31 Days of Purity: Restoration

Day 23

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I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. (Joel 2:25, ESV)

A locust invasion brings devastation to the land. Here Joel gives us a picture of a land that was “the garden of Eden before them, but behind them, a desolate wilderness, and nothing escapes them.” (Joel 2:2) These locusts have brought total destruction, and the consequences of sexual impurity can be much the same. Sin has no intention of stopping its devastation. Just as with a mighty swarm of locusts, nothing escapes its destruction. Unless the Lord rescues us, our sin will be more devastating than a locust plague.

Thankfully, Jesus Christ has come to conquer the works of the devil. He has come to restore that which has been destroyed by sin. There may be consequences to your sin that cannot be fully restored this side of eternity– this is unknown, for now. But we can rest assured that Christ is, indeed, making all things new. He promises that he will restore completely. Therefore, let us thank him for his restoration and plead with him to restore in us the things that have been marred by impurity.

Father, I know that my sin has taken a toll on my life. Its effects touch every area of my being. There are things in my heart and mind that I wish could be forever blotted out. And there are areas in my life that have been decimated by my sin. You alone have the power to rebuild what I have destroyed. I know that ultimately you will restore everything and make all things new. I believe this and thank you for it. I pray today that your future redemption would touch the present. Restore what has been wrecked by my impurity for your name’s sake. 

31 Days of Purity: The Harlot’s House

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Day 22

My son, pay attention to my wisdom,
turn your ear to my words of insight,
that you may maintain discretion
and your lips may preserve knowledge.

For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil;
but in the end she is bitter as gall,
sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps lead straight to the grave.
She gives no thought to the way of life;
her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

Now then, my sons, listen to me;
do not turn aside from what I say.
Keep to a path far from her,
do not go near the door of her house,
lest you lose your honour to others
and your dignity to one who is cruel,
lest strangers feast on your wealth
and your toil enrich the house of another.
At the end of your life you will groan,
when your flesh and body are spent…

Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers.
May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
(Proverbs 5:1-18)

The book of Proverbs features two women: Madam Folly and Lady Wisdom. Folly is characterised by her adultery, wickedness and devious schemes (see also Proverbs 9). She is the harlot. Here the wise father writes to his son and warns him to stay far away from her house, from that place of sexual temptation and sexual sin. He knows that if his son walks along the edge of the cliff, he will inevitably fall into the chasm.

A few days ago we prayed that God would give us a willingness to gouge out and cut off whatever it is that causes us to sin. Have you done that? Now Solomon warns us that we need to stay far, far from any area of temptation. What path do you walk that leads you to sexual sin? What pattern do you follow before you fall into sexual sin? Is it mindlessly browsing Facebook? Is it staying up too late? It is driving past the house of the prostitute? Read Solomon’s warning, pray for God’s wisdom, and beware your steps.

Father, I ask that you would show me the patterns I follow that lead me to sexual sin. I don’t want to go near the door of the prostitute or that work colleague with whom I’m infatuated. I don’t want to go near the porn site. I don’t want to go to any place where my eyes and mind are prone to wander into impurity. I don’t want to walk along the cliff and expect that this time I won’t fall in. Thank you for your kind warning, given through Solomon. Now give me your wisdom, give me your strength, give me your protection. Let me do, and let me long to do, only what is right.

31 Days of Purity: The Throne of Grace

Day 21

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Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,  Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

This passage tells us to come to Christ in our weakness and in our sin. Yet we often prefer alternative ways, which ultimately subvert the truth. I cannot describe it any better than Heath Lambert has:

Mental punishments are not helpful because they deal with sin in a self-centered way instead of a Christ-centered way. Meditating on how miserable and pathetic you are only perpetuates the sinful self-centeredness that led you to sexual impurity in the first place. Condemning self-talk still has you standing centre stage as you reflect on what you think you deserve because of what you did. … The only way to break this vicious cycle is to get outside of yourself, to Jesus. You need to stop talking to yourself in categories of condemnation and begin talking to God in categories of confession. (Heath Lambert, Finally Free. p26)

Jesus doesn’t need your condemning self-talk. Neither do you, for it accomplishes nothing good. What you need is to believe the gospel and boldly draw near to the throne of grace. It is here—in our Great High Priest—that you will find the healing that you long for. It is here that you will find the mercy and grace that you so desperately need.

