Theme: Positive Christianity
by W. R. Jones
Rules for physical hygiene were quite simple during the thirties in rural Nacogdoches County, Texas. Generally, take a bath twice a week, brush teeth daily, and wash your hands before you come to the table. Life Buoy soap, with its awful smell, was introduced during that period, and I always felt like it discouraged physical hygiene. Of course, my concern in this article is not physical hygiene, past or present—but the “spiritual hygiene” of the inner man.
Purity Is Absolutely Essential To The Good Health Of The Inner Man
In 1 Timothy 5:22, Paul urged the young preacher, “keep yourself pure.” The New Testament strongly reveals the need for purity and the “practice gap” of Christians points up the urgent need for some very strong teaching on the subject. The signs of the time show us the potent effort the world is making to shape the thinking of the people of God. We must arise and fight back!
Here Are Three Suggestions For Developing and Maintaining Purity In Your Life:
1. Think on pure things. (Philippians 4:8) The mind must learn to dwell on pure themes. This demands pure thinking, pure reading and pure conduct.
2. We must get our wisdom from above. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure” (James 3:17). In the life of man, it seems, the conflict has always been between human wisdom and Divine Wisdom. Historians tell us the great Greek philosophers, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle, all thought the answers to life’s big questions were within man, That is still man’s problem today; he is looking in the wrong place for answers. Men are desperately seeking to find answers to their questions and directions for their lives from their own wisdom. In the long ago, Jeremiah wrote: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). It is ever so true, the man who guides himself, has a fool for a guide! To be spiritually healthy, man must look to the wisdom of God.
3. We must understand that “hope” purifieth. (1 John 3:3) Every person who has the hope of becoming like God in eternity, will aim at becoming like God here on earth. You may be sure, no pretense of hope avails separate and apart from growth in purity. Take away our hope and life’s inspiration for upright living has vanished. Let us constantly remember, the pleasures of sin are most deceptive. They are like snowflakes on the river, white for a moment then gone forever, There can be no true “spiritual hygiene” apart from personal purity.
A Forgiving Spirit Is Essential To The Good Health Of Our Inner Man
Our Personal happiness presently, and in the years ahead, depends greatly upon our ability to forgive others. It matters not if it be your work relationship, family relationship or membership in a local church of Christ, it is unreal to think that no one will ever hurt you or disappoint you in their words or conduct. From time to time, all of us are hurt by others. Though physical pain may be inflicted upon us by our enemies, strangely enough, it is the emotional pain inflicted on us by those who are close to us, that hurts the most. When someone hurts us, we are inclined to act in a way that will hurt them; we seek revenge! But, you may be sure, this so-called natural reaction is not the best. As in all other matters the Lord gives us the solution to the problem. Paul wrote: “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay; says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
In my forty-two years of preaching I believe this has turned out to be one of the most helpful passages in the New Testament, It has freed and unburdened me from many unending troublesome problems. Now, let me show you the beauty of this teaching, To put it in modern parlance, it is as if the Lord is saying; “Jones, you don’t have to chase down every one who has hurt you, one way or another, grab them by the neck, back them in a corner, shake their teeth out, and make them take it back.” Instead, I am left unburdened to continue preaching the Truth in Love, whereby I may even effect repentance in the offender, The Lord would have me appropriate forgiveness in my heart and He will take care of the rest. The Lord sure knows how to lighten the believer’s burdens! Friends, revenge is a form of hate that will condemn our souls, and the one who seeks revenge is quite often harmed more than his victim, lf we claim to follow Jesus, then let Him be our example. Peter wrote: “who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).
There are other things that contribute to true “spiritual hygiene,” but you may be sure that purity and a forgiving spirit are in the forefront. By the way, is your “spiritual hygiene” as good as your “physical hygiene?” Think about it!
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE JANUARY, 1984