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M any single Christians prefer to avoid the topic of sexual purity because they are bound by guilt about past sins, or because they do not want to deal with current sexual temptations and sin in their lives. But God takes purity very seriously - and so must we.

The Lord loves us so much that He gave us commandments and principles to live by so that we can be protected from the ravages of sin. If we desire God's blessings in our lives, we must obey Him. No matter what you have done or what bondages you may have allowed into your life, you can be forgiven, healed, and set free through the blood of Jesus. He conquered death and sin for us and we became new creatures when we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. All Christians can live their lives free from the bondage of sin and there are many things we can do to avoid falling into the traps the world sets.

Sexual sin ranging from lustful thinking to perverted behavior is rampant in the world today. Even a quick sampling of television, magazines, the Internet, movies, advertising, and music can drown a person in sexually explicit material that is meant to cause arousal and appeal to the flesh. Biblical values such as celibacy in the single life, virginity until marriage, and faithfulness during marriage are considered ridiculous and old fashioned - even to some Christians.

How can a Christian walk in purity when temptation seems to be around every corner? First we must remember that God created sex to be a beautiful expression of love between a man and a woman who are joined in marriage. Since sexual activity can result in the creation of a precious, eternal, human soul, it is obviously very important and valuable; therefore, Satan does his best to pervert it.

In order to deal with this issue properly we need to start by exposing the lies and excuses Satan uses to deceive people in this area. This is imperative because once we believe one of his lies, we have taken the first step on a path that will lead to heartbreak and regret. The following list is probably not exhaustive, but it does include the majority of lies the devil uses to deceive unmarried Christians. It would take too much time and space to deal with each lie thoroughly, but let's try to examine them quickly from a biblical perspective. Please be sure to study the Bible verses noted after each section.

1. "I have gone too far to come back now." - We can never go beyond the reach of God's grace and forgiveness when we repent and turn from our wicked ways. He promises that when we repent, the Blood of Jesus washes us white as snow. If we do not believe that we must believe that Jesus died on the cross for nothing and His Blood is not powerful enough to cleanse us. As Christians, we always have the opportunity to face our sin, repent, and start over when we fall. (See Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:13,14, Isaiah 55:7,8, Titus 3:3-7, James 4:7-10, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 2:12, Romans 8:1-2, Romans 12:1,2).

2. "It's just too hard to follow God's commands. No one is perfect." - God Almighty is not foolish or cruel. He is wise and loving. He would not give us commands and principles to live by if they were impossible to follow. When we allow ourselves to believe that it is too hard to walk in God's Ways we deny the power of the Holy Spirit who is with us always to convict, comfort, and empower us to walk an upright life.

If we love God, our hearts will not be satisfied unless we obey Him. God's principles for our lives are given for our protection because the painful consequences of sin are far more difficult to bear. In reality, following God's commands is not difficult - we are not missing out on anything. In fact, living a godly life causes us to have a more powerful and intimate walk with Christ, makes us a brighter witness to the unsaved, and brings great blessings and promises. (See Phillipians 4:13, Psalm 1:1-6, Psalm 19:7-11, Psalm 111:7-10, Psalm 112:1, Psalm 119, Proverbs 3:1-8).

3. "I cannot stop the thoughts that come into my head." - The mind and the thought realm are probably the most important areas of our lives because what we think about has a powerful influence on what we do and who we become. The most basic thing we can do to maintain purity is guard our hearts and minds. Lustful thoughts and images are often the first weapons Satan uses in the battle for our minds. Phillipians 4:8 says "Finally, bretheren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - think about such things." Through Christ we receive a renewed mind and this verse makes it clear that we can control our thoughts. We do not have to accept and dwell on every thought or image that drops into our heads. As soon as an improper thought is allowed to linger, we enter the danger zone that can lead to sinful behavior. Phillipians 4:8 provides high standards for anything that can affect our thinking such as what we read, look at, imagine, discuss and listen to. Some of us may feel that our minds are seriously damaged due to past sin but nothing is beyond the healing and cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. When we seek God through prayer, worship, and meditation on His Word and then fill our minds with righteous thoughts from annointed preaching, teaching, and Christian music, we will gain the strength and discipline we need in order to bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (See Romans 12:2, 1 Peter 1:13-19, Psalm 19:14, Colossians 3:1-3, Romans 8:5-8).

