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Purity: is it attainable?

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I had met the most interesting person in the world. He possessed that aura every one that meets him would notice. He held a great job, owned a house, looked fit and healthy. While I considered those accomplishments exemplary, I did not confer upon him celebrity status – not that I considered myself an expert in judging people. There was something else about his spirit that caught my attention. Tranquility defined his persona. Even the way he carried himself suggested neither swagger nor hastiness. This man was at total peace with himself, I thought.

He told me that he was giving up his job and would be going away. He wanted to get alone with God. He explained that it had been difficult for him to deal with life's temptations. He said his spirit seemed dry. All he wanted to ever do was to be alone with God, commune with Him and separate himself from people, life concerns, and the tug of an impure world. Gratifying the flesh with everything that glitters did not seem like gold anymore. Soon he was to begin divesting himself of all possessions. He hoped that purity of mind, soul, and body would be his highest goal.

He wanted to be a monk living in a monastery!

Although that enthralled me, I had my doubts. Like a prophet, I announced he wouldn't make it in a place that probably had more animals that human beings. He would, for sure, get lonely and then, after running the gauntlet of emotional and social purgatory, dash back into the arms of a worldly civilization. I surely hoped I was wrong, though.

He took off one day and never looked back. I lost track of him, to my loss and regret.

I humbly ask: Is this how we should seek purity in our lives? Does isolation from the world and its clutches guarantee freedom from sexual immorality, lust for power, prestige, material possessions, popularity and other things considered excessive?

The Bible clearly teaches that there are things and thoughts that we must put away from our hearts, minds, and immediate environment. We use biblical principles, for example, to keep our children away from bad television, from impure talk, even coarse jokes. Ultra-conservative churches even require women to refrain from wearing certain clothes because it caused men to experience lust in their eyes.

The Bible tells that the Holy Spirit puts on us godly character. The attributes list is quite comprehensive, but short. Every Christian knows this fruit list: Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Indeed, a safe and secure environment is guaranteed for all, that is, if we consistently put them on.

When Christ-likeness is pursued by us, we become pure and holy. A holy mind grounded in Scripture can navigate the narrow path. Thorns and thistles may wound our flesh, but the Spirit will mend our broken spirit. Attaining purity is never easy, but by God's grace, we can do it!

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