How to Walk in Purity
People often relate purity with virginity, but I don’t believe that is the true definition of the word. I lost my virginity on my wedding night, but I didn’t live in purity in my single years and even for some time during my marriage. Many of you know my testimony and how at the age of 12 I was introduced to pornography. And as a result of that, I struggled to live a pure life for years. As time went on, I became addicted and battled with lust well into my marriage.
What People Think Purity Is
Purity and virginity are not the same. Purity is something that many of us desire too little, too late. Living pure does not apply only to young people who are looking forward to marriage. God’s will for us is purity, before marriage and in marriage.
Sometimes when people are battling lust or other sexual issues, they believe that marriage will be the solution to end that struggle. However, that manner of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. Marriage is not the solution to your sexual urges or addictions. Marriage does not fix your purity, and if it did, God would simply provide a wedding ring and not His Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the only one who will help us to live in purity.
What is Purity?
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.Psalm 24:3-4
Read that again carefully. Notice it does not say pure hands, it says clean hands. Hands are physically visible, but your heart is not. Cleanliness is physical but purity is a heart issue. God’s desire is for us to come before Him with a heart that is pure, more than simply outward standards of purity.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.Matthew 5:8
It is interesting it does not say the pure in body. We see in this verse that you can keep yourself clean from sexual interactions but still battle with perversion in your heart.
This reminds me of a story from when I was a kid living in Ukraine. Whenever we had guests coming over to the house they would only let us know a few minutes before arriving. So my mom would tell us to clean the house, which seemed like an impossible task to do in 15 minutes because we were so messy! And instead of actually cleaning, what we would do was take advantage of the empty spaces behind or underneath the couches and beds and quickly hide the visible mess in any crevice that we could. A few minutes later when the guests arrived, they would see a beautiful, clean house. But what looked clean to them, was a facade to us. If they only knew what was behind the couch!
This is a good representation of the difference between purity and cleanliness. Purity is what lies hidden behind the couch and cleanliness is simply what people see. Oftentimes, church folks judge us based on our physical cleanliness–what they can see. But they don’t see the condition of the heart in the same way that God can. People can see that you are not in a relationship, and they know you are a virgin, but sometimes they don’t know that there is a secret battle with perversion that is hiding behind it all.
As believers, many of us have wrongly placed the emphasis on bodily cleanliness, which can be good to a certain extent, but that is not all that God looks at.
God asks for clean hands, but His primary focus is on the purity of the heart.
And you shall make for them linen trousers to cover their nakedness; they shall reach from the waist to the thighs. They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they come into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister in the holy place, that they do not incur iniquity and die. It shall be a statute forever to him and his descendants after him.Exodus 28:42-43
When I was young and I first read this verse, I did not know the meaning of trousers. After reading other versions, I was shocked to learn that it meant undergarments or underwear. At first, I was uncomfortable reading this and thinking about it. I imagined God telling Moses to ensure Aaron and his sons have their underwear on when they go worship. And not just any underwear, they were particular ones with a specific length.
I wondered what the point of this verse was and why was God so particular about underwear.
God tells Aaron that when he shows up in His presence, He knows if Aaron has his underwear on. And if he does not, they will incur iniquity and die. It’s easy for us to look on the outside and see how someone worships, how highlighted their Bible is, or how often someone keeps sermon notes, but when we come into His presence, God is asking one thing, what is under all of that? What is hidden under all of that?
I am not talking about a literal piece of cloth you can buy at Walmart. I am referring to the areas of our life that we keep hidden from social media and from every public eye. The areas of our lives that are private. That is what God looks at when we go into His presence.
Are your heart and mind pure?
Purity is wearing your “underwear” in God’s presence. When you go before God, go in purity. That purity is between you and God. Anyone can ask you if you’re living pure, and most people would quickly respond with a yes, but only you and God will truly know.
When you enter into God’s presence, He looks at your heart and mind, are they pure?
How to Walk in Purity
Purity is for everyone–singles, married, men, and women–regardless of the stage of life they are in. In the book of Timothy, we see that there are a few instructions left for believers that desire to walk a life of purity.
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.2 Timothy 2:22
1. Pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace
We should understand that purity is not a point you reach, it is an ongoing pursuit after Jesus. You do not cross into purity when you get married. Purity is not achieved when you stop consuming pornography or when you no longer stare at people with lust. It’s not a level to reach where you stop struggling, it is a constant pursuit. But remember that the goal was never to pursue purity, to begin with, it is to pursue Jesus. And as you pursue Jesus, it will result in purity.
