I wish today to touch upon a scriptural theme not only of the utmost importance but one which has been manipulated and abused by many cultic organisations to ascribe to themselves lables of exclusiveness and superiority. What is purity? What kind of life should a Christian/Messianic believer be living that would earn him Yahweh's - as opposed to men's - approval? Because all true believers have, as a one of their deepest needs, the desire to please their Maker, it is important that we clearly understand what purity is.
Perhaps, therefore, it would be a good idea to give some examples of what purity is not, and then take a look at what the Bible says on the subject. Many religions, including Catholicism, regard sex as intrinsically 'impure' and therefore advocate celibacy as the highest state. It is tolerated more or less as an 'evil necessity' so that the earth can continue to be filled with children. The logical outcome of this extreme aescetism is, of course, the extinction of the the human race. Behind this pervese notion of 'purity' is the idea that physical matter is somehow evil and that the duty of man is to somehow transcend it. This is an old Gnostic error which, together with various other heresies, spawned Catholicism. And interestingly enough this is an error that crept into early Mormonism and its modern fundamentalist spinoffs for whom 'romantic love' was/is considered impure, the purpose of marriage being merely to raise 'pure' (and presumably sexless) children. Many Buddhists and Hindus similarly believe that the highest spiritual states can only be achieved by complete celibacy. Thus the proponents of Raja ('Kingly') Yoga and the the Hare Krishna cult both advocate abstinence from sex, even in marriage.
There are in many religions notions of purity that cover every aspect of life. Fundamentalist Moslems believe, for example, that a person can become defiled by urinating or defacating whilst facing Mecca. Puritan Protestants in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England were particularly absorbed with the quest for purity, itself a noble ambition, but became so strict and rigid that in the opinion of many they quenched all joy out of life, and ultimately descended into what some might today call a 'cult' because of its absolute control of people and denial of free agency.
As we read our Bible on the subject of purity we immediately become aware that there are two sorts of purity: an outer, visible, exoteric or ceremonial, symbolic purity of the body and its actions -- and an inner, largely invisible, esoteric purity of the spirit, mind and heart. And we discover, from the teachings of Yah'shua (Jesus), that outer purity is ultimately meaningless and worthless without inner purity first of all.
The Law of Moses contains within it many statutes and commandments requiring certain outward 'ablutions' (washings) and 'purifications' as part of religious duties. However, unlike other religions for which outer purifications were merely ceremonial, those enjoined upon the Israelites by Yahweh had great ethical and spiritual significance. Every ritual that was commanded had a spiritual meaning that was intended to point the worshipper inwards to the spiritual life too. And thus even some of the purification statutes which appeared to be no more than sanitary requirements such as not eating pork (which, because pigs are a scavengers and not very hygenic, contain the tapeworm parasite and its meat is high in cholesterols and therefore bad for the heart), actually ultimately pointed towards the need to be spiritually pure as well by reminding Israelites of their need to keep themselves unspotted from the world and its refuse.
Throughout the Old Testament Yahweh's prophets reminded Israel that these ceremonial laws had ethical significance. Many - like the animal sacrifices and all the rituals pertaining to, and administered by, the Levitical Priesthood - have now been abolished because they were merely pointers to the atoning work of Christ, who was the Last Sacrifice. Yet even before Christ fulfilled these types, the prophets were rebuking the people for making animal sacrifices with impure hearts, and reminding them that what counted the most was a right heart before the Elohim (God). One prophet even went so far as to declare that Yahweh hated their sacrifices for ceremonial purity because their hearts were so wicked (Isaiah 1:11-17). Outer, ceremonial obligations have no significance unless they are accompanied by a pure heart.
Though the Old Testament is unquestionably moral and spiritual, the exoteric Torah notwithstanding, purity in the New Testament is a final unfolding revelation of what went before and reveals that the ultimate sense of purity is devotion to Yahweh. As unadulterated water is said to be pure, and gold without alloy is pure gold, so the pure heart is the undivided heart where there is no conflict of loyalties, no cleavage of interests, no mixture of motives, no hypocrisy, and no insincerity. It is wholeheartedness God-wards .
