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The Bible Teacher's Guide: God’s Battle Plan for Purity: Strategies for Victory against Sexual Temptation

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Preface

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.
2 Timothy 2:2

Paul’s words to Timothy still apply to us today. We need to raise up teachers who correctly handle and fearlessly teach the Word of God. It is with this hope in mind that the Bible Teacher’s Guide (BTG) series has been created. The BTG series includes both expositional studies and topical studies. This guide will be useful for personal devotions, small groups, and for teachers preparing to share God’s Word.

Gods Battle Plan for Purity: Strategies for Victory against Sexual Temptation can be used as a four-week to thirteen-week small-group curriculum depending on how the leader chooses to divide the intro chapter and the twelve strategies. Every week, the members of the group will read a chapter or more, answer the questions, and come prepared to share in the gathering. Each member’s preparation for the small group will enrich the discussion and the learning. Another way to lead the group is for the members to read the chapter and answer the questions together during the small group and continue with the next strategy as time allows.

I pray that the Lord may richly bless your study and use it to build his kingdom.

This book is also available for purchase here on Amazon.

Related Topics: Christian Life, Marriage, Men's Articles, Sexual Purity, Sexuality, Singleness, Women

Introduction

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For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God
1 Thessalonians 4:2-5

Purity is a raging battle that, unfortunately, many are losing. David lost this battle as he committed adultery with Bathsheba. Solomon lost it as he had 1,000 wives and concubines to fulfill his lust. If we are going to win this battle, we must be strategic and disciplined. Winning is important to protect our lives, our families, and our churches, and most importantly to honor God.

How can we keep ourselves pure? How can we win the battle for purity?

In 1 Thessalonians 4:2-5, Paul writes to the Thessalonian church and tells them to “avoid sexual immorality.” Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul said, “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.”

This is startling because with many other dangers in Scripture, we don’t get such a command. In James 4:7, we are told to “resist the devil” and he will flee from us. In Ephesians 6:12 Paul says that believers “wrestle” against powers and principalities which refers to demons. With Satan and demons, we resist and wrestle, but when it comes to sexual immorality, we should avoid it and flee from it.

This demonstrates how dangerous sexual immorality is. When Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery, he jumped out of the window to escape her. It is the same for us. This is a danger that we should not flirt with, enjoy on our TV, or fantasize about. It is something that we must flee from at all cost.

It is for this reason that many stumble in this area and find themselves bound and unable to be set free. Sexual immorality is dangerous because when we commit sexual immorality, we sin against our own bodies. This sin affects one’s mind, body, spirit, and emotions. It can have drastic effects. It opens the door for physical disease and emotional baggage. It can even affect one’s sexual orientation. Those who have been sexually abused often grow up with perverse tendencies, whether that be towards the opposite sex or even children. Sexual immorality destroys homes, careers, friendships, and even one’s faith. It is so hazardous that our only recourse is to flee from it.

One might ask, “If it’s so dangerous why did God create it?” When God created everything, including sex, he said it was “good.” However, when the world was perverted by sin, sex gained the potential of being destructive. In the confines of a marriage relationship—fulfilling God’s original plan—sex is good and powerful. It creates intimacy and pleasure between a husband and wife and has the ability to lead to procreation. However, outside of that, it is destructive. In fact, Romans 1 says that one of the primary results of denying God is a distorted sexuality. When a nation, a community, or a person has turned away from God, it will typically be demonstrated through pervasive sexual immorality. Romans 1:22-24 says:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves (ESV)

This is what we are seeing and experiencing in today’s culture and this is why it is such a battle. The world has denied God, and therefore, sexual immorality is rampant.

Problem in Culture

This was also true for the early church including the Thessalonians. The fact that Paul calls for the Thessalonians to “learn” how to control their bodies implies that many did not know how to control the lusts of their bodies (v. 4). Thessalonica was part of Greco-Roman culture in which sex was glorified. In that culture, when worshiping the false deities, one would have sex with the priests and priestesses (religious prostitutes) of which there were thousands. This was normal family life, as sex was part of worship.

For the Greco-Roman mindset, marriage was not the primary avenue for gratifying sexual desires; it was for social advancement and to provide an heir. By unifying two families, one could climb the social ladder. Thus, a beautiful daughter was like a meal ticket for a poor family. To fulfill sexual desires, it was quite normal and acceptable for a man to have mistresses and concubines. The gratification of sexual desires was not the focus of marriage in that culture.

