Impure in His Presence?

I’ve written in the past about how I love worship and how God inhabits the praises of His people. I also love worship because I always believed that nothing impure could stand in the presence of God and if I could just get over my shame and guilt I’d be a little cleaner because of time with Him.

While it’s true that time with Him in His Word and prayer does improve righteousness, attitude, and wisdom, I was trying to find the Scriptural basis for the notion that nothing impure could stand in the presence of God.

After a few searches, I started feeling queasy. In Job, we see Satan goes right up to the throne of God (Job 1:6, Job 2:1) with the other angels (presumably those still following God).

Satan also approaches Jesus, who never sinned, while Jesus was fasting in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11 contains all the details. In effect, Satan was permitted to test Jesus three times over food, power, and proper targets for worship. Jesus of course passed.

Impure spirits were regularly in the presence of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel. In Mark 1:25, an impure spirit challenges Jesus and tries to reveal His identity before the proper time. In Mark 3:11, the impure spirits are constantly bowing and trying to identify Jesus before the proper time.

Mark 5:1-20 describes another time impure spirits were before Jesus. A seriously disturbed man lived in a graveyard. When Jesus was passing by, he began to yell… or the demon began to yell. It tried to identify Jesus and accuse Him of coming too soon to torture him and his evil buddies. They knew His power–they begged Him first not to send them away and then to send them into some pigs. He obliged. They killed the pigs, irritating the farmer and related merchants.

Now Isaiah and Revelation do have some interesting passages. They do talk about the impure not being fit to follow the Lord and be in the presence of the Lord.

Isaiah 35:8 (NIV) — And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.

Revelation 21:27 (NIV) — Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

As much as it would make life easier if these verses were immediately true in our here and now, both Isaiah and Revelation are prophetic books about a future that has not yet come to pass.

So, what I said is true in the future, but it’s not really true in the here and now. In the here and now, the impure can be in the Presence of Holy God. They are either infinitely rebellious or quivering, shaking, and uncomfortable.

And maybe sometimes they’re a lot like me, or am I a lot like them? The difference is that I can and have chosen Christ and I have His righteousness covering me. At some point, I will not be rebellious, quivering, uncomfortable. I will be perfected and changed in the twinkling of an eye, forever whole and praising the One I love.

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