Moral Purity: Fill Your Mind – Part 6

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

The problem of lust, impurity and immorality is a major issue with both genders today. Our society is plagued with sexual immorality and the church is no less affected.

The Internet has been unique in both its blessing, and its curse. Immorality in every form imaginable is at your fingertips via the Internet. Because of this fact, I have investigated, tested and used many programs for monitoring and accountability for computers and the Internet. The two best that I have found are “Covenant Eyes” and “I Am Big Brother”.

I keep repeating this opening with each lesson so that the foundational idea remains clear. From our main Bible verse (Ephesians 5.3), notice the breakdown of the words in Greek:

  • “immorality” (porneia) – illicit sex, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, all forms of deviant sexual activity, sex with a divorced man or woman
  • “any” (pas) – all things, every, whosoever, everyone, whole, all manner of, every thing, whatsoever, always
  • “impurity” (akatharsia) – uncleanness; lustful, luxurious, profligate living; impure motives
  • “named” (onomazo) – call, to utter, to make mention of

Studying the original meaning helps us to understand how deep and encompassing this imperative from Paul is. He is saying, “let NO form of sexual impurity or lust or uncleanness be mentioned, uttered or named about any person who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.

At this point in our series, we have learned (view the all series here) that:

  • The command for sexual purity is clear and all encompassing (Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28; Acts 15:29; Romans 13:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Corinthians 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Jude 7; Romans 12:1)
  • Sexual sin does not just happen “by accident”; it is a series of steps that lead us closer and closer to edge of the “cliff” where a stumble or gust of wind can blow us off into tragedy.
  • We are to flee sexual immorality; run from it; get as far away as possible rather than stand and put up a “fight” (1Cor 6.18)
  • We cannot have a “two second mentality” about moral purity; “2 seconds” is a great rule for safe driving, but it is suicidal when it comes to sexual immorality. We should not simply be better than the world (a safe distance behind), we should know what God’s standard is, and adhere to it.
  • Sexual immorality is always STUPID. It is never right, never healthy, never good and will never be without consequences (Gal 6.7); conversely, moral purity is always smart and will always be honored, rewarded and blessed by God.
  • We need to know our enemy and have a plan; recognize the areas, times or people that represent temptation or moral failure in your life; have a plan on how you will aggressively take hold of moral purity in those times when you cannot avoid the temptation all together.

In the battle for moral purity, it is not simply enough to think, “I will not think about anything immoral”. The very fact of thinking that thought keeps your mind thinking about it! Don’t believe me? Try this:

There is spider in you shoe – but don’t think about it. DO NOT think about that spider in your shoe. Repeat to yourself over and over, “I will not think about the spider in my shoe.”

What are you thinking about now? Nothing but the spider in your shoe. Dealing with lustful thought or sexual temptation is much the same. You can’t simply deal with it by declaring that you are going to think about it. That very act will steer your mind towards continually thinking about it. So what should you do? The same thing we always do when it comes to living a Christian life: turn to God’s word.

Learn to immediately replace the temptation or lustful thought
in your mind with the pure words of Holy Scripture.

This will get your mind going in another direction so that sin cannot cultivate:

James 1:14-15 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. (NKJV)

We are tempted and drawn into sin. If we allow it to grow it will give birth to sin. How do you keep something from being born? You kill it. How do you kill lust and sexually impure thoughts? By executing them with God’s Word:

  • When a beautiful or immodest person tempts you to lust:
    Job 31:1 “I have made a covenant with my eyes; Why then should I look upon a young woman? (NKJV)
  • When a TV or movie tempts you to watch something immoral:
    Psalm 101:3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. (NKJV)
  • When another person entice you with flirtation and flattery and draws your attention from your spouse:
    James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (NKJV)
  • When you are a mouse click away from a pornography or impurity on your computer:
    1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (NKJV)
  • When you find your mind turning to or fixated on impure sexual thoughts, desires or dreams:
    Proverbs 15:26 The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, But the words of the pure are pleasant. (NKJV)
  • When you are tempted to rationalize or justify your participation in something impure – perhaps using self-pity or selfishness as your reason (ie, “my husband doesn’t love me like he should, so it’s not my fault” or “my wife doesn’t give me enough sex, so I can’t help it”):
    Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (NKJV)

In the battle for moral purity, you must not leave a void in your mind by simply trying not to think about the temptation. Actively fill your mind with God’s Word and displace wicked thoughts with holy ones.

