Pastor Eddie Cupples “Stay Pure” Hebrews 13:4 – Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral” What does “all” mean? It means if you’re married, God expects you to honor the covenant of marriage. What it also means is that if you’re not married, God still expects you to honor the covenant of marriage. Clearly, purity matters to God. Purity matters in your marriage, whether that’s the marriage you’re in rightnow or the marriage you hope to have one day. While every engaged couple I know plans to have a great married life together, I don’t know many who plan to betray their spouse by committing adultery. Or have a raging porn addiction. Or a friend with benefits. But based on Statistical evidence, not to mention all the positive reinforcement our culture provides, it has become accepted, expected even, that everyone needs to do whatever it takes to be happy. Statistics tell us that up to seventy-five percent of people get themselves entangled in at least one of these behaviors sometime after they’re married.
Do you know the number-one reason dating couples cite today as the cause of breakups? Unfaithfulness.
Do you think adultery is always wrong? According to a recent study, ninety percent of Americans said they feel that adultery is always wrong. According to a study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, in the decade between 1998 and 2008, the percentage of people committing adultery in the United States more than doubled from the previous decade. PRACTICING FOR DIVORCE The first reason that more people commit adultery now is that we simply face more temptations today than people did in the past. Whether it seems as innocent as following someone on Twitter who shares your sense of humor, or running into an old flame on Facebook, or looking at pictures of that cute someone on Instagram, that’s only the bait. What starts as a pleasant back-and-forth rarely stops there. But it’s not Facebook’s fault. It’s ours. There are almost innumerable ways you can get yourself into trouble online. Entire websites are devoted to helping people cheat and have affairs discreetly. Another reason I think more temptations exists today is that people are waitinglonger to get married. When our culture has filled up with so many people waiting longer to get married, it fundamentally changes the dynamics of what it means to be “single.” When people get married later, typically that means they’re dating more people. But even if you’ve committed to having only pure relationships, dating more people means you’re going to face more temptations, more opportunities to compromise your standards. If even the best intentioned people give in (and statistically, most will), then dating more people means they’ll end up having more sexual partners. And having more sexual partner’s means that when you get married, you’ll be carrying more sexual baggage into that marriage. Have you ever wondered why breakups are so painful these days? It’s because people who aren’t married do married things. You do married things with one or two or eight or twelve or seventeen different people. Then one day, when you finally have your “real” spouse, if things get tough, what happens? You default to all that training you’ve been giving yourself over the years: you cut losses and walk away. All that time with all of those “lovers” you were just practicing for divorce. But in our culture today, even though we know it’s not God’s best, most couples do a lot of those married things without committing to marriage. They say things to each other like, “I love you, honey! You’re the only one for me.” Now of course, what they actually mean is, “you’re the only one for me…right now. Technically, I guess you’re my…let me see…sixteenth? No. Seventeenth ‘only one.’ So far. But you’re my only one today. “You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive first, would you?” “Of course not! Also, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but cars and people are nothing alike. People are alive. Cars are not. Human beings have feelings. Minds. Souls. Basically, there are two kinds of purity: inward purity and outward purity. Inward purity means what’s going on in our hearts – the things we choose to think about and the things we feel. Outward purity is our behavior – the things we choose to do and choose not to do. “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) Why would even just a little be too much? Because impurity is like poison; even just a little poison is too much.
OUTWARD PURITY It’s not just being careful not to add something that’s poison; it’s also avoiding those things that can easily become poisonous. Scientists call this “latent toxicity,” the ability of certain substances to become poisonous under certain conditions. Sometimes this is an accumulated effect over time. Sometimes it happens under certain conditions, like pressure or temperature. “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body” (I Corinthians 6:18) “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (I Corinthians 6:19-20) “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away…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 5:29-30)
Was he being literal? I sure hope not. I don’t believe Jesus was speaking literally. I believe He was trying to communicate to us just how critical this is. He was saying that we need to deal severely with anything that can cause us to sin. We need to stay far away from it. You know what your weaknesses are. Summon the courage to find solutions now, in the moments when you’re strong. While you’re committed to living a life of purity that will honor God and your spouse, remain vigilant and be deliberate. The London Underground subway reminds commuters to be careful not to fall into the gap between the platform and the train tracks below. IN-WARD PURITY If outward purity is what people can see, inward purity is just between you and God. Inward purity is what you think and feel, what’s going on inside your heart. The bottom line is even though we might try with our best human efforts to be pure outwardly, we’ll still fail sometimes. We need to allow God to transform our hearts, so that we can live purely from the inside out and not the sin-side out. I know sometimes it feels like you’re the only person struggling to live your life the way God wants. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.
I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:9-11) THREE STRATEGIES Three strategies David employs that you can too. David understands that the only way he can live according to God’s Word is if he actually knows what it says.
Know what God’sWord says.
Maintain your desire for God’s purestandards.
“Don’t let me stray from your commands! God, I’ve learned what you value. Now please help me stick to those things!
“From this day forward, I’ll be faithful to my wife, for as long as we both shall live. I’ll never commit adultery.” They don’t realize that by the time they reach the sin of adultery, they will have already crossed dozens of other sin lines. Sin doesn’t begin on the outside. It begins in the heart. The seeds of sin are planted long before they bloom into adultery.
Matthew 5:27-28; “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.” Even if the act of adultery hasn’t taken place yet, the problem starts that moment the seed is planted: lust. No matter how many practical actions we take, no matter how long we remain faithfully married, maintaining purity will always be a challenge. Why? Because we’re human. THREE RESPONSES TO IMPURITY
The only strategy that ultimately works is honesty: transparency, accountability, confession, forgiveness. “Was it worth it?’ If you’re feeling convicted because you know there’s something impure in your life, grab hold of that feeling. Let me ask you: is it worth it? No! No matter what that impure thing is, here’s what I want you to do right now: confess it to God. Go ahead. I John 1:8-9 says: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”