Excerpt from “Sexual Sobriety Isn’t Enough”
By Mike Genung
Purity and sobriety aren’t the same thing. The American Heritage Dictionary defines purity as:
1. The quality or condition of being pure.
2. Freedom from sin or guilt; innocence; chastity.
Ultimately, we have to look to God for the standard of sexual purity, and the one He set goes far beyond the externals:
“You have heard that it was said, `you shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Luke 5:27-28)
Note that Jesus transitioned from the physical to the spiritual when He set God’s standard for sexual purity. While men focus on the externals, God looks at the heart, for this is where “evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness and slanders” come from (Matthew 15:19.) Jesus left no loopholes when He set The Standard for sexual purity; in the instant we lust in our heart we’ve sinned, or “lost our sobriety.” There’s no “3 second rule,” as some have advocated.
I get emails from guys complaining that I advocate abstinence from masturbation, and can hear it now: “that’s impossible; who can measure up to that??! Who can clean up their heart?” If you’re thinking this you’re on the right track, because God’s standard for sexual purity is impossible, and I believe He intended it that way. Only God can transform a filthy, lust and self absorbed heart into a pure one.
With God’s standard of sexual purity, I’m forced to my knees. The white flag is up, and I have to declare bankruptcy; the battle is over before it starts, and I’m on the losing side. I’m doomed to failure every time I try to live up to God’s standard, as I can’t clean up my heart. This means I have to drop the idea that I have the power inside of me “to be good enough,” and lean hard on God every day if I want to live free from lust. Ezekiel 36:26 says: “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” I can’t brag about having X number of months or days of “sobriety,” because the freedom from sin I enjoy today is a gift from the Lord.
Finding true sexual purity, which is freedom from lust in the heart, does not come from abstinence. Freedom is found when an empty, starved miserable heart is filled with the love of God. If a man abstains from sin but still has an empty heart, in the end he will go back to lust or some other counterfeit love (as I did). What we’re really after is to have our heart filled with something much more powerful, wonderful, and purer than lust.
Blazing Grace Ministries