Our Heavenly Father, Help us to know Your word and use it to fill our mind with holiness. We ask that through Your Spirit, You will bring just the verse to mind to help us be morally pure. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Do you have any Bible verses ready to help you, 1) deal with sin, and 2) replace sinful thoughts with holy thoughts? Do you believe there is any real benefit in this, or is it just nice Christian suggestion?

Application: We do not exist in a vacuum. Something is in our mind all the time. If you want to have victory against impure thoughts, learn to replace them with holy words from the Bible.

  • If you are having trouble with immorality and the Internet, Covenant Eyes is my recommended service for helping you in this area. This service tracks your activity, and send a report or the accountability partner(s) you choose. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp
  • If you need to monitor and record the activity on a computer including email and instant messaging, my recommended program is “I Am Big Brother”. It cannot be uninstalled without security privileges and can run secretly in the background. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

(seriesid:35)


Moral Purity: Know Your Enemy; Have a Plan – Part 5

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

The problem of lust, impurity and immorality is a major issue with both genders today. Our society is plagued with sexual immorality and the church is no less affected.

The Internet has been unique in both its blessing, and its curse. Immorality in every form imaginable is at your fingertips via the Internet. Because of this fact, I have investigated, tested and used many programs for monitoring and accountability for computers and the Internet. The two best that I have found are “Covenant Eyes” and “I Am Big Brother”.

I keep repeating this opening with each lesson so that the foundational idea remains clear. From our main Bible verse (Ephesians 5.3), notice the breakdown of the words in Greek:

  • “immorality” (porneia) – illicit sex, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, all forms of deviant sexual activity, sex with a divorced man or woman
  • “any” (pas) – all things, every, whosoever, everyone, whole, all manner of, every thing, whatsoever, always
  • “impurity” (akatharsia) – uncleanness; lustful, luxurious, profligate living; impure motives
  • “named” (onomazo) – call, to utter, to make mention of

Studying the original meaning helps us to understand how deep and encompassing this imperative from Paul is. He is saying, “let NO form of sexual impurity or lust or uncleanness be mentioned, uttered or named about any person who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.

At this point in our series, we have learned (view the all series here) that:

  • The command for sexual purity is clear and all encompassing (Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28; Acts 15:29; Romans 13:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Corinthians 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Jude 7; Romans 12:1)
  • Sexual sin does not just happen “by accident”; it is a series of steps that lead us closer and closer to edge of the “cliff” where a stumble or gust of wind can blow us off into tragedy.
  • We are to flee sexual immorality; run from it; get as far away as possible rather than stand and put up a “fight” (1Cor 6.18)
  • We cannot have a “two second mentality” about moral purity; “2 seconds” is a great rule for safe driving, but it is suicidal when it comes to sexual immorality. We should not simply be better than the world (a safe distance behind), we should know what God’s standard is, and adhere to it.
  • Sexual immorality is always STUPID. It is never right, never healthy, never good and will never be without consequences (Gal 6.7); conversely, moral purity is always smart and will always be honored, rewarded and blessed by God.

A significant part of battling sexual immorality is knowing specifically what, where, who and when your particular battles are. Taking a “shoot from the hip” or “I’ll deal with it when it pops up” attitude is typically disastrous. On the other hand, if you identify and prepare for the battle, you won’t be caught by surprise or with your guard down when temptation comes calling.

