Keep Thyself Pure
When we were small our parents were very careful to keep us clean, knowing that this would be beneficial to our health. Remember how Mother, almost ceaselessly, tried to make us and keep us clean? This she did not only because of the effect upon us, but because the appearance of the child reflects the character of the parents; hence her repeated admonition, “Keep yourself clean.”
Our Heavenly Father, not wanting His children to disgrace His Name nor to spoil their lives by sin, commands, in the words of Paul to Timothy, “Keep thyself pure” (1 Tim. 5:22 ). He wants us to steer clear of the defiling pleasures and practices of this present-day Sodom. He would also have us, pilgrims and strangers, purge our lives from any uncleanness contracted on the way home to heaven. Let us consider:
First of all, the Lord wants us to keep our minds clean from evil thoughts. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Listed in 1 Timothy 6:4-10, are sins of the corrupt mind: pride, envy, evil surroundings, and covetousness, which should have no place in the Christian’s life.
Secondly, we are to keep our lips from uncleanness. “Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile” (Psa. 34:13). Railing and perverse disputings of men are to be avoided by the Christian (1 Tim. 6:4-5). Slang expressions should have no part in our vocabulary, for most of these are but a modification of the blasphemer’s oaths. “Evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).
In the third place, we should be careful to keep our ways clean, not walking in the counsel of the ungodly nor standing in the way of sinners (Psa. 1:1). “Touch not the unclean thing” (2 Cor. 6:17).
There are at least four reasons given in Paul’s first epistle to Timothy why we should keep ourselves clean from sin.
First, our lives are being watched. They are watched by God our Father, Whom sin grieves and dishonours (5:21; 6:13). They are watched by the Lord Jesus, Who suffered for our sins on Calvary (5:21; 6:13) ; watched by angels (5:21) ; by the people of God (4:12) ; by the devil, who is the accuser of the brethren (5:14); and watched by the unsaved (6:1).
Second, our testimonies may be spoiled by sin. Sin always pays cruel wages. King David’s record is one of gloom, groaning, and grief, because, on one occasion, he neglected to keep himself clean from sin (Psa. 32:1-4). In 1 Timothy 6:9-10, we read of the snares of Satan, the hurtful lusts, the shipwrecked testimony, and the piercing of many sorrows.
“I am the most miserable person on earth!” Such were the words spoken to me by a man who was away from God, and whose life was being spoiled by sin.
Third, suffering may be the result of sin. Those whom God loves He chastens for their wrong-doing. Failure to keep ourselves clean may bring us under church discipline; such as, public rebuke or excommunication (1 Tim 5:20 ; 1 Cor. 5:4-13).
Fourth, eternal loss may result from sin. After the coming of the Lord, we shall all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10). “Then every one of us shall give account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12).
Four ways to keep ourselves clean suggest themselves in Paul’s instructions to Timothy.
First, we must be careful of our companionships. Timothy is urged to lay hands suddenly on no man (5:22), and to withdraw from men of corrupt minds (6:5). This would imply that we are to be cautious of the company we keep. For example, as long as the people of Israel remained separated from the wicked nations about them, they were holiness unto the Lord (Jer. 2:3). On the other hand, when Samson chose an ungodly companion among the Philistines, he lost his strength to serve God.
Secondly, we must be careful about our reading. We are exhorted to give attendance to reading (4:13), and to be nourished up in the words of faith and good doctrine (4:6). The Bible is described as wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as doctrine which is according to godliness (6:3). “Where-withall shall a young man cleanse his ways? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word” (Psa. 119:9), Christ, our Lord and Saviour, sanctifies and cleanses us with the washing of water by the Word (Eph. 5:26). The daily study of the Scripture and the reading of good books will draw the soul after Christ. Let us not waste our time on profane fables (4:7) which will only corrupt the mind.
Thirdly, we must be busy for God. One has well said that silver tarnishes when in disuse, but a rolling stone gathers no moss. When King David chose to remain at Jerusalem, rather than go forth to battle, he was tempted to commit a great sin. We are urged to exercise ourselves unto godliness and to neglect not the gift which God has given us (4:7 and 14). In service for the Best of Masters, there is much work for us to do, such as, visiting the sick, comforting the afflicted, and spreading the gospel among sinners. Such activities will keep us busy for God and preserve us from defilement.
Finally, we must be watching for the Lord’s coming. “Keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:14). If we are daily expecting our Lord to come, we will purify ourselves (1 John 3:3). When Joseph learned in the prison that he was to be called to appear in the presence of Pharaoh, he immediately shaved himself and changed his raiment, and so was ready to stand before the royal throne. The King of Kings will shortly summon us into His presence. Therefore, in order that we be not ashamed before Him at His coming, let us keep ourselves clean.
We would do well to pray, in the words of David, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 139:23-24).