The Path to Purity
(Lectionary Starters)

Second Sunday after Easter, Year B
May 2, 2003
1 John 2:1-7
Gary Robinson, Pastor, Conneautville Church of Christ, Conneautville, PA

Philip Yancey’s marvelous book What’s So Amazing About Grace? contains a story about a Christian friend of Yancey’s who wanted to leave his wife for another woman. He reasoned that God was so very kind and forgiving that He would be forgiven ahead of time for his disloyalty. Yancey tried to get his friend to see the evil he was about to perpetrate – the damage it would do to his family and to his own soul – but his friend stayed on his terrible course. He left his wife and three children.

If God is so willing to forgive us our debts, why not run up an enormous bill? If God is so good as to forgive us, why shouldn’t we be as bad as we want to be? In reply to a similar question, the apostle John wrote of the path to purity and the necessity of taking it.

I. Our path begins with the greatest love

God has lavished love upon us. How great a love is God’s love? He wants not simply to call us His creation, but His children!

“This is love,” declares John, “not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). What a frank declaration of human need – none of us knew or cared for God! What a breathtaking show of divine intervention – God put on skin and allowed it to be pierced for us!

If God would do this for us, surely the only logical response is, “What are we doing for Him?” How can we live the same old way, knowing God’s desire not just to make us good but to make us His?

II. Our path ends with the greatest hope

If the love of God pushes us forward on the path of purity, the hope of seeing our Savior pulls us along that same path. The older I get, the more I realize that virtue is not simply a task God has given me to perform (under threat of Hell for failure), but part of the delight of my relationship with Him. The more we love Jesus, the more real He becomes to us. The more real He becomes to us, the more we want to be like Him.

A child who believes “Santa Claus is coming to town” is only interested in what Santa can give him. The child of God who believes Jesus is coming in glory is distressed to think he may have no gift of love – no soul won, no habit broken, no treasure sacrificed – to lay at His bronzed feet. The girl who truly loves her serviceman will remain faithful ‘til he returns from overseas. If she didn’t believe she’d see him, she’d be relieved not only of love but of faithfulness. In the same way, everyone who hopes to see his Lord purifies himself (1 John 3:3).

III. Between love and hope, our path is the high road

Of course, we remain sinners as we travel. That’s the condition that brought us to the Great Physician in the first place: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). If sinless perfection were possible for us here, Jesus would not have had to die. But I’ve never met a believer who didn’t want to be better than he was. He doesn’t want to go on breaking God’s law, and he yearns to stay clean for Christ’s sake.

A child may play in the mud and cry in rage as he’s dragged into the house for a bath. The child of God, however, cares whether he steps in the muck of sin. If he does, he’s not happy about it, nor will he be content until he’s cleansed of the filth. For that reason, God helping him, he yearns for the High Road. He trusts in Christ to keep him on the Path to Purity.

Share This On: