and everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. [1 john 3:3]
it is a common misperception that christianity is a religion where one has to “clean themselves up” before they come to God. i have believed the lie myself, and constantly have to battle with the thought that i must earn my place somehow to be in the presence of God. we all know deep down that we are unable to approach an infinitely holy God, knowing that we would be obliterated by his wrath for what we have done, for what we have said, for what we have thought.
and yet, as we open the bible, we are commanded to be holy, set apart, perfect, pure.
i have experienced victory over deep rooted sin in my heart, over lust, over anger over anxiety, and depression, and over insecurity. i have other battles to fight, and i know you do too–we don’t win the battle for purity by putting up internet filters and having accountability partners, or deleting facebook/netflix/tiktok/etc., or by not going into bars. such eye-gouging, hand-amputating steps are commanded (matthew 5:29-30), but the battle for purity begins in the heart, and if the heart is not addressed, we will not win.
so how do we purify ourselves? we are told in 1 john 3:3.
hope. hope in Christ.
what does that look like?
believe that the battle is won Christ’s death has defeated sin and death, and has won purity for those who are in him.
the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 cor 15:56-57]
plead for purity. plead for God to expose your idolatry battling comes in the form of tearful prayer. cry out to God. commit to memory david’s simple prayer–
create in me a clean heart, o God, and renew a right spirit within me.[psalm 51:10]
God is faithful to answer this prayer!
confess your sin. confession to God and to one another gives us the ability to demonstrate our need for Christ and repent, seeking purity.
if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness [1 john 1:9]
therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. [james 5:16]
live in who you are. if you are in Christ, God has already cleansed you. he has given you a new heart, and by the Holy Spirit you can walk in purity and obedience.
 i will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols i will cleanse you.  and i will give you a new heart, and a new spirit i will put within you. and i will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  and i will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. [ezekial 36:25-27]
if you read the above and thought: “this just sounds like the gospel!–i have believed these things–i am already a christian and i still battle with purity” then i want to encourage you to go back to the truths of the gospel again. and again. and again. the gospel is not just for new christians. the gospel is not just an inoculation against the wrath of God and the terrors of an infinite hell–it is by daily, hourly, minute-by-minute clinging to and hoping in the gospel, that we win the battle for obedience and purity!
~ conor eastman