Around our house, everybody pitches in to help keep the house in good shape. So after dinner, my eight-year old daughter, Grace, helps my wife load the dishwasher. My four-year old son, Daniel, wipes the table. Emma, three, helps clear the table. And even my little one-yr old daughter, Lily, can waddle over and put a fork in the silverware basket of the dishwasher.
As soon as we declare dinner is over, the first things our kids want to do is run into their rooms and play, skipping the chores. So we have to call them back in and remind them of their duties. Usually we hear some kind of grumble like, “But we don’t want to.” Our answer, as always, is, “You may not want to, but this is what you are to do.”
Guarding our purity is similar. There are a lot of moments when temptation arises and in our hearts we say, “But I don’t want to avoid that.” In fact, many times, the heart wants to betray our marital commitments. A little glance, a flirtatious conversation, an ill-advised Google search, a randy joke.
But it is duty—commitment—that helps us say no to temptation and keeps us from spoiling love. This is why I believe love is not always a noun, something that happens to you. Sure, there is a mystery and beauty of romance when you meet the one you can’t live without. However, anyone who has been married for more than a few months realizes that while that kind of love sparked the fire, it will be the active love that will keep it going. Love becomes a verb, full of action. It forgives. It endures. It repents. It cares. It works.
This is why love needs commitment. Because the heart is sinful. It cannot be trusted. It wanders. But duty—a wedding ring, public vows before God and witnesses, Internet filters—these things are the guardrails that keep you in the path of pure love.
And what you experience, after working at a lifetime of committed love, is a level of deep intimacy and joy you never find when you allow your wandering heart to steer your life.
There are many days when you don’t have that magical lovin’ feeling. And yet commitment keeps you there, in the place, where a lifetime of repentance, forgiveness, and grace usher you into the sweet spot of gospel-fueled marital love.
Thanks Dan for your encouraging article about purity.
Guard-rails. Your article re-inforced the notion of staying within our moral guardrails. God has given us right and wrong boundaries, yet we’re tempted to step out of bounds. Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer 17:9 ESV). Winning the battle against sin and temptation begins with the conditions of our hearts.
Pure Hearts. John told us to walk in the truth because he knew that if our conscience condemns us then we were doing something wrong (1 John 3:18-20). Even when our internal warning system goes off we might ignore or bypass the system. Wrong answer! Satisfying the wicked desires of our heart is never the right way. You know what the right thing to do is. Temptation is difficult, but I have to remind myself that there’s fundamental things that we can do to be successful on the field of sexual tempation.
Staying in Bounds
What can we do to stay in bounds?
Put on the armor of God (Eph 6:10-18).
Flee immediately; don’t mess around with sin or temptation (Pro 6:27; 2 Tim 2:22; Jam 4:6-8).
Pray, this goes without saying (Matt 6:9-13).
Speak God’s Word out loud against the devil (Matt 4:4-11; Eph 6:17b). I have found this to be particularly helpful.
I pray that God will help us to be men and women of integrity and purity (Phil 4:8-9). Lord, you know that our flesh is weak, but in you we are strong (Rom 7:24; 2 Cor 12:9). Have mercy on us and forgive us our sins. Deliver us from the evil one – the one who comes to lie, cheat, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a). Give us abundant life in you, Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:10b). Thanks God for hearing our prayers.
I am struggling with this very thing right now. An old flame found me on facebook and I must admit I love the reminiscing and the attention. We live in the same city and have run into each other a couple of times by accident. It was very nice. I am not looking to have an affair. This man is a nice man. I would like very much to be his friend but the little voice inside my head is screaming at me that to do so would be wrong.
When in doubt, go with what’s safe. I’d listen to the little voice, if I were you.
I too have been struggling with temptation for a while. I do things that I know I shouldn’t but I do them anyway. I play a lot of online games and have quite a bit of non Christian friends. I love to play and talk with them but it’s impossible to stay true to my beliefs with their speech and messages they send to me. I fear that my games are getting in the way with my relationship with Christ.
Hello, Ethan – it sounds like you know what steps you need to take to walk a more holy walk. The only thing that’s left is to take action. “Faith without action is [______]” (I bet you know the word). What do you think you need to do next? God is for you!