The Pursuit of Purity

Psalm 119:9: ‘How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.‘  Matthew 5:8: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

Pursuing purity is a reality for every believer in Christ. Yes, even those who struggle with sexual addiction and lust. What seems impossible with man is possible with God. God is able to transform us through the renewing of our mind and lives.

I see purity as an attitude of the heart that will result in a lifestyle change. It is an active decision every day to commit yourself to the pursuit of purity. ‘One day at a time’ is the expression used in AA. Each morning you decide for moral purity. Keeping yourself pure according to ‘Thy word’ requires a daily plan. Essential to your plan is another heart attitude, humility.

Humility is best reflected in the example Christ set for us to follow. Paul, in Philippians 2: 3-8, reminds us of the importance of focusing on the needs of others and not exclusively our own, which so characterizes our selfish nature. Humility of mind reminds me daily that, apart from Christ, I can do nothing. I am dependent on Him to be able to live right. Pride is the opposite of humility, an attitude that says I can do this myself without God. Just remember where that attitude (pride) got you.

So the commitment to be morally pure is a daily one, where you build new patterns of thinking and behaving motivated by a change in heart. Peter put it this way in 2 Peter 1:5-8:

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

Job made a covenant with his eyes to not look lustfully on a woman. Learning to turn away from lustful thoughts requires the daily discipline of replacing old thoughts and sinful patterns with new and God honoring ones. In your daily plan, be sure to include scripture memorization, mediation, and study of God’s word. Find a bible study group or take a class with others. Learning the scriptures and encouraging one another makes studying enjoyable and enriching. Doing this also helps you build relationships where you can develop accountability and fellowship.

Another part of your daily plan in pursuit of purity is to have a means of confession or honest discussion about your thought life. I know that when we admit any thoughts that bother us to another, the thoughts lose their power. Having another person pray with you can really encourage you. James 5:16 is a reminder of the power of confession, and Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us ‘to consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking the assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.’ Having another person to share with also helps you overcome the deceitfulness of your own heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Asking someone to mentor you in the spiritual disciplines can really be helpful. Look for people who have walked with the Lord and have a mature walk with God. Ask your Pastor for guidance to find someone to mentor you. Sponsors, like mentors, are very helpful in your specific area of recovery. They guide and coach you in the recovery process. A spiritual mentor may not have specific knowledge about addiction, but would bring the wisdom and knowledge that comes with walking in relationship with God. You need both.

In closing, as you seek God in pursuit of purity, He will enable you to develop the disciplines that have been lacking in your life. Ask Him to give you a heart inclined towards purity. As Jesus said, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.’

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle and our Resources for Men.

Chris Cole

The Importance of Grace in Recovery

Jonathan Daugherty

My daughter just started kindergarten this week. What an exciting time of new beginnings and endless possibilities. These first few steps of her educational journey are memorable and mark the start of a truly adventurous quest for increased knowledge. The buzz created in our home because of my daughter’s first days of school caused me to reflect on the process of recovery and the essential ingredient to lasting purity: grace.

One thing I can assure my daughter (as well as you who are hiking the trail toward purity) is that the journey has obstacles. Just as my daughter will encounter barriers to her educational growth, so too will you encounter seemingly insurmountable challenges in your pursuit of sexual purity. You may hit a wall of frustration, boredom, or temptation in your recovery. The fact that recovery requires resistance is sometimes discouraging to the point of wanting to give up. But rather than take the path of least resistance (which only leads to more pain and disappointment), press forward on the path to personal purity.

The challenges we face in our pursuit of purity are no secret. Laziness, pride, temptation, even relapse. These obstacles attempt to impede our progress and reignite the deadly flames of shame in our minds and hearts. If we allow them to stunt our growth in recovery, we lose momentum and soon find ourselves contemplating old acting out behaviors. From there it is a short trip to deeper bondage in sexual sin.

What then allows a man to break through these barriers and enjoy ongoing, long-term freedom in sexual purity? A proper understanding and application of grace is a great starting point. Grace is God’s favor poured out on undeserving, sin-stained men just like you and me. It is God’s continual “stamp” of approval and acceptance on His children. As God’s child, you are forever engaged by him within the loving boundaries of grace – even when discipline is necessary. To understand such grace begins to put into perspective the many obstacles along the road to purity.

How do you apply this grace in a practical sense when faced with a very real obstacle such as temptation or laziness? First, you must recognize that something has gone awry in your recovery plan. The ship is taking on water, so-to-speak, and something needs to be done to correct it. Let’s say you realize that you have begun to drift toward certain sexual temptations, maybe lingering on seductive websites or TV shows. You haven’t “crossed the line” to porn, but you are drifting. Applying grace to such a situation would include first recognizing that a drift is occurring, and then reminding yourself that whatever you choose to do from that point on, God still loves you. That’s right. Grace is given, not because it is deserved, but because of Christ’s sacrifice for you. Most often, such a reminder will cause you to see that any more movement toward sin would only bring pain, shame, and disappointment. Grace, therefore, leads us to repentance and purity.

