The Freedom of Purity
Of all the lies proclaimed in the world around us, one of the most widely believed is that any limits imposed on personal freedom amount to oppression. This is perhaps most clear in the realm of sexual morality, where the only thing off limits seems to be the setting of limits itself. The tragic irony is that this so-called freedom is in truth bondage to sinful desires, and it results not in wholeness but in broken bodies and broken hearts.
What God’s word tells us when it comes to sexual morality is straightforward: we are to practice chastity outside marriage and fidelity within it. This is the path not to oppression but to true liberty and blessing (James 1:25). That is why the seventh commandment is what it is: “You shall not commit adultery.” In marriage, two people enter into a covenant, becoming one. And this comprehensive union, in which husband and wife become interwoven emotionally, physically, spiritually, and in every other dimension, serves as a parable of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). The sacred union is not, then, to be intruded upon or broken (Matthew 19:6).
When a husband or wife commits adultery, it sets off a chain reaction of tragedies: there is sin against God, against the body, against the spouse, against the partner in adultery, and against the partner’s spouse. In other words, disaster ensues. Sex is intended for the marriage bond alone, so when you remove it from that context, it becomes monstrous, consuming, and devastating.
Yet we ought not to think that adultery is limited to just the physical act. We learn from the Lord Jesus that adultery starts internally: “I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). We know, of course, that the consequences of physical adultery far outpace those of lust, but the deserved judgment and our guilt before God are equal no matter the sin.
What can Christian men and women do to guard themselves and one another against adulterous acts and thoughts? For starters, we can practice the presence of God, communing with Him and remembering that we have no secrets before Him. We can memorize the word of God, filling our hearts with it that we might not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11). And we can stick with the people of God, pursuing fellowship in worship and accountability, all to the end of being stirred up to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Nevertheless, we all stand guilty before the seventh commandment. We are in no position to look down on others or see ourselves as spotless. Our lives, our hands, and our thoughts do not pass the test of purity. And yet you are never out of the reach of God’s grace in Christ, no matter how much baggage you carry. If you truly and earnestly repent of your sins, if you truly and earnestly cast yourself upon God’s mercy and grace, you will be forgiven, pardoned, cleansed, and set free—free for the Spirit of God to work in your life, enabling you to think and live in a way that pleases Him.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
A Life Pleasing to God
1Finally, then, brothers,1 we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification:2 that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body3 in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
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