Monday, April 2, 2012

Purity: God's Standards on Sex

When it comes to purity, some people get pretty uncomfortable. It seems that in church, sex is a four letter word. It's kind of awkward to talk about, so we often avoid it altogether. Instead of enduring the awkwardness and facing our fears, we sweep this topic under the rug. But it's such an important conversation to have. The Bible says some very strong things about sexual purity, and they are not to be ignored. And since we are in a series talking about romance and relationships, purity is very relevant and germane to servant romance.

So why is purity important? It is important first and foremost because it is important to God. Ephesians 5:3, 5 says, "But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people... For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." It seems to me that this passage is saying that sexual purity and salvation are directly related. Sexual impurity is improper for God's holy people. And why is that? Because immoral and impure people have no place in heaven. It's obvious, then, that God has very specific and detailed expectations about the sexual purity of His people. So what are they?

Very simply, God says to keep all-things-sex within marriage. If you do that, you won't have any problems. In fact, when married couples have sex, God says that it is good. In Genesis 1, the very first chapter of the Bible, God tells mankind, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it." He created us to have sex. He gave us the desire. He could have made reproduction as boring and uneventful as sneezing. He could have even made us asexual! But He didn't. Instead, He made intercourse to be wonderful and passionate, the way a husband and wife show their love and become one. God loves us so much that He went out of His way to make reproduction very pleasurable.

But He didn't create sex to be experienced outside of a marriage bond. It is when a sexual act happens outside of marriage that it becomes a sin, and thus a problem. There's no other way around it. Any sexual activity outside of marriage is against God's will and it is wrong. So what hope do we have if we have messed up in the past? The truth is that no one is perfect. We have all been sexually immoral before, whether it was in thought or action. The good news for us is that God is a God of forgiveness, and when we become Christians, followers of Jesus and children of God, we are made new in Christ. The old has died, and you are a new creation.

Colossians 3:2-5 says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry." This is saying that when you decided to give your life to God, you died. The old you, in all your sin and guilt, died. Your life is now in Christ. And now that you are a child of the Living God, you are a brand new creation. You have new life and are a new person. You are no longer a slave to sin. Because of the Spirit that lives in you, you now have the power to say "no" to sin. Because of the power of His Spirit, you can put to death the things that belong to your earthly nature, things such as sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed. You don't have to live that lifestyle anymore. You have the power through God's Spirit to walk away from it. It doesn't matter how deep you are into sin. God's love and forgiveness are bigger than your sin. You may still have to deal with earthly consequences to your actions, but God forgives you when you repent.

Now before we close, there's one last thing we want to know: What do we have to do to become pure? I will answer with Proverb 4:23-27: "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil." Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Keep your heart pure, and your intentions and thoughts will be pure. Put away perversity from your mouth and keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Keep your mouth and conversations clean and you will avoid many temptations and be on the path of purity. Let your eyes look straight ahead and fix your gaze directly before you. If you keep your eyes fixed on what is most important, you won't waste your time looking at things you have no business viewing. And finally, don't swerve to the right or to the left; keep your foot from evil. Stay on the path of purity and don't wander off of it.

"He whose walk is blameless is kept safe, but he whose ways are perverse will suddenly fall," Proverbs 28:18.

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