I once knew a counselor who used a very unconventional practice to help smokers overcome their habit (and I am not necessarily recommending it here). After several months in counseling and support group therapy, the counselor would instruct his clients to spend one week carrying a pack of cigarettes in their pockets. Not so they would smoke them, but rather so they knew that at any moment they could pull one out if they chose to. This counselor wanted to teach his clients that they had a choice – they did not need to be controlled by the cigarettes, they could choose what to do with their lives. Grace often reminds us of this scary truth – we have a choice. We can choose to walk humbly before God and others and receive the blessings of God’s grace, or we can choose to live in pride, calling the shots and suffer the consequences of isolation, shame, and broken relationships.

Seeing my daughter’s excitement at beginning school also reminded me that the road to recovery is worth it. There is a benefit to pressing through the obstacles and discomfort to reap the reward of peace and true contentment. Although there may be moments (even seasons) of difficulty and disappointment, the long-term results of a lifestyle of purity are worth it. And for every moment, or season, of obstacles and challenges, we are assured that God’s grace is sufficient.

For more help on this subject, please see Every Man’s Battle.

What are the 4 Pillars of Purity?

Jonathan Daugherty

Most of us desire purity. We really do. Our heart longs for it, the Spirit of God within us points us to it, and the dissatisfaction of impurity confirms our longing. But how many of us, if we were honest, would have to admit that our desire for purity alone has not produced long-term results? To want purity is one thing, to walk in purity is quite another.

So, what does it actually take to live every day in sexual purity? And how can we implement these principles into our daily lives?

There are 4 Pillars of Purity that are necessary for anyone who desires to live each day in sexual purity. Let’s go over each Pillar and then I will offer practical ways to implement them into your daily life.

Pillar #1 Profess the Struggle

Humility is the doorway to freedom and purity. Once you recognize your struggle with impurity and confess that you are incapable of conquering it on your own, you are on your way to the exciting adventure of purity. This Pillar is critical, however, because without admitting your need there is no hope of long-term change. And remember, God opposes the proud, but gives GRACE to the humble. (James 4:6)

Practical application:

– Write in a journal your primary struggles and confess your powerlessness over them.

– Share with a pastor or friend your struggle with sexual temptation and your inability to manage it.

– Pray to God, sharing with Him your weaknesses and desire to walk in purity.

Pillar #2 – Understand Triggers

For a solution to really work you must address the problem, not the symptoms. The ways you act out (i.e. viewing pornography, masturbating, affairs, etc.) are much less important factors to address than the attitudes, environment, and temptations preceding. To understand your triggers is to study and evaluate your typical patterns that lead to acting out. This requires brutal honesty and a willingness to deal ferociously with these triggers in order to create effective strategies of escape when faced with sexual temptation.

Practical application:

– Use Be Broken’s “Online Personal Inventory & Evaluation Form” to assess you triggers and build a strategy for purity.

– Write out all the things you can remember that typically precede your acting out.

– Share your triggers with a pastor, friend, or trusted band of brothers and develop concrete strategies for responding to each trigger.

Pillar #3 – Relate with God

Apart from the healing power of the Lord Jesus Christ there is no hope for long-term freedom from sexual sin. Relating with God is essential to experiencing growing freedom from sexual acting out. The idea of relating with God can seem foreign, even intimidating, but by growing in intimacy with your Creator you build strength of character and gain wisdom in battling sexual temptation.

Practical application:

– Read and study God’s Word every day – even when you don’t feel like it.

– Pray every day. This is simply talking with God. A good “tool” to use to help you get started is the A.C.T.S. method: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Praying the Psalms is another good exercise in learning to pray.
– Begin talking to God throughout the day in any and all circumstances.

Pillar #4 – Engage Others

As powerful and important as the three previous Pillars of Purity are they come up short of providing long-term freedom apart from the Pillar of engaging others. This may sound heretical considering Pillar #3 is Relating with God, but without fellowship and accountability it is virtually impossible to maintain sexual purity. You were designed for relationship – with God and others. Developing deep, lasting relationships with others will provide the support, encouragement, and accountability you need to consistently walk in purity. You simply cannot maintain freedom on your own.

Practical application:

– Attend a support group regularly.

– Be willing to deepen your friendships by sharing your struggle and seeking their support.

– Help get a purity group started in your church or community.

You will notice that the 4 Pillars of Purity form an acronym, P.U.R.E. We hope this will make it easier for you to remember as you pursue being a man of purity. And as you resolve to offer each day to God as a day of sexual thought purity, we invite you to share your story with others so they might benefit from it. Just log into the Message Boards or Chat room and connect with other like-minded brothers. You have nothing to lose ‘ but your sexually destructive habits.

See Every Man’s Battle.