Monday, May 4, 2015

The Pure Life

In our culture the controversies over how to live are especially loud right now. Many people wonder why Christians are so “judgmental.” We advocate for a pure, holy life. People may ask who decides what a “pure life” is and whether it even exists. Why should we care how others live? Doesn’t God just want people to be happy and love one another?

If you have any kind of a conscience, you will know you can’t have your own way all the time. To please and help others, you have to make sacrifices. Unfortunately, most people are innately selfish. The concept of “fallen nature,” which is associated with sin, is part of the Christian doctrine.

Throughout the Bible there are concepts of laws, order and the ideal existence. The Old Testament tells us of the Jewish clan who believed God Himself gave them rules to live by. They were not to murder, to commit adultery or even be jealous of others. They therefore had concepts of the good separate from the bad in terms of behavior.

To justify bad behavior, a person can deny there is anything such as bad behavior. One common argument is that all things are relative--what’s good for you might be bad for me. Well, certainly if you take things from me, someone might consider that argument proven. But in terms of a standard of behavior, most of us have one even if we deny it. It’s pretty general that no one wants things stolen from them, so therefore stealing is bad. In general, no one wants to endure the betrayal of adultery by the person they love or have their parent abandon them.

Over the years we have come to have laws that follow lines of what our citizens believe are right and wrong. However, there are great pressures against these laws in terms of Christian standards of pure living. Part of Christian evangelism is to convince people that purity is what God wants.

A pure life harmonizes with emotional joy and stability. That doesn’t mean it is easy, but the outcome is wonderful. The fallen nature is a source of aberrant desires which can be acted out (greed, selfishness, aggression, etc.), pulling us away from joy and deep happiness. The superficial satisfaction of pursuing wrong desires leads to bad places, but that is very hard to believe for those who are not experienced in the end points. It is much easier to accept the Hollywood versions of persons who can’t help how they behave and are being discriminated against.

But many Christians have experienced results of bad choices and then real change in our lives. We talk about being freed from the chains of addictions. For some it happens immediately, but for others a slow improvement over time. I know there are complications because some people say they pray for help but still can’t seem to change. I don’t have all the answers, but Jesus Christ tells of the woman who keeps asking a judge for a favorable decision until he finally gives it to her (Luke 18, NIV). Though Christ had been talking about justice at the time, He is saying that persistence pays off.

Our feelings and desires can change when we encounter the Lord’s interventions because the “tearing down” of the bad is replaced with the “building up” of the good. The degradation of impurity is a reason many look for relief in drugs, alcohol or other addictions. But those things never reach the deepest places which crave fulfillment. Only walking in God’s ways, which encompasses belief in Him and living the pure life, can fill that hole. Then we realize the pure life is really the best one after all.

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