My parents raised me as a Christian, but from a very young age I had already made up my own mind that living for God was what I really wanted. One of the things that has been a big part of living for God for me, has been to give my future into God’s hands when it concerns marriage. Both at church youth gatherings and at home, I was strongly encouraged to keep myself pure concerning the opposite sex. I have encountered major challenges in this area, especially in my thought life.
There was a time when I couldn’t even look at any guy without thoughts springing up that I hated. They were thoughts of lust or thoughts about a possible future with them. I became thoroughly disgusted with myself. Everyone in school knew that I didn’t date because I am a Christian, but if they could have looked inside my head, they would have been shocked at what was going on there. I hated these thoughts because they collided head-on with my desire to live for God and not be selfish.
Being pure on the inside
It took me a while to come to realize that if I wanted to keep myself pure inside and out, the battle needed to start in my thought life. It says in Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” So, I can decide not to date in order to keep myself pure; however if I think about it all the time and spend my days counting down until God decides to give me a husband, then I am still not free. My thoughts and actions are still focused on myself and the future, instead of on how I can serve God and the others, right here and now. That means I just have a pretty façade with the appearance of purity, while in my heart it is a different story.
Something had to happen for me to become free in this area. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:27 about exercising your body and keeping it in subjection. Practicing this is absolutely vital if you want to be preserved in purity. You can’t just let your eyes wander and look at things that make it harder for you. The same goes with the things you choose to listen to and the places you go to. If you fill yourself with impurity, how can you expect to be pure?
It takes a sacrifice
Personally, I have had to consciously sacrifice some things in order to come to victory. There are movies I don’t watch, songs I don’t listen to and books I choose not to read because I know they will arouse those lusts in me that aren’t within God’s will for my life. There is nothing wrong with wanting a partner, someone to share your life with. That’s a natural desire that is part of how God created us. However, my personal longing is that this desire does not steer my thoughts or actions. I want to be free to serve God the way that He asks of me, be it unmarried or married.
Deciding to nourish myself with the right things is what brought about a major change for me. Until I gave up drinking from these impure sources, I couldn’t find a steady, victorious pace. I kept falling and having to ask for forgiveness, but that changed once I made a radical decision to sacrifice what God pointed out. Now I choose rather to fill myself from sources that strengthen my will to live for God alone.
There is no general manual with rules for what you have to give up in order to come to victory, it is really a search for what is right for you personally. Paul writes in Galatians 5:13 that we are called to freedom, but not to use this as an opportunity for the flesh. If you pray and are humble, God will reveal to you what sacrifices need to be made in order for you to come to victory.
Be zealous from the start
Another thing that has been important for me in this area is to be zealous and radical right from the first moment of temptation. In the beginning, I would let my thoughts wander and fantasize away about anyone and anything. This led to having to break down huge thought castles before I could really start overcoming. It also felt like I was sacrificing way more than if I had just disagreed with the tiniest little thought in the beginning, right off the bat. In Psalms 137:9 it’s written about destroying the evil right from when it is young and weak. This verse was a great help for me, because it makes sense that it’s easier to overpower something that you haven’t nourished and strengthened first.
The result of this battle is a glorious freedom. Today I can speak and work with guys and have a completely pure heart towards them. I still fight these lusts and desires, but each bit of them that I put to death, is dead forever. Which means that eventually, I will have destroyed them entirely. All that selfishness replaced by caring for others, being thankful and doing whatever God works in my heart. There is only one way to attain it, but it’s worth every single sacrifice it requires.