YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN!
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO REMAIN MORALLY PURE? JOSEPH AND MARY
In these days of “LIBERATED” sexual behavior, commercial exploitation of sexual themes, easy access to contraceptives, public acceptance of single parenthood, abortion upon demand, increasing resignation to the “inevitability” of premarital sexual experiences, it’s easy to let your standards slide. What does it take to remain morally pure?
Let me introduce you to a remarkable young man named Joseph who was engaged to a fine young girl named Mary. During their engagement, God chose Mary to be the mother of our Savior Jesus Christ. She would conceive her child by a miracle of the Holy Spirit, remaining a virgin while she carried the Holy Child Jesus in her womb.
Before and after the miraculous conception Joseph and Mary remained committed to God’s standards of purity. Scripture records, “He had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”
I’m impressed with that. This story shows us two wonders: the wonder of the incarnation and the wonder of the moral integrity of a chaste woman and a godly man. How did Mary and Joseph maintain the integrity that qualified them for such an honored calling? By loving God and keeping His laws. When tempted, they held on to important truths.
What about us today? Are we living lives of sexual purity in our generation? How can we live up to God’s standards for our lives? I want to share eight ideas to help you.
1. Decide that sexual relations are reserved exclusively for marriage.
The marriage ceremony is the God-appointed making of a sacred covenant and the only righteous doorway into sexual union. Only after a couple has given their vows before a legally authorized minister of the church or a justice of the peace can they be joined in the intimacies of marriage. The marriage ceremony is to be witnessed by others as a public covenant. God is also witness. The couple is united under the word that God gave to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, “What God has joined, let no man divide.”
Scripture calls any sexual relation between a man and a woman before marriage “fornication.” We are told in the Bible to “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18) and also that “God will judge the immoral” (Heb. 4:4).
After marriage we are told, “You shall not commit adultery.” Adultery is having sexual relations with anyone other than one’s marriage partner. The word also refers to any type of moral impurity. Fornication, lesbianism, homosexual practice or the sexual abuse of children all come under the category of adultery.
To say pure, we must understand that sexual relations are reserved for marriage and we must commit ourselves to that standard.
2. Hold to moral absolutes, rejecting any alternatives.
The Bible makes it clear that God’s standards are not to be tampered with. God led Paul to write to the Christians of Thessalonica, a city where moral impurity was rampant: “You will remember the instructions we gave you in the name of the Lord Jesus. God’s plan is to make you holy and that means a clean cut with sexual immorality. Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect, and never allowing it to fall into lust, as do pagans with no knowledge of God. You cannot break this rule without cheating and exploiting your fellow man. Indeed, God will punish all who offend in the matter, as we have plainly told you and warned you; the calling of God is not to impurity but to the most thorough purity, and anyone who makes light of the matter is not making light of man’s ruling, but of God’s command. It is not for nothing that the Spirit of God is called the Holy Spirit” (J.B. Phillips).
3. Listen to those who know you best and care about you most – your parents.
Why do parents seem to distrust kids when it comes to dating? Because they care about them. You’ve heard it: “We expect you home by midnight… You can’t drive overnight together… Don’t bring your date home when we are gone.” Do their limits seem unreasonable?
Let’s talk straight. All of us have areas where we can’t be trusted. For instance, my colleagues trust me to teach a class, but not to install an electric power line. They care about me and don’t want to see me dead.
If you get into passionate kissing, hugging, and touching, something akin to an electric charge in your sexual make-up may overload your circuit. Be honest; if you really want to live a holy life, you won’t worry about others trusting you, if you’re smart you won’t even trust yourself in that situation. You need all the help you can get, including self-control and parental interference. Listen to them. They’ve faced it and their advice can be trusted. Don’t demand trust, earn it by following their advice.
4. Avoid situations that make temptation to hard to resist.
You don’t need to show that you are strong enough to handle any situation. You should show that you are smart enough to avoid situations where things could get out of control. To be alone together in cozy, romantic places is to increase the possibility of being overcome by strong sexual desire. That’s why Paul told the Thessalonian believers, “Flee from fornication.”
Let’s look at another Joseph, (the Joseph of the Old Testament). Potiphar’s wife tried to get him into an adulterous relationship. But he could see her intent and knew the dangers of her incessant urging. When she threw herself at him, he cried, “How can I do this wickedness, and sin against God?” He did not depend upon his moral resources to stay clean. He ran away from the source of temptation.
5. Strive to keep a clear conscience and a strong faith.
A clear conscience is fertile ground in which faith can grow, but it’s impossible to keep a clear conscience if you are disobedient to God in regard to sexual purity. If you allow your conscience to become muddied, you will experience a decline in faith and in the power to resist temptation. If you have sinned, and your conscience is bothering you, confess your sin to God and forsake it. Christ will cleanse you and set you free. “How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:14).
6. Learn the meaning of love.
You will sometimes hear statements like: “The reason we are having sex is because we love each other.” Any young couple making that excuse doesn’t know what love is about. They should ask themselves, “If I truly love someone will I lead him or her to sin?” To love someone is to desire the highest possible state of well being for the person. If a man loves a woman, should he not keep her free from immorality and its devastating consequences? True love would say, “I don’t want you to sin against God’s command.”
7. Keep God’s plan in view.
God has a unique plan for your life, but you need to live a holy life for it to happen. Paul wrote to Timothy, “If anyone cleanses himself… he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.” By God’s saving mercy and power you can be cleansed from sin and live a happy, victorious life. But if you, as a young person, make a habit of indulging in sexual sins, you will interfere with God’s best hopes and plans for you. Let the Lord Jesus control your sexuality and lead you into a life of service that will bless you and bless others as well.
8. Find strength in God’s Word.
One morning I spoke on sexual purity. I quoted the great promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But He will provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
A young man met me outside and said, “My girlfriend and I need to make some changes in our present relationship. Thanks for sharing those things this morning.”
Yes, changes can be made in a relationship and cleansing can take place. Like that young couple, I hope that you will take these teachings to heart and build a strong foundation for a holy life and a happy marriage. You will be forever blessed for having done so.
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