“The greatest security against sin is to be shocked at its presence” (Thomas Carlyle)
For many years, I lived an oxymoron called “the worldly Christian” life. I was raised by parents who took me to church Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night, and kept me well insulated against impurity. I married at the age of eighteen, a very innocent young woman still because they had guarded me well.
But around the age of twenty, my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family, and I quit my job outside the home and began a home day care center so that when our baby arrived, I would be able to stay home with her.
Keeping a houseful of children kept me pretty busy until naptime came. I had a couple of hours to kill, and I soon discovered soap operas. Before long I was watching three of them. Even more than thirty years ago, soap operas were pretty rank, but I loved them. I looked forward to them every day, and dwelt on the lives of those fictitious people.
I also began to take women’s magazines; my husband and I went to the movies and rented them to watch at home, not worrying about the ratings. I have always been an avid reader, and I was not careful what I bought or checked out of the library. After all, I was an adult, and I could handle it, right?
My thought life was filled with these impure things. I repeated what I had seen on TV and read in books. I told and laughed at crude jokes. I enjoyed hearing things that the Bible means when it says in Ephesians 5:12 “It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.”
But still, I thought I was alright. I was still going to church every Sunday and Wednesday night. I taught in children’s Bible classes and Mother’s Day Out programs. I was very active, to the point that my children were sometimes left on their own while I did all these things with church.
So when, in my late twenties and on into my thirties, my life took a turn for the worse, I was surprised and dismayed. I had done everything right. Hadn’t I?
But if this was my fruit, then obviously I had not. I had to get things turned around. I told God I was going to start reading my Bible, and I would do whatever He wanted me to do, if He would just show me the way.
I know that God must just love it when we do that. The Bible opened up for me in ways I had never seen before. As I devoured God’s word, carrying my Bible along with me wherever I went, I was amazed at what I found there. Many times I would read something that suddenly seemed so clear, and think “Was this always in here?”
A peace began to settle over me as I worked to make things right.
I found in the Bible the overriding theme of holiness. To be a Christian, you must strive for purity. A holy God cannot live in garbage. If I wanted Christ to dwell in me, I needed to do my upmost to have a clean temple. Ephesians 5:3-9 says “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you…you can be sure that no immoral, impure or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ…Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Don’t participate in the things these people do. For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of the light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.”
Hebrews 12:14 says to “Make every effort to live at peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
That’s pretty serious. So what does holiness mean? According to the Strong’s concordance, it means the “state of purity.”
So holiness must be the opposite of impurity, right? I desperately wanted it, and I began to seek purity.
In this world, that is not an easy thing. But it can be done, as least as far as it lies within our own control. I began to throw out things in my house that were not pure, and that included my complete collection of Stephen King books, along with most of the other books in my house. I threw out the woman’s magazines. I quit watching TV, because even if the program I was watching wasn’t bad, the commercials were. I slowly let movies go. I quit listening to some of the music I liked. I quit going certain places where I knew I would see or hear impure things.
The Bible gives us a warning about “cleaning our house” in Luke 11:24-26 “When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first.”
The transition period when I tried to find other things to take the place of the impure things; in other words, different books to read, different music to listen too, different things to occupy my time, was hard. Many times, it was tempting to give up. But I had a vision of a clean, pure holy mind, and I kept trying. Eventually I did find new things to read, new music to listen too, new things to do. It was very exciting as my life changed.
Then one day, about two years later, I went to someone’s house, and they had the TV on. I wasn’t paying attention really, but suddenly I heard a crude word. My head jerked up and my face burned. And suddenly, I was filled with happiness. I had what I called my “shockability” back. Before, I wouldn’t have noticed that crude word; because it was one I heard or read all the time. But now, it was no longer something that was much in my life, and hearing it made me feel bad. I knew a great battle had been won. I was now shocked in the presence of sin.
A Christian life, holy and pure is a beautiful thing.
Ephesians 4:23-24 “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.