Episode 33: Striving for Purity, Part 1- The Man's Side

Peace to Live By Episode 33: Striving for Purity, Part 1- The Man's Side - Daniel Litton
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[Transcripts may not match broadcasted sermon word for word, and may contain extra material that was cut from the broadcast due to time constraints]

       When it comes to sexual purity, watching our thoughts and even for some, our actions, is and can be a continual process. This is true for both men and women. Though both struggle in this area in similar and different ways, it is a struggle for both. Nonetheless, today I want to focus on the side of this struggle for the man, and next week we will look at the woman's side (as best I can). Now, we should also note that even though today will be focusing on the man’s side of the fight, some of this information, if not all of it in some way, is still applicable to the woman’s fight. So, ladies, do pay attention both for your man’s sake and for your own sake.

       This can be a rather difficult subject to discuss, and it also involves several different aspects we have to understand in order to be on our way to living our lives as best we can in holiness before God. I am going to break this discussion down into two parts. The first part will be identifying the problem, while the latter part will be five things we can do to combat sexual temptation in our lives as men. Now, I am not going to cover every possible aspect of what could be discussed on this topic, obviously, but these are the things I want to note on this topic. There are a lot of good Bible passages we could note here, and obviously I will not get to every one of them, but these are the one's I have chosen to focus on.

       We have to remember as well, as we are discussing this subject, that God wants what is best for us, as Christians. That is why he forbids things like fornication and adultery—and even homosexuality and polygamy—because he wants what is best for people. God has setup his system so that one man should be with one women, married in his presence, and that for life. That is what is pleasing to him, and what is best for us. God has given us, as humans, the great gift of sex, and we should not pervert it in anyway. We should strive to eliminate immorality from our lives, whether inwards or outwards, because it is displeasing to God and hurts us at the same time. Now, none of us, as men, are perfect in our lives, but some of us are more mature than others. But our goal, as Christians, is to live the best lives we can.

       So, first, let us note some problems when it comes to our minds, as men. God has given each of us the great gift of imagination. With our minds, we can think all kinds of things, creating whatever we want, kind of like a movie generator. Our imaginations can and are used for good on a daily basis. But the problem comes when we use our minds for evil—thinking and cultivating thoughts God doesn't want us to be thinking about. This is especially true when it comes to our own personal purity as individuals. Often, within ourselves as people, the thought comes to mind that, “No one will ever know what I am thinking.” And that's true, at least right now. And that's what makes it difficult. We, as humans, think that we can think whatever we want with our minds and just get away with it. But we have to remember that God is always watching. When Jesus talked about giving away money secretly in the Sermon on the Mount, he said, “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:4, ESV). Well, God is always watching, and he will reward us for our obedience to him.

       And we will give account to God, at the end our lives, for our thoughts. The Apostle Paul told us in Romans chapter 2 that God will judge our secrets, as men, on the day of Christ Jesus, at the judgment (see Romans 2:16). Now, why is this significant? One might say, “Oh, well. I'll just worry about that later.” It's significant because our disobedience to God could cause, and will cause, the loss of reward in our lives after this one. Whether we are in the Millennial Kingdom—or the New Heaven and New Earth, this loss of reward will make us have a lesser experience in the future than what we could have had if we had been obedient. I don't think a lot of us think about this as much as we should. But we need to think about our rewards in the future. If your a business-minded person, think of your rewards as your 401k. You don't want to have little when you really go into rest, do you?

       But with men, sometimes we take liberty with our thoughts and think things about women, those whom we know or even don't know. And we shouldn’t be thinking these thoughts. Again, the thought might come to mind that because no one can see our minds, we think it doesn't matter. We might even say, “Oh, well. It's not hurting anyone.” But, actually, in reality, it is hurting someone. It’s always hurting God. And it’s hurting yourself, and if you're married, it's hurting your relationship with your wife. It's hurting you because you are being disobedient to God, incurring loss of reward, admiring a woman in a way you have no right to admire her. Plus, your focusing on the wrong thing with her. You could be focusing on how to build her up, but instead you are focusing on how good she looks. Therefore, because your mind is in the wrong place, you are losing opportunity for good and doing good for her in a way God may want you to. And tolerating and abetting sin in the mind will lead to more and more sin—to a further deterioration from a healthy mind. These are just some of the consequences. Undoubtedly, there are more.

       Before those thoughts can enter our minds, though, we must have been looking at a woman, or women, wrongfully. And this brings up the scope of our eyesight, as men. What are we looking at in regard to our eyes? Are our eyes always going in the wrong direction, looking at a women in a way that we shouldn’t? Where do are eyes lead us when we see a woman at work, or when were out and about, or when were at church? Where are our eyes taking us? You see, if we can practice turning our eyes away from looking at wrong things, we wont let the looks of the woman ever to enter our minds to begin with. We wont have the real life image that we then think about in our minds wrongfully. This is really important for us, as men, to look away or not look at all, and it’s a constant struggle. There is always opportunity, it seems, to sin in this area. But when we make it a practice, it will becomes easier and easier for victory.

