` In our study of the first century church on Tuesday mornings, the ladies and I have noticed how important purity was to those people. I am not sure we place the same importance on it, and worse, we excuse impurity of all sorts. One of my dear sisters said she had even heard another Christian say it was expecting too much to demand purity from people today, not in a society saturated with hedonism and materialism. Let me tell you, if a Christian could stay pure in a pagan world where fornication was even part of the religious ritual, anyone can stay pure concerning any sin there is. I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Phil 4:13.
We were reading together the list in the above passage, a list I had studied several times, when it suddenly struck me that this was not a list at all, it was a progression.
The people Paul refers to had vanity of mind. Most of us who have been in the church for years understand the concept of “vanity.”—emptiness. These people had no purpose in life. They moseyed through the day letting life simply “happen.” That will not last long. If you have no purpose, you will eventually find one of your own making. It’s the only way you can rationalize your existence.
They became darkened in their understanding. They did not even realize their need. Because they had come up with their own “meaning of life,” they were satisfied.
At that point they became alienated from the life of God. Just across the page from this passage, in 2:5, we are told that God made us alive when we were dead in our sins. Our life now is a life of service to Him and others. Our righteous lives look strange to people of the world. Doing things for others? Putting the needs of others ahead of your own? Haven’t you heard someone say, “What about yourself?” or, “How can you have any fun?” They can no longer comprehend real fulfillment.
And so because of the hardening of their heart they refuse to see when others try to tell them what is wrong. They wear a shield so their consciences will not be pricked into realizing what they are doing to themselves.
Eventually they become past feeling—they no longer even need the shield over their consciences. They just plain don’t care. When you start to talk, they shrug their shoulders. “You have your way, I have mine—now leave me alone.”
And so they come to the end—they give themselves up. At this point, as Peter says, they cannot cease from sin (2 Pet 2:14), It will take something akin to a miracle to reach them, if they can be reached at all—probably something terrible.
Truly this is a motivation for keeping oneself pure. How far can I go before I reach the point of no return? Will the next sin be the one that makes it nearly impossible to repent? Do I really want to go through the necessary horror that may be my only chance to wake up?
Don’t kid yourself—you are as vulnerable as anyone else. Check this little progression and see where you fall in line. Then get out of line as fast as you can. Nothing says you have to be there at all.
But you did not so learn Christ; if so be that you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: that you put away, as concerning your former manner of life, the old man, that waxes corrupt after the lusts of deceit; and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, that after God hath been created in righteousness and holiness of truth, Eph 4:20-24.