The Battle for Purity
How is it possible to live in purity both in thoughts and actions when your body trembles with a longing for sex? These feelings aren’t wrong, after all it is God who has created us like this – we fall in love and are attracted to each other. But in the moment when we want something that is not ours, when we steal it in our hearts, it is sin. God has created us with sexual feelings, but this longing can become sinful lust if we satisfy it outside of marriage.
Our sexuality, that wonderful thing that God created in order to bond us with another person, is under attack in our age. We’re influenced by things that get us to forget the man or woman our sexuality is meant for. Instead, the focus is on what we can get out of sex without any fellowship with the other person. Today we’re often encouraged to do what we want to, and sex is separated from love and faithfulness.
The waiting time
It’s totally possible to wait until you’re married to have sex. I waited, and I know lots of others who have waited. Some were 25 or 30 before they married, but they managed to wait without going crazy. It can be difficult to wait, especially if you let your thoughts and fantasies take over, and you become aroused. Being able to say ‘NO’ is nevertheless often very helpful. This is particularly the case if it’s something that we really want, but that’s not good for us. If we always allow ourselves to have what we want, we can end up fat, spoiled and lazy. Bad sex is rubbish, but good sex belongs to our life partner. ‘Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life’ (1). When you fulfil a dream that you’ve been waiting for, it tastes so much better than the bitter taste that stolen fruit has.
In our day there is a long gap between when you reach sexual maturity till you get married. This means that there’s a long wait before the longings and the feelings God has given us can be fulfilled. At this stage it can be very easy to take a little taster before time. This can be in the form of unhealthy romantic relationships, fantasies, pornography, romantic films and books, or masturbation. These things make the waiting time even more difficult. Lust is never satisfied and always wants what you don’t have. Lust is limitless and can easily take control of you. However, there is something you can do to help yourself to wait in purity until you can enjoy closeness, intimacy and sex with the person you marry.
A covenant with your eyes
‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light’ (2). What you think about will be decided by what your eyes see. The sense of sight stirs your imagination more than any other of the senses, apart from physical touch. You can control your thoughts by choosing what you look at. If you continually look at pictures that stimulate your sexual feelings, it will be hard to control your thoughts according to the values you have.
In the Bible Job decided to keep himself pure, and said ‘I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?’ (3).
Today we also need a plan for how we can keep our hearts clean and pure. We’re surrounded by pornographic images which are created to arouse lust, and this influences our ability to see each other with pure eyes. So we need to have a plan for what we will allow ourselves to see, and how we will see it. We’re not responsible for what crosses our path, but we are responsible for what captures our attention and our hearts. Since God has created and activated our sexuality, He has the wisdom and the strength to steer it in the direction He has meant. He doesn’t want you to avoid Him when you struggle with thoughts and feelings, He wants you to come to Him. You need God’s help in the battle for a pure mind, and He will stand with you faithfully.
Fix your eyes on Jesus
If Jesus is your lord, you can lay everything before Him: your battles, your longings, dreams, defeats, your lust and so on. You can ask Him to help you to guide your feelings to healthy desires. The battle has already been won by Jesus. He lived a holy life for us, He cleanses us and makes us pure. The true battle for us is to continue to live as pure as we really are. ‘The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin’ (4). When you stumble and fall, and fail, you can place yourself in front of the cross and lay the burden on Jesus, and He will cleanse you. The most important weapon you have against temptation is the knowledge that you are pure in Jesus. It’s easier to say ‘NO’ when you know that you are pure. But if you see yourself as dirty, then it doesn’t seem so important if you continue to wallow in the dirt. You are pure in Jesus, so live in purity. ‘For the grace of God has appeared … training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions …’ (5).
Use the Bible
The Word of God is a powerful tool to use against temptations. The Word is mighty, it is effective and always accomplishes what it is meant to. The Word creates something in your heart when you read it, memorise it and use it. Use Bible verses in your battle against temptation. Here are some good verses you can use in this battle: 1 John 1:7; Titus 2:12; Galatians 6:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:21–24; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Timothy 2:22; Colossians 3:5–6; Ephesians 5:1–3; 1 Corinthians 6:18–20 and Proverbs 4:20–23. A good way to do this is to write them on stickies and hang them around your room. Memorise them, store them in your heart and speak them out when you need to. It works!
Good friends can also help you to live well with your sexuality. At the same time, other friends can be a challenge for you if they focus on wrong types of sexual lifestyles. If you have friends who talk and act in ways that awaken desire and lust in you, it is important that you think through who you spend time with. Choose good friends who help you to reach your goals. Because, ‘if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit’ (6). Good friends are great sources of support. Battles are best fought with others, so we need people on our side if we are to succeed. Use your Christian friends, youth leader, your parents, or other people you trust. We are all created by God, with the same feelings and desires, so we don’t need to be afraid of talking openly about challenges in our lives. Take advantage of the strength you get in standing together with someone. ‘Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!’ (7).
Good luck as you seek purity!
1. Prov. 13:12
2. Matt. 6:22
3. Job 31:1
4. 1 John 1:7
5. Titus 2:11–12
6. Matt. 15:14
7. Eccles. 4:9–10