Also, homosexuality and bisexuality were rampant in that culture. In fact, it probably would have been considered strange for a man to prefer one sex over another. It was considered normal to enjoy both.i

Problem in Church

The pervasive sexual nature of the culture was in the church, and therefore, the Thessalonians needed to “learn” how to control their bodies. This was also true for the church of Corinth which was also part of the Greco-Roman culture. In 1 Corinthians 6:15-16, the implication is that some were still having sex with temple prostitutes. Paul said this to them:

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.” (ESV)

In chapter 5, a man was even having sex with his father’s wife (1 Cor 5:1). The world’s sexual culture was in the church and they needed to learn how to keep their bodies pure.

Sex is also a problem for the modern day church. It is a problem for children, youth, college students, adults and even leadership, although it is rarely talked about. It is rampant. The enemy is aggressively attacking and defeating the church in this area. In the same way that sex was a problem in the early church, it is a problem for our churches.

In fact, in our culture, it may be even more pervasive. With the advent of the Internet, sex is more accessible now than in any other generation. At a person’s whim, it can be watched on his or her phone at any moment. Statistics say that 70% of men ages 18-24 watch porn and one out of three porn viewers are women. The average age for a child to first view porn is eleven years old. ii

Can we talk about sex? Can we talk about purity? If we don’t openly talk about this in the church, as Paul did, we cannot conquer it. And sadly, a lack of addressing this subject seems to reap the most consequences on our young people, who are even more susceptible to the influence of sexual culture.

The enemy is bringing a great assault against the church today in the area of purity, and sadly like the Thessalonians and the Corinthians, the church is losing. To win this battle, we must develop a battle plan. Better yet, we must adopt God’s Battle Plan in Scripture for purity. Through Scripture, God trains and equips the man of God for all righteousness—including purity (2 Tim 3:16-17). In this study, we will consider twelve strategies for victory against sexual temptation. May God thoroughly equip you to stand in this evil day. Amen.

Reflection

  1. In what ways have you seen the sexual immorality in our culture become even more pervasive?
  2. How would you rate your level of victory in the battle against sexual temptation from 1-10? And why?
  3. Paul told the Thessalonians to learn to control their bodies and yet doesn’t explain how. The implication is that they would learn from Scripture and the instruction of their leaders. What strategies have you learned that have helped in your fight to be pure?
  4. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  5. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown


i Accessed 8/25/2015 from http://ancienthistory.about.com/cs/sexuality/a/aa011400a.htm

ii Accessed 8/25/2015 from http://www.dailyinfographic.com/the-stats-on-internet-pornography-infographic

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

1. Strategy One: Know Our Battle

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In order to win the battle for purity, believers must first answer this question: “What is sexual immorality?” If we are going to avoid it and flee from it, we must know what it is. I think many Christians are failing simply because they don’t know what sexual immorality is. It has never been defined for them. Some would even say that it is just “intercourse.”

Many believe that oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, heavy petting, etc., are not part of sexual immorality. Such belief leads then to open these doors as avenues of fulfilling their lust while trying to maintain their “virginity.”

However, by doing this, they are really committing sexual immorality and opening the door for the enemy to attack them and bring them under greater sexual bondage. Therefore, this is an important question to answer. What is sexual immorality?

In order to answer this question, let’s consider 1 Corinthians 7:1-3:

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.

Paul, the author, said that it is good for a man to stay single and not marry. But because of temptation towards sexual immorality, each person should consider marriage as a spiritual protection. In marriage, the husband and the wife fulfill each other’s sexual desires.

From this, we can gain this basic definition of sexual immorality: Sexual immorality is the attempt to fulfill natural sexual desires outside of the marriage union between a man and a woman. This includes things like sex, oral sex, anal sex, masturbation, heavy petting, pornography, and sexual imaginations. In short, sexual immorality encompasses all acts and thoughts designed to fulfill sexual desire outside of marriage.

In fact, Jesus said this about sexual immorality in Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In other words, a person has already committed adultery when lusting, since he went outside of the marriage union to fulfill his sexual desires.

This might seem unrealistic to some. “How can anyone keep themselves from sexual thoughts?” And some might ask, “Why would they?” The reality is that God created sex and he has given us ethics for its use. If we pursue these desires outside the marriage union, we do it at our own peril. We sin against our own bodies, and most grievously, we sin against God.

How then should a single person respond to his natural desires? Scripture uses the analogy of sleeping for those desires. Listen to what Solomon’s fiancée said in the Song of Solomon: “Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires” (3:5). She exhorts the young ladies in Jerusalem to keep their desires asleep until it is time.

