1 Thessalonians 4:7–8 (CSB) — 7 For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness. 8 Consequently, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Our culture has put such a premium on impurity that we do not recognize the value of “purity”. However, purity is one of the greatest gifts God has given to the people of redemption. One of the most fundamental claims of the gospel is that we who were once oppressed by sin are now set free in righteousness.
Doctrines that subvert “purity” are by no means Christian. I don’t care how much effort one puts into rearranging things to try and make them fit. We should be sure to understand that purity is not obtained through the law, but through the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6). Yet, we mustn’t let the errors of legalism cause us to forget that apart from real holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14).
I don’t understand how this has been called into question by serious Christian thinkers. And I don’t understand why – in light of all the darkness we see in the world – any serious Christian thinkers would want to call this into question. But yet I have encountered a steady stream of writings from serious Christian thinkers and several different platforms simultaneously this week, all calling “purity” into question to one degree or another. Some of these thinkers appear to be reacting to some form of legalism, but others appear genuinely deceived by some kind of counterfeit grace.
Grace-based moral purity is one of the greatest gifts given to us in Christ! We mustn’t flee the errors of legalism and run into the errors of lawlessness.Tweet
Taking into consideration how much effort I see being put into subverting God’s call to moral purity, I think it is worth our time to take a moment and examine how we are made pure in Christ according to the plain and unadulterated good news of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:7 (CSB) — In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…
Galatians 3:27 (CSB) — For those of you who were baptized into Christ have been clothed with Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:30 (CSB) — It is from him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became wisdom from God for us—our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption
1 John 1:7 (CSB) — If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:9 (CSB) — If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 2:1–2 (CSB) — 1 My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ the righteous one. 2 He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world.
True purity according to the gospel is not complicated. In fact, I would consider this one of the simplest and most accessible doctrines in all of Scripture.
We were all once sinners, held under the oppression of sin by the power of the law. Our sin was the proper object of God’s righteous wrath. However, God, being rich in mercy and love, took on flesh and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be the sacrifice that would pay for our sins. By his blood we were cleansed when we believed his message. By his grace we were clothed with his righteousness when we were baptized into his death, burial, and resurrection. By his mercy we are forgiven when we confess our sins and turn back to him. And by his power we are renewed day by day as we walk in the light and enjoy fellowship with one another.
I could not think of any way for God to have made this point any clearer. He sacrificed his Son on the cross to show us the severity of our sins. He developed this doctrine at great length in his word. He placed his Holy Spirit in us to convict us of sin, righteousness, and judgment, so that we might follow him in truth. And he has made the consequences of sin evident to anyone who has discerning eyes.
Therefore, be very careful that no one deceive you with empty arguments!
Ephesians 5:5–6 (CSB) — 5 For know and recognize this: Every sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, does not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty arguments, for God’s wrath is coming on the disobedient because of these things.