1 Timothy 5:22 …keep thyself pure.

Those words were spoken by the apostle Paul to Timothy, his son in the faith of Jesus Christ. The word pure means to be innocent, clean, holy, sincere, free of defilement or impurity. Jesus tells us that the source of defilement or impurity stems from the iniquity that dwells in our heart. “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” (Matthew 15:18,19). The context here in the gospel is a conversation between Jesus and the legalistic, letter-of-the-law religionists of the day, who thought that because they observed the ritual of washing their hands before dinner, they were pure. What Jesus was telling them (and us this morning) is that observing outward rules and regulations cannot produce purity. What they needed was a new heart.

Once we come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, which is called the new birth, we are given a new heart. The heart in Scripture is not the biological organ that pumps blood through our system. It is the regenerating work of God’s Spirit in the deepest part of our being. It gives birth to a brand new way of living and thinking. Having been given a new heart by faith in Jesus Christ, we (like Timothy) are now responsible to keep ourselves pure. Being pure does indeed require mental discipline, for the world we live in is anything but pure. That is why we need to heed Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian church: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

But what I want you to think about this morning, beloved, is this. When you think of purity, the natural inclination is to think of what is or isn’t pure, and that is indeed an important part of what keeping ourselves pure requires. But my question is, who is our example of walking in purity? Jesus Christ. But what group of people annoyed and grieved His pure heart? The self-righteous, rule-keeping, judgmental, outwardly religious Pharisees.

When Jesus taught the multitudes how not to pray (Luke 18:9-14), or how not to give, or how not to fast, He used the self-righteous, holier-than-thou, critical-of-all-others Pharisees as examples. Thus, one sure way to keep yourself pure is to listen to what Jesus said about the Pharisees and purpose to model your Christian walk after the example of Jesus Christ. Walk in close fellowship with The Father. Do what He tells you to do and say what He tells you to say. Be moved with compassion for the multitudes. Live out the great commandment practically (Matthew 22:36-39). It doesn’t get any purer than that! Expect this living pure like Jesus to be questioned and disturb the denomination of the Pharisees, which is as alive and well today as it was then. Selah