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What does the Bible say about purity?

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Purity is freedom from anything that contaminates. Purity is the quality of being faultless, uncompromised, or unadulterated. Pure water is free from any other substances. Pure gold has been refined to such a degree that all dross has been removed. And a pure life is one in which sin no longer determines the choices one makes.

Purity is important to God, who alone is truly pure. Purity is often used in Scripture as a means to communicate holiness or perfection. When Moses was building the tabernacle, God specified that the lampstand and other items inside the Holy Place be made “of pure gold” (Exodus 25:31; cf. 37:2, 16). The oil used in the tabernacle was to be pure, as was the frankincense (Leviticus 24:2, 7). The Lord has “pure” eyes (Habakkuk 1:13) and speaks “pure” words (Psalm 12:6). The New Jerusalem is described as a “city of pure gold, as pure as glass” (Revelation 21:18).

When God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1 — 2), everything was pure. There was no death, decay, pollution, or sin. God creates pure things because He is pure. In Him, there is no confusion, contradiction, or compromise. Everything He does is good (Psalm 18:30; 145:17). He created human beings to reflect His image and to live in pure, unbroken communion with Him (Genesis 1:27). However, sin is the corruptor of purity (Psalm 14:3). Impurity is often listed as one factor that will keep us away from the presence of God (Colossians 3:5–6; Galatians 5:19–21; 1 Corinthians 6:9–10). Impurity renders a person or a nation unfit for entrance into God’s presence (Joshua 3:5; Revelation 21:27; Ephesians 5:5; James 4:8). In order to have fellowship with a holy God, we must reclaim the purity that He originally intended for us: “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Psalm 24:3–4).

In the Old Testament, people reclaimed purity by sacrificing animals in the way God specified. God had declared that He would purify them (Leviticus 22:32) if they kept all His commands (Leviticus 22:31), His Sabbaths (Leviticus 26:2), and His sacrifices (Exodus 8:27). Repentance and faith in a coming Savior, as shown in their obedience to the Law, were sufficient for God to pronounce people righteous. In the New Testament, purity is reclaimed by placing our faith in the perfect sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3–7). We cannot be pure enough on our own to see God (Romans 3:23). We must have Christ’s righteousness credited to our accounts (2 Corinthians 5:21). That’s what it means to be a Christian.

The term purity is often used today in relation to sexuality. Sexual purity is freedom from immorality or perversion. Girls sometimes wear purity rings to indicate their commitment to saving sex for marriage. Purity is closely related to holiness, and those who walk in holiness will keep themselves sexually pure: abstinent before marriage and monogamous within marriage.

When we have been born again through faith in Jesus (John 3:3), we desire to live in purity (1 Peter 1:15–16). That purity is not limited to our sexuality, although that is important (Ephesians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 6:18). God desires that we live purely in all our dealings with others (Ezekiel 45:10; Luke 6:31). Purity should define our thought life (2 Corinthians 10:5), our words (Ephesians 4:29), and our actions (1 Corinthians 10:31). Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). When our hearts are clouded with impurities, we cannot experience God’s presence or hear His voice. But when our claim to righteousness is based on what Jesus has done (Titus 3:5), we will strive to forsake sin (1 John 3:9) and live in purity of heart, enjoying fellowship with the God of purity.

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This page last updated: October 28, 2022