the Spirit reveals in our hearts and lives, we forsake the sin, and we move forward in righteousness.
As we walk with God and pursue His holiness, it is often three steps forward and two back. Then, it is another three steps forward and two back. We confess and bathe in His forgiving grace over and over again. By His grace, He moves us forward again. Over time the three steps forward produce great transformation, progress, and growth (despite the few steps back from time to time). We should never settle for a certain percentage of holiness – even if it is 99.999%. If that were the case, we still have room to grow. Does the holiness earn us a spot in Heaven? NO! But, it does allow us to be observed living and loving like Jesus by those who do not know Christ.
LifeStraw is incredible. There is no other portable water filter like it. But still, pure is pure. What impurities is God showing you in your life right now? Confess what you need to confess. Forsake the sin you need to forsake. Then, ask Him to transform your heart and life so His holiness will be seen through you.
Today, hear the words of your God. Commit again to Him that you will pursue being Holy as He is Holy!