Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God. — 2 Corinthians 7:1
To me, this verse says very simply “you are clean…now get clean.” How in the world do we do that?
The first part says “since we have these promises…” What promises? Well, the verse right before chapter 7 says “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters.” That’s pretty cool! We are His children! I would say that other promises are eternal life, forgiveness for sins, a clean heart and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit Basically, He has handed us perfection, He has given us forgiveness, and He has given us extravagant, undeserved mercy. We did absolutely nothing on our own to purchase, buy, or earn His forgiveness, it was freely given to us simply because we chose to believe in Jesus and receive His forgiveness. How cool is that?
Now, since we have these promises, what should we do? Well, finish the verse: “let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.” To me, the first part of the verse involves what only God can do, the second part is a little more tricky. Basically, because God did what He did, we are now capable of purifying ourselves. If you truly understand what Christ did for you when you asked Him for mercy, you will not only be able to do this…you will want to do this!
Understand that I have no idea what this looks like for you. Every person’s story is different. However, I know what it looks like for me. In no way am I saying I am done with the purification process. I just want to let you in on my process of purification up to this point in my life in the hope that it will somehow help you with yours.
The first 5 years I was saved there was absolutely no spiritual growth. In fact, I did the opposite of this verse. I did things to contaminate my body as well as things that contaminate my spirit. You would think that after being saved that I just wouldn’t have gone there. I did know better. In fact, I didn’t have to be purified from a whole lot of bad things because I had never done them. Well, I would spend the first 5 years of being saved making sure I had things from which I needed to be purified.
Now that I look back, I think it all stemmed from one simple, but MAJOR misconception. I thought that I was only saved from Hell. I didn’t realize that God wanted to save me from sexual immorality. It never occurred to me that He didn’t want me to bring a whole bunch of filth into my marriage…NEVER once did I even consider that. I didn’t realize that the video games and music that I fed my mind with actually built this barrier between me and God. I honestly didn’t think singing about being on a “Highway to Hell” was a conflict of interest to my spirit. The more religious people told me I couldn’t listen to it…the more I wanted to, and the more I did. To this day, I have never seen a religious person’s list of manmade rules change one heart…not one.
None of this turned around for me until I actually started to read my Bible. Approximately 5 years after being saved, I decided to pick it up and actually read it. I took me 15 months to read the whole thing. Honestly, I understood probably 1 percent of it. But, I could not deny that something had happened inside me. I had this new connection with God. I began to fight sexual immorality, stuff I used to listen to started to grieve my spirit, certain words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth…things just changed. I can honestly say I didn’t willfully on my own change a thing…Jesus changed me.
So, what is the best way to purify ourselves? Well, you have to identify the contaminants first. It’s two simple questions. Does this contaminate my body? And, does this contaminate my spirit? My latest body contaminant was food. I went on a nice eating spree that packed on about 15 pounds in a few short months. I have since lost it. But, it did reveal how I was on a serious road to contaminating my body. My latest spiritual contaminant was movies. Understand that I am not saying “I’m holier than you so you need to do as I do.” I am simply saying this: My wife and I used to be movie buffs. We watched anything and everything that looked entertaining. Well, I was reading my Bible, continuing to grow in His Word, and we went to see what ended up being a very vulgar movie. For the first time, every time I heard the Lord’s name taken in vain, and every time they boasted of their sexual immorality, I felt contaminated. On the way home, Tonya and I talked about how we can’t let that stuff filter through us any more. Nobody made us, it was just a change of heart.
Please understand this: I am not saying “don’t watch bad movies” and “don’t listen to AC/DC.” If I did say that, I would be just like the religious people I couldn’t stand who gave me my long lists of “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not.” I know their intentions were probably good, it just didn’t help. Instead of giving me the lists, I wish they had told me this: “Adam, spend as much time with the Lord as possible.” I wish they had told me something simple like “read 1 chapter of the Bible a day. If you skip a day or two, or even a week or a month, don‘t worry about it…God’s NOT mad at you, just start back.” Maybe they could have said “take 3 to 5 minutes of every day and make sure there is total silence…simply focus on God and talk to Him.” These are totally reasonable and totally doable requests. I realize now that these things were like pure, clean water running through my spirit. The more this clean water continues to run through my spirit, the easier it is for me to recognize what is unclean. Now, I don’t have to have some religious person telling me to “stop this” and “stop that.” When God reveals my sin, I absolutely want to stop. Sometimes it takes longer than even I think it should, but with His help…sin always gets defeated, victory is won, and there winds up being more room for His Presence in my heart and life. What a wonderful trade!
I say all that to say this: In order to purify yourself, don’t focus on behavior modification…just focus on Him.
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.