Lord, you were tempted just as I have been tempted. I am thankful that where I have failed, you have succeeded. You know how strong temptation can be. You know what it is like to be in a mortal body. You can sympathize with my weakness. I am grateful that you know my frame and remember that I am but dust (Psalm 103:13-18). Rescue me from foolish self-talk and replace it with your words of grace. You say that when I confess, I am clean. Help me to believe you. Today I draw near to your throne of grace confident that you will meet me with mercy and grace to help in this time of need. 

31 Days of Purity: Meaningful Work

Day 20

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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, “She is 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… (2 Sam 11:1-4)

A king walking on the roof and gazing over his kingdom is not an unusual scenario. It is not even unusual that he might catch a glimpse of something that he should not be seeing. But what is unusual in this story is given to us in verse 1. David is leisurely strolling across his roof and gazing across his kingdom during “the time when kings go out to battle”. It is the season for battle but David is having his own season of leisure. As the text says, “David remained at Jerusalem”.

You can likely relate to David’s story. Some of our greatest sins take place in times of boredom and inactivity. What Spurgeon once said is demonstrably true, “Idle people tempt the devil to tempt them.” One of the antidotes to a life given to impurity is the grace of enduring and meaningful work. It is difficult to be consumed with sexual impurity when you are consumed with gospel endeavours. Let us pray that the Lord would help us “approve what is vital” and give our energies to that which is eternal.

Father, thank you for your gift of work. Thank you for involving us in your purpose to fill the world with disciples of Jesus Christ. I confess that far too often my mind and heart are focused on much smaller things. At times my heart is driven towards comfort and ease. When my brothers and sisters are “doing battle” I’m “remaining at Jerusalem”. Stir up in my heart a passion to pursue the vital things in life. Keep me from flitting away my time on fleeting pleasure and to pursue your eternal kingdom. Amen.

31 Days of Purity: Radical Action

Day 19

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“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30)

In the context of sexual purity, Jesus lays down the challenge of radical action. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” We understand that Jesus may not be speaking literally. More likely this is hyperbole. But if we accuse Jesus of overwrought exaggeration, we minimize the force of his words and perhaps give ourselves an out. Jesus is asking a serious question in this text: Do you love your sexual sin enough to go to hell for it?

If you are committed to battling sin, you need to be committed to getting rid of those things that lead you to sin. Don’t toy with sin when you should be running fast and far from it. If your iPhone causes you to sin, cut it off; if your computer causes you to sin, gouge it out (a suggested tool and resources here and here). As an integral part of your commitment to sexual purity, as a means of gaining victory, take radical action against your sin. What is God telling you to cut off or gouge out?

Need help? Reach out to a trusted Christian brother today.

Father, I pray that I would have the courage and integrity to take radical action. Don’t let me toy with sin. Don’t let me continue to taste of sin and act surprised when I soon feast on it. Keep me from ever thinking lightly of the very sins that required the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. Show me where my patterns of sin are so deeply ingrained that I will need to cut something off or gouge something out for my good and your glory.

31 Days of Purity: I can’t get no….

Day 18

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Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—

  • who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
  • who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
  • who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)

When Sir Mick Jagger famously sang, “I can’t get no (nah, nah, nah) satisfaction…” he gave powerful expression to the zeitgeist of our day. The prevailing culture in which we live assumes that our pleasures, our personal feelings of happiness and fulfilment are paramount. Our desires rightly demand satisfaction. But there is a problem. No matter what we have, we want more, we demand better, we need what the next guy has got– we are unsatisfied.

And perhaps in a life without God, this is how he intends it to be.

But the Psalmist knew where to find satisfaction. He praised God– consciously and intentionally calling his soul to attention– because God had given him so much, so many benefits. God alone satisfied the Psalmist’s desires with good things.

God does not satisfy our souls with poor substitutes or second-hand pleasures. He satisfies our souls with good things. Sexual purity embraces this truth about God.

