Last Sunday, I began preaching a brief series entitled Training for Godliness, which is based on Paul’s exhortation in 1 Timothy 4:7 to “train yourself for godliness.” The first message was a simple verse-by-verse exposition of 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, where the Apostle Paul reminds Christians of the kind of life that pleases God—and a very important aspect of that is sexual purity.
Sexual purity defined
Sexual purity confines sexual activity within God’s institution of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. According to the Bible, any sexual activity outside of marriage is sinful. Furthermore, sexual purity is a heart issue. Jesus said:
• “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”(Matthew 5:8)
• “Out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery.” (Mark 7:21)
• “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28)
Therefore, sexual purity is the state of living within God’s prescribed moral boundaries and guarding one’s heart from illicit thoughts. Every Christian man should be pursuing a life of sexual purity—here are four reasons why.
1. Sexual purity pleases God
The Apostle Paul wrote: “Dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God . . . For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1,3)
Doing the will of God should be the guiding principle for our lives as Christians. It isn’t something mystical or hard to discern, but clearly expressed in the Scriptures. Our Lord Jesus said the reason he came was to do the will of his Father. In John 8:29 he confessed, “I always do what pleases him.” Let us follow in his steps.
2. Sexual purity identifies us as Christians
The sexual revolution that began in the 60’s has come full flower. Practicing sexual purity is mocked and ridiculed by an unbelieving world. Sadly, many Christians have been pulled into it and have no scruples about hooking up or living together without benefit of marriage. One has to wonder if those who indulge themselves sexually are truly born again. Paul says those who practice sexual immoral acts are those who “do not know God.”
In 1 Corinthians he spells it out in very direct language: “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
Sexual purity is the state of living within God’s prescribed moral boundaries and guarding one’s heart from illicit thoughts.
Living in sexual purity can be a powerful way to testify to your faith in Christ. Consider the influence of Tim Tebow and others who have publicly taken a stand to keep themselves pure, practicing abstinence until marriage.
3. Sexual purity is healthy for the church
Another concern of the apostle was the impact sexual sin has upon the body of Christ. One of the great tragedies of our time is the moral failure of spiritual leaders. According to one survey of 1,000 pastors, 12% had committed adultery while in the ministry. Kent Hughes states “that it is no wonder the church has lost its grip on holiness; is slow to discipline its members; is dismissed by the world as irrelevant; is rejected by so many of its children; and has lost its power.”
The church is only as strong as the families that comprise its membership. Failure to maintain scriptural standards and practice biblical discipline weakens the church. Regarding the sexual sin in the church at Corinth, Paul wrote: “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” Sexual sin among believers not only transgresses God’s law, it also defrauds and cheats our brothers and sisters in Christ by hindering the work of the Spirit within the body.
4. Sexual purity satisfies our spirits
God’s gift of sex was intended to illustrate the personal intimacy, closeness, commitment, and love between the believer and Christ. This is the underlying principle of the Song of Solomon. Whenever sex occurs outside of marriage it becomes distorted—and even destructive. Just consider the fact that half of those who are sexually active will have an sexually transmitted infection (STI) by age 25. There are over 100 million new STI cases each year in the United States.
If the sexual revolution has taught us anything, it’s that happiness is never found by indulging the flesh. The broken lives and destroyed relationships left in its wake testify to the fact that people never find fulfillment by casting aside morals and living with an “anything goes” philosophy. Rather, there is peace and joy in maintaining sexual purity with your spouse. Living without guilt, without shame, and without risk brings a beautiful satisfaction to our spirits. We come to understand the love of Christ in a deeper, fuller way.
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Dr. Jen Gunter, a gynecologist and obstetrician, referring to pornography, hookups, and other sexually explicit activities, recently declared in the New York Times: “I want to be very clear that none of this is wrong. You like what you like, whether that is how you choose to be entertained, your fantasies, or the way you engage sexually. If it’s all consensual, it’s all good.” This is how the world now thinks, and it is diametrically opposed to the Word of God. You simply need to decide which one, the world or the Word, will govern your life.