Staying Clean


 Bill Burkett

Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of another man’s sins: keep thyself pure 1 Timothy 5:22

At first glance these words of Paul the apostle to young Timothy are not extraordinary words of advice. But when we get into what Paul said just preceding this word admonishing Timothy to keep his innocence, we find a lot of good advice that we can work on. The Word of God is to the spiritual life what the immune system is to our biological lives. If it is heeded it will keep us out of a peck of trouble, avoid a lot of regret and save us from laying awake at night with tears asking ourselves, “Why did I ever do such a thing.” But when we make a mistake recovery depends entirely on our attitude toward the sin we have committed. If we repent then we have a wonderful promise in 1 John 1:9 that says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Note that John used a very strong word when he spoke of our cleansing through confession. This word cleanse is katharizo which is the word we get our English word kathartic which means to be purged from impurities! This is how the Lord deals with any sin that is confessed. He returns us to the same state of purity we had before we made that blunder. Don’t carry your mistakes around and mope over them! Take them to the Lord and confess them. He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us.

Where we get in trouble and start taking on that dirty feeling is when we tolerate our sins and even our imperfections and excuse ourselves from doing wrong. Have you ever had someone do a very bad thing to you, like tell a lie about you or violate the confidence you put in them, and then later they come around and say, “IF I did anything to offend you please forgive me.” There are no IF’s about it! That person knows they violated you and tried to hurt you. Or, maybe that person never comes to you and apologizes, never acknowledges it to the Lord. Then they do it to another person and another until he or she becomes conditioned to living with their sins. They have lost their purity, their personalities become blemished and their countenance is altered because inside of them the dirt and filth of sin leaves them feeling empty and corrupted.

After a while you will lose your humility and will not be able to admit your wrong to those you violate.

The impurities just keep building up inside and you throw off the Holy Spirit’s whisperings with, “Nobody is perfect.” or, “He’s (she’s) done worse than that.”

They hang on every sermon to find something the pastor says they can use that justifies their wickedness.

They site the wrongs of those they have wronged twisting what actually happened until truth is lost.

They are suspicious of everybody because their own evil they project into the words and actions of others putting wrong meaning to what others are saying.

These Christians live in a world of another gospel but they sit beside us in church judgmental of every little thing.

They become cynical and unpleasant to be around.

They have lost their purity and with it their innocence.

They become arrogant and self righteous, whatever they have done, no matter how vile and un-Christlike they excuse themselves and accuse falsely those they violate.

They have lost their innocence and their sensitivity to sin.

They remain in the church and sometimes in places of leadership because the arrogance is mistaken as being authority.

But God knows they have lost their innocence and purity and with it their humility toward the brethren.

Oh, how important are these words of Paul to the church today when evil is all around us, without and within the church! Keep thyself pure! Thank you, brother Paul for this admonition.

Notice Paul’s advice to Timothy in this verse. First he admonishes, Lay hands suddenly on no man. While this is certainly in line with Timothy’s ministry and appointing elders to the churches it contains several things for us to watch out for every day of our lives if we want to avoid problems.

Avoid being impulsive: That is, to make sudden decisions without properly weighing out the pros and cons. Impulse is usually based on lust to possess something, impressed by someone’s apparent visible qualities before really knowing them and having seen their bad qualities. We all have qualities of imperfection but some are only passive flaws while other imperfections are aggressive and cannot be tolerated in a person working with or over other people. Lay hands suddenly on no man!

Marriage is a good example to use to make this clear. The marriages are when the two have first cemented a solid friendship. This does not require dating. It can happen during school or social functions. Friendship is the bond that must be there in any marriage unless it is supernaturally ordained of God. Way too many people get married today and don’t even know each other. Marriage is certainly one of those things that cannot be entered into impulsively.