       For married men, sometimes your thoughts and eyes are on another woman, or other women, and they are not on your wife. But your affections should be on your wife alone. If you're looking at other women wrongfully and thinking lustful thoughts about them, you are taking your affections off of your wife. The more and more you do this, you may decide you don't like the way your wife looks anymore. You may become discontent with your wife. And, thinking about other women—committing adultery with them in your mind—could led to improper actions from yourself. You may try to make reality the things you've been thinking about in your mind. You may go after another woman and actually commit the adultery that you were thinking about. Having these preliminary, inappropriate thoughts can lead to sinning against God, yourself, and others.

       Whether or not your thoughts have led you to physically commit the act, the thoughts in and of themselves will hinder your marriage. All the time you spend not thinking about your wife and thinking about other women is leading you further and further away from your wife. You affections should be toward her. But in order to have affections for your wife, you have to think the right things about her. Remember what Jesus told us about trying to serve two masters? This teaching from our Lord is very applicable here. He said, ““No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24ex, ESV). You could not serve God wholeheartedly if your were part of another religion, right? In the same way, you cannot love your wife affectionately, wholeheartedly, while you are having affections for another woman in your mind.

       But it is true that a lot of men, hopefully not Christian men, carry on an affair, or affairs, while married. These actions should never be part of the Christian man's life. If we do get caught up in them, it's because we didn't guard our minds of inappropriate thoughts about other women. That's why it is so important for us to guard our minds. We all know that adultery messes up and even destroys a lot of marriages. Even if the man is just committing the adultery one time only, and never sees the woman again, it still messes up your marriage. For one, if the man doesn't tell his wife, it will haunt him from time to time as he hopefully feels guilty about what he did. If he tells his wife, it will greatly hinder her trust in him—unless she already didn't trust him (which shouldn't be the case). But if she didn't, it will just give confirmation that her husband is untrustworthy. Either way, it messes up the marriage. Sin always has consequences.

       Now, for single men the temptation isn't only adultery, but more frequently it is the danger of fornication. God expect us, as single men, to be pure. The Apostle Paul gave us a good talk about this. Turn with me, or tap, to 1 Corinthians chapter 6. I want to consider verses 13 through 20. Paul told the Corinthians (which is applicable to both single and married men):

““Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”—and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (ESV)

So, we can note here several reasons why sexually immorality is bad for us, as men. Number one, our bodies aren't meant to commit sexual immorality. That's not what God designed them for, and it violates his commandments. Number two, we note that sex is a spiritual thing. When we are intimate with another person, we become one flesh with that person. This is a supernatural, spiritual thing that God does. And number three, when we commit sexual sin with another person we are sinning against ourselves. This not only because we become one-flesh with the other person, but also because we could get sexually transmitted diseases from our inappropriate conduct.

       We have to remember too that when one of us commits fornication or adultery, it is also undercutting other people. So, not only do you undercut yourself, but you definitely undercutting others. For men that commit fornication, they steal the virginity, or intimacy, of the woman they are having the relation with, even though she want to have the relationship. This is because sex is reserved for marriage, and emotional problems can occur with sex outside of marriage. When committing adultery, the man's wife is undercut, and the woman's husband (if she is married). Now, I understand that it takes two people to commit these acts, but I'm looking at things from the man's side. Obviously, men aren't always the ones that start the act of fornication or adultery. Sometimes the woman leads the man astray. But regardless, we undercut others when we do these disobedient acts.

       Let’s look at a passage in 1 Thessalonians about sexual immorality. It says,

“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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, ESV)

Now, here, the Apostle Paul tells us that God avenges the wronged Christian, going against the man who has stolen what he had no right to steal. Now, I don’t know exactly what this all means for the offending brother, and really, I don’t want to know. Let’s just not find ourselves here.

       So now that we've gone over so of the facts about the actual problems themselves, let's take a look at how we can combat sexual temptation and live good lives behavior God.

       I will note, number one, that we need to keep our eyes in check. If we don’t look at our fellow women in wrong ways, it will greatly help our minds not to think thoughts we shouldn’t. It is true that we come up with things with our imaginations, as I’ve already discussed, but I think more often than not men are thinking about women they know if real life. But if we, as men, never looked at women in wrong ways, we would never think about them in wrong ways, right? So, we can start here, by guarding our eyes against looking at the women we know in wrong ways. Remember, Jesus made this clear in Matthew chapter 5. He said, ““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” (Matthew 5:27-28, ESV). So Jesus said that even looking at a women with lustful thoughts, or motives, is the same is committing the act in his eyes.

       But, number two, we also need to keep our minds in check, and having helped our sight already we are on a good start with this. And I am not talking about a gradual check, or a from time-to-time check, but I mean we need to keep close watch on our thoughts and make sure they are aligned with God's Truth. We should not freely entertain thoughts about other women that would be considered fornication or adultery. The Apostle Paul told us in Romans, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace” (Romans 6:12-14, ESV). Our minds our one of our many members of our bodies. If we think wrong things in our minds, we will eventually become slaves to our wrong thoughts.