Well, the next question we must ask is, “How can we keep those desires asleep?” or “How can we put them back to sleep after they have been awakened?” We will consider this in the following strategies.

Reflection

  1. What was your previous understanding of sexual immorality?
  2. Define sexual immorality. Why is it important to know its definition?
  3. How commonly do you think people open sexual doors simply because of lack of truly understanding the definition?
  4. Why is it important to keep sexual desires asleep?
  5. When should churches and parents start instructing children about sexual immorality?
  6. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  7. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

2. Strategy Two: Count the Cost of Failure

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Just as with any battle plan, one must count the cost of failure. What will be the cost of being overcome by sexual temptation? We see this strategy used when Solomon counseled his son in Proverbs about the lure of the adulterous woman. Solomon, who had many wives and concubines, knew the consequences of sexual immorality well. His father’s marriage began from an adulterous affair, and he struggled with his father’s lust. Consider the costs of sexual immorality in Proverbs 6:27-35:

Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished. People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving. Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house. But a man who commits adultery has no sense; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away. For jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge. He will not accept any compensation; he will refuse a bribe, however great it is.

Although Solomon is talking about adultery specifically, many of these consequences apply to lust in general. Solomon said, “Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?” The answer to the rhetorical question is, “No!” In considering adultery, he said a person “destroys himself” and blows and disgrace will be his lot, and the shame will never be wiped away. The consequences last forever. Can anyone escape the penalties of indulging in lust? No. It is impossible. As mentioned, sexual immorality is a sin against one’s body (1 Cor 6:18). It always affects one’s body, mind, and spirit. It leads to mental and emotional baggage that is later carried into one’s marriage. Personally, I still struggle with explicit images and thoughts from things I saw and experienced before marriage. I carry those as baggage with me from the sins of my youth. Sometimes, the consequences are physical sickness such as STDs. Other times, it is an unplanned pregnancy—potentially leading to an abortion. When married, the costs become greater. Marital unfaithfulness leaves brokenness and carnage in its trail. A brokenhearted spouse and emotionally damaged children are just a few of the consequences.

As a married pastor with a daughter, I always think of the consequences of falling to my lust. I think of the pain it would cause my wife, the destruction I would be raising my daughter in, believers who might fall away from Christ because of my example, and being disqualified from ministry (cf. 1 Tim 3:2, 1 Cor 9:27). The consequences would be devastating, and like Solomon said, the “shame will never be wiped away” (Prov 6:33). Certainly, forgiveness is available, but forgiveness does not eliminate the consequences. God forgave David for his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband, but the consequences were the sword never departing from his home and losing his first child with Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:9-14).

Another consequence of sexual immorality that must be considered is its effect on our relationship with God. In the Beatitudes, Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Matt 5:8). The word “pure” means unmixed. When we allow lust and other wrong desires to enter our heart, it hinders our relationship with God. It separates us from him. David said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18).

Have you counted the cost of failure to sexual temptation? Fifty-six percent of divorce cases involved one party having an obsessive interest in pornographic sites.i The seeds cultivated in a man or woman’s youth often bear destructive weeds in marriage. If we are going to win the battle against lust, we must count the cost. It is simply not worth it.

O Lord, keep us from dishonoring your name, damaging ourselves, and damaging others. Make our feet like hinds’ feet and keep us from stumbling (Psalm 18:33). Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 51:10).

Reflection

  1. What are some potential costs of falling into sexual immorality for both the single and the married?
  2. How can considering the cost help in one’s battle against sexual temptation?
  3. Do you ever consider the costs of this battle? How has it helped? If not, why not?
  4. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  5. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown


i Accessed 8/25/2015 from http://www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats/

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

3. Strategy Three: Declare War

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The next strategy in God’s Battle Plan for purity is identifying sexual temptations and being ruthless in getting rid of them. Listen to what Christ said in the context of teaching on adultery:

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Matthew 5:29-30

After teaching that a man who lusts after a woman who is not his wife has already committed adultery in his heart (v. 27-28), Christ says that one should be violent in removing temptations towards sexual sin.

The plucking out of one’s eye and cutting off one’s hand are hyperbole or symbolism for war time tactics. In ancient wars, when an army conquered another, they would at times pluck out the eyes and cut off the hands of the conquered so that they would never rise up and fight them again. This cruel tactic was used on Samson. When the Philistines defeated him, they blinded him with the intent of disabling him from ever harming them again (Judges 16:21).

By using this hyperbole, Christ shares how we must similarly declare war in order to be pure. He shows us how severely we must deal with sexual temptations. If our eyes—what we look at—are causing us to lust, we must get rid of it. If our hands—what we do—are causing us to sin, we must cut it out of our life.

