A Powerful Purity Strategy: Remind Yourself That God Created You To Be Holy
“[God the Father] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” ~ Ephesians 1:4
I’m not sure why God made dinosaurs. Maybe just to make us marvel.
I’m not sure if the earth is very young or very old. God is certainly eternal enough to have marinated the universe slowly over billions of years, and powerful enough to have created it in a blink thousands of years ago. The age of the earth is not a hill we need to die on.
I’m not sure who the Neanderthals were, or Lucy, or homo erectus (sounds like he had a porn problem.) They tell us that humans, and human-like creatures, have been scratching about the crust of the earth for a long time now.
What I do know is that at some point we – homo sapiens – appeared. God willed our race of creatures into existence. And in that moment, a new possibility dawned – the possibility of a creature breathing in this air and walking this soil actually having a relationship with its Creator. It wasn’t something God just happened to come up with. It’s not as though creation was a big science project God was working on, and we were his latest innovation. All of this was in his mind before the first delivery truck pulled up to God’s garage with all the parts.
And there was something else that God purposed in his mind from the very beginning – that we would reflect his character and conduct. Whatever it meant when God declared that we would be created “in his image”, an ethical reflection would be part of it. We would look like God, not in physicality, but in morality. We would love the things he loved. The things that brought him delight would bring us delight. Like him, we would recoil from evil, and detest the darkness. It would have no attraction to us. God would be our north star.
Look at our theme verse again. Read it aloud. “[God the Father] chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.”
This is us, straight out of the box. The freedom would be ours to choose another path, but in the same way that we are free to jump off the ladder while cleaning the gutters, there would be little if any appeal in that choice. And out of this shared moral heart with God, our fellowship with him and love for him would exponentially grow over time. There would be no end to the layers of beauty and glory we would uncover. Eternity would be spent discovering the infinite delights of God’s holy imagination and creativity.
Oh, what might have been.
Scripture instead declares that we are now a fallen race. In calling this a “fall”, Christians are not referring to the act of rebellion. Adam and Eve didn’t trip over a hidden stump and accidentally mush their faces into the fruit. It was willful, in-your-face-God event, a choice which we endorse each time we ourselves sin. We call it a “fall” to refer to the outcome of the rebellion. Christians believe that the first humans occupied a royal position of privilege, power and intimacy with God which they abdicated.
The consequences of that abdication were profound. We forfeited our right to belong to God’s family, for a sinful human cannot stand in the presence of a holy God. We forfeited our right to eternal life, for God in his mercy cannot allow evil to endure. And we forfeited our moral capacity to love and obey God. The inner enabling God had given us to obey him died. My nature has been corrupted from its created state. I now want to jump off the ladder!
The Bible is spot on in describing the human heart. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” King David wrote. (Psalm 51:5) Even the venerable philosopher Sylvester Stallone agrees with him. In promoting his final Rambo movie years ago (at least I hope this was his last Rambo movie, because the next one will be Rambo storming a nursing home), Stallone said, “War is natural. Peace is an accident. We’re animals. If you think people are inherently good, get rid of the police for 24 hours – see what happens.” Right on, Rambo.
My moral compass has been knocked off its axis. A big part of me loves to sin. We were created for one thing, but now live for another. Until I can renounce this attraction for sin and believe that God is wise enough and loving enough to have something better for me, I will never be free.
If you think this through honestly though, this should discourage you. It’s not as though I can just flip a switch and do this. I who loathe asparagus cannot convince myself that it now tastes delicious. And get that chocolate out of here! What was I thinking?
When the apostle Paul thought through the gap between his created state and his fallen state, it brought him to despair. There are things I know are wrong, but I want to do those things anyway! There are things I know are right, but I’m powerless to do them! No wonder, he cried out in the end, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:17-19, 24).
Why reflect on what I was created for if my body and mind no longer work that way? The same reason why a mechanic looking down on a misfiring engine calls to mind what a finely tuned motor looks like. Why an apprentice painter stares for hours at the Renoir before lifting a brush. Why an out-of-shape weightlifter puts pictures of a fully conditioned body on the wall of the training room. The thought of what something is supposed to be like should encourage us to try to duplicate it. The moment I pinpoint on the map where I took the wrong turn is the moment I can start heading back.
So I challenge you to think seriously today about God’s purpose in giving you life – and then take some steps moving in that direction.