“The wisdom from above is first pure” (James 3:17).
A pure life is necessary for a wise life.
A person whose life is characterized by true wisdom will seek to be pure. The Greek word translated “pure” in James 3:17 refers to spiritual integrity and moral sincerity. It is freedom from bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, and arrogant self-promotion. Christ is the perfect example of purity (1 John 3:3).
A true believer will have pure desires. The deepest part of him desires to do God’s will, serve God, and love God. In Romans 7:15-21 the apostle Paul testifies that when he sinned, he was doing what he didn’t want to do. In Psalm 51:7 David cries out, “Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” The true believer hates his sin. Rising out of his innermost being is a longing for what is clean, pure, holy, and honest.
Purity of heart is the motive of someone who seeks to live a life of godly wisdom (cf. Ps. 24:3-4). God says he will “take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19); that new heart will be consumed with purity rather than self. You do still sin because your new heart is incarcerated in your old flesh. But your new heart fights against your flesh. That’s why Paul said, “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind, and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:22-23).
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). As you persevere in battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil, be encouraged by reminding yourself that one day the fight will be finished. The apostle John said it this way: “We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).
Suggestions for Prayer
Read Psalm 51:1-17, making David’s prayer your own.
For Further Study
According to Matthew 5:48 and 1 Peter 1:15-16, what is God’s standard of purity?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187