The best way to teach this is by giving examples. Let’s say you’re a guy struggling with lust and everyday on your way home you pass by a billboard with swimsuit clad beauty that you just cannot keep your eyes off of. You’ve developed a habit of fanatizing or lusting about this image for several minutes after driving by, maybe even taking this woman (via your imagination) into your bedroom at home. This routine has formed unconsciously in your mind. You didn’t set out to do it, it just sort of evolved over time.

Okay, what to do now? First, know your enemy. Recognize and admit that this has become a source of moral failure for you. Recognize and admit the power it has come to have in your life. Don’t rationalize that it’s “just a billboard; I won’t look”.

Are you serious about removing the “hint” of sexual immorality in your life? What is the obvious best plan? You may have to have multiple options starting with the best: don’t drive by the sign. But that may not always be possible, nor can you avoid every billboard. So your plan might contain two elements: what will you do if you see an immoral billboard and what Bible verses can be brought to mind to keep lust out? You might decide to literally say out loud authoritatively “I have a covenant with my eyes, I will not look on anything unGodly” (Job 31.1). Then have a verse memorized that speaks of holiness or purity.

The point is that you KNOW your weaknesses,
you KNOW your enemy, and you have PLANNED your battle strategy.

It’s easy to pick on guys when it comes to visual images, so what about you ladies? First, I’m not so sure anymore that visual lust is the “guys only” problem it is generally declared to be. It is my opinion that our younger generations of females are becoming every bit as sensual and lustful as the fellas have a reputation for.

Let’s take a female who struggles with immorality in the form of fantazing about life or sex with another man and it is manifested by what she does when her husband is not at home. Maybe she indulges herself via soap operas on TV, or chatting online with men over the Internet.

Beware… the Internet now allows electronic adultery
to march straight into our homes without ever ringing
the doorbell or sneaking in a window

So what can a woman do in this situation? The same as the guy – recognize the source of the problem and the opportunity for sin that it represents (know your enemy!) Then have a plan and Bible verses that will steer you away from sin and towards holiness. Make your situation known to a Godly woman who can hold you accountable. Ask a Godly mentor to feel free to drop by or call unexpectedly and ask how you’re doing in this area. Load software on your computer that will record what you are doing for someone else to help monitor. Turn the TV off. Make plans for Bible study or Christian service during the times when you would have been watching TV. Write Bible verses on index cards to pull out and quote when the temptation arises.

The point is, you must have a plan. You must be proactive and aggressive about moral purity in your life. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum or by accident. You have to want it, choose it and go after it.

2 Peter 1:5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; (KJV)

The idea here of “giving all diligence” is that while God empowers us (and He is ultimately the only reason why we can succeed), we are to come along side of God and try with all our might. It’s like a father who is teaching his young son how to mow the grass. By himself, the boy is powerless to push or control the heavy lawnmower. So Dad puts his hands next to the boy’s and pushes/guides the mower while the little boy works as hard as he can to do it himself.

We are to do the same in our Christian walk. We are to try as hard as we possibly can, knowing and understanding that God is pushing and steering for us.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Think about your daily routine… is there something that you see daily that causes you to lust?
  • Are there people, conversations, images or entertainment sources that lead you to sexually immoral thoughts?
  • Do you have the habit of “checking out” certain people at your office, on TV or in magazines who are “pleasant to the eyes”?
  • Do you seek out the sexually appealing portions of magazines, papers or the Internet?
  • Do you consider some things “innocent” that in reality are causing you to lust or be tempted? (underwear catalogs, swimsuit issues, TV shows with immodestly dressed persons, health magazines)
  • Are there places that you go that are sources of tempation? (the mall, the beach, certain restaurants, sporting events)

Sexual pleasure is a relentless temptation, and don’t think for a minute this just applies to viewing pornography or committing adultery. It is just as destructive in the form of lustful thoughts, emotional fantazing or casual sexual gratification (visual, emotional or physical).

When it comes to sexual purity, it IS a battle. It doesn’t happen by default or accident. You must know your enemy and fight hard to be pure and holy. God WILL give you the victory if you allow Him empower you (“push the mower”) but God expects us to be active and aggressive about purity.

