"Keep yourself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22)
What's Paul telling us? I know what the word PURE means, I looked it up the dictionary, it's easy to grasp. And the greek word for pure is ... pure. So I'm not analysing the word. I'm just wondering what I'm to aim at here.
I used to follow an arrogant belief system. I told myself that as a Christian, I was no longer a sinner. It was unscriptural to think I was. When I heard other Christians say "I'm just a sinner saved by grace", I would think/say "If that's what YOU want to be, fine. But my Bible tells me I can reach a state of sinlessness (I think I got that from the latter parts of 1 John); that I'm a New Creation (Ephesians); that I'm already made perfect because of what Christ did (Hebrews)". And there is truth in each of those things.
But facts are facts. Even at my best, on those days or in those seasons where I feel 'tuned in' to God or self-controlled or motivated - I'M STILL A WEAK SELFISH PETTY MAN WHO THINKS SAYS AND DOES WEAK SELFISH PETTY THINGS!!!!
So what kind of purity is God expecting? How pure is pure, when we've all eaten of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
If we're talking moral and character issues here, and the best I could hope to acheive is 99.9% good and only 0.1% evil, is that enough to call myself pure? Would I drink a glass that's 99.9% rain water and 0.1% raw sewerage?
Or might pure refer to an allignment of the heart? One that 'righteous' actions grow out of? Something that starts in humility perhaps...?
Because I know that wheat AND tares are growing in my soul together, because I know that my best efforts only take me so far, the story Jesus told of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Lk 18:10-14) gives me hope.
I am the tax collector.
No matter how much I try to move toward the pharisee's "testimony", I often find myself hiding in the shadows, weeping over my condition. "I am so like other men...!"
All I can do is trust Jesus that at the last day, He will save me from my sin. Without that hope, I am lost...