4. "Everyone is doing it so what's the difference?" - The difference is Jesus. If you call yourself a Christian then you have decided that you want to follow the ways of God - not the sinful ways of this world. The only person we should be influenced by is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our example and the standard we should measure our lives by. When you stand face to face with the One who was sinless yet died on a cross for you, will you be able to tell Him that you trampled on His love and mercy because everyone else was doing it?

God's people are called to walk in holiness and come out from among those who walk in the ways of this world. You are not responsible for the behavior of other people, even when they are Christians, but you will answer for yours. The devil often feeds us the idea that everyone is doing it because it can make us feel discouraged and alone. When we feel like we are the only ones left following God, self-pity can set in and make us more likely to yield to temptation. Whenever I feel this way I am encouraged by reading about Elijah in 1 Kings 19:1-18 because he was so discouraged that he wanted to die. He believed that he was the only one left following God until the Lord set him straight and sent him on his way. God always has many people serving Him and walking in righteousness but sometimes we feel alone because He spreads us out so we can influence the entire world. We are not supposed to be dragged down by those who follow the ways of this world, we are supposed to be lights and witnesses wherever we go so that we cause them to follow Jesus and His Word! Walking the path of righteousness and purity is not always easy but it is the ONLY way for any Christian who seeks to obey God and receive His blessings and rewards both now and for eternity. (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-20, Ephesians 4:22-24, Romans 12:2, Psalm 1:1-6, Proverbs 2: 6-8, Galatians 6:7-9, Proverbs 3:1-8, Proverbs 12:26, Hebrews 11:6, 2 Timothy 4:7,8, James 1:12).

5. "We are getting married anyway." - Great!! Then surely you must want to build your marriage on a foundation of obedience to the Lord and respect for one another. If you are a Christian and you love your spouse-to-be, you must want the best for him or her and following God's commands is always the best. A healthy Christian marriage consists of two people who are committed to obedience to Christ above all. God cannot bless sin so if you choose to build your marriage on sin rather than on obedience to Christ, you will reap the consequences of that sin rather than enjoy the blessings of God.

Many people become engaged multiple times before they actually marry so if you believe the lie that sex is okay between two Christians who are engaged then you must believe that it is acceptable to fornicate with each new fiance. Obviously, that is not in the plan of God for your life. In God's eyes, sexual intercourse is a privilege belonging only to a man and a woman who have committed their lives to one another in marriage. They share their bodies because they have first vowed before God to permanently share their lives, hearts, and spirits. This is not something to take lightly.

If abstinence is a problem for you because your spouse-to-be is not a Christian, you should seriously reconsider your decision to marry that person. The Bible is clear on the point that Christians should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers (see II Corinthians 6:14-18). If you are a committed Christian, you will have to choose between Jesus and your spouse at some point because the two will eventually clash. It is better to choose Jesus now because the decision will be far more excruciating if you marry. (See II Corinthians 6:14-18, Hebrews 13:4, Romans 6:11-23, Galatians 5:13-25, Galatians 6:7-9, I Thessalonians 4:1-7, I Corinthians 9-20).

6. "What goes on between two consenting adults is their business." - As Christian adults we are not free to behave in a sinful manner no matter who consents to it. This lie implies that once we reach adulthood we have the freedom to do whatever we want regardless of what God thinks. But the opposite is true because some of the indicators of maturity and adulthood are that we are able to be responsible, consider the consequences of our behavior, excercise self-control, and use wisdom. Sexual sin may bring temporary satisfaction to the flesh, but at what price? Which adult problem would you be willing to trade for it - unwanted pregnancy? sexually transmitted diseases? AIDS and the probability of death? the heartbreak and humiliation of another broken relationship devoid of the blessings that obedience to God brings?