If you don’t pursue God, you won’t be able to walk in purity. Even if you stop sleeping around, stop watching porn, or repent of your homosexual lifestyle, you cannot live in purity if you park your spiritual, devotional life in the garage of your religiosity. And Saul is an example of this.
“I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments.” And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the LORD all night.1 Samuel 15:11
God did not accuse Saul of not believing in Him, His regret stemmed from Saul’s lack of pursuit of Him. Saul stopped following God when he got his breakthrough and he became King. Saul stopped at his breakthrough and did not continue to pursue God, and as a result, he no longer performed God’s commandments.
Anytime you stop and park at a particular level of your walk with God, you will compromise physically, just as Saul did. He no longer obeyed God in areas of his life.
The root of our purity stems from our pursuit of God.
Have you noticed that when someone struggles with sin that they desire to stop, they pursue God desperately? When breakthrough happens, when freedom comes, don’t stop seeking God in the same manner. Don’t compromise and park your pursuit of God. After you experience deliverance God wants you to continue pursuing Him.
If you continue to pursue God, the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be evident in your life through your self-control. Make an effort to pursue God without striving, but by yielding, and the natural outcome will be purity and self-control. The Lord promises another level of purity in every season of your life. God’s goal for your life is not freedom, it is a purity of the heart.
We need purity to be in God’s presence and we need God’s presence to be pure.
You can be free but not walk in purity. If you want to live in purity, you must also pursue the Holy Spirit.
2. Flee also youthful lusts
According to 2 Timothy, we are instructed to flee from lust, not to try and fight it. God has only called us to fight Satan, but not lust. Paul tells us, “Run!” He does not say “Fight!”
Many people fall into sexual sin because they stayed in merky waters believing that they would have the power to fight off the temptations. So, instead of running they stay and end up in a tougher situation afterwards. I have had many young men approach me asking for prayer because they are fighting with lust. I tell them “Stop fighting.” And I ask them to describe to me at least one verse in Scripture where God commands us to fight lust. At this point, they remain silent and I simply reply, “I cannot pray for you to beat lust, but I can pray for you to obey the Word and flee from lust.”
When we look at Scripture, we never see that Joseph fought Potiphar’s wife. Instead, when he realized her real intentions he ignored her, and when she made an advance on him, he ran!
Practical Tips to Flee Lust
1. Remove Trigger Points in Your Life
There are things in your life that trigger lust. And the quickest way to flee from a lust issue is to cut off the main cause.
And if your right-hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.Matthew 5:30
Jesus said to cut it off, He did not say bring it to the altar so the pastor can pray for your hand. The root issue with most people batteling lust is that they choose to not flee from the very situations that cause them to fall into sin. The first step to being victorious in this area is to identify what the “hand” is in your life. It may be Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, or other social media sites that are feeding those cravings. And although those platforms may not be all evil or they may seem to benefit you in other forms, God’s idea of you fleeing involves the removal of your “hand” completely, even if it provides other forms of benefits.
You cannot find freedom from lust without first choosing to remove a trigger point.
I believe that single people should not have free time. Not because they shouldn’t enjoy their downtime but because so often the devil will use this as a way of leading them into a rabbit hole of enticing sin which they then cannot escape. I encourage single people to stay as busy as they possibly can. Joseph didn’t commit sin with Potiphar’s wife because he was busy working in the house. On the other hand, David fell into sin with Bathsheba because instead of going to battle with his men he stayed home to relax and sleep (2 Samuel 11).
Stay busy. Use your time to read, write, or do something else that will grow you and help keep you productive.
Make a decision today to cut off triggers in your life, completely. If you are serious about fleeing, then you have to be serious about removing a “hand.” You have to understand that if it is a tool in the hands of the enemy on bad days and it does good on good days, the good and the bad have to go.
Stop asking God to deliver you if you’re not willing to obey His Word.
2. Don’t Eat From That Tree
On the other hand, you may be saying, I have identified my trigger points, but they are stuff that I can’t necessarily remove from my life, so what should I do? In cases like this, the only thing you must learn to do is to just not look.
As simple as it may sound, learn to discipline your eyes to simply look away. For example, stores like Victoria’s Secret cannot be removed, they just need to be avoided. Or perhaps your trigger point is looking at women who wear tight clothing or little clothing out in public, or maybe even men who are shirtless. In these instances you cannot go up to them and ask them to wear baggier clothes and cover up, so I would advise you to do as God told Adam regarding the tree of knowledge of good and evil, “Don’t eat of it.”