The eye and the hand represent things dear to us—things that may seem essential for life. However, even these must not be spared in our efforts to be holy and pure. Is an intimate relationship tempting us? It must be severed. Is it our reading or TV watching? Let us discard it. We must be violent in our task of remaining pure and holy.

This violence will be demonstrated in various ways. I have had friends get rid of their TVs in order to be holy. Personally, as a seminary student and youth pastor, I wouldn’t own the Internet at home because I wanted to protect myself from temptation. I would only use it at work or school. I even had to end relationships that went too far physically to protect the person and myself, but most importantly, to honor God.

With this said, we can understand why many cannot remain pure. The reason is simple. They just don’t hate their sin enough. Purity is not a big enough priority to get rid of things that are dear to them. They love their eye and their hand too much. Friendships, TV shows, a dating relationship, the convenience of the Internet, etc., are too much to part with in their quest to be holy.

If we are going to win the battle against lust, we must declare war on it. Are you willing to go to war in order to be pure? For those who have opened sexual doors, this battle may be especially difficult and costly. But God will help as you are faithful.

Reflection

  1. What types of cherished things commonly hinder a believer’s quest for sexual purity? Why is it often so hard to let go of these things?
  2. What things have you had to cut out of your life in order to be pure? Are there any things God is calling you to let go of currently?
  3. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  4. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

4. Strategy Four: Guard Our Eyes

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The next strategy in our battle for purity is guarding our eyes. Jesus said this, “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23).

What did Christ mean by the whole body being filled with light or darkness based on one’s eye? In Scripture, light typically refers to what is righteous, good, and true, and darkness refers to what is evil, bad, and perverse (cf. Ephesians 5:9). To have a good eye means for a person to continually view what is godly, and therefore, a bad eye refers to continually viewing what is ungodly. Though the context of this passage is riches, it can refer to being filled with anything that is good or bad.

The eyes are a doorway to the mind and whatever one’s mind continually thinks upon, a person will eventually do. If a person is going to be pure, he must be intentional about guarding his eyes. This will affect the types of movies watched, books read, and Internet sites visited. It will also affect how one looks at the opposite sex. For many, when they view the opposite sex, it is hard to not view them from a sexual standpoint. Their eyes continually trigger lustful thoughts and intentions, and if not combated, these eventually trigger lustful actions.

When a person views what is good or evil, it begins to “fill” them. To be filled means to be controlled by. In Ephesians 5:18, believers are called to be filled with the Spirit—controlled by it. When one is full of darkness, it means they are controlled by evil. In reference to lust, a person’s lust can become out of control, even leading to tragic acts such as sexual harassment, rape, molestation, etc.

Sexual abuse statistics are frightening! One out of three American women will be sexually abused during their lifetime. One out of four women and one out of six men will be sexually assaulted by the age of eighteen.i Four out of five sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.ii Why is sexual abuse so pervasive and overwhelming? No doubt, it in part has to do with the increased access to erotic material in books, on TV, and on the Internet. The result of people viewing these materials is that eventually they can’t control themselves—they are filled and controlled by the darkness their eyes continually engage in.

Conversely, a person whose eyes are continually engaging with the Word of God and godly things will be controlled by them. Fruits of the Spirit will be born in their lives—love, joy, peace, and self-control.

What are you filled with? Are you filling yourself with light which creates righteousness or darkness which creates uncontrollable, evil urges?

How can we practically guard our eyes?

Bouncing Our Eyes

Let’s consider what Job said about disciplining his eyes. In Job 31:1, he said, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” In order to remain pure, Job guarded his eyes from looking at a woman lustfully. This was his continual discipline.

Some have called this “bouncing” one’s eyes. When seeing an attractive female, instead of cultivating lustful thoughts and intentions, a man quickly bounces his eyes to something else. When seeing seductive images on the TV or the Internet, instead of taking a second look, one bounces his eyes by turning the channel or closing the webpage.

I remember one time in seminary seeing a young lady who was very attractive. I closed my eyes and prayed to God: “Lord, that woman is sooooo attractive—she will never get a second look from these eyes.” This was the type of discipline Job implemented, and it is the type of discipline we must implement as well if we are going be pure. Remember Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to “learn” how to control their bodies in a way that is holy and honorable (1 Thess 4:4). No doubt, “bouncing” their eyes in a sexually charged culture was one of those disciplines.

How else can we guard our eyes?

