What I believe this means is that purity doesn't come from being born again, it comes from obedience to the truth that we have already believed. There is a progression here:
- obedience to the truth (the gospel of repentance and belief in Jesus, Mark 1:14-15)
- resulting purity
- sincere brotherly love
- encouragement to pursue a deeper love for the brothers
Of course, being born again, is a new heart and new life. A new feeling toward God and a realization of ones own dependence on God to live the Christian life. The living hope is Jesus. He is alive and we all hope to attain to the ressurection of the dead. Of course, our hope is a confident one. We are not hoping as if we were hoping that it doesn't rain tomorrow. We "have" hope because of something that we believe. That is more of the idea conveyed when God says, a "living hope".
So, as a result of the new birth that comes from God causing us to understand our hopelessness and need for Jesus and causing us to believe only in Him, we are purifying ourselves because we are new creations and we do this by obeying the gospel that we have heard. That is, the word of God.
In purifying ourselves, we are preparing ourselves for loving our bretheren. The wording of the text implies that without purifying oneself by obeying God's word, one can not love someone even in the most basic sense which is brotherly love. If we are unable to love each other, apart from being born again and thus purified and able to finally love each other, there is no wonder that our human efforts at love are always going to fail. Why? because we are fallen from the perfect state that God created us and live in seperation from his divine attributes. We can only be more like God when we obey him. Why? because obedience to God's word means to put sins to death: "sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry"(Col 3:5). If we don't put sins to death, we are being disobedient to God's word and therefore are not pure, and most likely not born again. The flip-side of this is that without being born again you can not put sins to death or be obedient to God's word!
So how is one born again? Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15). Jesus said it himself, repent and believe. What do we need to repent of and what is the gospel? Repentance means in the Strong's to think differently or afterwards. This means to have a change of mind about what you are doing. For example, you were going to the store and you changed your mind. In other words, you repented. Why? You repented because you decided you could make due with what you had. That idea that you needed the butter or whatever you were going to get was thrown out because you realized that you had something else that would do.
The beginning of our purification process comes from our new birth. Our new birth is the result of Jesus Christ using his Word to educate us about what we need to change our minds about. What we need to be corrected in is our view of self. Everyone is born thinking that they are sinless and that everyone else sins against them. God wants us to get the idea that we are sinful and we sin against everyone else but the most important one that we are sinning against and really the one that we are sinning against is God himself. So what God tells us in the Bible is, "You are a bad person. All your addictions and problems are a result of your choosing to live your life your own way by your own rules and your desire to live for everything under the sun except me. You have worshipped all the created things but have forgotten about your creator who formed you and gave you life."
So God wants us to deliver and account to ourselves about all these things and wake up and realize that we are acutally following everyone else on the road to hell and that we should fall down on our knees realizing that we can't make ourselves "good" or we are not good anyway and that we need God and that our hearts are bad and we need a new one. We confess our sins and our being sinners to Jesus and ask him to forgive us for living our lives according to our own wisdom and submit to God's solution. Namely, give control of our lives to Him! That is what repentance is and what God wants from us. This is the first thing that takes place. We are born again when we repent and subsequently believe in Jesus. This can take place quickly in the life of someone who already belives that Jesus died and rose from the dead.
It was a strange thing in my own life. I believed (really believed) that Jesus is God, that he came to earth born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, was punished on the cross for the sins of all the world and that he died, was buried and rose from the dead and was seen by over 500 people after his resurrection. My problem was that I identified with the world as being full of sinners and that somehow by praying a prayer and believing some facts, I was somehow taken out of the card deck of the "sinners" and had been placed in the card deck of the "believers". So, in reality, I didn't see myself as a sinner but rather as a believer. The problem is that even after a person believes, he never stops sinning and as a result is a sinner for his or her entire life!
The funny part is that God commands us to actually stop sinning and to serve him and follow him and live for him. We therefore are given the impossible task of stopping sinning when it is physically and morally impossible and told that if we don't succeed in this impossible task, we are, going to hell! "No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him." 1 John 3:6.
That is crazy talk! No one can stop sinning for the rest of his life! Everyone has sin! Only those crazy cooks who yell at people on the street believe that! Yep, you are right. I agree with you! Hahaha! fooled you! You thought I was going to tell you that my s**t don't stink. Well it doesn't I take pills so that it doesn't. But for all of you who still have this problem, there is a solution. Stop sinning and therefore you will stop sucking so bad! Why do you suck? Because you believe as you do. You think that it's ok to put up with a little sin. You try to do things so that you can feel like a good person. You go to church and read your Bible using your handy dandy devotional that you picked up off of the church pew. You neglect however obedience to the truth. The truth is to repent and believe.
True repentance has as its fruit, purity. Purity comes from obedience to the truth. The obedience to the truth is a result of a new nature to go along with your old nature. Now, you are in fact born again. This just means that you are able, in addition to choose sin, to choose instead to obey God and walk in the Spirit. Completely stopping certain sins can be achived but not apart from a continued obedience to God. This is how we maintain obedience, through a relationship with God. We do sin from time to time but God gives us the ability to stop say for example, sexual immorality all together. This is achieved through repentance regarding that frame of mind toward it and becoming obedient to God's word instead.
That's all for now. If anyone ever reads this I guess I will finish it. I sometimes get way to tired of writing and lack the skills to organize it well. I also just realize one or two things and since I haven't studied the passage as thoroughly as is needed, tend to ramble a lot.