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Reaching

Purity

When I find myself responding with anger and disobedience (trust me, I've been doing plenty of both), I'm not worshipping well. An integral part of worshipping well is to declare beautiful what God has declared beautiful, so I want to spend more time doing that. Here's a start:

Sexual purity is radiantly beautiful.

By "sexual purity," I mean the act of reserving sexual intimacy for marriage alone. When I say this, I'm not talking about abstinence born of fear of sexuality. Nor am I talking about the idolatry of a spouse (the hope of a future husband or wife, etc.). Beautiful is the purity that comes from trusting God's absolute authority and absolute goodness, from believing that not just with words but with one's life. I suppose any obedience to Him for this reason is beautiful, but knowing our culture and my own desires, this kind of obedience is almost miraculous.

It is miraculous in that it's only possible by His grace. He knows that without Him, the deck is definitely stacked against purity. That's not a surprise to Him, and it doesn't tempt Him to amend His commandment or take it back. Purity is an outworking of admitting and living in dependence on Him. His grace becomes His grace when it is trusted.

That's a daily, hourly, or (in my case) moment-to-moment decision. The beauty isn't really about the track record, at least not in the way a moralist might think. Purity can come after no mistakes or after thousands, because its author is Christ, not the individual. It's His beauty, His radiance that brings out our own. Likewise, He never withdraws this offer of grace to us. Never.

The voice of authority is the voice of grace. What He says is commanded is commanded; what He says is forgiven is forgiven. We too often seem willing to trust Him with one but not the other. The person who does not trust His voice to command cannot truly trust His voice to forgive, and vice versa.

Most attractive to me is a woman who, regardless of her history, has decided to trust Him in this way. She doesn't destroy her sexuality or wield it as a weapon; she learns to live into it as designed. She knows her strength and her weakness and doesn't spend her life trying to mask either. She doesn't root her identity in her sin (because she knows He forgives) or her self-control (because she knows it's fruit of the Holy Spirit), but in Christ alone. She's not free from struggle, but she's free to struggle. Her purity doesn't come from "being good" but from knowing who she is, who He has declared her to be. He gets the last word in her forgiveness and the last word in her obedience—she has accepted the authority of His voice over her life. She's not trusting God for a husband; she's trusting God to be God, knowing that's more than enough.

Comments

A note from someone in the trenches

This is something I am doing. I'm 31 and...*gasp*...I'm still a virgin. This is something I am keeping until marriage and my boyfriend knows this.

I'm not saying I'm not tempted. Heck, seriously tempted with my thought life, but when I catch myself going there, I turn to the Lord and His strength to keep my mind where it should be.

Purity of thought is as important as purity of body.

The Bible states for a man to lust after a woman it's the same as doing it with a woman...that goes for the woman too.

(((Hugs)))

Don't despair. There are still "good girls" out here.

Re: A note from someone in the trenches

That's beautiful!

No despair here. God can bless me as He pleases, but He is more than enough (and when I don't feel that way, I'm free to struggle with Him on that).

And not only are there still "good girls" out there, there are also "bad girls" who are trusting Jesus with their lives instead of themselves. Both are equally breathtaking and beautiful examples of His grace.
Good post and thoughts - thank you for sharing.
i sound like a broken record, but wow.

good to hear this. the message at church yesterday touched on this topic from another angle, and scared me out of my mind.

wow.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.
Thank you for the encouragement and challenge to keep myself focused on God. There are deep ditches on each side of this road - this road of purity. As always, God is the only one who can keep you and me in the balance and on the right track.

So yeah, *hugs and nods* I don't have much else to say, but thank you.
I've been thinking on this topic and related topics quite a bit lately. Thinking about it and feeling upset by my choices and then praying and then thinking some more.

All those things my mama told me - she was right! :) So many heartaches and disappointments could have been avoided for me and for others if only I'd done what I knew was right.

Some choices are made in an instant yet are everlasting. And of course you're right - God forgives and gives even me a clean slate. But that doesn't change the effects of my decisions.

All the same, I am the most thankful girl in the universe that God sees me as innocent.
I completely hear you about effects and consequences.

All the same, I am the most thankful girl in the universe that God sees me as innocent.

And you are. The whole universe is held together by His voice. What He has declared forgiven is forgiven, by His authority. That's more real than the chair I'm sitting in.
When it gets me the most is when I consider that my actions have adversely effected (affected? I never know) my oldest son's life. He'll never have his mom and dad together, he'll either me with me missing his dad and brothers, or with his dad missing me and his other siblings. He look different than the rest of us and has to endure endless questions about the difference. All his siblings are "halves". I could go on!

Also, I contemplate how thoroughly I've robbed myself and my husband. No romantic honeymoon, full of anticipation. No reveling in 'firsts'. Ack.

Silly decisions that change everything.

I don't believe for a second that God didn't KNOW the choices I'd make. I just wish I'd made the ones that HE chose for me.

