Purity 3: How can we become sexually pure?

Purity

Purity

So.  We’ve investigated purity and talked about the importance of sexual purity for both singles and marrieds.  The question now becomes–how can we become pure?

Firstly, (and keep in mind this is professional opinion and not from the Bible) you have to WANT to be pure.  Very much like quitting smoking, losing weight, becoming good at a sport—one must WANT to do it.  I see a lot of people come in saying, “My wife wants me to quit smoking” or “my mom says I should lose weight”.  These people will not be successful in the goal until it becomes their goal.  Similarly, if you think in your head, “Mary says I should be pure” but haven’t bought into it yourself, it won’t happen.

Secondly, as I mentioned in Purity 2, remember, sexual impurity begins in the mind.  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Exodus 20:14) But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  Matthew 5:27,28  NIV  It is hard to avoid sexual impurity these days.  Everywhere we look, everything we read or listen to, seems to advertise sex in some way.  My friend lives in Korea and says that everywhere you go where she lives you are confronted with pornography attacking you from every visual angle.  It will be hard to keep your mind pure but it is very important. …[E]ach person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  James 1:14,15 NIV

Thirdly, What does God say about being pure?

1).  We need to immerse ourselves in His Word instead of that of the world.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?
By living according to your word.
I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:9,11

2).  We need to offer ourselves completely to God, mind and body.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:1, 2  NIV

3).  We need to ask God for His help.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:10 – 12 NKJV

4).  We need to follow God where he leads us.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

This part is the simplest part to write but, I fear, the hardest to actually do.  But if we truly want to be pure before God we need to put our hearts and minds to it.  Find yourself a group of friends and enlist them to help keep you accountable in this goal.  Do not dispair if you fall down or fail.  God is the God of second chances, and third chances, and fourth chances (read Matthew 18:22).  If you have been sexually impure in the past, or impure in any way, talk to God.  Confess.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 NIV  Then, move on.  We are not perfect, but Christ is and He will walk with us through our struggles.  If God calls us to purity, He will help us to get there.  Remember, He will never give up on you. Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NIV

So, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.             2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV

Purity 2: Sexual Purity

CS Lewis

CS Lewis

The Christian idea of marriage is based on Christ’s words that a man and wife are to be regarded as a single organism — for that is what the words ‘one flesh’ would be in modern English. And the Christians believe that when He said this He was not expressing a sentiment but stating a fact — just as one is stating a fact when one says that a lock and its key are one mechanism, or that a violin and a bow are one musical instrument. The inventor of the human machine was telling us that its two halves, the male and the female, were made to be combined together in pairs, not simply on the sexual level, but totally combined. The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. The Christian attitude does not mean that there is anything wrong about sexual pleasure, any more than about the pleasure of eating. It means that you must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.
CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, bk III, chapter 6, paragraph 2, pp. 95 – 96

I think Jack hits it right on the money with the above comment.  (“Jack” is what CS Lewis was called by his friends.  Really, with the name ‘Clive Staples’ I would have picked ‘Jack’, too!).

As single Christians (or married Christians, too, for that matter) sexual purity is very important. In 1 Thessalonians 4:1 – 8 NIV it says, “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.” 

So, obviously, sexual purity is important to God.  Now, because of the prevailing North American world view, though, it may be easy to get confused about the need for sexual purity and to feel that it isn’t really necessary.  “But everybody’s doing it.”

I happened to watch a sit com on TV a few months ago which demonstrated an interesting comment on how the world views Christians and purity.  The show follows the life of a young professional in New York City and her failures in love.  In the one that I saw she was dating a Christian “preacher” who was quite pedantic (overly concerned with formal rules and trivial points of learning, from Wiktionary) about his faith and yet was openly sleeping with the main character.  Perhaps the producers were making a comment on apparent hypocrisy…who knows.  But this shows that even non-Christians are confused about where Christians stand on sexual purity.  They are confused because we are confused.

You shall not commit adultery.  Exodus 20:14 NIV

God is very clear in the Ten Commandments that adultery is against His will and, therefore, is a form of sexual impurity. What exactly is adultery?  The on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary defines adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not his or her spouse.  So adultery is a violation of the marriage bed.

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ (Gen 1:27) ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,and the two will become one flesh.’ (Gen 2:24) So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” NIV

Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.  Hebrews 13:4 NIV

So as Christians, married or single, we should honour God’s command to keep the marriage bed pure.

Someone asked me once to describe what I would consider the characteristics of the perfect marriage partner.  They were rather surprised with my answer when I started with 1).  single, 2).  male, 3). Christian (list was truncated for space considerations!).  They criticized me for putting ‘Christian’ third on the list.  I told them that I might consider a single male Christian but not a married male Christian (or a single female Christian!).  If someone is married, friends, they are off limits completely.  If we hold that firmly in our minds it will protect us from temptation.

Adultery isn’t the only sexual sin.  Jesus answers His disciples in Mark 7:21 – 23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,  22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”  NKJV  So fornications can be different from adulteries.  What is fornication?

The on-line Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fornication as voluntary sexual intercourse between persons not married to each other.  This, therefore, would include pre-marital sex.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.  1 Corinthians 6:18 – 20  NIV

I am not trying to judge anyone;  I will happily leave that to God.  I am just trying to remind us of what God says.  He says that fornication, and therefore pre-marital sex, is dishonouring to our bodies and therefore to God.  Pre-marital sex is a huge issue today around the world, even amongst Christians.  Just watch TV, go to a movie with friends, or listen to the radio.  The media plays lose and free in North America with pre-marital sex as a way to advertise, a way to catch viewer attention.  There is a form of brinkmanship happening–how far can they push sexual relationships in the media before people will turn away?  It started out insidiously but has become outrageous. The more outrageous the relationships now, the more appalled people pretend to be, and the more likely their interest will be tweaked and that they will watch.

Remember, sexual impurity begins in the mind.  You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ (Exodus 20:14)  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  Matthew 5:27,28  NIV

Be careful, Little Eyes, what you see

OK, so we now know some of the forms of sexual impurity in the eyes of God and some of the challenges we have with being pure in this world.  What do we do?

God wants us to be pure–don’t give up now!  Regardless of what your past may hold, you can be sexually pure going forward.  Watch for my next post:  Purity 3:  How can we become sexually pure?