       Now, God looks at the heart of a person. The Christian life is not just about following a preset list of rules. Rather, we have to follow God with whole hearts, or wholeheartedly. We should not just let are minds run around to whatever lustful thoughts they want to think about. We have to keep our minds in check as men. Sure, it's difficult. God never said it wouldn't be hard. But he also promises us that he will help us with things like this. For he says in James, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7, 8, ESV). We cannot be double-minded in that we are serving sin and serving God at the same time. Jesus said we cannot serve two masters. We have to chose to be pure in our minds. If we resist Satan’s temptations, God promises that he will leave us alone, at least for the time being.

       A good way to combat the rouge thoughts that come into your mind is to memorize, or read to yourself, corresponding Bible verses when temptation comes. If we recite the verses to ourselves, we will have the ability to overcome the temptation. Remember? That's what Jesus did with Satan in the desert. When Satan tempted him, he came back at him with Bible verses that showed that Satan was wrong. We are to like Christ, and we can take Jesus as our model in this area. I would encourage you to make a list of Bible verses, perhaps a few pages, about sexual temptation, and then always have them ready when you need them. Perhaps you keep a printed copy at home, and put a digital copy on your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. That way, you always have them with you to help you. Also, try to memorize at least a few of them, the ones that speak most to you.

       Now, number three, what about in real life situations where, we are married, and we find a woman who is attracted to us (whether she be married or not)? How do we combat this? Or, for single men, what do we do when a woman is after us who isn’t right for us—that is, she don’t have our best interests in mind? I think a good and easy way to combat this is what I call playing Clark Kent. If you’ll remember from the old 1978 and 1980s Superman movies, Christopher Reeve had a great way of playing the role of Clark Kent. He would act like a bumbling fool, an unskilled man when it came to social skills, in order to throw everyone off. He didn’t want anyone possibly thinking that he could be Superman. So, we as men, whether married or not, when we find ourselves in the situation of a woman showing interest in us who we don’t want to show interest in us, we can act like a bumbling fool so that the girl will no longer be attracted to us. Just act unconfident, undesirable, and socially naive. This fixes the problem every time. Or, say something to the woman, something appropriate but but that makes you sound like a fool.

       Number four, It may be necessary for some of you, especially those of you who have a real difficult struggle with sexual immorality or temptation, that you have an accountability partner who can help keep you accountable. The person should be a man, who of course is a Christian. You shouldn't pick a woman because she will not completely understand your thoughts like a man will. The man can relate because he is a man and has, to some degree, the same struggles. So, you can meet with this person, say, once a week, or every other week, as you are working to become better in this area. Once you get better, perhaps the meeting can move to once a month. But nonetheless, you should talk about your struggles and pray about them, and your friend should keep you accountable in following God's Word. Honesty is key in your meetings, or the meetings won't do you any good. James said in his epistle, “confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16, ESV). Talking with others can help us with our problems, and prayer will definitely help us.

       So this means also, number five, that for those of us who mature in Christ in the area of sexual temptation, we need to be willing to come alongside and help our fellow brothers when they need help. But it is important for the person who is struggling to let another sound minded individual know when he is struggling, or how else are we going to help? We should not turn away a brother who needs help, but should take the time to spend with the person who needs the help. Paul told the Thessalonians, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV). This is what we do in the body of Christ. We are to help one another, whatever the problem, so that we can all become more mature in following Christ. Plus, our prayers for each other will make a huge difference.

       In closing today, perhaps you’ve been listening to everything I am talking about, and you’re a believer in Jesus, and today you find yourself in the midst of a war within yourself, struggling to be pure. All of us, as men, face this struggle. So, you’re not alone. But perhaps your marriage isn’t in the best shape it could be. Or, perhaps you’re being tempted to commit adultery, or you’re already involved in adultery right now. Perhaps you’re single, and your being intimate with your girlfriend before marriage. Whatever the case, turning to God and following his way is definitely the way you should go. God will help you where you need help. God will forgive our offenses, as Christians—he will wipe the slate clean. But we have to turn from our sin, we have to repent, and seek to do what God says is good in our lives, to do what is pleasing to him. This makes him happy, and is really good for us.

       But maybe you’ve been listening to all of this I have been saying today but you’re not a Christian. Maybe you’re not a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. Well, I am here today to tell you that God wants you to become a Christian. He wants you to be his, and he wants to lead you down a path of true life, to living life to its fullest extent—to living a holy and pure life. If that is what you would like today, then I have good news for you. God not only guarantees a relationship with him through Jesus Christ, but he will also freely forgive all your offenses against him through faith in Christ’s death on the cross for your sins. You see, Jesus died on the cross for your sins and my sins, in our place, so we won’t have to face the penalty for our sins. But we have to believe in Jesus, and give our lives over to him. He rose from the death triumphantly, and he defeated sin once and for all.

       If you would like to accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior today, then follow my lead in this prayer:

God, I am a sinner. I have not been pure in my life. I have against you in many ways. Now, though, I want to turn from my sins and accept Jesus' death on the cross as payment, in my place, for my sins. I believe he died on the cross for me and that he rose from the dead, enabling me to have a new life in you, a life where my sin debt is wiped away. God, I turn from following the ways of this world and give my life to you. Please guide me down the right path. Please change me, Father, and make me become like Jesus. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.

-Daniel Litton