Heavenly Father, I praise you for all that you are and all that you have given to me. Praise you that you forgive all my sins, heal all my diseases, redeem my life from the pit and crown me with love and righteousness. Praise you that you satisfy my desires with good things, so that my strength is renewed like the eagle’s.

31 Days of Purity: God’s view of Women

Day 17

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Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity. (1 Timothy 5:1-2, ESV)

It seems as though we are trained from a young age to objectify women, to see them not as people created in God’s image, but as objects who exist for our pleasure. As we battle for purity, we pray and trust that God begins to transform our minds, our hearts, and our view of women. Every victory is a victory we ought to celebrate. Yet one victory is not the end point in our quest for personal holiness. The Lord does not call and empower us to merely put off sin, but he also calls and empowers us to put on righteousness.

It is one thing, a very good thing, to stop looking at pornography. It is another thing, a much greater thing, to have the Lord transform and restore our view of women. Apart from his grace we will likely continue to view women as objects—only this time, they will be objects to be avoided instead of objects to be consumed. The Lord’s aim is much higher. He tells us to view younger women as our sisters in Christ, and older women as our mothers in the Lord.

Who are the women that God has placed in your life, whose godly example encourages you? Which of their qualities would you like to emulate? Give God thanks for these women and pray that the Lord would transform your view of women, and see them with His eyes.

Father, I thank you for the gift of women. They are fearfully and wonderfully made to uniquely reflect your glory. It grieves me that many view your daughters as little more than sexual objects. It further grieves me that I have been guilty of joining in this. Lord, captivate my heart and transform my mind in such a way that I view and value women as you do. Let me treat younger women as sisters with all purity, and let me treat older women as mothers with all dignity. Stir up in my heart a deep and holy love for my sisters in Christ. Amen.

31 Days of Purity: Stewarding your Body

Day 16

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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 6:19-20)

In the heat of the battle for purity, sexuality can feel like a burden and a curse. We might even find ourselves wishing that God had made us asexual beings, or that he would just take away all those feelings and all those desires. Yet we know that God is a loving Father who looks upon his people with kindness. Far be it from this Father to give us something that is bad for us! Our body, along with all it’s beautiful passions, urges and desires, is a good gift from God.

Our bodies matter. We are not merely ‘spirits trapped in a temporary cage’. Nor are we merely a body with no eternal soul. We are an inter-dependant unity, living our lives as bodily souls, or ensouled bodies. In this life now, we are always spiritual, and are we are always physical. That is what it means to be human.

In the context of 1 Corinthians 6, Paul is saying that we can’t drag our bodies through the muck of sin without having some spiritual effect. If we have sex with someone we shouldn’t, we unite our whole spiritual and bodily selves with them— it’s an outrage and it has lasting effects. Because our bodies are now the temple, or home, of God’s Holy Spirit– joined to our own spirits– we are to honour God with our bodies. That’s why God takes sexual purity so seriously.

That’s why Paul rebukes the Corinthian church for their immorality and gives them this command: Glorify God in your body. This is a command he gives to the married and to the unmarried. Our sexuality has been entrusted to us as a gift from God. We serve as faithful stewards when we use it in the ways God intends. Whether married or unmarried, we are to express our sexuality only in ways that honour God. Whatever our personal situation, it is God who owns our bodies, not us; it is God who owns our sexuality, not us. My brother, be a faithful steward of the gift God has entrusted to you.

Father, you tell me that I can and must glorify you in my body. I believe that you have given sexuality to me as a gift. I may not always understand why you have done this because it does not always feel like a gift. But I do understand that you are good and kind and that you love me. I pray that I would be a faithful steward of this gift, that in that final day you would look at how I have stewarded this gift and say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

31 Days of Purity: The Word of God

Day 15

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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; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV)

God’s Word cuts and cuts deep. This kind of cutting doesn’t always feel like a blessing to those who are living in impurity. It hurts. It convicts as it penetrates our hearts. God’s Word lays us bare before him. But it also strengthens and sustains. God’s Word is the weapon that He wields (and that we wield) in our fight against impurity. It is through His powerful Word that mountains melt like wax. It was through His powerful Word that your heart came alive. And it will be through His powerful Word that we are transformed into the likeness of His Son.

