2 Corinthians 6:4-6
4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
6 By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
Before we continue our study I want to note that last week we looked at the Apostle Paul’s description of fasting in 2 Corinthians 11:27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
This description is most likely not talking about the practice of withholding from enjoying food and/or drink for the purpose of petitioning God, but more a description of how Paul was afflicted and went without food often due to the perilous conditions of his missionary journeys. But we can see how his willingness to go without food and to suffer for Christ helped bring the blessing of God in his life.
Now, in today’s study we begin a new set of descriptors in verse six. We have been looking at the “ins” describing being surrounded by or enveloped in something in verses four and five; verse six begins a new set with the adverb “by”. “By” means through the instrumentality or agency of something. Remember that all the ideas in this list refer back to verse four, and are ways that we are to be approving ourselves as ministers of God. So the first instrument that is listed that we are to use is “pureness”. The word “pure” means; free from anything that does not belong, or, not contaminated with pollutants. God is telling us that by living a pure and holy, or separated life, we will be approving ourselves as ministers of God. And in case you might be thinking, “I’m not a minister, so this doesn’t apply to me”, know that minister is simply another word for servant, and if you have been born again by the spirit of God then you are called to be a servant to God.
Romans 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
When we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and were born again into God’s family we are told by God to be pure, and another term for purity is holiness. Just as God called the children of Israel to be different from the surrounding people by keeping themselves clean and not practicing the wicked customs of the pagans, and to keep the entirety of the old covenant law, we as New Testament believers are required to be different from the world, to live clean lives and to have a reputation that is above reproach.
1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
This is a quote from Leviticus 11:44 For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
So what exactly are we to separate from and keep ourselves pure from? Well, the first, and most obvious answer to that is sin. Sin can destroy a Christian, a family, a church, and a nation that does not keep itself pure from it. God is pure and He wants us to be pure as well, for many reasons, one reason being that sin brings misery and death.
James 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
One way for the Christian to decide if something is pure or not is to ask the question, “Is this activity, movie, clothing, music, church, humor, book, website, radio show or conversation, etc. of God or of the world?” Meaning, is this something that honors the Lord Jesus Christ or is it something that comes from the world, from the deceitful heart of the unbelieving world around us?
1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
In the end, it is Jesus Christ who purifies us through His shed blood, and through His Word and Holy Spirit. As long as we are alive in the flesh we can never fully purify that flesh. But we should seek the strength of God and continually strive to live a life separate from the filthiness of this world.
1 Peter 1:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.