The Scriptures teach us that we have many obligations to people in this life - obligations to parents, husbands, church (assembly) leaders, and to secular kings and magistrates. However, they also very clearly point out that our first obligation is to Yahweh, and that if any conflict arises which would set that obligation against obligations to anyone else, that we must choose our obligations to Yahweh first. This can, and often does, entail great sacrifice and suffering, but is a condition of true obedience to the Most High and a clear indicator of what spiritual purity actually is. This is the sense that Yah'shua (Jesus) meant in the Beattitudes when He said:
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see Elohim (God)" (Matthew 5:8, NKJV).
"Truly Elohim (God) is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart" (Psalm 73:1, NKJV).
What this means is that the reward of the undivided heart is a clear vision of Yahweh. No vision of Yahweh can come to the heart that is unclean because it is out of harmony with the nature and character of the Elohim (God). To emphasise the importance of a clean heart over (though not in replacement of) ritual or physical purity, Yah'shua (Jesus) further taught:
"Hear Me, everyone, and understand: There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!" When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man (makes him impure). For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:14-23, NKJV).
Purity in the sense in which Christ speaks is a state of the heart reserved completely for Yahweh and freed from all worldly distractions. And so in our quest to understand what is pure and what is not, we must first ensure that our entire loyalty and devotion is to Yahweh and to no one else. Does this then mean we should lock ourselves away in a monastery or nunnerly and cut ourselves off from all people? Absolutely not. Once our heart is truly Yahweh's, and our allegiance is 100% His, then we are in a position to live our lives in the world in a way that is pure and pleasing to Him. We are then able to mingle with men and women everywhere, fortified and strengthened in the life of the Holy Spirit, and be fully human. This includes being married and having sovereignty over our own lives unimpeeded by the unrighteous demands others. This means that we may get married to those whom Yahweh leads us to and enjoy a romantic and sexual relationship with our spouses that is rightly ordered and in harmony with what Torah teaches. Thus, contrary to what some Christian/Messianic and semi-Christian/Messianic cults teach, the New Testament insists that "marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers Elohim (God) will judge" (Heb.13:4, NKJV).
The Abuse of Forced Marriage
I mention marriage because the reason I am writing this essay is in response to the claim by a cult that all marriages should be arranged by the father without the wishes of the prospective bride being taken into consideration. This, the cult claims, is true 'purity'. It isn't. What it is in fact doing is denying a woman her duty to give her heart entirely to Yahweh so that He can lead her to the bridegroom of His choice. This presupposes that the father has the right to be God for his daughter, which he doesn't. This is nothing short of idolatry and blasphemy.
The New Testament further teaches the sanctity of the body as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19ff). This immediately tells us two things:
- (1) That our physical bodies belong to Yahweh through Christ;
- (2) That our bodies belong to us to choose whether we shall yield them to impurity or purity; and
- (3) Our bodies - if we are wives - belong to our husbands in a tertiary sense.
Now think about it. If, as the cult claims, a father has the right to marry off his daughter to someone not of her own choosing, what that father is doing is claiming ownership of his daughter's body! That means he is claiming to be in possession of both Elohim's (God's) and his daughter's will! He is, no less, claiming to be Elohim (God) himself.
There is a stark parallel to this for are we now reminded by the secular feminist claim that their unborn bablies belong to themselves because they are a part of their bodies, and that this therefore gives them the right to murder ('abort') their unborn. Yet as every Bible-believing Christian/Messianic knows, the unborn - let alone the born - child does not belong to her but is her stewardship as a guardian and protector.
In the same way the bodies of both sons and daughters do not belong to their parents to give away to spouses. Our parents are our stewards given by Yahweh to bring us up in the admonition of Yahweh's Torah, to protect us from evil, and to eventually free us to make our own choices in life as adults. Anything else is cultish, devilish, and evil, because it usurps the place of Yahweh-Elohim Himself. This is true purity because it gives true sovereignty to Elohim (God) and to the indivual where it belongs.
As I write this essay we are counselling a lady whom her father is trying to force her into a loveless marriage not of her own choice. She has been brought up to believe that this is the Way of Elohim (God) and that this constitutes 'purity'. It isn't and it doesn't. She has been brainwashed into believing that to disobey her father in this matter is to dishonour her parents and is selfish, and to deny his headship over her. Indeed, what is being expected of her is little different from the requirements of a wife to her husband, minus the sexual contact.
