(1 Timothy 4:12)
"Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you" (1 Timothy 4:12-16).
The preceding paragraph of instructions, given by the great Apostle Paul to Timothy, his "son in the faith", contains much of benefit to all who wear the name of our Lord. The call to diligence in doctrine, love and morality are not exclusive to young evangelists. Rather they are needed for all who would be followers of God.
Of special import to our study is the call to be "...an example ... in purity." Christians are called to the highest of moral standards. The apostle Paul said, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:1-2). Scripture is replete with calls to purity, holiness, righteousness, and sanctification. Christians are said to be, "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people" (1 Peter 2:9). This is possible only if the entirety of their lives are consecrated to God. Because of this, in that same context, Peter writes, "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men; as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king" (1 Peter 2:11-17).
The concept of purity can be illustrated in the burning of dross from metal ore. When all of the impurities are burned up, all that is left is unadulterated, pure metal. It is in this state that the metal is strongest, has the most value, and is fit for use. It matters not what impurity is present, if it indeed is present it weakens the metal and reduces its value. So it is with the child of God.
Their are many areas where "impurities" can creep in as we as Christians seek to serve our God. Any impurity can lessen our value to God, and make us unacceptable to Him. Four articles make up this special study concerning purity in our lives. We must strive to attain purity in doctrine, morals, worship and conscience. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it is a representative one which shows just how encompassing is God's call to purity.
God calls us to Holiness because His nature demands it! Listen to the words of Jehovah, "Therefore 'Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters,' says the LORD Almighty" (2 Corinthians 6:17-18). God is intrinsically, fundamentally, wholly holy! As such, His people must present themselves sanctified before Him, for, "...what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people" (2 Corinthians 6:14b-16).
The Holiness of God is a favorite theme of scripture. Especially in the Old Testament we see as a defining characteristic of God the attribute of holiness. "And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" (Isaiah 6:3). In this God is unique. He only has perfection with regard to holiness. It is not an "attained" perfection, as He ever has been completely righteous. While man can become sanctified by God, and can sully himself by sin, it is not so with God. Holiness is not something he can lose. It is what He is! "Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exodus 15:11).
God is different from from all living things in a number of important ways.
"You are My witnesses," says the LORD, "And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me"
"For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone" (James 1:13).
God alone is intrinsically holy. However, people can attain a measure of holiness, derived from God. And that is precisely what is required of us as Christians. It is what the grace of God teaches us. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Titus 2:11-14).
We are the "special people" of God, and we ought to be characterized by a zealousness for good works and righteous living. This is called sanctification ... God setting us apart as holy, in order to serve him. We must recognize that this is God's purpose for us as Christians, and that in all things, we must appear pure before Him.
In this month's Watchman, brother Jeff S. Smith, of Austin, TX, does a thorough job of dealing with God's call to Purity in Doctrine. Marc Smith, evangelist for the Sun Valley congregation in Hewitt, TX does a fine job dealing with God's call to Purity in Morals. Bob Ward of Ft. Worth, TX, plainly shows from scripture God's call to Purity in Worship. And this writer weighs in with a discussion of the call to Purity in Conscience given by our God. Read the articles carefully, and I am confident that you will benefit from the efforts of our writers.
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