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UCG IA Bible Insights Thursday, August 11 2022

Sex, sin and the pursuit of purity

It is so easy to compromise what we know to be right, and justify what does not seem to be blatantly evil. There are things we tend to ignore or convince ourselves aren’t really that bad. If we are not on our guard, wrong can often seem acceptable.

by Gary Petty

Societal influences are powerful, and the drives of human nature impact our choices. We can easily end up giving into thoughts and actions we shouldn’t, and all too often rationalizing our behavior.

For example, some may tell themselves: “There is nothing wrong with looking at a little porn. I’m not actually cheating on my partner” or: “I’m not an alcoholic. I just drink a bit too much at times.” The lines can blur between right and wrong, between our immediate wants and what God commands for our good. God instructs us in 2 Corinthians 6:17-18: “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate…touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters…”.

Compromise is not acceptable to God. The Word of God describes it as a very serious problem, even though we may think it’s minor: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people” (Ephesians 5:3, New International Version). It’s not enough just to oppose evil, we must also do good, replacing negative activities with positive ones by transforming our thinking, so our actions will be different. Pornography, immoral or immodest people, bad language and the like can taint our thinking.

The Bible instructs us we have to be Christians who run. We’re told to flee sexual sin, idolatry, the love of money and desire for material things, and also youthful lusts (1 Corinthians 6:18 and 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). We must constantly run from wrong influences and environments and circumstances conducive to sin. The original Greek word for “flee” in the cited passages is pheugo. The word “fugitive” derives from this word. We have to be like someone who is running to escape a pursuer. Sin is chasing us, and we have to run from the ways of this world (1 Peter 3:11).

But our life is not just running from what’s wrong, it’s running toward and replacing it with what’s right. “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thessalonians 5:15). If we stop running from what is evil, it’s going to catch us. If we stop pursuing what is righteous, it will elude us. We have to ask ourselves: What do I pursue? Where do I direct my energy? What is it that occupies my mind? Is life simply about success, promotion and possessions? Paul told Timothy to pursue “righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, [and] gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11).

Most importantly, God has not called us to fail but to succeed. He is on our side and promises He will help us overcome when we repent, and commit ourselves and our thinking to God and trust in Him: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). He guarantees to help us through the struggles and obstacles of life. “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

When we pursue purity it changes our relationships and values, transforming our character and changing how we view ourselves. The Apostle Paul admonishes us: “ not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2). We’re all addicted to sin in one form or another, but we can overcome sin through the power of God’s Spirit dwelling in us.