A Prophetic Dream
A couple of nights ago my fourth wife dreamed that the young lady in question was imprisoned at the top of a very high ivory tower. Her father had given her permission to receive guests for a very short period of time and these were streaming up the steps to her door at the top of the tower. It seems that they were offering her an escape for my wife noticed that as a result of these visits, one of the visitors had brought and installed a long rope that was hanging out of her window to the ground below. This was to be her means of escape, reminding one of the fairy tale of Rapunzel who grew her hair long enough so that she too could escape from her imprisonment in a tower and flee from her wicked father. The guests did not remain long for they were soon banished and the woman remained alone in her tower once more.
The tower was, as you saw, made of ivory. It was made of 'pure' substance. Yet it was still a place of incarceration. The fact that a prison is gilded does not make it any better than one which is not. 'Purity' can - as it is here - be used a weapon of cajolement. But purity without love is dead and meaningless because the father in this instance has become a forced substitute for Elohim (God), and is forcing his daughter to commit idolatry.
The evil of this deed is compounded by the fact that the woman begged her father to be given time to find a husband of her own choice and not be forced to marry the man he had chosen for her. This he agreed to do, giving her six months to find a suitable husband. For four months she searched and received many proposals of marriage but felt that none of the men was the man chosen for her by Yahweh. After four months the father, sensing that his daughter might indeed find a husband, cancelled his permission and demanded that she marry the man he had chosen for her, began monitoring her mail, and once again began confining her to the kind of isolation she has known all her life. She was literally alone again in the ivory tower built by her father. And though her father had proven himself to be a liar, deceiver and covenant-breaker, she still felt obliged to obey him unconditionally. Is this purity? No it is not! It is nothing less than idolatry.
Now it is quite true that biblically-speaking purity is the spirit of obedience. However, the only total obedience that is demanded of us is to Yahweh. A wife may be required to obey her husband in 'all things' but this does not give the husband the right to play Elohim (God): he cannot command his wife to disobey the commandments! And likewise, our obedience to our parents is conditional upon similar limits: our parents cannot claim to own our minds, hearts, bodies, or spirits. These - first and foremost - belong to Yahweh.
Yes, purity therefore also inculcates the duty of self-restraint and self-denial even to the extent of personal loss if the threat is our relationship with Yahweh. Purity therefore becomes in addition the spirit of renunciation and of the obedience which brings every thought and feeling and action into subjection to Yahweh through Yah'shua (Jesus). Purity is not the renunciation of our right to marry the man or woman of our own choice as we feel guided by Yahweh. Purity is not the unconditional surrendering of our lives to our parents or even our spouses, for that matter. Purity begins within and not by imposition without. It begins within and extends outwards to the entire life, which naturally will harmonise with Torah, and cleanses all the centres of living and controls all the movements of the body and spirit.
True purity is freedom, but imposed purity - or a false purity imposed by anyone who claims to speak for Elohim (God) as a Moses-man - is idolatry and imprisonment. It is no less than cultic.
"Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from Elohim (God), and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price [by Christ]; therefore glorify Elohim (God) in your body and in your spirit, which are Elohim's (God's)" (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NKJV).
Our bodies - and therefore the decision what should be done with it, including marriage, is ours, and ours alone. When we claim Yah'shua (Jesus) as our Lord and Saviour, we give our bodies to Yahweh through Him. He knows who we should marry and He alone will ultimately reveal it. We should respectfully listen to, and prayerfully consider, the recommendations and guidance of our fathers, for it is their duty to counsel, but the decision ultimately is between us and Yahweh - therefore it is ours alone. We have the choice to give the matchmaking decision to Yahweh but we should never give it to any other man or woman. Ever. To do so is to take away our responsibility and duty to choose, and therefore our freedom - that freedom purchased for us by Yah'shua (Jesus) on the Cross of Calvary.
Laying Down the Prophetic Gauntlet
The drama of this particular case has yet to fully play itself out. I have been shown in visions some of the things that are to happen next and been instructed by Yahweh to lay down the gauntlet before this father who has been decived by false religion. He may get in contact with me at any time to remedy this situation before Yahweh intervenes to smash his sword. (He never did and we lost contact with his daughter).