This world places tremendous pressure on Christian adults to excercise their "rights" and yield to sexual sin. But if we do, it it not this world that bears the loss of a close and blessed relationship with Jesus that results from such sin - it is us. As Christian adults let's commit to yielding our rights, freedoms and desires to Christ instead, and our awesome God will reward our obedience both now and when we stand in His presence for all eternity. (See James 1:12, Romans 6:22-23, I Corinthians 6:12-20).

7. "God gave me these drives and desires so it must be okay to satisfy them." - God did create human beings with sex drives, and men and women do naturally attract one another; however, that does not mean we are free to behave sinfully in order to satisfy every drive and appetite of our flesh. In God's eyes, there is only one place that sex is appropriate and that is between a man and a woman who are bound to one another in marriage - period.

In our bodies (which incudes our minds, emotions, feelings, etc.) we can feel fifty different ways about the same thing all in one day. But we are not helpless animals who must yield to every thought and feeling and desire, we are human beings who are made in God's image and we have a will. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone acted on every thought, feeling, and desire they experienced - we would have absolute chaos. For example, if someone wrongs you in some way, you may experience a moment of hot anger in which you have a naturally strong desire to punch that person in the nose. But, as a wise and intelligent person, you control your desire because you realize that the consequences of that act would be harmful for any number of reasons. This principle of expressing and/or controlling our natural desires and drives also applies to sex. The desire for intimacy is certainly not sinful in itself, but for an unmarried Christian, it is an area where we must excercise the fruit of self-control and yield to the Lord's will. I Thessalonians 4:3-5 says: "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God..." That verse is about as clear as it could be regarding God's will. We just have to decide if we will walk in the ways of Christ who understands our struggles because He faced the same temptations, or in the ways of this world that constantly pressures us to disobey Him.

The Bible tells us that the price Jesus paid for our salvation and the the grace God provided for our sins through the sacrifice of His Son, are more than enough reasons for us to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. This is not too hard (no matter what the devil whispers in your ear) because the Holy Spirit lives within us and we know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. (See Romans 13:11-14, I Corinthians 6:13-20, Romans 12:1-2, Romans 6:11-14, I Thessalonians 4:1-8, James 1:12).

8. "I love and need the person I am involved with so much that I could never leave this relationship even though I know that what I am doing is not pleasing to God." - It never ceases to amaze me how often God's people are willing to settle into sin rather than seek the highest fulfillment available to them in God. Why do we so often run to this world for the weak and miserable substitutes it offers us instead of accepting the perfect love and wisdom available to us through God's will?

It is heartbreaking to watch unmarried Christians fall into the trap of looking for love in improper relationships because the consequences of their actions are so devastating. If you are a Christian, participating in a relationship built on sin will never bring you the love and satisfaction you desire, no matter how happy you think you are now. If you love Jesus and He is Lord of your life, He must also be Lord of your relationships. We cannot submit to Him only in the areas of our lives that we choose. If you have been living with or sleeping with someone out of wedlock, or even if you are heading down that path by dating an unbeliever, I am sure you have felt the gentle tug of His love and the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Jesus loves us so much that He calls us back to Himself even when we reject Him and look for fulfillment in everyone and everything but Him.

The only way to end a sinful relationship is to repent, recommit yourself to walk in righteousness, and either break the connection completely or marry. Breaking the connection may sound harsh but the Bible tells us to flee sexual immorality and fleeing does not involve making excuses or staying. If the person you are involved with is an unbeliever, you should break the connection entirely. When you begin this process, the devil may try to fill you with a fear of being alone but you are not alone because Jesus promised that He will never leave you or forsake you. His love and healing touch will more than fill any void left in your life.

Remember that Jesus is the only person who can give you complete fulfillment. Knowing Him is what makes you whole and that goes for everyone - whether married or single. But if you commit your life to Him and walk in obedience, He will bless you with wonderful relationships built on godly principles that will nourish and strengthen you all the days of your life. (See I Corinthians 6:13-20, II Corinthians 6:14-18, Colossians 2:9-10, Galatians 6:7-9).

9. "I would love to be married so my sexual needs could be met properly, but since God has not given me a mate yet, I cannot believe that He would allow me to suffer and be deprived in this area."
-It is amazing how far we will go to justify the sinful choices we make. This excuse basically tells the Lord God Almighty that He is not moving fast enough to provide a mate for us so we are forced to fornicate until He obeys our command. Ridiculous.