Our Heavenly Father, Helps to know and recognize the areas of our life that lead us into sexual impurity. We prayer that You will empower us and guide us and we give our very best effort to be holy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Have you taken time to know your enemy? What areas, activities, places, people and things send you towards impurity? Do you have a plan on how to avoid or battle the enemy?

Application: We fool ourselves if we think we will be morally pure by default, by accident or without effort. We live in a world that relentlessly presents opportunities for sexual immorality and without a deliberate effort to be holy, we cannot help but be influenced by the world. Know your enemy; have a plan.

  • If you are having trouble with immorality and the Internet, Covenant Eyes is my recommended service for helping you in this area. This service tracks your activity, and send a report or the accountability partner(s) you choose. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp
  • If you need to monitor and record the activity on a computer including email and instant messaging, my recommended program is “I Am Big Brother”. It cannot be uninstalled without security privileges and can run secretly in the background. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

(seriesid:35)


Moral Purity: SMART – Part 4

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

The problem of lust, impurity and immorality is a major issue with both genders today. Our society is plagued with sexual immorality and the church is no less affected.

The Internet has been unique in both its blessing, and its curse. Immorality in every form imaginable is at your fingertips via the Internet. Because of this fact, I have investigated, tested and used many programs for monitoring and accountability for computers and the Internet. The two best that I have found are “Covenant Eyes” and “I Am Big Brother”.

I keep repeating this opening with each lesson so that the foundational idea remains clear. From our main Bible verse (Ephesians 5.3), notice the breakdown of the words in Greek:

  • “immorality” (porneia) – illicit sex, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, all forms of deviant sexual activity, sex with a divorced man or woman
  • “any” (pas) – all things, every, whosoever, everyone, whole, all manner of, every thing, whatsoever, always
  • “impurity” (akatharsia) – uncleanness; lustful, luxurious, profligate living; impure motives
  • “named” (onomazo) – call, to utter, to make mention of

Studying the original meaning helps us to understand how deep and encompassing this imperative from Paul is. He is saying, “let NO form of sexual impurity or lust or uncleanness be mentioned, uttered or named about any person who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.

At this point in our series, we have learned (view the all series here) that:

  • The command for sexual purity is clear and all encompassing (Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28; Acts 15:29; Romans 13:13-14; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 Corinthians 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Jude 7; Romans 12:1)
  • Sexual sin does not just happen “by accident”; it is a series of steps that lead us closer and closer to edge of the “cliff” where a stumble or gust of wind can blow us off into tragedy.
  • We are to flee sexual immorality; run from it; get as far away as possible rather than stand and put up a “fight” (1Cor 6.18)
  • We cannot have a “two second mentality” about moral purity; “2 seconds” is a great rule for safe driving, but it is suicidal when it comes to sexual immorality. We should not simply be better than the world (a safe distance behind), we should know what God’s standard is, and adhere to it.

Today I want to impart to you a very deep, complex and difficult concept. It’s not new. I didn’t make it up. Other writers have expounded on it and this is simply my version of it. Ready? Here goes:

Sexual immorality is always S-T-U-P-I-D.

Okay, it’s not really complex or difficult to understand, but you would certainly think it was given how lax our standards have become. Christianity today has become so desensitized by the world’s acceptance of sexual impurity, that we tolerate, or at least are passive about, things that would have made our grandparents have a cardiac arrest. We seem to get a clue of the Church’s condition from Jesus in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 3:14-22 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ” (NKJV; emphasis mine)

If there is a portion of Scripture that describes the state of Christianity today, it is hard to argue that these verses aren’t it. We are lukewarm – particularly about morality and purity. The Apostle Paul was well acquainted with these conditions because he wrote the Epistles of the New Testament in a time when sexual immorality was rampant.

Why is sexual immorality ALWAYS stupid?

Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (KJV)

God will NOT be made fun of. If you plant a seed, it will grow something. If you plant sexual immorality, you WILL reap a bitter harvest. It might take a week, or 6 months or 20 years… but make no mistake – you will reap the consequences of sexually immorality. It can come in the form of marriage problems, sexual problems, rebellious kids, shallow fellowship with God – any number of manifestations. We cannot know the exact form of consequences that will come, but we can know for sure that they will come.

There are no exceptions, no excuses, no way to avoid it. Sexual immorality is always stupid. Period. Don’t fool yourself about it.

Conversely, purity is ALWAYS smart. God will always honor it, always bless it, always reward for it. You can never go wrong by choosing purity. (Randy Alcorn’s book – The Purity Principle – is an excellent lesson on this).

Why such a simple, “milk” lesson (Heb 5.12) today? This point seems so OBVIOUS, doesn’t it? On the surface, I would agree – but given the tolerance for sexual immorality that the average Christian seems to have, it is a lesson that needs to be taught and retaught. It would appear by observing how we (Christians, churches) dress, how we talk, what we enjoy and what we entertain ourselves with, we don’t truly believe that ALL sexual immorality is stupid. We apparently don’t believe there should be NO HINT of sexual immorality in our lives. Or perhaps we don’t understand what “hint” means. Somewhere between our head and our heart, the message of moral purity is getting lost, diminished or distorted.

Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART. Class dismissed.

Our Heavenly Father, Help us to realize that You have given us purity as a gift and not some sort of stingy constraint. Help us to truly understand the stupidity of immorality. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Do you believe that sexual impurity is always stupid? Does your life reflect it? Does your choice of entertainment reflect that belief? Does the things your allow your eyes to look at and hears to ear confirm that you believe purity is always smart, and immorality is always stupid?

Application: Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART. Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART. Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART. Repeat after me: SEXUAL IMMORALITY IS ALWAYS STUPID. PURITY IS ALWAYS SMART.

  • If you are having trouble with immorality and the Internet, Covenant Eyes is my recommended service for helping you in this area. This service tracks your activity, and send a report or the accountability partner(s) you choose. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp
  • If you need to monitor and record the activity on a computer including email and instant messaging, my recommended program is “I Am Big Brother”. It cannot be uninstalled without security privileges and can run secretly in the background. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?

(seriesid:35)


Moral Purity: In Spite of Culture – Part 3

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

The problem of lust, impurity and immorality is a major issue with both genders today. Our society is plagued with sexual immorality and the church is no less affected.

The Internet has been unique in both its blessing, and its curse. Immorality in every form imaginable is at your fingertips via the Internet. Because of this fact, I have investigated, tested and used many programs for monitoring and accountability for computers and the Internet. The two best that I have found are “Covenant Eyes” and “I Am Big Brother”.

I keep repeating this opening with each lesson so that the foundational idea remains clear. From our main Bible verse (Ephesians 5.3), notice the breakdown of the words in Greek:

  • “immorality” (porneia) – illicit sex, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, all forms of deviant sexual activity, sex with a divorced man or woman
  • “any” (pas) – all things, every, whosoever, everyone, whole, all manner of, every thing, whatsoever, always
  • “impurity” (akatharsia) – uncleanness; lustful, luxurious, profligate living; impure motives
  • “named” (onomazo) – call, to utter, to make mention of

Studying the original meaning helps us to understand how deep and encompassing this imperative from Paul is. He is saying, “let NO form of sexual impurity or lust or uncleanness be mentioned, uttered or named about any person who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.

At this point in our series, we have learned (view the all series here) that:

Sometimes we’re tempted to think that the Biblical writers are out-of-touch because they just can’t understand how things “really are” today. My teenagers often tell me that I “can’t understand” their circumstances or feelings, as if what they are experiencing is somehow unique to the entire history of the world. It’s not.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. (NKJV)

There is nothing new about the sexual immorality we face today either. When the Apostle Paul wrote the following, he wrote it to a grossly immoral culture saturated in sexual bad habits, deviancy and permissiveness:

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit. (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul was saying, “despite the lifestyle you have lived, despite the culture around you that approves of sexual sin, despite your old habits, the Lord does not tolerate sexual sin in the lives of His children”. These were not the Puritan words of an out-of-touch, sexually-frustrated, old white man who didn’t understand what “real” people face. Paul lived in a time and culture very much like ours today where sex runs the spectrum of “what’s the big deal” to “anything goes”.