Praying Over Our Eyes

Another discipline we should practice is prayer. David, a man who struggled with lust and pornography, often prayed over his eyes. In Psalm 119:37, he prayed this: “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.”

He prayed for God to turn his eyes from the darkness of what is worthless to the light of God’s Word. Whatever we practice becomes a habit. If we’ve practiced sizing up members of the opposite sex and looking at alluring images, then we will need even more grace to break those habits. Prayer is one of the ways that God changes our eyes from being dark to light.

Lord, turn our eyes from what is worthless to what is good.

Reflection

  1. Why is it so hard to guard our eyes in this culture?
  2. How is your struggle with your eyes? In what ways is God calling you to better guard them?
  3. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  4. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown


i Accessed 8/28/2015 from http://www.woar.org/resources/sexual-assault-statistics.php

ii Accessed 8/28/2015 from https://rainn.org/statistics

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

5. Strategy Five: Guard Our Ears

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Another strategy we must implement is guarding our ears. Some might ask, “What difference does it make what we hear or listen to?” Consider what James said about the power of the tongue:

Indeed we put bits in horse’s mouths that they may obey us and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.
James 3:3-6

By illustration, James describes how a powerful horse is controlled by a tiny bit in his mouth, and a ship is controlled by a tiny rudder. In the same way, the tongue, though seemingly insignificant, controls our lives. Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” was very wrong. Words are tremendously powerful. In fact, Proverbs 18:21 says, “The power of life and death is in the tongue.”

Words spoken over a person’s life has the ability to direct him—drawing him into a good and wise direction or an evil direction. It can build a person up or destroy him. If one sits under godly parents who faithfully teach God’s Word and attend a good church that teaches the Truth, the “power of the tongue” will help direct him into what is good. But if one sits under ungodly teaching and ungodly conversations, it will affect his life negatively. This is especially true when it comes to sexual immorality.

No doubt, one of Satan’s greatest tactics is to influence people sexually through the music industry. Much of today’s songs are full of sexual overtones and graphic language. Some of it is essentially lyrical pornography—meant to control and guide people away from God and into sexual strongholds.

Sadly, many Christians fall prey to this tactic of the devil. They listen to ungodly, sexually charged music all day, then wonder why they can’t control their lust and don’t desire to read the Bible. The tongue is directing their lives—leading them away from God into lusts.

Psalm 1:1 says this: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” (ESV). Some have called this the pathway of depravity. A person starts off listening to the “counsel” of the wicked, then he is standing in the way of sinners—practicing the same thing sinners do, and then they are in the seat of scoffers. Biblically, “scoffer” or “fool” is used of those who mock holy things. Psalm 14:1 says the fool says in his heart that there is no God. First, these people were just listening. Maybe like some Christians who listen to ungodly music, they say, “I only like it because of the beat; I don’t even listen to the lyrics.” The next thing you know, they are practicing sin, and one day they are mocking God and the practice of holiness. Satan led these poor souls astray by simply getting a hold of their ears.

In the same way, many raised in Christian homes with godly morals, such as waiting to have sex until marriage, are now sexually promiscuous just like the world. And it all started with the wrong counsel—sexually charged musical lyrics, sexual dialogue from movies, and sexually flirtatious conversations. Now, instead of following God, they mock what is holy and practice the sexual ethics of the world.

Who is speaking into your ears, and what are they saying? Are your conversations with friends full of sexual jokes and innuendo? Are your TV shows and movies promoting casual sex? If so, you won’t be able to remain pure.

Paul said this in Ephesians 5:3: “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.”

He said that there should not even be a “hint” of sexual immorality in our lives. Many desire to be pure but their mouths and the mouths of those they listen to are full of sexual hints that eventually bear fruit in their lives.

Are you guarding your ears? Satan keeps many Christians in bondage to lust by flooding their ears with sexual garbage.

Lord, help us to take out the garbage so we can be clean.

Reflection

  1. In what ways does the enemy flood sexual temptation into our ears?
  2. How have you seen or experienced the power of words, especially sexual words, in guiding one’s life?
  3. How is God calling you to better guard your ears?
  4. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  5. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

6. Strategy Six: Guard Our Mind

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Along with guarding our eyes and ears, we must also guard our mind. Consider what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 10:4-5:

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Like Matthew 5:29-30, this passage uses warfare terminology for our battle against sin. In order to be holy and pure, both in heart and body, we must fight. War isn’t easy. Our enemy is relentless in trying to conquer his prey, and lust is one of his most commonly used weapons. In this battle for our mind, Paul says we must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Satan always targets the mind—it is our primary battlefield. He bombards every believer’s mind with sexual images and thoughts. He does this through the world system which he rules and his myriads of demons. He understands that if he can control the mind, he can control the body. So, if we are going to “learn to control our bodies in a way that is pure and honorable,” (1 Thess 4:4) we must fight to control our mind.

