Why Pursue Purity

Is there anything in your life you’ve ever regretted doing, or not doing? I think we can all readily think of at least one thing---and more than likely many things that we wish we had the opportunity for a  ‘do over’. It’s noteworthy to me that in over 20+ years of teaching bible studies and counseling women of all ages that every woman I know who succumbed to the temptation to have sexual relations before she was married regrets that decision. In contrast, I do not know of anyone who chose to remain sexually pure until her wedding night that regrets that decision. Why is purity something God desires for us—regardless of our age? What is the cost we incur if we disobey God’s command to remain pure?

In a culture where sexual immorality of all kinds is exalted, promoted, and normalized--and at a time when even many who regularly attend church are biblically illiterate—it’s important for us to consider God’s command for sexual purity. 

First, let’s look at the definition of purity. According to my 1951 Webster’s dictionary --I prefer that edition because it uses words considered archaic in our now ‘sophisticated’ culture, such as ‘sin’ and ‘chastity’-- purity is:

The state of being pure; freedom from admixture with extraneous or superfluous matter; cleanness; freedom from foulness or dirt; freedom from sin; innocence (as purity of heart or life); freedom from sinister or improper views. Synonyms include: chastity, sinlessness, uprightness, integrity, virtue.

 God, Our Creator Who designed us and therefore knows what is best for us, commands us to be sexually pure. Our purity brings glory to God. The first thing we have to remember in order to understand why purity is so important is that God created us for His pleasure and for His glory (Isaiah 43:7-9).  We were not put on this earth for us to satisfy our own desires nor to engage in whatever makes us ‘feel good’ at the moment.  No, in fact, I am convinced that the reason we have skyrocketing alcoholism, drug addictions, depression and suicide rates is because we have forgotten God and His higher purpose for our life:  we have settled for so much less than what God created us to enjoy. He created us to enjoy unbroken fellowship with Him, a sinless, pure and holy God.  We cannot have close fellowship with God when we choose to disobey His commands; our disobedience is rebellion against Him and proves that we do not truly love Him (John 14:15). We have taken sex-- one of his greatest gifts-- and abused it by engaging in it when and with whom we want rather than following His clear commands regarding this priceless gift. It is to God’s glory that we live lives that are set apart from the world and set apart for Him. 

The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 1st Corinthians 6:13b ESV

As Jesus’ disciples we have been called to die to our own sinful desires—the lusts of our ‘flesh’ (Luke 9:23) which war against God’s perfect desire for us, which is that we walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and live in accordance with His will and His commands (John 14:15).

 Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.  Colossians 3:5

Yes, our sexual sin is idolatry! Sexual immorality is idolatry because the person who engages in the sexual sin in effect is saying, “I love myself more than I love You, God, and I am placing my lustful desires above your desire for my purity.” Sexual sin by its very nature is self-centered rather than God centered; it is putting your desires above God’s desires and putting your lusts above loving another person.

Our culture and the media would have us believe that those who have sexual relations outside of marriage are living the ‘good life’ and those who choose to remain sexually pure are the ones missing out.  However, the truth is that God only wants what is best for us and He restricts us from the things that He knows will harm us.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1st Thessalonians 4:3-8 ESV

Sex is God’s special gift to married couples, the means for a husband and wife to experience a unique and very special kind of intimacy and oneness. Our triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—share a mutual love and oneness that is completely pure and unblemished by sin. God intended for couples in a marriage to experience the joy and oneness of a mutually loving, pure relationship too. In the context of a committed marital relationship sexual relations allow for great freedom and joyful intimacy. When a man and a women both remain sexually pure until they are married and they continue to walk in purity after they take their vows, they are truly free--- free from the guilt and shame of sexual sin; free from fear of pregnancy outside of wedlock; free from STDs; free from bringing images and memories of other sex partners into the marriage bed; free from the emotional pain of giving themselves wholly to someone who was unwilling to commit to ‘love and cherish’ them ‘till death’ parted them; and most of all, free to truly give themselves wholly and unreservedly to their spouse and become in every way ‘one flesh’.

Yes, God designed our bodies for sexual intimacy and pleasure and for oneness with our spouse. God made provision for the sexual desires of both men and women to be fulfilled in a monogamous marriage relationship.

 Marriage is to be held in honor among all [that is, regarded as something of great value], and the marriage bed undefiled [by immorality or by any sexual sin]; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.  Hebrews 13:4 AMP

He also gave clear commands in the bible regarding with whom we should not have sexual intimacy for our good and for His glory.    

·      There is to be no fornication (sexual relations between a man and a woman who are not married to one another); this command is not just for unmarried teenagers. It is for people of ALL ages, including those who are older and single, divorced, or widowed. (1st Corinthians 6:18; 1st Corinthians 7:1-2)

·      There is to be no adultery--voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse. (Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:18; Matthew 19:18) 

·      There is to be no sexual relationships between two people of the same gender. (Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:26-27)

·       There is to be no sexual relations between a human being and an animal. (Leviticus 18:23)

·      There is to be no forced sexual relations. (Deuteronomy 22:23-29).

God tells us in the Bible that we are to flee from sexual immorality and that sexual sin is different from other kinds of sin. Our lives have been bought with the price of Jesus’ blood and we bring glory to God by choosing to obey His commands regarding how we treat our bodies. We greatly dishonor God Who dwells within us whenever we commit sexual sin.

 Run away from sexual immorality [in any form, whether thought or behavior, whether visual or written]. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the one who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body.1st Corinthians 6:18-20 AMP

God views sin—which means ‘missing the mark’ of His perfect will-- very seriously! What a contrast to the flippant way in which our culture views sin, glorifying what Jesus said can cause your body being thrown into hell!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. Matthew 5:27-30 ESV

Another consequence of sexual sin that many people overlook is that it can keep our prayers from being answered.

 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. Psalm 66:18 ESV

If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination. Proverbs 28:9 ESV

The bible lets us know that purity is a matter of the heart; before anyone ever engages in any physical act of sexual sin, the sin always starts in his or her heart.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. Matthew 15: 19

Therefore, it is imperative that we first ‘purify our hearts’ (James 4:8). We do that by seeking and drawing near to God; by ‘renewing our minds’ in His Word and meditating on it (Psalm 119; Romans 12:2); by confessing our sin to Him so we can be cleansed from our sin; and by continuing to walk in purity before Him and others (1st John 1:9; John 17: 17). How wonderful to know that those who choose to be ‘pure in heart’ are able to be in intimate, unbroken fellowship with God on earth and that they will also see Him and be in relationship with Him for all eternity !

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart… Psalm 24:3-4a ESV

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 ESV

How blessed we are when we choose to set ourselves apart from the world's standards and instead pursue purity, the key to unbroken fellowship with our holy Creator-- Who is also our good and loving Heavenly Father--and Who always and only desires our best!

Oh Lord, create in me a clean heart and renew a right Spirit within me! Please forgive me for sinning against You by my sexually impure and immoral thoughts and actions. Thank You for the gift of sexual intimacy and may I always and only use that gift in a way that honors and pleases You! Give me the strength to choose to flee from every form of sexual temptation, including my choices of what I watch on TV, the movies, or the Internet, or what I read.  Give me the desire to daily renew my mind by reading your Word so I can grow in my knowledge of what is your will and how to live in accordance with it. Empower me by the Holy Spirit to daily die to my selfish interests and lustful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the high calling I have--and the desire I long to fulfill--to live for Your glory!

 Written by Julie Van Gorp