So then, dear friends, since we have these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
When Christianity was still new, an idea emerged among some that our bodies and our souls are distinct and separate. The new idea was not actually new, but integrated into Christian thought, and basically taught that whatever you do with your body doesn’t matter. Your body is evil and will eventually die. What really matters is what you believe, and how you culture your soul with God’s word (and how well you learn a host of secret passphrases to advance through the levels of spirit beings, kind of like a Mario game for the afterlife. This system was called Gnosticism and became prevalent in the early church as the early apostles were sliding off into eternity.
You would think such would not be the case, as the Scriptures clearly teach, as here, that moral impurity affects your eternity. Can you tell the difference between an impurity that defiles your flesh and an impurity that defiles your spirit? I would argue that they overlap. For an impurity of the spirit, such a wrong belief, will lead to wrong action. For example, if you believe that your spirit is good and cannot be affected by what you do with your body, like fornication or drugs, then you will practice those things without fear of eternal consequences. But when you practice fornication on a regular basis, you feel more and more unworthy to enter God’s presence, and your spirit suffers, just as the body does. Wrong beliefs can make wrong actions. Let me give you another example.
You have heard it said that God will not give you more than you can handle. It is a loose translation of 1 Cor 10:13, where the Scripture says that God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able to endure, but will always provide a way of escape from the temptation. Those are actually two different things. Temptation is the thought of doing a certain thing that you know is sin. God says He will not allow such thoughts to overwhelm, or give you more of such than you are able to bear. In addition, God will also offer a way out of these thoughts, which could be a Scripture, or a diversion, or something else that will allow you to resist temptation.
What people often apply this to are situations which have already happened, not thoughts about what you might do. People apply this to crises, or events that have overcome them. They cling to this false promise that they will be able to bear this, because God thinks they are strong enough, otherwise they wouldn’t have to endure it. What happens is that they second-guess God, believing that God either has too much faith in them, or God doesn’t know them, and they buckle under the pressure. Because they cling to a false promise (and thus a false god), they have no resource for hard times. What we might rather do is claim another of God’s promises, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” No matter what life throws at us, God will never leave our side. We know that even in hard times, God is always present, and we know that in His strength, we can bear all things for, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That verse is often also misapplied, but I will leave it for now.
If you believe that God will not give you more than you can handle, then when He does give you more than you can handle (without Him), then you will lose your faith in Him and fall away. False belief will lead to faithless action. A spirit defiled will lead to flesh defiled. Such a person will walk away, go their own path, and fall into destruction if they are not corrected. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve talked to who have left the church for this very reason.
Rather, we believe that both actions of our flesh and of our spirit have consequences for eternity. We cannot isolate one from the other. We must be Christian in our faith and in our behavior. We cannot take one or the other in isolation. So if you think you can go to Church on Sunday and act like a pagan on Monday, then you don’t understand what this Christianity thing is all about. Time to go back to the Word.
Well, I hope this helps you on your journey. God bless and never stray far from His leading hand.