Satan’s attack on our mind overlaps with his attacks on our eyes and ears. It is through the eyes and ears that input is given to the mind. Therefore, by guarding the first two, we guard the latter. However, that is not the only way we guard our mind.

How else should we guard our mind?

1. In order to guard our mind, we must recognize ungodly thoughts and ideas by testing them against God’s Word.

David said this in Psalm 19:7: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.”

The Hebrew word for “simple” has the meaning of “open-minded.”iThe ancient Jews described it as someone whose mind was like an open door: everything went in and everything went out.ii This person is gullible and will believe anything. His mind is open even to thoughts and images that should be rejected. However, David says that by filling the mind with God’s Word, one becomes wise to discern what is not of God (cf. Heb 5:14). Wisdom in Scripture primarily refers to knowledge of God and obedience to him (cf. Prov 9:10). That is why Scripture describes the “fool” as one who says there is no God (Psalm 14:1).

A person who does not know the Word of God will have difficulty testing what is not good and therefore have difficulty protecting himself. His mind will continually be saturated by ungodly thoughts, sexual images, and lusts meant to control and destroy him. He will lack the power and discernment to close the door on sexual thoughts and many times will not only accept them but also cultivate them.

If we are going to protect our mind, we must recognize what is not godly. When watching TV shows, listening to music, or engaging in risqué conversations that cultivate and stir lust, the simple accepts what pollutes his soul, while the wise recognizes what would dishonor God’s temple (1 Cor 6:19).

With all that said, guarding our mind does not stop at recognizing what is ungodly by testing it against God’s Word.

2. In order to guard our mind, we must reject the ungodly by using God’s Word.

While the simple opens the door, the wise closes the door. Again, this is done first by recognizing what is wrong and then using Truth to combat what is false and sinful. When Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he quoted Scripture to reject Satan and his lies. We should do the same. Arm yourself by memorizing Bible verses related to lust and purity such as:

“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)

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.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV)

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 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 4:2-8 (ESV)

Personally, when attacked by lust, I quote relevant Scriptures, confess wrong thoughts, lusts, and images before the Lord, and ask him to take them away. In our war for our mind, we must “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

3. In order to guard our mind, we may at times need to command the devil to leave in Jesus name.

Again, when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he initially responded to the temptation with quoting Scripture, but ultimately he commanded the devil to leave. Matthew 4:10-11 describes this:

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Similarly, at times you may need to do this. When battles with lust, pornography, and illicit sex are especially difficult, we can be sure that the enemy has set up camp in these areas, and we may need to pray in authority over these demonic strongholds to be broken in the name of Jesus.

Some struggle with this, arguing that authority over the demonic was exclusively for Christ and his apostles. However, I believe there are many evidences that demonstrate this is for every believer. For instance:

  • Christ is our perfect model for everything in life, including spiritual warfare (cf. Phil 2:5-11, Heb 12:2-4. 1 Peter 2:21-24).

We should model his life as the perfect example of humanity. His example in defeating the devil in the wilderness is not only descriptive but prescriptive.

  • Other believers commanded demons to leave throughout the New Testament.

In Acts 16:18, Paul commanded a spirit of divination to leave a slave girl in the name of Jesus. And in Acts 8:6-7, Philip, who was possibly one of the early deacons, also cast out demons. Yes, Paul was an apostle but Philip was not. This was practiced by the early church.

  • Finally, Scripture indicates that Christ has given us his authority based on our union with him.

Ephesians 1:20-22 describes his position of authority at the right hand of the Father seated above powers and principalities (the demonic) in the heavenly realm. And then Ephesians 2:6 describes how believers are seated with him. Again, this seating is not primarily a location but a position of authority which believers have in Christ. In fact, one day we will judge fallen angels with him because of this position (1 Cor 6:3). We have authority over the demonic just as the apostles and the early church, and we are called to conquer them with the spiritual weapons God has given us (cf. Eph 6:10-19).

Unfortunately, many believers neglect this authority not only to their own detriment but also to the detriment of others. When Christ sent believers into the world to proclaim the gospel, he sent them in all the authority given to him (Matt 28:18-20). We need this authority not just to spread the gospel but also for spiritual warfare.

