If you went to youth group as a teen, there’s little doubt that at some point, you got “the talk” from your youth pastor or small group leader. Everyone knew that sexual purity was going to be discussed; the question was if it would be in large group or in segregated small groups. And you definitely did not want to be sitting beside the guy you liked during said “talk”. Awkward.
We spent so much time talking about sexual purity in youth group that I think we forgot about something just as important: purity in every area of life.
It’s really easy to agree with the fact that we should have a sexually pure lifestyle. But what about laughing at a suggestive joke? Using coarse language (whether that’s taking God’s name in vain or not)?
Purity is something that isn’t talked about a whole lot, but there are several verses on it. In the Old Testament, God’s people were required to make sacrifices in order to keep themselves pure before God. In the New Testament, there are many verses about purity. In 1 Peter 3, Peter shows us that purity is powerful. In verses 1 & 2, he tells his readers:
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.
When we are pure, people notice. And Peter says that being respectful and pure are two important traits that a woman can use to bring her husband to Christ—without a word. Wow.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in situations where we were all hanging out at youth group or young adults and someone shared the sanitized or “Christian” version of a dirty joke. The kind you wouldn’t pick up on if you were completely naïve, but was also too easy to read into. Everyone kind of laughs, like they know they shouldn’t, but hey—it’s funny. We’re all Christians. It’s like there’s a mutual understanding that we all know we shouldn’t laugh, but we won’t judge each other if we do.
The truth is, purity matters. It stands out when you refuse to participate in anything not honouring to God. When you give up your popularity to make Jesus proud, you stop blending in.
Maybe that’s what’s so scary.
Maybe we’re afraid of standing out. We are Christians and want to act as such, but we don’t want to look super righteous or be called a goody two-shoes. We don’t want to take any risks. But the reality is that being pure is an essential part of the Christian faith and lifestyle.
The latter part of 1 Timothy 5:22 says,
…nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
If Christ has made us righteous before God, has he not made us pure? Why then, if we are made righteous in Christ, should we try to hide that?If we take purity out of the picture, we are hiding the evidence of our faith. Click To Tweet
Please also notice in the above verse: we are not to take part in others’ sins; our responsibility is ourselves. I’m not saying you should preach to everyone who tells a distasteful joke, nor that you should develop a “holier than thou” attitude. Purity should be paired with humility. What I am saying is that we must choose purity for ourselves.
In 1 Timothy 4:12 & 16a, Paul encourages Timothy, a young man serving the Lord, with these words:
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. (…) Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. (…)
Paul encourages Timothy to not only be pure, but to be an example. To stand out. To set a high standard for himself. In verse 16, Paul adds that Timothy must guard himself and focus on the Word. Purity does not come easily, ladies. It requires us to watch our behaviour and focus on Christ. It doesn’t just happen.
Today, let me encourage you to seek purity in all things. By being pure, you are being a powerful witness to others. You’re saying that your values matter more than your reputation. Christ matters more than your comfort. I challenge you to set yourself apart by doing everything out of purity.