Today we’re studying a value that as Americans we care a lot about in some areas of our life and in others we could not care less: the value of purity. For instance, we want pure air to breathe, pure water to drink and we want pure food to eat. But, we’re not as concerned about having pure minds.
We will allow almost anything in our minds and we get desensitized to it. It used to be that you had to go to an “Adult Book Store” to get pornography. Today it’s all piped into our home and life every day. The temptations haven’t changed. Human nature hasn’t changed. But, how we view it and how we access it has changed.
“God wants you to be holy and pure and to keep clear of all sexual sin… For God has not called us to be dirty-minded and full of lust but to be holy and clean.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3,7 TLB
As we read that verse, we may ask, is that possible in today’s world? Here’s a reason we believe that it is. A fish in the ocean has lived its entire life in salt water. It grows up in a culture where every moment of its life it’s surrounded by brine, water that’s so salty you can’t drink it yourself or you’ll get sick. Yet, when you catch that fish and bring it home and prepare it for a meal you have to put salt on it.
The same God that can take a fish and keep it in an environment of salt its entire life and yet not be affected by it, can keep you in a polluted world and keep your mind pure.
We normally fall into one of two extremes when dealing with purity: imitation or isolation. The answer is not imitation which says encourages us to be like the world and adapt to every perversion that’s out there.
On the other hand, isolation pushes us to completely stay away from the world. Let’s build a bunker or become nuns and monks to isolate ourselves.
The answer is not isolation or imitation. It is insulation. Just like God can insulate that fish and keep it in a briny environment and yet not let it get salty, God can keep you in a polluted world and keep your life, your mind, your heart pure.
How to Stay Pure in a Polluted World
1. Make a commitment to God’s standard
God says several things in His word that aren’t very popular. God says a number of things, particularly about sex, in His word that you may make you wonder why. The answer – because He knows a lot more about sex than you do and He understands the implications far better.
When it comes to sex, God invented it. And yet God has also put some parameters around it. His standard has never changed and is very clear regardless of opinion polls. Sex is far more than physical. It is a spiritual act and it has spiritual consequences. Not only that, sex has emotional consequences, social consequences, even has legal consequences.
The problem with sex education is not that they teach too much, it’s that they don’t teach enough. When we reduce sex to simply a biological function, we forget sex is so much more.
The Bible also says that sex is exclusively reserved for a man and a woman who are committed to each other in a marriage. Anything outside of that — sex before marriage, sex outside of marriage, anything else — will have profound consequences in your emotions, in your spiritual life, and physical life.
God puts these parameters in place not to restrict your freedom, but for your protection.
“How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:9 NIV
Sex is not bad or dirty. It is holy and spiritual. That’s why it is to be used according to God’s standard. Making a commitment to God’s standard takes courage. It takes character to have conviction and do what God says is right. Once you’ve done that, regardless of mistakes you’ve made in the past, then you’re ready to move to step two.
2. Manage my mind
Anytime you see somebody really messing up their life, it didn’t start with the actions, it started with thoughts. They were thinking dumb thoughts before they started making dumb decisions. The way you think determines how you feel. You feel a certain way because you’re thinking a certain way and feelings are what motivate you to action.
“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NCV
If you want to change your action, break a bad habit, or change your life you don’t work on the habit, you work on what caused it —the thoughts that caused the feelings that caused the action. God says your thoughts control your life.
This is how you fall into temptation. This is how affairs happen. Long before the actual physical act takes place, little decisions have been made that lowered the barrier. It happens like this:
- First, it starts with accepting sinful thoughts in my mind. “What would it be like to go to bed with that person? I wonder if it’s so wrong? Did God really say…” You start having doubts and you start fantasizing in your mind. You think it is harmless, but thoughts inevitably produce feelings. That’s why while you’re thinking it, it produces feelings of excitement.
- Second, there is emotional non physical involvement. That’s where you start flirting. You start making gestures and comments — that say, “I’m available.”
- Third, comes the physical involvement.
- Fourth, comes rationalizing my actions. “Everybody’s doing it. It’s no big deal. We’re both adults.”
The Bible shows us how to break these steps.
“Turn your back on the turbulent desires of youth and give your positive attention to goodness, faith, love and peace…” 2 Timothy 2:22 PH
The way you stop is by turning your back on what you’re thinking about. You have a choice. You don’t have to give in to temptation. It’s not a sin to be tempted. But it’s a sin to give in to temptation.
How do you break any temptation? Turn your back on it and replace it with something else. If my mind isn’t on it, I can’t be tempted by it. Change the situation.
One of the practical ways you can do if you want a pure mind in a polluted world is …
3. Monitor my media intake
What you feed your mind is just as important as what you feed your body. Could you live healthy on a diet of Dr. Pepper and Twinkies? No, you couldn’t. Yet the moral equivalent of a Twinkie is most things on Netflix and Prime. On television and streaming you’re taught, through exposure, that the only good sex is outside of God’s plan for sex.
Therefore, you have to monitor your media intake or your cornea is going to develop your character. The problem with television and media is it lowers your resistance to understanding what’s right and wrong. On television, sin is glamorized. Television doesn’t show the results of the sin.
“Keep me from paying attention to what is worthless.” Psalm 119:37 GNT
A way we often do this as adults is through the news. The news is often just a more sophisticated version of all the other junk. It’s worthless. Before you click on that headline or watch that news story, ask yourself if that is really what God has called you to think about that day.