If this is an excuse that you use then it is really time for you to deal with the fact that God does not owe you anything. But you do owe Him your life, your love, your faith, and your obedience. Did it ever occur to you that maybe marriage is not God's will for your life? (Have you ever prayed for HIS will?) Maybe the Lord knows that you need to mature in Him and develop the fruit of the Spirit in your life before you would be able to handle marriage, or maybe it is not His timing because He has jobs for you to accomplish in His kingdom that require you to be free from the responsibilities of married life until they are completed. There are many possible reasons why God has not answered that particular prayer for you, but convincing yourself that it is okay to commit sexual sin until you receive what you want is certainly not the answer.

If you are an unmarried Christian, living a life of sexual purity does not deprive you of anything except reaping the consequences of sexual sin. But it does bring many blessings and true peace and joy. Even if you feel desperately lonely for a mate you must submit your will and desires to God and ask Him for His perfect will to be done. Sometimes God uses the pain and unfulfilled areas in our lives to draw us closer to Him and give us the compassion and understanding we need to minister to others. Often, the things we want and think we need are not necessarily things that will bring us happiness, and as any loving father would do, God may say "no" for our sakes - even when we do not understand why. We need to trust His infinite love and wisdom because He promises to give us the desires of our hearts. We just need to make sure that we desire Christ and His will above anyone and anything else.
(See Psalm 37:4-5, Psalm 5:11-12, Psalm 32:8-11, Psalm 37:3-5, Psalm 119:1-7, 9-16, 97-105, Proverbs 3:5-7, I Thessalonians 4:1-7, Galatians 6:7-9, Jeremiah 29:11-13).

10. "I just can't stop." - The devil is very good at convincing human beings that they can never change but that is true only as long as we believe that lie. As soon as we realize that through Jesus Christ we can do all things, the lie no longer has power over us and neither do the bondages and sins that accompany it.

This lie is most often believed by people who struggle with lust, pornography, addictive sexual relationships, and deviant sexual behavior. Assuming you are a Christian, (if not, please go to Need Jesus? ), the first step in dealing with each of these sins is to repent and recommit yourself to sexual purity. The second step is to flee from the thing, situation, or person that is tempting you. The third step is to guard your heart and mind by being very careful about what you view, hear, and think about(review the teaching on lie/excuse #3 above). The fourth step is to find a strong Christian (of the same sex as you) who you can trust to pray for you, encourage you, and hold you accountable for your behavior. The fifth step, which is important for people with serious emotional and mental bondages, is to seek counselling from a godly Pastor and/or psychologist who can help you deal with the issues that caused you to seek satisfaction in these sinful ways. This type of professional counselling is sometimes needed to help you rebuild your life when it has been ravaged by sexual sin.

As you go through this process, remember that you are healed, cleansed, and set free through the Blood of the Lamb. Trust in Him and ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen and empower you as you forsake the sins of the past. You are a new creature in Christ and He will bless you and enable you to walk the path of purity. (See Ephesians 2:1-10, 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, James 4:1-10, Romans 8:1-13, 1 Corinthians 6:13-20).

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I hope you have been strengthened and helped by this message. Every area of sin in our life keeps us from God's best but sexual sin is especially devastating because it is committed against our own body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 6:18-20). I believe that God is calling His people to purity and holiness in these last days because the world is falling deeper and deeper into immorality and we are His witnesses. Our lights must shine brightly so the world can find Jesus through us. After all, if Christians do not live Holy lives, who will?

If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to send me an e-mail from the "Home Page" button link above.

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"NOW UNTO HIM WHO IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING, AND TO PRESENT YOU FAULTLESS BEFORE THE PRESENCE OF HIS GLORY WITH EXCEEDING JOY, TO GOD OUR SAVIOR, WHO ALONE IS WISE, BE GLORY AND MAJESTY, DOMINION AND POWER, BOTH NOW AND FOREVERMORE. AMEN" (JUDE 1:24,25).

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