In the Christian single world, many people equate purity with sex—or lack thereof! But just as our sexuality is more than intercourse, purity is far more than sex. Purity stems from the heart. It is a way of being, seeing, speaking, and living. It is a gift of grace from God.
Jesus of Nazareth, a single, celibate man, promoted purity in his earthly ministry. He reminded his disciples that it was not unclean foods, but that which came from within, such as speech and actions, which made a person impure. When a woman caught in adultery was brought to him, he cleverly shamed her accusers and publically forgave her. And in his Sermon on the Mount he joyfully proclaimed, “blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God!” (Matt. 5:8 NIV).
A multi-cultural, multilingual tentmaker and traveler, Paul was a single man who strengthened his own purity by writing to friends and co-workers across the miles. To the Corinthians, he wrote, “By our purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness we have shown ourselves to be God’s servants—by the Holy Spirit, by our true love, by our message of truth and by the power of God” (2 Cor. 6:6–7).
A true teacher, Paul had high hopes for those he loved. He urged those in Corinth to adopt a godly lifestyle even in the midst of their notoriously corrupt city: “All these promises are made to us, my dear friends. So then, let us purify ourselves from everything that makes body or soul unclean, and let us be completely holy by living in awe of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). To those in Rome, he shared these words via his co-laborer Phoebe: “Do not let what you regard as good get a bad name. . . We must always aim at those things that bring peace and that help strengthen one another.” (Romans 14:16, 19). And he reminded Titus and the believers in Crete that purity could be a grace-filled gift that encompassed everyone: “For God has revealed his grace for the salvation of all humanity. That grace instructs us to give up ungodly living and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this world” (Titus 2:11–12).
We can still echo Paul’s heartfelt words today: “By God’s grace I am what I am, and the grace that he gave me was not without effect” (1 Cor. 15:10).
Unless otherwise noted, Bible quotations from the Good News Bible.