the purity priority

by JESSICA SHEPPARD

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.

Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)

Love Expressed

Are you mesmerized and captivated by fairy tales and rags to riches stories? Were you one of the millions like me who tuned in to the worldwide broadcast of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Wedding ceremony? Whether we verbalize it or not, I believe deep inside all of us is a desire to be royalty.

The story of Esther becoming queen of Persia must have been a cultural phenomenon like the Royal Wedding. The Bible tells us “the king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen” (Esther 2:17, NKJV).

But before the king ever laid eyes on her, Esther had to go through a twelve-month preparation and purification process: “Thus were the days of their preparation apportioned: six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with perfumes and preparations for beautifying women” (Esther 2:12, NKJV). This process helped to rid Esther of all impurities and imperfections. And because she spent so much time soaking in the oils, the aromatic fragrances began to literally seep out of Esther’s skin.

In the same way, as we walk in purity, “our lives are a fragrance presented by Christ to God” (2 Corinthians 2:15, NLT). Paul goes on to say this fragrance is a “life-giving perfume.” As we soak in God’s presence, His character and beauty “seep” out of our lives. This is the essence of worship.

Ephesians 1:4 (NLT) says, “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” We were selected, separated and called out by name. Being chosen is a privilege and honor, and we have a responsibility to act in a way that’s consistent with the fulfillment of that royal calling and lifestyle of worship.

In order to be a prince or princess, we must learn to act like, talk like, walk like, look like … and even smell like … the King. God is holy, so we should be holy (1 Peter 1:16). Holiness is simply living with a constant awareness that we are to reflect the character of Christ in our words, thoughts and actions. He calls us to have completely uninhibited fellowship with Him … to represent Him, to speak for Him, to have His heart and mind. Even our thoughts are supposed to be a sanctuary where God can dwell (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

Trying to live with one foot in each world never works. Romans 2:2 (NLT) says, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” God wants your life to be pure and filled only with Him, not mixed with worldly things. In fact, He hates mixture: “You are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” (Revelation 3:15–16, NLT). If you truly desire to be like Jesus, you have to run away from even the appearance of sin. Sin is separation from God; holiness is separation unto God.

Your motivation for holiness should never come from trying to prove yourself or earn your salvation; rather, it should come out of responding to your loving Father who desires for you to be like Him. It’s also important to understand that grace isn’t just a holy form of slacking that gives you an excuse to live below God’s standard. Instead, grace is the supernatural power God makes available to those who are humble to live a holy life (1 Peter 5:5).

After Michelangelo carved his masterpiece David from a nine-ton block of marble, he was asked how he was able to complete such a task. He responded by saying that he just looked at the stone and set about chipping away any pieces that didn’t look like David. As you allow yourself to yield to God’s purifying process through a lifestyle of worship, He will chip away everything that doesn’t look like Him. That’s when you’ll truly be the royalty you were created to be.

God ordained that the bride of the Lamb smell like a princess, but she was also expected to talk as a princess. The King gives you a new song and a new way of thinking to frame a new language of faith, hope and joy in a new realm.

TOMMY TENNEY

Prayer

Lord, I humble myself before You and repent for the areas of my life that haven’t remained pure and set apart. Please give me supernatural grace to live a holy life. I desire to be graceful in speech, pure in conduct and passionate in pursuing purity and holiness so I can reflect Your character and beauty to the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Activation

  • Openly and honestly examine yourself. Are you acting like royalty? Talking like royalty? Looking like royalty? Smelling like the King? If you know you’ve failed to remain holy and pure in your mind, heart or actions, repent and seek forgiveness. Then, ask
  • Soak in God’s presence with His Word, worship and thanksgiving. Set a high priority on purity.
  • You may feel you don’t have enough grace to live a holy life. Just remember that if you humble yourself, God will give you more grace.

For Further Study

  • Ephesians 5:1–21
  • Ephesians 4:20–32
  • 1 Corinthians 10:23–24
  • 1 Peter 2:9
  • Hebrews 12:1–2
  • James 4:1–10
Ephesians 5:1–21Ephesians 4:20–321 Corinthians 10:23–241 Peter 2:9Hebrews 12:1–2James 4:1–10
JESSICA SHEPPARD
Ephesians 1:4 (NLT)