(Warning: this post isn’t “nice.” [And, moreover, I was tired and thoughtful and in an odd mood when I first wrote it.] If you are faint of heart and/or do not like the Truth, do not read it. Thank you. Consider yourself warned. :D)
I started young, unfortunately.
I had my first so-called “crush” (I hate that word) at age ten. Yes… ten. Eventually that faded… and was replaced by another. And… another. And yet another. That’s only if I count the ones that lasted at least a year.
And this without any encouragement from friends talking about guys incessantly or parents making dumb jokes or the guys out and out making it plain they returned “the crush”.
There isn’t any need to go into all the details of those: the point is that this is an area in which I have had many a desperate struggle. There are many reasons for my troubles, I suppose… the primary one being this:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
I have read a great many books about purity…. Before you Meet Prince Charming… Authentic Beauty… And the Bride Wore White… Passion and Purity… Emotional Purity… Of Knights and Fair Maidens… When God Writes Your Love Story… I Kissed Dating Goodbye…
I never dated anyone. Never even got into a situation where hand holding would be an issue, much less anything more serious. I’m not super flirty. I dress modestly. I have good parents. I have good friends.
Yes sir, I can check off all the right boxes. I’d score pretty high on your average “purity level” test.
And with all that, my heart has not been kept pure. Still, even now, I have to fight wrong thoughts of all kinds: not just “crush” type thoughts; but selfish thoughts, prideful thoughts, evil thoughts, lustful thoughts, despairing thoughts, and the list goes on and on.
I’d like to blame someone or something else. But when it all comes down to it, what I allow to take root in my heart is my own fault.
But no problem, right? I mean seriously… look at the mess everyone else is in! Look at all the people I know who have babies before they have wedding rings!! And then look at all my check marks! Who could ask for more than what I’ve done (and not done)??
God, that’s who.
3Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Pure in heart, folks. That is the standard.
Do you know what? I just realized something very obvious and super brilliant.
Why is a “crush” such a big deal?! Seriously, doesn’t God have bigger things to worry about??
Good question! The reason, my dear readers, is because often times said “crush” is translated to “idolatry” under God’s HOLY eyes. If you know anything about God and have read anything in the Bible, you’ve probably discovered by now that God… well… HATES idols.
6Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.
7For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:
8And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
He is number one. He doesn’t want to be number one: He is. This is part of why He calls Himself “I AM”.
And, from His divine perspective, He sees how incredibly dumb it is for us to exalt anything at all (heh, here is where anyone who has miraculously managed to read through the “crush” part without feeling guilty will get caught. 😛 Sorry, I didn’t make up the rules.) above Him.
Are there any among the idols of the nations
that can cause rain?
Or can the heavens give showers?
Are You not He, O LORD our God?
Therefore we will wait for You,
Since You have made all these.
He is…. so unfathomably bigger and awesomer and holier and more powerful and more beautiful and… yeah.
Sorry, me and everything and everyone else, we are now extremely teeny, gray, sinful, ugly, and pathetic. (See, I told you this post wasn’t nice.)
Hence, readers, hence “The Key” is not to simply read books about purity. It is not to just dress modestly. It is not to have the right checks on the purity test.
Oh, no. It’s much, much harder than that. And much, much more awesome.
Are you ready?
No, really. Are you?
I don’t think you are. I’m not. Too bad, I have to write it anyways.
You don’t have to read it though. I’m giving you a chance. Be grateful.
Okay. This is IT. I have figured it out. *deep breath*
You seek God. With your WHOLE heart. You love God. With your WHOLE heart.
Well obviously, right? That’s like… the answer to everything.
See… when our heart learns to be enamored with the beauty of the Lord… when our spirit grows into closer communion with His… when His thoughts gradually become our thoughts… when our mind is filled with His Truth… when our ways are shaped into His ways…
We will be too busy loving and serving the One True God to have any idols. Or crushes.
So, my fellow sojourners on this wild journey called life: don’t focus on purity. Strive for it, yes. But not purity alone. That is rather a small goal, in a way. Hear me out! Don’t leave!!!
Yes, purity is a high (and, humanly speaking, impossible… :P) goal. Yet, there is a higher goal. And in reaching for that higher goal, then and only then can we hope to be truly pure.
And that goal is to know God more. Always more, never enough.
Point One: we can never be pure without the shed blood of Jesus Christ. It all starts with this. You can’t know God without it, and you can’t be pure without it, and you can’t see God if you aren’t pure (Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. Matthew 5:8), and yeah. You had better start here.
And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. Hebrews 9:22
For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:26
(And yes, remission means forgiveness… which basically means to “wipe out” all past offenses. We no longer owe our blood to pay the fine for our sins: Jesus’ blood has paid that fine for us. Hence our account is clear. It is reconciled.)
Point Two: we can never be pure if we continue to allow impure thoughts and things (Of any kind!! I am not simply talking about sexual/romantic things: I mean everything that is displeasing to the Lord.) in our hearts and lives. We must repent of them and do our best to remove them from us utterly.
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2 Timothy 20:22
Point Three: Seek God!! Saturate yourself with songs, books, movies, people, thoughts, blogs, etc. etc. that will help you to fall more in love with Christ: things that will jerk your focus off of you, off of others (or rather “The One”) and onto Christ.
Read books like: Crazy Love, Dug Down Deep, Humility: True Greatness, Mere Christianity, Forgotten God, Rees Howells: Intercessor, Don’t Waste Your Life, Living the Cross Centered Life, E.M. Bounds on Prayer, Wrestling Prayer and so on and so forth.
Pray, hard and often. Ask God to help you to want Him more. Ask God to help you pray. Ask God to show you more of Himself. He will. He loves those prayers.
So turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
Be warned, however. You will find that as you draw closer to God, He will require more and more from you. He will raise the standard. Things that are okay for others will not be okay for you. Things that were not wrong for you a few months ago may be wrong now.
Do not be disheartened or deterred from this path: with the higher requirements comes deeper communion with God. And it is glorious.
Each new level of purity that God brings you to comes with a new level of knowing God. It is a process. A long, hard, lonely one. I have only just begun it– and already I feel the pain.
Being refined and purified is not pleasant. Have you ever watched a blacksmith work? have you seen the way the heat the iron? The way they pound it? And that’s just iron.
“To remove the dross from silver ore, the ore must be crushed, roasted and then fired at temperatures of 550 C [1022 F]”
Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. Proverbs 25:4
What is dross? “Junk” “A mass of solid impurities”
But He will be with us each step: holding our hands, strengthening our hearts. And He will show us the blessings of the narrow path. He will become more valuable to us than any earthly treasure. And we will come out refined: pure at long, long last.
You see… I’m coming to realize that purity is a process, not exactly a “state” that we are or aren’t.
In the strictest sense of the word purity, we are all impure. (Yes, yes, I know. In the sense of sexual purity, you can be physically pure. I’m talking about the broad, heart sense.)