I can't imagine the weight of all this if I didn't know that I still had hope.
I can't imagine the weight of all this if I didn't know that I still had hope.

This is the gospel. I propose that anyone who doesn't understand that weight and that hope in their own lives hasn't experienced the gift of repentance.
I wonder if I can understand it? I made my choice for Christ at such a young age, and then walked away for many years. But even while I was doing my own thing, I KNEW I was. I KNEW hope.

I think of my husband and all he went through without any hope. I can't imagine. I really can't.
Purity can come after no mistakes or after thousands

Sometimes I think that we are only playing games with ourselves when we use words like "purity." On the one hand, that which is once spoilt is ever spoilt; what happens, happens; the past cannot be altered and its effects are inexorable, including upon your subsequent desires and decisions. On the other hand, you may choose to do something new, in which case you can ignore the past as a mere phantom, and live in an unbounded Now of unrestricted possibility. In the former sense there is NO WAY I could be considered pure, particularly in my mind. In the latter sense... well, I'm not sure I am fully committed there either, if I would be honest; but if we break it down moment by moment, theoretically I could be fully pure in a blinding instantaneous intensity.

I err in blaming my present disobedience on my past mistakes. In doubting the forgiveness I necessarily gainsay the commandment. And so am I ever trapped within myself. It's about so much more than sexuality; that's merely circumstantial.
It's about so much more than sexuality; that's merely circumstantial.

Very true; sexuality was just my pick of the day. The bigger issue in my life is God's authority, not just in commands, but also in declaring forgiveness and grace. Things are as He declares them to be, regardless of how I'm feeling about them.

There's a whole lot of "now/not yet" tension in who we are, and I have to trust Him more than I trust myself with that.
Another question:

Are we making valid distinctions when we single out sexual purity, as though sexual purity could exist in a vacuum? I don't think that banzai did that, or intends that, but many Christians do this, I think.

Our goal, in Christ, is holiness and righteousness in the power of the Holy Spirit. "Holiness" and "righteousness" are big and comprehensive concepts, forming a seamless web, encompassing spirit, mind and body; thoughts, words and deeds. We cannot focus too intensely on any one aspect of such holiness without running the risk of missing unrighteousness elsewhere in our lives. And sin begets sin in our lives.

On the issue of focus: righteousness and holiness never results from focus on OURSELVES, and most certainly, on OUR PAST. We don't get holier by squinting harder at our sin. Looking at past sin results only in despair. Rather, the bible makes pretty clear that we get holier as we focus on Christ, and what He has done, is doing, and will do on our behalf, to cleanse us and purify us and make us like Himself:

"Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...." Heb. 12:2.

Note, I am not condoning sexual impurity, by any means, and I agree that it is a big problem.
Today fringebenefits asked me in a comment in her journal whether this entry was triggered by a contraception poll she'd posted Sunday. Part of my response explains why I wrote about sexual purity the way I did:
Mostly, I just spend too much time in my life being mad at stuff rather than praising what God has declared good and beautiful. Not that I'm shooting to be happy-clappy; I just think I need to live into the truth more rather than just being alternately annoyed and captivated by the lie.
The main reason I wrote about sexual purity (which by no means is the only part up for discussion) is that I'm alternately:
  1. angry about seeing Christians settle for less than who we've been declared to be; and
  2. settling for less myself.
If I do understand you completely here... I'm going to disagree :D

I am not a product of my past--which is what I think you're saying with that second part about doing something new--but it's not just about doing something new, it's about being the beginnings of what God wants me to be. And if every day is the beginning of what God wants for me (or at least has that potential) then my past is not a "mere phantom", but a further beginning than where I am today.

I also disagree that "once spoilt, spoilt forever". God can redeem anything and it's not just a matter of "mere" forgiveness, it's a matter of giving us clean hearts, of him renewing us and transforming us. And if he renews us, then he replaces the bad with good, right? In which case, the spoilt parts are transformed and renewed along with the mediocre parts, and even the almost excellent parts :) Not so spoiled anymore in that case, are they?


What we have done in the past is never going to be undone. God does not retroactively rewrite history. However, today (or any day), we can begin anew by God's grace.

So really, you are saying the same thing I'm saying, in essence: thinking of "purity" in terms of what we have done or are doing is really an illusion.
What is your definition of "beginning anew"?
While I agree that God doesn't rewrite history, I think we give too much weight to what we've done in it and too little to what He's done in it.

When we think of history, we tend to think of ourselves as the authors, and then put it to God as to what He'll do with that. I'm suggesting that seeing Him as the Author of history and ourselves as those who respond to it is more right-thinking.

When God declares something, it is so, regardless of what I think, feel, or even do. When He declares me forgiven, so it is. When He declares the righteousness of Christ has been imputed to me, so it is. There is tension in the "now/not yet" nature of this, without a doubt. Yet, for me to know His declarations and fail to live into them is unbelief. So what does He say about me, and how do I live into that?

