“Keep thyself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22) For an example of perfect purity, look to our Lord Jesus Christ.
But none of us need ever expect to attain the standard of purity held forth in the Bible by striving in our own strength and effort to be like Christ. The law was perfect, pure, holy (Romans 7:12), yet no one ever attained it in perfection. Christ, tempted in all points like as we are, was “without sin” (Heb. 4:15); yet none of us, while wearing our mortal robes, need ever expect to attain the same end, for perfection is never reached through human effort or human goodness.
Paul pointed out the weakness of the Pharisees when he said, “They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3). If any of us have thought in our own goodness and by our own effort to attain to the purity, holiness, and perfection of God, we had better cease trying and ask God to try in our stead. This is the way it is accomplished:
“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).
“The blood of Jesus Christ… cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Thus, submitting ourselves to God, allowing Him to perform the miracle of grace in our hearts, walking in the light “as he is in the light” with our lives “hid with Christ in God,” it is possible for the weakest of mortals to walk in paths of “righteousness and true holiness.” This is heaven-secured purity.
What Purity Includes
The admonition of Paul to Timothy, as quoted at the head of this chapter, should be taken seriously by all people. Applying it to our own lives, this Christian grace and attainment means:
1. Purity in Thought and Purpose
We often think of the old-fashioned hourglass. With the upper chamber filled with sand, it is only a question of time when this sand is found in the lower chamber. So with mind and character. Keep the upper chamber (mind) filled with pure thoughts, and it is only a question of time when this purity is reflected in the character. Keep your mind stored with thoughts that are pure, holy, kind, righteous, chaste, worshipful, and these traits of character will shine out in your daily lives. On the other hand, let your minds harbor evil thoughts, impure motives, and it will not be long until tongues and lives will betray the filth that is harbored in the mind. Therefore, keep thy mind pure.
2. Purity in Speech
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). “Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks” (Ephesians 5:4). Here is a catalogue of things which do not belong to pure speech: idle words, bywords, slang phrases, vulgar language, profanity, gossiping, rehashing stale yarns, etc. Two things are essential to success in eliminating them from your speech: (1) a pure heart (“for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh”); (2) a persistent, prayerful, persevering effort to overcome former habits. Keep thy speech pure.
3. Purity in Heart
“Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2). Especially where people, before their conversion, were given over to vile affections do they need to come before the Throne continually for grace to overcome. To every child of God there comes the admonition, “Be thou an example of the believers . . . in purity” (I Timothy 4:12). Keep your affections centered upon things that are pure and true and righteous and holy, and your mind, tongue, hands, and feet will respond. Read Philippians 4:8. Keep thy affections pure.
4. Purity in Companionship
This means two things: (1) that you, personally, live a pure life, worthy of the associations of the best of people; (2) that you choose your companions from among those who are pure in thought and mind, [avoid] an attitude of social equality with those characters who are tainted with social impurity. Beware of questionable entanglements. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.” You are safe in applying this same rule in your companionship with books and other literature. You cannot afford to mix in ungodly associations, for stronger people than yourself have succumbed to such influences.
5. Purity in Social Relations
The Bible nowhere refers to social impurity except to condemn it. Where chastity gives way to impurity, character is ruined—and this is true of men as well as of women, for there is no “double standard” in morals, in the sight of God.
Speaking of social impurity, it is in order to say that many of the things, in which some people see nothing wrong, are the very things that start people downhill morally. Such things as practicing undue familiarity with the persons of the opposite sex, courtship at late hours, with curtains drawn and lights dimmed, unchaste conversation and telling vile “jokes,” attendance at movies and theaters and circuses and other places where vulgar wit and suggestive thrusts are considered “smart”—these are things which excite the passions and are responsible for the ruin of thousands who were once pure-minded young people. As the young man who never takes the first drink will never become a drunkard, so the young man or young woman who never allows himself or herself to be caught in these first traps on the downward read to [immorality] will never become a libertine. . . . Keep thyself pure in the social realm.
6. Purity in Conscience
[The conscience] is the monitor which God has placed within you to sound a note of warning in every time of danger. Be sure you keep this conscience pure and tender. Keep it fed on the pure Word of God, and never fail to heed its warnings. So long as your conscience is on the altar of the Lord, and implicitly obeyed, you are safe. Therefore keep thy conscience pure. Read Acts 24:16; 1 Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 9:9, 14; 1 Peter 3:16, 21.
7. Purity in Righteousness
Righteousness, like every other trait of Christian character, should be maintained in its purity. This includes an upright life, honest dealings with fellowmen, the righteousness of Jesus Christ shining out in every walk in life. When tempted to compromise for the sake of gain in wealth, ease, and popularity, remember the admonition, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). A straightforward course in business, social, home, and religious life will keep you in line with the Gospel standard of righteousness. Keep thyself pure in righteousness.
8. Purity in Religion
We have reserved this for last because it is the foundation and the climax of all purity. We have a perfect definition for pure religion in James 1:27. . . . Never be satisfied with anything short of the pure, unadulterated religion of Jesus Christ, unspotted by any of the sins of this world. Keep thyself pure in religion.
From Doctrines of the Bible by Daniel Kauffman