Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
In Philippians 1, Paul prays that we “may approve the things that are excellent” (1:9b). In order to do so, we must be able to identify these excellent things and Paul catalogues some of them in our text. So let us meditate on whatever things are pure. To be pure is to be untainted, free from stain, or blameless. Such definitions invite us to ask, “Tainted by what? Stained by what?” The answers to these questions vary depending on the context – but typically to be pure is to be to be free from sin or compromise or dishonor or blame or corruption.
The word behind “pure” is the Greek word hagnos and is closely related to the Greek hagioswhich means “holy.” As with the other virtues we have considered, the foundation for purity is God Himself. God is pure; He is holy; He is free from stain, free from corruption, free from dishonor.
- “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness…?” (Exodus 15:11)
- “No one is holy like the LORD….” (1 Samuel 2:2)
- “Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His footstool— He is holy.”(Psalm 99:5)
Because God is pure, the world as He originally created it was pure. “God made man upright but he has sought out many schemes.” (Eccl. 7:29) God made us upright; He made us pure. We were fashioned to worship Him alone not idols; to speak pure words not lies; to be generous not greedy; to be sexually pure not lustful.
In short, God created us to be pure of heart, to practice purity ourselves and to delight in it when we see it in others. “Truly God is good to Israel, To such as are pure in heart.”(Psalm 73:1) “Blessed are the pure in heart,” Jesus says, “For they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). The pure man or woman is one whose motives, thoughts, and actions are free from the pollution of sin. God made us upright; He made us pure.
But we have sought out many schemes. We have tainted the purity with which we were created. We taint the worship of God; taint the service of God. Our motives are often impure; our thoughts impure; our words impure; our actions impure. “If God puts no trust in His [angels], And the heavens are not pure in His sight, How much less man, who is abominable and filthy, Who drinks iniquity like water!” (Job 15:15–16)
When we meditate on the things that are pure, therefore, we find ourselves like the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah saw the glory of God filling the Temple and heard the cherubim crying out to one another, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty! The whole earth is filled with Your glory!” Confronted with the purity and holiness of God, Isaiah was immediately made aware of his own impurity. “Woe is me, for I am undone. For I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips….” I am an impure man – therefore, I am doomed!
Meditating on purity reminds us that there is only One Man who has been completely pure. God did not God abandon us in our impurity. In His mercy and grace, He sent our Lord Jesus Christ as the Second Adam, who came to rescue us, His people, and to reconcile us to Himself. He came so that we who are impure might be declared pure through faith in Him and be restored to fellowship with God. And all those whom He declares to be pure through faith, He then teaches to be pure by the power of His Spirit. The Apostle John tells us that “everyone who has this hope in [Jesus] purifies himself just as He is pure” (1 Jn 3:3). He is restoring the purity of humanity in us and through us. We are to point our unbelieving neighbors to the beauty of purity.
And so reminded of the purity of our Creator and Redeemer and the call that He has placed on us to be pure in heart, let us come into the presence of the Pure One, requesting that He have mercy on our impurity because of the purity of Jesus. We’ll have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.