Purified of the Past

Purified of the Past

by Anonymous Warrior Poet | January 1, 2013

Throughout the years I have been a fan of fairy tales. I especially like the bustling bicepted knight who rides in on his trusty, gallant steed, kills the dragon, whisks the beautiful princess out of the castle tower, and soon marries her – both living happily ever after. I love the fearless fighting, the noble character, and the relentlessness to save the life and win the heart of the princess. While it has been years since I’ve had make-believe sword fights or galloped around the house on my stick horse, I still have the same desire: to woo and win the heart of a set-apart woman. 

In like manner, women have the yearning to be wooed and won. They long to be swept off their feet and ride off into the sunset with their valiant warrior-poet. Every set-apart woman desires their future husband to be godly, honorable, and pure; just as every warrior-poet longs for his future spouse to be pure of heart, mind, and body. But what happens when the heroic knight rides in and finds that the princess has a not-so-pure past? What if it is not sparkling and white? Will a godly man ever sweep her off her feet?

For a long time I have been fascinated with Hosea the prophet. In the second verse of this book, when God began to speak to Hosea, the Lord said: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry…” (Hosea 1:2).  

Excuse me, God? You want me to marry a prostitute? Do you know what prostitutes are like? They’re not…pure. 

The first words God spoke to Hosea were not confirmation that God had called him to be a prophet (like God gave Jeremiah), but rather a command to love and marry Gomer, the harlot who was defiled, impure, and an outcast. Hosea obeyed and found himself truly in love with this woman. A few years later, Hosea wakes up to find his three children – but no Gomer. Where did she go? Sadly, she had returned to her previous life and was selling herself once again. God calls Hosea for a second time, saying, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery…” (Hosea 3:1). 

Excuse me, God? I know I love her and all, but look what she’s done! She’s not…pure.

The beauty of the book of Hosea is the picture of God’s relentless and passionate love for His bride. God uses the life of Hosea to showcase His love for Israel. Israel had “committed great harlotry by departing from the LORD” (Hosea 1:2). Have we not all done the same?

Psalm 14:3 says, “They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one.” Ezekiel 16:1-14 is a great picture of this. As God speaks to the nation of Israel (and to us), He compares them to a newborn baby covered in filth and blood. They were despised, discarded, defiled, and not…pure. But God was so overcome with love that against all reason He cried out, “Live!” and proceeds to explain in verses 9-14 how He washed their filth, clothed their nakedness, and made them beautiful.

Is this not exactly what Christ has done on the cross? We have all turned aside, become corrupt and filled with sin, and prostituted ourselves to the world. Yet against all reason, the King of kings and Lord of lords, “who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-6). We who were once defiled and discarded have been clothed with Christ and find our life in Him.

Hebrews 10:22-23 declares, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” Do you not see that in Jesus our bodies have been washed with pure water and our heart is brand new, cleansed from an evil conscience, and full of the assurance of faith? In other words, you are a new creation! Your old life, the old way of doing things, and your past impurity have all passed away; behold, all things have become new (see 2 Cor. 5:17). Jesus has forgiven your sins and has set you free from the power of sin! You can, from this moment forward, live in triumph and victory and freedom – but only as you remain in Him.

How can you know that a heroic warrior-poet will love you regardless of your past and sweep you off your feet? Because that is what Jesus has done for His bride, the Church. The Church wasn’t a spotless bride, but Jesus still decided to choose her. It was through His death and resurrection that Jesus made her a spotless bride; which means He chose her when she was not yet pure. Jesus was able to look beyond the filth and impurity and see what the Church was supposed to be: a set-apart, spotless bride who lives surrendered and dependent upon Him. And He made it possible for her to become just that.

A true, godly warrior-poet is filled with the Spirit of Jesus, which means that His heart, His nature, and His attitude are working through that warrior-poet’s life. As a warrior-poet, I do long for a bride who is pure of mind, heart, soul, and body. But whenever God chooses to reveal my future wife to me, despite her past, I know without a doubt that I will see her through the eyes of Jesus and love her with His love. I will see a set-apart woman who is fully given over to the King, a woman who is completely surrendered and dependent upon Jesus, and a woman who has been forgiven, washed clean, and made new.

Not long ago I read Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Quest for Love. In one of the final chapters, Elisabeth shares the story of a young woman who, in her twenties, began to take her relationship with Jesus seriously. As she contemplated marriage, she was fearful of what her future husband might think of her not-so-pure past. She poured out her heart to her mentor, and was greatly comforted by the motherly woman’s response: “She assured me that should God bring a young man into my life, then at the right time God would both give me courage to tell him and would pour out His grace on the young man so that he would readily forgive me” (p. 193). 

While it may not be easy to have such a conversation, rest assured that true, godly warrior-poets will “love [their] wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27). Jesus has taken the Church, made her a spotless bride, and loved her unconditionally  – despite her past. If you are found in Him, then He has done the same to you; and a godly man who looks at your life will only see you as surrendered, spotless, and pure before the King.*

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