Don’t stare, simply look away!
You may not be able to cut down the tree, but you can keep yourself from eating and digesting the fruit of the tree. Lust looks different for everyone. There are a variety of trigger points in our generation today that will be begging for your attention. But learn to discipline your eyes to move away from looking at that. It won’t be easy but it is necessary. As you do this you will steer your heart away from lust and into the purity that Christ desires for you to walk in.
3. Do Not Flirt With Sexual Sin
Another important thing to consider when walking towards purity is to stop wondering how close you can get to the cliff without falling off of it.
When you start flirting with sin, it’s just a matter of time before you’ll fall into it.
Joseph knew that sleeping with Potiphar’s wife was a bad idea (Genesis 39). He did not flirt with her, chat with her, or direct message her. Many of us fall into sexual sin because we do not flee potentially sinful situations, instead, we flirt thinking that there is no way that we’ll fall this time. As a young man, you have no business messaging a young lady privately in a casual way or snap chatting them. It may seem “extreme” to some, but these are safety precautions that can save you from guilt and shame down the line. Would you still do that if you were married? If not, then that has to stop today.
He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the LORD.Proverbs 18:22
Notice that this Scripture says that he who finds a wife, not he who marries a woman and makes her a wife. This implies that the young lady was acting like a wife, when she became one. I want to encourage young men to act like a husband in your singlness, and ladies, act like wives. Stop pushing your limits as close to the edge of the cliff as you can without committing sexual sin. Live with honor and respect for your bodies in the same way that you would if you were married.
Joseph ran! He is a great example of fleeing youthful lusts. He was bullied, betrayed, and proclaimed dead; he had no church, no pastor, no accountability partner, and he didn’t even have the Bible. Yet, when sexual temptation presented itself, he fled!
We have everything at our disposal and we still flirt with sin. Why? I believe that it’s for two reasons: we call wickedness weaknesses and we lack a fear of God.
Joseph told Potiphar’s wife he could not commit great wickedness before God. Our generation calls sexual sin a great weakness, but Joseph saw it as wickedness. We call it defeat, but Joseph called it disobedience.
Sexual sin has to be redefined in our minds and labeled as willful and deliberate disobedience towards God. When we look at it like that, we’ll approach it with repentance instead of simply saying, “I am working on it.”
Secondly, Joseph fled because he had the fear of God. So often we’ll flirt with sin because we have grown accustomed to the grace of God. And as terrible as it is, we have a generation today trapped in sexual sin because we are loaded with the slippery “grace” of God that has very little to do with true repentence and the fear of God.
4. Surround Yourself With Community
And lastly, I believe one of the most important things to do when desiring to walk in purity is to surround yourself with a godly community. No community easily equates to no purity. Not that it can never happen, but it is very difficult and rare to be able to live a life of purity outside of a godly, supportive community. You need others.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.Hebrews 12:1
Your crowd creates a cloud over your life. Friends provide influence, and the influence around you works like the flu; you catch it when someone who is around you has it. When you are surrounded by people who battle lust, you can catch the spirit of lust the same way you can catch the flu. Purity and lust are contagious. Put yourself in a group of people who are living in purity, and it’s only a matter of time before purity comes upon you.
A spiritual influence exists.
Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”1 Corinthians 15:33
Your parents may have raised you right, but good habits can be easily corrupted by bad friends. I always tell parents, “Do not pray for your kids, pray for your kids’ friends.” Everything your parents planted in you can be destroyed by friends in an ungodly environment. It’s because we are open to the influence of our friends, that we are susseptible to catching whatever they are influenced by, be it cussing, drinking, smoking, lying, cheating, etc.
Friends can influence us in such a way that we stop thinking for ourselves and just go with the flow of things.
That is why Paul tells Timothy to pursue purity with the right people (2 Timothy 2:22).
Purity and lust are contagious because spiritual influences in these areas are real. Friends can influence your life towards purity or lust.
If you struggle with these area, I encourage you to surround yourself with godly people. As you do this you will notice that your problem with sin become less and less controlling.
Remember that purity has little do with virginity, and more to do with actually overcoming a specific sexual sin. If you really want to live in purity, pursue God, flee and turn away from lustful situations, and surround yourself with a community of believers.
I pray that the Holy Spirit strengthens you to separate yourself from friends who negatively influence you and that He helps you to live in holiness in Jesus’s name.
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