In essence, I'm agreeing with you as well: Purity is about living into what He has declared, not about what I've done or am doing. His declaration that it is beautiful makes it beautiful; His declaration of my righteousness in Christ makes me righteous. The act of living into that (of which sexual purity is part) is worship, which is the only authentic way to relate to Him. It's also beautiful.
I completely agree with you. When God forgives, it is as far from the east as the west. There is absolute redemption of and healing from our past. We are not spoilt if we choose to live fully in the Present of His Grace. We're not defined by our sin, past or present.
On the one hand, that which is once spoilt is ever spoilt.>>>

I'll be blunt. I think this is a lie. I think you posting this is discouraging to women and men who really have experienced a new found
purity and freshness after a negative sexual history through Jesus, and I wonder why in the world you would believe it to be valuable.

I've not ever had sex, but I know when something is written just to sound good. I'm sorry if that hurts your feelings, but sometimes, things just
need to be said. Discussion about the Gospel is more than just ideas being tossed around - these are peoples' lives you're referring to. Do you write with that in mind?
Disagree with me all you like. It doesn't hurt my feelings in the slightest.

I defy you or anyone else literally to turn back the clock and start over. Someone who has never committed sin X and suffered the negative consequences thereof is not the same as someone who has committed sin X but later repented, been redeemed, and recovered. They may be worse for that experience; they may be better for that experience. But they are not identical. That is a fact.

My larger point is that it is not even a valid question. Looking at the past is only looking at one aspect of our existence. There are many others. Defining "purity" solely as what one has done in the past is stilted and self-defeating.
Disagree with me all you like. It doesn't hurt my feelings in the slightest.>>>
Good to know.

I defy you or anyone else literally to turn back the clock and start over.>>>
No one is suggesting that - you are suggesting they are.

Someone who has never committed sin X and suffered the negative consequences thereof is not the same as someone who has committed sin X but later repented, been redeemed, and recovered.>>>
How do you know? Are you attempting to speak for another's Salvation experience? And why? Of what benefit is it to you to dummy it down to such a human level?

They may be worse for that experience; they may be better for that experience. But they are not identical. That is a fact.>>> No one is suggesting that - the sin occured - that they are defined by it and act as a result of it is what you've suggested continues to happen as a whole and you're wrong to do so.

My larger point is that it is not even a valid question.>>>
Really? What defines a "valid" question?

Looking at the past is only looking at one aspect of our existence. There are many others. Defining "purity" solely as what one has done in the past is stilted and self-defeating.>>>>

Again, you're taking what was said and twisting it, and in doing so, denying what the Presence of God can do and does do in the Present moment with someone.
My comment was to banzai and it's apparent to me that he and I understand one another. Therefore I will say no more.
I'm confused. You responded to my comments and now you're saying you want to talk to Lee?

OK - that's fine. I'm not sure there's too much to say anyway. We clearly see the Redemtive power of Jesus Christ a lot differently.
I defy you or anyone else literally to turn back the clock and start over.

I don't know that anyone's suggesting that. I don't think turning back the clock has a thing to do with purity. That way of thinking interchanges purity with innocence, and I don't think that's accurate. You don't redeem the innocent, and you don't redeem into innocence. The fruit's been eaten, and I think we all agree on this. We never return to the Garden.

When I read, it sounds like people are in agreement that purity as received from God isn't rooted in our past, but instead is a matter of His declaration. Here's where I think there might be misunderstanding (from your prior comment)*:
Sometimes I think that we are only playing games with ourselves when we use words like "purity." On the one hand, that which is once spoilt is ever spoilt; what happens, happens; the past cannot be altered and its effects are inexorable, including upon your subsequent desires and decisions.
In regard to who we are, that's just not true. If there's no God, it's valid. But if He exists, then He gets to say what's spoilt and what's clean. And He does.

Were we once dirty? Sure, every last one of us. But He's declared something new, and that overrides what once was, even though there are still temptations, struggles, and consequences. Purity is more real than my self-wrought garbage, because He declared it so.

*I'm not suggesting that you espouse the "on the one hand" view yourself, but that's where the disagreement seems to be. I tend to think that way myself, until I remember my theology fundamentals: 1) There's a God in the universe; and 2) I'm not Him.
Thank you. Not really even for the sexual purity aspect of it all, but for the distinctions made about His character and the faith in His divine sovereignty, in the power of His word to forgive and direct and ...

Amen.
I appreciated this post...

"When I find myself responding with anger and disobedience (trust me, I've been doing plenty of both), I'm not worshipping well. An integral part of worshipping well is to declare beautiful what God has declared beautiful, so I want to spend more time doing that. Here's a start:


Sexual purity is radiantly beautiful."

Keep on doing that... replacing anger and bitterness with praise for God's truth. It was a good reminder to me to do the same.
Thank you!