Purity is More than "Don't Do That"

Purity is More than "Don't Do That"

Author: Greg Gifford
December 20, 2015

When meeting with another counselee recently, there was that “Aha!” moment—you could see it in his body language. He literally looked away and thought for a moment, then sat up straight in the chair. Something had struck him, but what was it? In this case, what was so striking for this brother is that pornography wasn’t the main issue.

You see up to this point he had a very legalistic mindset about purity. It was one that thought, “Don’t look at bad things, and God is pleased with me.” But what is interesting is that when we read Mathew 5:27-28, Jesus focuses on the heart and the external behavior. However, Jesus says that I can avoid the act of immorality but still not be pure (i.e., “in his heart” Matt. 5:28). Therefore, to only focus on the external act of impurity is to miss the much larger issue.

The “Aha!” moment came when this counselee realized no longer is it about, “Don’t look at that stuff” only. Rather, that God was just as much concerned about the heart attitude behind looking at those impure images as He is about seeing those impure images themselves. In fact, Mark 7:23 says that, “All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” So if lasting and authentic change is to take place within a person, it must get to the heart level—including our desire to be pure.

It would be presumptuous to say, “Look at whatever impure image you want” and it would be equally presumptuous to say, “If you haven’t looked at impure images, then you are pure.” So when we see that purity is more than avoiding certain things it is liberating. It is liberating because when we have that heart change towards God-honoring purity we don’t want to do those impure things anymore. The goal is that we stop those impure actions, of course, but also that we are “pure in heart” (Matt. 5:8), which will suffocate those impure actions at their inception. And “blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” When we grow in purity, we grow in relationship with God! 


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