Home > Theology > How do you know if you’re a real, born-again Christian? (Part 2 – The War for Sexual Purity)

How do you know if you’re a real, born-again Christian? (Part 2 – The War for Sexual Purity)

This post is directed toward people who are Christians or are trying to be, but it is probably especially pertinent to the men out there. There may be some…not so “G”-rated stuff in here, so I caution you ladies before you read further. Not to say women don’t struggle with this issue, but I can’t speak with any confidence or knowledge from that particular angle. To many (if not all), the following words are going to be a tough pill to swallow. In addition to reading this post, I encourage you to check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_E50AoHHlIs. Very convicting.

Sexual purity is not a popular topic these days, and it’s easy to see why. In the past few decades, there has been rampant sexual “liberation” in the United States, and anyone who goes against the grain is labeled as a prude or freak. Mainstream media, and especially the internet, are not helping things at all. Looking at sexual images or videos used to be a difficult thing to do. Sure, there were Playboy magazines and such, but very few men could get away with getting that in the mail. There are common anecdotes of boys who would hide such things under their bed…it took effort to get your fix. Even if you got away with it, your access was limited, the variety was finite.

Now, you can find endless images or videos in a couple seconds. There is almost no restriction on what you can find on the internet. Heck, our browsers are even helping us cover our tracks with things like “incognito mode” and such. Ugh. The world tells you that such sexual indulgences are “healthy” and “normal.” What chance do we have in a setting like this? The answer is, with human flesh and effort, none.

Make no mistake about it, this is not a minor issue. “Oh, everyone struggles with it, even those in the church. So it’s not that big of a deal if I stumble.” That’s how we rationalize it to ourselves. But there will be no safety in numbers. Remember the “narrow path” that Jesus mentioned? Well, purity is a big chunk of that path, so we better find our way onto it.

1 Peter 2:11 says: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

The Bible does not mince words. We sometimes tend to skim over the parts we don’t like and pretend like these verses aren’t there, but it’s time to face them straight-on. If we don’t battle sexual impurity—whether in our actions or thought life—we will be doomed. It will be the clearest of indications that our faith is not the saving kind. Our souls and our eternal salvation are at stake here.

In Matthew 5:27-30, Jesus tells us: “27You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY’; 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Jesus is not exaggerating or being fanciful. He’s stressing the importance of sexual purity because if we become slaves to our flesh, we are not serving God as our master. We’re serving something else entirely. Look away ladies, but I must say to the fellas that I don’t think it’s an accident Jesus talks about adultery then immediately talks about our right eye (one eye peeking?) then our right hand. These two things are the main perpetrators of our crimes, are they not? Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but maybe not.

Ephesians 5:5 adds: “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. ”

James 1:15 likewise states: “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

The picture is becoming very clear isn’t it? This is part of the reason why many believe that active homosexuals cannot reach heaven. The Bible states that it is an abomination to God, and people who live this lifestyle day in and day out cannot possibly be on the road to sanctification and ultimately salvation. But it’s not just homosexuals, but all impure people. The man who habitually indulges his pornography habit and fantasizes about women who are not his wife is likely headed toward a similar fate. Same goes for the person with angry tendencies who does not refine his nature.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8: “3For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.

Are we treating our bodies as sanctified and honorable vessels? Temples of the Holy Spirit? If we are not, the Lord is the “avenger” and will exact his punishment (I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be on the receiving end of God’s vengeance…makes you think twice about that “harmless” peek, doesn’t it?). Sexual thoughts in the mind or even masturbation may seem like victimless exercises according to the world, but God clearly takes it seriously. The Holy Spirit, if he indeed dwells inside of us as true believers, will have nothing to do with defiled vessels. It angers him, and verse 8 tells us why: it is a direct act of rejection against God.

One more verse to drill it home…

1 John 2 16-17: “16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

The implication is clear. Those who do not do the will of God—by indulging in the lust of the flesh, eyes, and the pride of life—will NOT live forever. They will perish once and for all in hell. Ted Haggards of the world, beware.

So what in the world can we do?

Please note that unless you are truly born-again and have the aid of the Holy Spirit, this sin has dominion over you. And no, abstaining from these thoughts and actions on this basis—“I’m too good for that filth, I will not lower myself and share in other people’s weakness”—is merely replacing lust with pride. Trading a sin for a sin is not a good way to sanctify yourself.

Let’s look at some practical ways we can overcome this issue. All it takes is three easy steps! (By the way, that last sentence was facetious. It is never easy. We will be battling this until we die or until our hormone levels are pitifully low.)

Step #1: CONSCIOUS DECISION

First of all, you need to WANT to purify yourself. Not just on the surface, but you need to really mean it. Don’t make this like another New Year’s resolution that falls through after a week, but take it very seriously. If you have the Holy Spirit, this desire should come about naturally, but we should also take the additional step of consciously deciding or even verbalizing it (to God and an accountability partner).

Job 31:1 says: “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.”

A “covenant” is serious business. It’s stronger than a pinky swear or a promise. That’s the level of dedication we need.

Step #2: AVOIDANCE

For most people, their own willpower will never be enough. Even Joseph, in Genesis 39, had to literally flee like a fool from Potiphar’s wife lest he fall to temptation. Absolutely brilliant. My guess is, he’s a stronger man of God than most of us, and he couldn’t handle it either. You don’t see him standing there, taking the risk of staring at her, grinding his teeth, and muttering, “Must…not…think…impure thoughts! Down boy!” No way, he runs.

In the same way, avoid those internet sites. Avoid watching those movies or fixating your eyes on that woman longer than you need to. Maybe you need to give up your favorite musicians who sing about nothing but clubbing and “making love all night long” (which is impossible anyway).

And as soon as thoughts start to creep into your head, shake them out immediately. There is always a point—like a crossroads—at which we decide to keep running with our fantasies and indulging them, or turning away from them. It’s a choice. (If we quickly choose the lustful path every time, it will soon become harder and harder to even recognize the crossroads/decision point. Be sharp and deliberate!)

Avoid being alone with another woman who is not your wife or family. Don’t flirt or put yourself in compromising situations where something MIGHT happen. Be smart and look ahead.

Step #3: CLOTHE YOURSELF AND WALK

Pun intended. Literally, leave those clothes on. But also, and more seriously, follow the verses below:

Romans 13:13-14: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Galatians 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

This means that growing in the spirit, walking with him daily, will empower us to defeat our sinful tendencies. How do we clothe ourselves with Christ exactly? There are probably a number of ways, but the two most practical things are 1) prayer and 2) memorizing God’s word.

Memorizing scripture can be a powerful tool to help us combat the things the world hurls at us. When we are tempted, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, the word of God can enter our minds at that moment to fight off danger.

Ephesians 6:11 exhorts us, in the times of this spiritual battle (which is lifelong), to “11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

How do we fight back? With our sword, the word of God. “And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)

And after you do all this, rinse and repeat…over and over, until you leave this earth into your glorified new body where this won’t be a problem anymore.

Let’s fight on brothers and not allow ourselves to defile ourselves or ache the heart of God. And those of you who prove to be false, keep on seeking Christ more fervently with brokenness. Do not have a false sense of security or complacency. Your eternal destiny depends on it, and otherworldly joy awaits you on the other side!

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