We have a “safe driving distance”
mentality about sexual immorality.
Purity is NOT relative.

Paul did not give a command that was impossible to follow. God never asks anything of us that He does not graciously empower us to live up to. Nor is Paul’s command relative. We are not to simply be a little better than the world. Today’s Christian community typically has a “safe distance” mentality about morality. What does that mean? Consider the safe distance rule about driving…

When driving, they teach the “two second rule” about following a “safe distance” behind the next car. You pick out a stationary object on or beside the road. As the car in front of you passes that object, you begin to count, “thousand one, thousand two”. As long as you have not passed that same object before counting “two”, then you are a “safe distance” behind the car in front of you.

It doesn’t matter if you are going 10 miles an hour, or 90. The distance changes between you and the car in front of you; but it’s all relative. They speed up, you speed up. They slow down, you slow down. As long as you keep your safe distance of “two seconds”.

This works great for driving safely, but it’s a catastrophic approach to sexual purity. The world is going “90 mph” down the road of immorality. The typical Christian appears to be pretty “good” because they are a “safe distance” behind the world. But compared to God’s Word, we are driving recklessly. (Thank you to Dr. John Barnett for teaching me this valuable illustration! www.dbtm.org)

Paul emphasizes the nature of his warning by proclaiming the consequences: “Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit“. So just to make sure that we don’t say, “that’s just Paul’s opinion based on his experience in his culture”, he clarifies his intent by saying, “you’re not rejecting me if you ignore this command; you are rejecting God and the Holy Spirit”. Very, very strong words.

Our sex crazed and permissive society does not give us an excuse for lesser standards of purity. Oh, make no mistake, it certainly makes it easier and more comfortable for us to tolerate “hints” of sexual impurity in our lives. But no matter what our culture approves of, we have our standard clearly defined as Christians. We are not to simply be “better” than our culture, we are to uphold God’s standard no matter what the culture approves of.

Our Heavenly Father, Help us to realize that culture does not define our standards; You do. Help us to recognize where we have trangressed Your standards because we are measuring against the world’s standards. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Clothes, movies, relationships… in what ways do you loosen up your standards about sex because you are “much better” than the world? Or maybe you are even better than the typical person at your church; is that an appropriate standard? Compared to others, how do you measure up regarding sexual purity? Compared to Ephesians 5.3 and 1Thess 4.3, how do you measure up?

Application: Any standard except God’s is subject to change and become victim to rationalization and desensitization. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to evaluate the level of sexual immorality we allow via the TV, movies and music – compared to what our parents or grandparents would have tolerated. We don’t even blink at many things that would have been a bonified SCANDAL and SHAME ten, fifteen or twenty years ago. So don’t fool yourself about how our culture affects our Christian standards. They have been significantly loosened up but remain a “safe driving distance” from the world – giving us a false sense of obedience in many cases.

  • If you are having trouble with immorality and the Internet, Covenant Eyes is my recommended service for helping you in this area. This service tracks your activity, and send a report or the accountability partner(s) you choose. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp
  • If you need to monitor and record the activity on a computer including email and instant messaging, my recommended program is “I Am Big Brother”. It cannot be uninstalled without security privileges and can run secretly in the background. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?