“I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.” Psalm 101:3 NLT
4. Minimize the opportunity for temptation
That means don’t place yourself in a situation where you know you’re going to be tempted. If you don’t want to get burned, stay away from the fire. Here are three verses that can help you with minimizing temptation in your life.
“So be careful. If you are thinking, ‘Oh, I would never behave like that’—let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 TLB
People tend to think the longer they have been a believer, the less they will be tempted. That is not true. The time you’re a believer has nothing to do with it. It really has more to do with how hard you’ve worked to develop conquering temptation.
Even Jesus was tempted. If you’re thinking, “I would never be tempted! I would never give in to that temptation! I’m too old for that. I’m over that.” The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful.” Given the right circumstances each of us are capable of any sin. If you don’t think so, you’re already in trouble, because it’s going to get you in a way you don’t see coming.
“Bad companions ruin good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 GNT
Choose your friends carefully. It’s a well known fact that most affairs occur between couples who already know each other. That means you’d better make sure that your closest friends are as committed to their marriage as you are committed to yours or you may be setting yourself up for some unnecessary temptation.
“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality…” Ephesians 5:3 NIV
You need some guidelines and guardrails in your life. Guardrails such as making a commitment that you won’t talk about your marriage problems, won’t be alone, won’t go out to eat, won’t travel alone, or won’t have late night phone calls with people of the opposite sex. Situations like these is where all that stuff begins.
5. Maintain my marriage
A growing relationship with your spouse will reduce the pull and attraction of adultery. Many people get tempted after they’re married because we stop dating in our marriage. We stop doing those things that keep the spark and romance going.
What happens is men tend to get married and think, “Mission Accomplished.” Now he, as a natural goal oriented guy, starts thinking, “What’s next?” He focuses on providing and turns to work and projects. The woman wonders what happened to all the dates and hours spent talking. She’s thinking, “Bait and Switch.”
“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love.” Ecclesiastes 9:9 NIV
“The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs… Do not deprive each other of sexual relations… so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” 1 Corinthians 7:3,5 NLT
For many of you, if you took the time you spent complaining about your marriage or fantasizing about something else and used that time to work on your marriage, it would be a whole lot better. You already have the time and the means.
6. Magnify the consequences of sin
The enemy tries to minimize the consequences of sin. Then after you sin, he condemns you.
“But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.” Proverbs 6:32 NLT
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15 NLT
Nothing damages your emotions more than sexual sin. God made you to be a sexual being. And since your sexuality invades every single part of your life, it’s not just a physical act.
Many people wish they could roll back the clock and undo mistakes they have made due to temptations they have fallen into. God wants to spare you this pain. That’s why God’s standard has never changed.
Premarital sex. Living together without getting married. Adultery. Homosexuality. Pornography. All of these are unacceptable to God. They always have been and always will be.
If you have been guilty of one or all of these things, God says He wants to give you a chance to come clean and start over. He is the only one with the power to do it. He offers healing, forgiveness and restoration.
The Path Back to Purity
Repent means we change our minds and admit God was right and we were wrong, we have sinned. David did this in Psalm 51. He prays a prayer after he committed adultery. The important thing is you do it now. If you’re in the middle of an affair right now, this is it. It’s over. It’s dead. It’s done today. Quit cold turkey, right now!
2. Receive forgiveness
God says He wants to release us from the shame, regrets and hidden hurts. God wants to forgive you and wipe the slate clean. The good news is once He’s forgiven you, you can forgive yourself which you’re having a hard time doing.
3. Refocus and replace
You make a commitment to live morally pure by God’s standard from this day forward for the rest of your life. That means having sex only with the person you’re married to.
4. Request help daily
Commit your life to Christ and ask Him to help you manage what He has given you. Galatians 5:16 tells us to walk by the Spirit and we won’t gratify the desires of the flesh.
“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT
Check back on your discussion from last week about forgiveness. Were there any action steps you needed to take? Anyone you needed to forgive? If you can’t forgive in person, did you use one of the other techniques?
Hear the Word
We want pure air to breathe and pure water to drink, but some of us may be less aware of our mental or moral purity. Is it even possible to maintain purity in a world where we’re continually bombarded by media trying to rob us of our purity? The answer is yes!
How do you stay pure in a polluted world? Make a commitment to God’s standard; Manage your mind; Monitor your media intake; Minimize the opportunity for temptation; Maintain your marriage; Magnify the consequences of sin.
- Of the six steps to stay pure in a polluted world, which one do you need to focus on right now?
- What is one temptation you have struggled with? What thoughts, emotions, or maybe even family history led you into the struggle?
- What are some voices you need to turn off in your life to live a pure life? This may be another person, or something from the sex-saturated media.
- A growing, thriving relationship with your spouse will reduce the pull and attraction of sexual immorality. What are some things you and your spouse did when you were dating that you both enjoyed? How can you start doing some fun things together again? (If you’re single, maintaining your marriage starts now. Commit to saving your sexual purity for marriage. Trust that God knows best and he has your best interest at heart. You can start honoring your spouse before you’ve even met them.)
- Regardless of what’s happened in your past, God offers you a new start today. Follow these steps…The path back to purity: Repent, receive forgiveness, refocus and request help daily.
- Using the “Personalize It” method of Bible meditation, put your name in place of the pronouns or nouns used in scripture. “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
Tell Someone Else
Prayerfully consider who you could share this message with. You could have a conversation with them around the topic using some questions from these Talk It Over Notes, or you could send them a link to message through rockbrook.org/sermons, the podcast or Rock Brook App.