How to keep our hearts pure: the power of the gospel
There has been a lot of discussion this week – on this blog and elsewhere – about women’s modesty, about what is appropriate for women to wear and what is not appropriate for women to wear. One thing is quite clear. Jesus warns Christian men against looking at a woman with lustful intent, and he tells them to do whatever it takes to ensure that their eyes and their hands are not causing them to sin. At the same time, he reminds his followers that sexual immorality and covetousness come from the heart, and they cannot be put to death even by destroying every external stimulus in our lives. We could gouge out our eyes and cut off our limbs and we would still be lust-driven creatures.
Unless, of course, we are transformed by the power of God according to the image of Christ. In Colossians 3 Paul gives us a sense of how it is that we can “put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” By holding fast to Christ we “put off the old self with its practices” and we “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
What does this mean in daily life? It means devoting ourselves to Christ by holding fast to him and to his word in worship. It means loving one another as Christ loved us, so putting the welfare of others before our own selfish desires. In short, it means devoting ourselves to practices that enable us to “put on then … compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
This should be our focus. What we wear is important, but it is only important insofar as it reflects our hearts and our desire to love one another as Christ loved us. If we put do indeed hold fast to Christ, ensuring that whatever we do “in word or deed” is in love for one another, we begin to learn what it means to please God. If this is our mindset, we can be quite confident that modesty and purity of heart will certainly follow.