If we want a passion for God, it will only come through a passion for God’s Word. If we want to be rescued from the land of scoffers and the counsel of the wicked, then we’ll want to position ourselves under God’s Word. It is here that our delight in God will grow. Therefore, let us pray that the Lord would give us an abiding passion for His Word.

Father, I thank you for your Word. Though it slays me I know that it also restores me. I know that naturally– apart from your work in me– I do not have a passion for your Word. I will not drift into reading and meditating upon your Word. I certainly will not naturally treasure it. But through your Spirit, the Word will be a delight to my heart. So, God I pray that you would incline my heart to you. Give me an abiding passion for you and your Word, a passion unlike any I have known before. Use your Word and Spirit to conquer my sin and unbelief. 

31 Days of Purity: The Local Church

Day 14

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You are not an echidna! 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

The New Testament knows nothing of the lone Christian—the man who claims to be a believer but who deliberately or carelessly allows himself to drift from the local church. Every Christian is dependent upon the local church and we neglect it to our peril, for it is in the church that we powerfully experience the means of grace God gives us—the Word, prayer and the sacraments. In addition to these, we have the benefit of Christian friendship and fellowship. We cannot thrive or even survive without all these gracious provisions. Neither should we expect to.

It is also within the church that we uniquely experience the joy of imitating Christ in putting aside our own desires in order to love and serve others. And so, my brother, don’t simply go to church: be the church. Be an active, serving, participating member of your church. Do not expect that you will be able to put sin to death or to pursue holiness without the local church.

Father, I am grateful for the gift of the local church. I am grateful that through the church I am able to experience those wondrously ordinary means of grace. I am grateful that you led me to my church, and I pray that you would help me to commit to it more and more, that I would love the people you bring there, that I would have deep and meaningful friendships there, that I would faithfully serve your people by stirring them up to love and good works.

PS: Church times today are 9:30am and 6:00pm. Just saying.

31 Days of Purity: Humility

Day 13

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God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. (1 Peter 5:5).

Humility does not come easily or naturally. We think far too highly of ourselves, of our virtues, of our tendencies, of our ability to resist sin. Yet time and again the Bible tells us that God has a special affection for the humble. God turns his back on the proud in order to lavish his grace on those who are humble. In fact, God will actively oppose the proud just as he actively blesses the humble. Few things expose us like our inability to turn away from sin and our lack of desire to do what is right. Therefore few things offer us better opportunity to turn to the Lord in humble dependence.

God is actively for the humble. God desires to pour out his blessings on the humble. As you put off the sin of sexual impurity, and as you put on the virtue of sexual integrity, humble yourself before God. Pray for a heart attitude like that of the Lord Jesus Christ who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (from Phil 2:5-11)

Father, I humbly confess that I cannot win this battle on my own. I am too weak. I am too drawn to what is evil. So, as much as I am able, I humble myself before you. I ask that you would remind me of the humble Savior, who took on flesh for me, who obeyed the law for me, who went to the cross for me, who bled and died that I might have life.

31 Days of Purity: Trusting the Promises of God

Day 12

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No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Our God is a promise-making and promise-keeping God. What he says, he will do; what he offers, he will provide. One of his great promises is that he is with us in the midst of our temptations. Even in those times when Satan custom-crafts a temptation suited perfectly to our desires, even there–especially there–God promises that he is with us and that in his strength we can endure. All we need to do is take hold of what he offers.

The premise of 1 Cor 10:13 is that we sin because we choose to. We are responsible agents. The Devil did not make us do it. He tempted and we bought it. We chose to.

God does not promise that you will not be tempted or that you will not be tempted beyond your natural ability to resist. But he does promise that he is with you right there in the temptation and that, if you look to him and take hold of his promises, you will be able to resist. When the temptation comes, take hold of his good promises, take hold of his kind mercy. With his help you are able to endure every temptation without sin.

Father, I pray that you would help me to arm myself with your promises. Let me fill my mind and heart with your Word so in that moment of temptation I can be like Jesus and meet every trial, every temptation, with your truth. I know I will be tempted today and every day, so let me believe that you will provide a way of escape for every single temptation I face. I am too weak to rely on myself. Please teach me to rely on you, to trust in your promises. For your promises are true and good.