Christ’s authority is important in battling lust because some strongholds and temptations are not just of the flesh, they are demonic. Like Christ in the wilderness, Paul, at times, recognized certain obstacles and temptations were not just of the flesh and of the world, but of the devil. Paul said this in 1 Thessalonians 2:18: “we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us” (ESV). We need to discern this as well and resist the devil.

James says this: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (4:7). As we submit to God through his Word, prayer, and the ministry of other saints, we can resist the devil, and he will flee from us. However, at times, resistance may include commanding the demonic to leave in the name of Jesus as demonstrated by Christ and the early church.

It is not God’s will for us to live bound to lust and sexual immorality, and God has given us all the resources to walk in freedom, including his Word and his authority. Thank you, Lord, for giving us everything needed for life and godliness (cf. 2 Peter 1:3). Thank you, Lord, for your grace. Thank you, Lord, that you are creating a pure and blameless Bride for your pleasure (cf. Eph 5:25-27).

Are you guarding your mind? Are you taking every thought captive and making it obedient to Christ? Are you filling your mind with God’s Word? Are you resisting the devil’s attacks so that he flees?

Reflection

  1. Why is the mind so important in our battle for purity?
  2. In what ways does the enemy bombard our mind with sexual images and thoughts?
  3. How can a person tell when certain strongholds, especially sexual ones, are also demonic?
  4. How should we resist the devil so he flees? In what ways is God calling you to better guard your mind?
  5. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  6. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown


i Accessed 8/25/ 2015 from http://biblehub.com/topical/s/simple.htm

ii Wiegel, Robert, “How Does God’s Word Change Us.” Sermon accessed 8/25/2015 from https://sermons.logos.com/submissions/49039-19-Psalm-019-7-08-How-Does-Gods-Word-Change-Us#content=/submissions/49039

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

7. Strategy Seven: Guard Our Free Time

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The next strategy is guarding our free time. One of the major reasons people engage in sexual sins, such as pornography and masturbation, is simply boredom—not having anything else productive to do. The Bible seems to provide evidence of this. Unwise stewardship of time probably contributed to David’s adulterous affair with Bathsheba. Consider the narrative:

In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home.
2 Samuel 11:1-4

In this story, the events occurred in the spring when kings typically went off to war; however, instead of going to battle, David sent the entire Israelite army while he stayed home. Next, David had a sleepless night and then decided to walk on the roof of his palace. While walking, he noticed a beautiful woman bathing. He saw, he lusted, and then he committed adultery with her.

Many men and women have had similar experiences. They were up late with nothing productive to do. They found themselves watching a show they shouldn’t be watching, in a chatroom they shouldn’t be in, on a website they shouldn’t be on, or having a conversation they shouldn’t be having. Like David, many are led into lust by not guarding their time.

There is more biblical evidence of the temptations associated with boredom. First Timothy 5:13 says this about widows and idleness: “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.” Not having a husband leads the widows to idleness, and in turn, the widows become gossips and busybodies. There is a lot of truth to the saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” When we have free time, it is often then that our enemy attacks. Loneliness, boredom, and procrastination are times when we are especially prone to lust, depression, addiction, and other temptations.

In addition, Paul says this in Ephesians 5:15-17: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Why should we be careful to use our time wisely? Paul says because the days are evil—meaning that if we make poor choices with our time, there is a tendency to fall into the evil of the day. There is a tendency to fall into sin.

This is not only true about lust but any sin. When do people typically get drunk? In their free time. When do people typically struggle with pornography? In their free time. When do people indulge in addictions? In their free time. Satan realizes that our free time is prime real estate for temptation. Therefore, we must make the best use of our time.

In fact, “making the best use of the time” can be translated “redeeming the time” or “buying back the time.” The word redeeming “was used of buying a slave in order to set him free.”i We must redeem our time from the slavery of evil and instead use it for God.

How do we redeem our time and make “the best” use of it? Paul said that we must know and do God’s will (v. 17).

For example, in the story of David’s fall into adultery, he probably should have been at war instead of at home. As the king of Israel, he was called to fight the battles of Israel and to, specifically, conquer all of Canaan, as it was promised by God to Abraham’s descendants. Therefore, during David’s temptation, he was not using his time to do God’s will—he was missing God’s will. This is true for many Christians. Instead of using their time to get involved in church, small group, or youth group, instead of using their summer to grow in the Lord or do missions, they waste it and open doors to fall into the evil of the day. If we are going to walk in victory over lust (and any other sin for that matter), we must redeem the time and use it to know and do God’s will.

How are you using your time? Are you redeeming it for God and his purposes? Or are you falling into the evil of the day?