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Moral Purity: Safe Distance – Part 2

(Click here to search for all the posts in this series…)

Ephesians 5:3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; (NKJV)

(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)

The problem of lust, impurity and immorality is a major issue with both genders today. Our society is plagued with sexual immorality and the church is no less affected. From our main Bible verse (Ephesians 5.3), notice the breakdown of the words in Greek:

  • “immorality” (porneia) – illicit sex, adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, all forms of deviant sexual activity, sex with a divorced man or woman
  • “any” (pas) – all things, every, whosoever, everyone, whole, all manner of, every thing, whatsoever, always
  • “impurity” (akatharsia) – uncleanness; lustful, luxurious, profligate living; impure motives
  • “named” (onomazo) – call, to utter, to make mention of

Studying the original meaning helps us to understand how deep and encompassing this imperative from Paul is. He is saying, “let NO form of sexual impurity or lust or uncleanness be mentioned, uttered or named about any person who calls themselves ‘Christian'”.

There is an analogy I have used over the years that especially applies to moral sin, in particular sexual immorality. It has to do with the degree of consequences that come with certain sins. On the one hand, yes, all sin is “equal” in that it just takes one to condemn us as unworthy to be in God’s presence. But, it is hardly arguable that there are different degrees of physical and emotional consequences that come with various sins – there is a much greater temporal consequence for murdering someone than there is for slandering them. There is a much greater earthly price to pay for cocaine addiction than there is for getting drunk one time.

I liken the sins of great human consequence to falling off a cliff and those of lesser severity to something akin to tripping, stumbling or bruising yourself. (Again, I am talking about the physical and relationship consequences, not the spiritual aspect). Adultery would be falling off the cliff. Flirting with the office secretary would be a stumble. Sneaking a look at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue would be like getting “tripped” while pornography addiction would be plunging off the cliff. Sneaking into a strip club would be a bruising, while engaging the services of a prostitute is a leap off the edge.

Every analogy will break down if you overanalyze it, so just take it for what it’s worth. What’s the point?

When you are struggling with sexual immorality,
STAY AS FAR AWAY FROM THE CLIFF AS POSSIBLE
if you want to avoid falling off.

This is just good common sense – practical advice. No deep spiritual revelations or amazing Biblical insights. Just old fashioned good sense.

I tell my kids – if you don’t want to end up having sex before marriage (fornication; falling off the cliff) then stay as far away from the edge of the cliff as possible; which means being careful about things that lead to the cliff’s edge: holding hands, body contact, lustful eyes, immodest clothing, making out, petting and overtly sexual behavior. There is a trend today with kids that EVERYTHING except actual intercourse is not actually having sex and somehow that makes it okay (perhaps we can thank a certain ex-president for helping to clarify that for our kids).

I go on to explain to them, “If you aren’t CLOSE to the cliff, a stumble or a gust of wind won’t blow you over the edge.” If you stay a safe distance away from the cliff, then you have margin, you have room for error, you have a buffer zone for mistakes or failures. I tell them over and over that you cannot be shocked and surprised to lose your virginity when you have spent several weeks progressing the amount and intensity of physical contact to the point of finding yourself alone, in the dark, unsupervised, clothes off, doing “everything” physically possible except intercourse. At that point you are teetering on the edge of the cliff, balancing on one leg, with a hurricane force wind blowing behind you. Don’t act shocked when you get blown off.

The farther you stay away from the cliff’s edge,
the more room you have to deal with stumbles, mistakes
and gusts of wind that blow you off course.

There are thousands of men (and many women) who are reading this sentence right now who are caught up in pornography, adultery, lust and various forms of sexual impurity. What each of you needs to understand (as well as those who are discipling them) is that we don’t just wake up one day and decide to be sexually immoral. The process occurs step-by-step, bad-choice-by-bad-choice, heading for the cliff little by little. Follow the progression:

The man allows a few extra looks at the short skirt (a stumbling step towards the cliff). Then he indulges in a little flirting and “innocent” fun talk with her (step). That soon turns into “sharing emotions” because “she admires me” (step). Not too much time goes by before he justifies lunches with her and then an occasional dinner under the guise of “work” or “helping” her ( big step). Soon, the physical contact starts. At first, it is light touches, a shoulder rub – then comes the first guilty kiss that he promises “will never happen again” (step). When the adultery finally happens, he is “shocked” that it has come to this (off the cliff!).

