Pause to think about the importance of these incredible verses: “My dear friends, we are now God's children, but it is not yet clear what we shall become. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is. Everyone who has this hope in Christ keeps himself pure, just as Christ is pure.” 1 John 3:2-3 (GNT).
The first question I ask myself is: “What is my hope?” Do I believe how great it is what John is writing here, that I will actually see Jesus as He is, and be like Him? If so, the second question immediately comes up: “So what am I doing about it?” Does this move me to keep myself pure, just as He is pure?
Dirty water makes a pure well unclean
Maybe this can almost look impossible. The world is full of impurity – in daily talk, in the media. The spirit of the times is all about living according to our lusts. Rude language has become normal and bad behaviour is shown without shame. Social media and other media are full of quotes, pictures and stories showing people who are discontented and negative, who mock, curse, criticise and are vain, and it especially shows their impure lusts.
It is a fact that I have lusts and desires in my nature that are awakened by outside influences. These lusts and desires come up as thoughts and feelings of irritation, disrespect, criticism, impurity, self-love, discouragement etc. But what about keeping myself pure? If I compare my heart and mind to a well of water, I can see how important this is. A small amount of dirty water will pollute a pure well. But an unclean well is not cleaned by just adding clean water. To become pure, all the dirt must be taken out - and to stay pure, all pollution or dirt must be totally kept out.
It is the same with my spiritual life. My sinful lusts and desires are awakened in a situation and try to come into my mind and heart, like drops of dirty water into the well. If I allow these thoughts to live, I become “polluted” by these sinful thoughts, and its influence starts to grow and spread in my life. Allowing impure thoughts in and giving in to curiosity and the lust of the eyes allows sin to enter, and I will become a slave of my lusts and sinful desires. A “small” thought of jealousy that is allowed to live grows like cancer and bit by bit I become a bitter and criticising person.
If I have already given in to my lusts, I must repent and ask for forgiveness. In His goodness and mercy, God is willing to forgive my sin and completely cleanse me. The dirt is taken out, and I become a “pure well” again. But now, of course, I must keep it that way.
Keep myself pure: Why open myself to pollution?
I can’t always avoid seeing or hearing things that cause me to be tempted from my sinful nature, but there is only one way out when I am tempted: Pray, fight and suffer to stay pure and overcome the evil. And God gives me the Holy Spirit to help me, and to give me the strength I need to overcome.
But there are temptations that I can avoid. Then there is another way to keep myself pure: Run for my life! This has to do with my attitude of mind, and my hope. In which direction do I want my life to go? I can’t avoid all bad influences, but I don’t need to look for them or endure them.
If I open myself to these influences, my eyes are tempted to look at, my tongue is tempted to speak and my mind is tempted to think things that I otherwise never would have thought of doing. If I want to see God, why would I let my eyes look at everything, reading and watching all kinds of things that are full of disrespect for God and people, impurity and filth? Why follow social media channels that play around with these sinful lusts and desires, even if it is “only once in while”? If I am not wholehearted, I quickly find excuses. “It’s not that bad.” “I can handle it; I know where I stand.” “This is mostly funny, so I’ll just bear with the dirty things.”
Maybe I think I can handle it because I’m used to it. It doesn’t really affect me anymore. But maybe there should be some red lights flashing a warning: Am I okay with things that God hates? Are they normal for me because they are normal for the world? Am I opening myself for impure spirits by getting “used to them?”
My hope and calling
It is not fitting for someone who is making himself ready to meet Jesus and God to accept sin and the things of the world as normal because I have opened myself to things that I could have avoided. How can I even expect to keep myself pure with a mind like that? By becoming dull in my senses, I am in danger of becoming an unclean well, showing the work of Satan: impurity, complaining, hate, disrespect for God, pride, arrogance, self-seeking, self-love, unbelief, discouragement. The list goes on. But that is not my hope and my calling!
It is fitting for a disciple to be filled with the same anger and zeal that was in Jesus when He met sin! (Isaiah 63:1-6; Hebrews 5:7.) Fight sin in my sinful nature and run away from corruption! If I believe in Jesus, follow Him and obey His commandments, rivers of living water will flow from my heart. (John 7:38.) I drink deeply of the pure water of God’s Word, keeping my thoughts on the things above. (Colossians 3:1-4.)
By using the Word, I start seeing the difference between good and evil, and I am ready to fight. (Hebrews 5:13-14.) I myself become a well of pure, living water, showing all that is of God: purity, faithfulness, thankfulness, love, holiness, humility, selflessness, meekness, faith, encouragement. The list goes on. That is my hope and calling!
“So, do not let sin control your life here on earth so that you do what your sinful self wants to do. Do not offer the parts of your body to serve sin, as things to be used in doing evil. Instead, offer yourselves to God as people who have died and now live. Offer the parts of your body to God to be used in doing good. Sin will not be your master, because you are not under law but under God's grace.” Romans 6:12-14 (NCV).
“Run away from anything that fires up the desires of youth. Run after what is right and trustworthy, run after love and peace along with those who are true and pure Christians.” 2 Timothy 2:22 (FBV).