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Developing a biblical defintion of purity in impure times.

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Who has ever heard of or gone on a PURITY retreat before?


Who here has ever gone on a purity retreat before?
Usually when Christians get together and talk about purity we get together and talk about how we should stop looking at bad websites and we should wait to have sex until we’re married and that’s all true but you all are college students and you’re now at the age where you should know that the biblical concept of purity goes beyond what we typically imagine.
In the student ministry I serve in we finished a series a few weeks ago where we talked about the story of an ancient king named David who got famous for killing the giant goliath with a sling and stone, but his Kingdom started to fall apart when he lusts after a woman and murders her husband (you can read about it in and on). This same King is believed to have written a really famous poem in the Bible from the book of Psalms and this poem anchored the teaching we did for the students—here’s what it says.
The NET Bible Psalm 51

Create for me a pure heart, O God!

Renew a resolute spirit within me!

This verse is David’s prayer to God to fix him because his sexual sin has left him and his family totally broken. Our challenge for the students was to also ask God for a pure heart so that our brokenness can be mended and we can speak truth into a culture that praises people when they blow the whistle on sexual misconduct (harvey weinstein, matt lauer,) but a culture that also promotes sexual freedom and promiscuity. We challenged our kids to stand in the gap and to embody the standard that God would have us have for our bodies.
None of that is wrong. But what I want us to be thinking about tonight as a college-aged groups is about how the biblical idea of purity has profound implications for every aspect of our lives including but not limited to sex.
Biblical Overview
The first time the Bible actually mentions the idea of purity it has nothing to do with sex.
The NET Bible Chapter 25

25:10  “They are to make an ark of acacia wood—its length is to be three feet nine inches, its width two feet three inches, and its height two feet three inches. 25:11 You are to overlay it with pure gold

The first time the biblical authors describe something as pure they are describing gold and they use the Hebrew word tahor which basically means 100%.
So in other words, fancy chocolate that is 75% cacao or whatever is closer to being pure than a Hershey’s bar but it is still not pure because pure is 100% without flaw.
Now the idea of purity expands from here and begins to describe a person’s status before God. Gold can be pure but people can be pure too.
Here’s a helpful quote

Purity qualified one to participate in worship, an activity central to the life of ancient Israel. Breaking that purity was a serious matter

Does anyone here have a Muslim friend?
When/if they go to worship in a Mosque they will actually enter into a special room beforehand to wash themselves and to take off their shoes in order to become pure before worship.
They are actually doing something similar to what the Israelites did in the OT. They are qualifying themselves for worship.
What is worship? Worship is to enter into the presence of God and make God the center of attention
Why did people have to qualify themselves for worship?
The NET Bible Chapter 5

5:12 So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned—5:13

The Bible teaches from page one that human beings are flawed because our ancestors decided to call their own shots for what’s right and wrong and that led humans to isolating ourselves and taking advantage of other people selfishly—God sees that this is going to lead to violence and abuse and so he prevents people from living forever and he honors our human choice to live in our own space instead of sharing space with God.
The NET Bible Chapter 3

3:22 And the LORD God said, “Now that the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil, he must not be allowed to stretch out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 3:23 So the LORD God expelled him

Don’t get sad, the Bible is a story about how God didn’t leave humans without hope, he called us back through the people of Israel who could be in God’s presence through worship in a temple.
In the temple, the Israelites in the OT performed what were called purity rituals because they were normal people like you and me who came in contact with death, and decay, ,bodily fluids, on a regular basis—this didn’t make them evil—God still loved them but he required them wash themselves and offer special sacrifices in order to become pure—because in an impure state they were actually in danger in entering his presence.
Similar to the danger someone would face getting too close to the sun. It burns you up not because it is bad but because it is so good that anything of inferior quality disintegrates. That’s why people not only had purity rituals but they had a special class of citizen called priests who could be mediators between God and everyone else. If you want to read more about this read the book of Leviticus.
But the purity rituals only provided a temporary fix—you see the Israelites had to constantly perform these rituals on a regular basis in order to be in God’s presence and worship him.
Now the weird thing is that Christians claim to worship the same God that the Israelites did but before we sing songs together for worship
we don’t have to take a shower (although some of us should)
If a woman has just had a baby she doesn’t have wait a week or so before entering a church building
People with skin issues are welcome to worship as they are
Best part? We don’t have to kill animals before we go to church!
So what’s changed?
The NET Bible Chapter 9

9:11 But now Christ has come as the high priest of the good things to come. He passed through the greater and more perfect tent not made with hands, that is, not of this creation, 9:12 and he entered once for all into the most holy place not by the blood of goats and calves but by his own blood, and so he himself secured eternal redemption. 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

As a Christian I am convinced that a Jewish man named Jesus successfully creates a merger between heaven and earth when he died for sinners like you and me on the cross.
Through Jesus we don’t have to re-up our purity every time we worship God—if you are a Christian, you could never be more qualified to enter into God’s space than you already are!
That’s good news but so what? Are Christians are just supposed to sing worship songs and go to purity retreats until Jesus comes back and we live in heaven forever?
Not exactly
The biblical concept of purity is explained best for Christians in
The NET Bible Chapter 3

3:2 Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. 3:3 And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure).

To be a Christian one scholar writes, “Is to constantly prepare yourself by living a purified lifestyle here and now, just as Jesus lived during his earthly life and ministry and to walk as he walked. This serves as a rebuttal for the temptation of straight-up moral indifference, that what the Christian does in the present life is of no consequence.”
Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005).
So to be a Christian you have been made PURE by the sacrifice of Jesus CHECK. He is good enough even though we will never be. So follow him and let him call the shots! Then, you can be 100% qualified to have a right relationship with God --Jesus has transformed the type of human being you are into the type of person he is--to one who will see God face to face and not perish like one who could touch the sun and not burn. Congratulations, you are going to heaven when you die!
But here’s the challenge; there’s more to our faith than this; being made PURE in Christ means we can be in the presence of God worshiping God all the while being in partnership with God to bring his Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven—bringing God’s space and our space together however we can through the lives we live like Jesus as we wait for Jesus to come back and for earth space and God’s space to come together once and for all!
There’s a lot more to purity than sex there is an invitation to radically live out our faith so that our hearts and the hearts of the world around us can be transformed.
The NET Bible Chapter 5

5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

The NET Bible Chapter 2

10 Now a river flows from Eden to water the orchard, and from there it divides into four headstreams. 2:11 The name of the first is Pishon; it runs through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 2:12 (The gold of that land is pure;

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