Reflection

  1. How have you found yourself more prone to lust and other temptations in your free time?
  2. How can you better redeem your time and use it to do God’s will?
  3. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  4. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown


i MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 222). Chicago: Moody Press.

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8. Strategy Eight: Guard Our Brothers and Sisters

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Another major reason Christians fall into immorality is because they have wrong ideas about dating and courting the opposite sex. Sadly, these relationships often model the world (Romans 12:2) instead of biblical principles.

Consider what Paul said to Timothy, a young single pastor in Ephesus:

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
1 Timothy 5:1-2

Essentially, Paul says that outside of marriage, one’s interactions with the opposite sex should look like a natural brother and sister relationship. In fact, he says it should be identified by “absolute purity.”

Again, most Christian dating relationships follow the pattern of the world. When I was a student, they called it first-base, second-base, third-base, and home. Couples went from holding hands, to kissing, to heavy petting, to sex.

However, Scripture presents a very different picture—a familial one. A dating relationship, in many ways, should resemble a sibling relationship. In considering Paul’s teaching about relationships with the opposite sex, a man should ask, “How far would I go with my sister?” A fair application is if you wouldn’t do it with your biological sister, then you probably shouldn’t do it with your girlfriend. If you wouldn’t kiss your sister, then you probably shouldn’t kiss your girlfriend. If you go past the analogy given in Scripture, then you lose the witness of Scripture in your courtship relationships and the approval of God.

Once the boundaries of Scripture have been eclipsed, it is often like a slippery slope. First it’s OK to hold hands, then it’s OK to kiss, then it’s OK to cuddle and touch one another, then it’s OK to have sex because eventually you’re going to get married anyway—one reasons. This is a pathway to destruction.

I always encourage couples to declare their boundaries when initially considering dating someone. If that person is not willing to keep those boundaries, then move on. It is a lot harder to pull somebody up, than to pull somebody down. In dating and courtship, it’s important to be equally yoked, especially when it comes to purity.

A Warning about Clothing

In guarding your brother or sister, one of the things that must be considered is clothing. This is especially true for a woman since her body is more alluring than a man’s. That is why in many cultures, it is socially acceptable for a man to have his shirt off and not a woman. It seems that God made the woman’s body that way—it is the more delicate vessel (1 Peter 3:7). Also, this is especially important for women because men are typically more visually stimulated, while women are more emotionally stimulated.

In 1 Timothy 2:9-10, Paul said,

I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

This means that a Christian woman should avoid extremes in her clothing. She should not be known for dressing haggardly nor with expensive clothing, as is so common amongst the world. Peter, similarly, said this:

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3:3-4

However, this modesty, especially, applies to provocative dress, which can cause others to stumble. It will be very hard for a woman to avoid provocative clothing, as Satan is the ruler of this world (John 12:31), which includes the fashion industry. Sex drives the fashion industry. Shorts and skirts continue to get shorter, tops reveal more cleavage, and pants are tighter. For a woman to dress modestly, she will have to go against the flow and be very strategic and particular in her purchases.

Dressing modestly is important to maintain purity and to protect a dating relationship. As a female, you don’t want to open the door for the enemy into your courtship. Also, you don’t want a man who is primarily attracted to you because of your figure. Solomon’s mom said “charm” or “form” is deceitful, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Prov 31:30). You should want a man who is primarily attracted to you because of your love and obedience to the Lord, which includes modesty. Be careful of your clothing, as it can be a stumbling block to your brothers, and it will make it harder to stay pure in a courting relationship.

With that said, this is also true for men. Men need to consider their clothing in order to not be a stumbling block to their sisters. Men should be careful of wearing t-shirts that are 3X too small and pants with no air in them.

How is your clothing? Could it potentially be a stumbling block to others?

If you are going to win the battle for purity, you must guard members of the opposite sex by treating them as brothers and sisters with all purity and being modest in your dress.

Reflection

  1. What are the common sexual practices of the world in regards to dating/courting?
  2. What type of Christian instruction did you receive in regards to one’s conduct in dating/courtship relationships? What did that instruction include?
  3. How would you apply Paul’s exhortation to treat younger members of the opposite sex as siblings with absolute purity to dating/courting relationships (1 Tim 5:2)?
  4. Do you feel as though Christian brothers and sisters often model the clothing standards of the world in regards to immodesty? How can we better hold one another accountable in regards to dress?
  5. What other questions or thoughts do you have about this section?
  6. In what ways can you pray in response? Take a second to pray as the Lord leads.

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown

Related Topics: Sexual Purity

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