If our guy would have turned around and headed the other direction (away from the cliff) at the first stumble, he would have had plenty of margin and time to avoid the eventual fall.

A woman feels unsatisfied at home and begins to imagine life with her friend’s husband who is “so sweet” (stumble). Knowing that he is not “available”, she justifies beginning to “talk” in chat rooms on the Internet for the emotional support she needs (step). Maybe she begins to romanticize about an old relationship and how wonderful it used to be (step). Not long after the “innocent chat” becomes emotionally intense and personal; or she happens to hear that the old boyfriend is recently divorced and it would be nice of her to call and comfort him (step). Time passes and now a meeting is arranged since she has become “such good friends” with her online chat partner (step) or a “safe” lunch is arranged with the old boyfriend (step). You know the rest. No matter how many steps it takes, unless the direction is changed, the result will be a fall into sexual sin.

One more…

The young married man doesn’t see the big deal in looking at the beautiful, barely-covered athletic women in the nutrional magazine that just came in the mail (step). The Sports Illustrated Issue comes out and he sneaks a look at work in the break room when no one is looking (stumble). At his desk, he hears about some movie star who posed nude and he gets a look on the Internet (step). A year later, he’s getting divorced and has quit church because he is consumed with pornography and spends hours a day scouring the Internet for younger girls and more perverse sexual images.

Far fetched? Hardly. This has become COMMON, even for Christian men. Pornography addiction (and women are not immune) is the “secret epidemic” of the American church and it is just starting to come to light as to how serious and widespread the problem is. A popular Christian men’s gathering of tens of thousands of males found in a survey that HALF of the attendees had viewed pornography the previous week.

People don’t wake up one day and decide to be sexually immoral.
It happens a little at a time.

We make our way to the edge of the cliff, step by step, making bad choices and excuses that gradually decrease our margin for error or handling temptation.

1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. (NKJV)

God never tells us to stand up and fight immorality. We are to flee from it. Run away. Get as far away from it as possible. The alcoholic doesn’t go into the bar to show how he can fight his drinking temptations. The man caught in pornography shouldn’t stay up late at night, alone on the computer, to show how he can resist logging on and viewing smut. The woman engulfed in adultery doesn’t go on a date with the man she is sinning with so that she can “prove” she won’t fall again.

No. We don’t stand up and test our strength against impurity. We RUN from it. Flee. Turn around and get away as fast as possible. Move away from the edge of the cliff. Leave yourself room for dealing with temptations and failures.

This lesson is so basic, that I’m often tempted not to “insult” people by delivering it. What I have found however, is that this is all too often “news” to many people who are not exposed to good, basic Bible teaching. Also, you have that group of people who are conveniently ignoring this truth because they want to be “surprised” (and therefore somehow innocent) when they finally fall off the cliff.

Moral purity involves awareness of where you are spiritually. Purposely stay as far away from the cliff as possible. Start by making the right decision when the first temptation occurs, when the first look at a bikini clad women in a magazine happens, when the first signs of discontent with your husband arise, when the first physical contact occurs with your new girlfriend.

Our Heavenly Father, Help us to see the cliff and stay far away from it. Give us wisdom to discern the potential for immorality, and the power to flee from it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Contemplation: Have you ever been “shocked” at something sexually immoral you engaged in? Can you look back now and see the steps it took to get to that point? Are you currently taking steps toward the cliff? How close are you to the edge? How close would a good and Godly friend say that you are?

Application: Falls into sexual immorality occur after many steps have been taken to get you there. If you can learn to recognize the steps and turn around to flee, you can have success in this area..

  • If you are having trouble with immorality and the Internet, Covenant Eyes is my recommended service for helping you in this area. This service tracks your activity, and send a report or the accountability partner(s) you choose. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp
  • If you need to monitor and record the activity on a computer including email and instant messaging, my recommended program is “I Am Big Brother”. It cannot be uninstalled without security privileges and can run secretly in the background. Find out more here: http://www.seriousfaith.com/accountability.asp

James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)

  1. What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
  2. What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
  3. What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?


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