How Pure is Pure? 1 Timothy 5:22bOct 22, 2023
22 Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure.
Context is king. A text without a context is a pretext.
So when Paul says "Do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure," he has to be writing about leaders, and the possibility that you, Timothy, could share in their sin if you do not hold them accountable.
"But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning" (1 Tim. 5:20).
There are sins of commission, and sins of omission. There are sins that we commit by the things that we do, and there are sins that we commit by the things that we do not do.
Some things are pretty obvious, I think: If you find that a church leader has his hand in the cookie jar, is taking funds out of church money for his personal gain, and he offers you a cut of his take, no one needs to tell you that this would be wrong. Of course it is.
But what if he claims that what he's taking isn't for him after all, it's to benefit the church in some way. Perhaps he's using it to support politicians who would in turn be willing to throw their weight behind some project that the church wants to accomplish - a kind of "I scratch your back if you'll scratch mine" scheme. Well, why not be above board? Well, that's just not the way it's done in political circles. You don't publish it, but it's for the kingdom!
I guess my response is that if you can't be public about it, then you shouldn't be doing it.
Keep yourself pure. That's a strange word in our world today. You may remember Ivory soap being advertised as 99-44/100ths % pure. That slogan was in use since 1895.
Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matt. 5:8).
When Paul writes to the church in Corinth, he says he wants to present the church to Christ as a "pure virgin," as someone with "pure devotion to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2,3).
And when he writes to the church in Philippi, he sums up his message with, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things" (Phil. 4:8).
So just from those verses, purity has to do with heart, experience, devotion, and thought life.
And here we are, in this filthy, sin-laden world, moving about, and getting tainted and stained every moment of every day. How do you stay pure in such a world?
Over the last few years, hand sanitizer has become an essential in all of our lives. Before that, for most of us, it was quite optional. And then, Covid-19 hit, the world shut down, and we were talking about whether or not to trust bringing pizza boxes into our homes. You never knew when or where you could be picking up this deadly virus, so wash your hands, cover your sneezes and coughs with your elbow, wear a mask, keep your distance, and if there's any chance you could be carrying it, stay home!
Guess what? Sin is a deadly virus. More deadly than any Covid-19 virus. And we are swimming in this cesspool of decadence and destruction. Much of the world isn't aware of it - but we, as Christ-followers, have no excuse. All of the things we have been taught to do to prevent the spread of the Corona virus would also be a good place to start in maintaining our spiritual health. We cannot avoid the sin that is around us, but we can keep a safe distance, wash off its effects as soon as possible, and not allow the world to infect us.
"Keep yourself pure" does not mean go and live the life of a hermit. It does mean don't let the impurities of life corrupt you permanently. Deal with them before infection sets in.