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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

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