This word suddenly (tacheos) an adverb, means rapidly, quickly. But we all know that anything of quality is a matter of a longer duration of time. Duration of time and quality are relative. The only time a person should act quickly without taking the time to think it out is in a time of emergency. If there is no urgency in making a decision then give it time. Time often makes our decisions for us. If we wait long enough the decision becomes very apparent to all involved. A sheriff was hiring deputies to his force. He was authorized by the city council to hire three men. He had twenty three applicants. As he viewed and reviewed the job applicants he finally settled on the three men he felt to be the best qualified. Being a Christian he prayed about submitting them and felt very unsettled about turning in the applications. He waited several more days and the mayor started pressing him. He still held on to the applications wondering why he did not have the right feeling (peace) to submit these names. Suddenly his answer came! He received a phone call from the FBI describing a fugitive that often uses police work to commit his crimes. The man they wanted was one of the men he chose to be one of his deputies! Within hours the FBI had their man and he immediately submitted the three applicants to the city council for hiring. Lay hands suddenly on no man.

Duration of time and quality as well as the ability to avoid error are wonderfully linked together. Many of the Christian qualities depend on our avoiding impulsive decision making. Life is made up of decisions and so are the Christian qualities; diligence is a carefulness to avoid error – that takes time. It often takes time to be honest and provide all things honest to all men. Just making out an honest tax for each year teaches us that. Time and character qualities are inseparable! Lay hands suddenly, quickly, abruptly, thoughtlessly, hastily, instantly on any decision you make unless it is an emergency.

Good advice from the apostle to us today.

And then Paul advised, Neither be a partaker of another man’s sins. The word partaker is a very nice word used often in Scripture and very popular among Christian organizations that promote fellowship. It is the word koinoneo, to communicate or to share with others. But in this case we are warned not to communicate with or share with those who want to share with us their sin, who want us to be their ally when they are wrong and support their evil cause. Keep thyself pure! A large group of people left a church I had been close to for years. Some changes started taking place in that church and many people with strong carnal behavior started acting violently toward their pastor. One women walked up the isle of the church standing before the pastor while he was preaching the Word, raised her hands toward him and over the communion table of the Lord started shouting and squealing and acting as if she was praying to drowned out his words. She waved her hands and kept on shouting. Others threatened the pastor with violence and late night phone calls. Finally they went to the local paper and told sordid lies against him that he was stealing the money from the church funds for his own gain. The story hit the front pages and the whole county was talking about this “crooked preacher.” None of it was true. Finally they left, got a lawyer and tried to sue him but there was no evidence and the judge threw them out of court and dismissed the charges. This group of carnals went to another location and started another church. They were the people with money in the church. They called me and asked me to come and be the speaker at their planned missions convention. I asked them if they had sued the pastor and accused him of stealing money. They admitted they had and had not apologized to him for any of the ugly things they had done to him. I said to the pastor, “Under those circumstances I would not be able to speak in your church.” But, he insisted, “We support you with $100 a month!” I replied with the same answer. In fact, in one month’s time I lost two supporters of my mission ministry because I would not be a partaker of another man’s sins. To Keep thyself pure is more important than money.

It does not matter if its your own Mother, a son or a very dear and long time friend or brother – Be not a partaker of another man’s sins.

In this admonition is the warning against allowing anyone to be a wrong influence on us. You will not stay pure if you keep close relations to brethren who have committed sin or transgress another brother and refuse to repent. To stay pure you cannot fraternize with anyone who has committed evil. By association you become a partaker (have fellowship with and share) their wrongdoing. I refuse to identify with or associate with unrepentant Christians who have committed open and harsh sins against another brother wrongfully in blatant disregard for the what our Lord and the apostles teach the church.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18.

Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. 2 Thessalonians 3:6.

Pure: It means to be modest, chaste, clean, innocent. Virtues that cannot be imitated. And when the impure is encountered by the pure impurity envies the pure. Guard it and keep it from its enemies. You will not only sleep better at night but you’ll see the glories of the holy city and spend eternities exploring the vast realms of God’s kingdom. One last word, Keep thyself pure.


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