Every Monday we’ll post something to do with maintaining sexual purity. Hope it helps.
Training Tools from the Master
Any man who decides to resist his urges is a man in training. He knows he has desires, some of them strong and daily, that could derail his life if he caves in to them. So he adopts a lifestyle of resistance, saying “no” to what his flesh would say “yes” to because his heart is saying “yes” to something higher and better. He’s an athlete, training for a prize which he keeps his eye on when training gets tough. And if he’s smart, he’ll take advice from the older, more experienced jocks who’ve gone before him.
Paul, for example. When writing to the Corinthian church he offered some pretty sound advice, because he knew his readers faced all kinds of blatant carnality. Prostitution was a mainstream commerce, deviations were acceptable, outlets for gratification were everywhere. Trying to live a holy life in that environment must have been like trying to diet while working in a doughnut shop. So in the 9th chapter of I Corinthians, he presents himself as a coach, urging his team on with a couple invaluable tips.
First, know what you want.
“I run”, he said, “not with uncertainty.” (I Corinthians 9:26) There’s nothing vague about a race. You know where the goal is, how to get there, and what’s required of you to make it. All decisions you make during that race are centered around how to attain the goal, and so long as you retain a white-hot fervor to reach it, the aching muscles, shortness of breath and possible distractions of the crowd won’t trip you up.
There’s no room for uncertainty here. Running alongside or behind someone unsure of their direction must be frustrating, as they’ll tend to hesitate, veer off course, and generally meander. Goal oriented running (and living, for that matter) calls for definition: This is who I am, this is what I believe, this is what I want. If those three basics aren’t settled, there’s not much point in running.
Then if you really want it, DO beat yourself up.
Contrary to the common motherly admonition not to do so, there’s a place for beating one’s self up, provided it’s done Paul’s way: “I discipline my body and bring it under subjection”, he says in verse 27, literally meaning, according to Jamieson Faucet and Brown’s commentary, to:
“— bruise the face under the eyes, so as to render it black and blue; so, to chastise in the most sensitive part.” The Blue Letter Bible
Ouch. Of course he’s not suggesting physical self-injury, but similar to Jesus recommending we pluck out the offending eye, he’s saying, in essence, he’s willing to deny his flesh even when doing so feels downright injurious. And sometimes it does. What I’ve gratified myself with in the past may feel so natural and right to me that denying it seems akin to hurting myself. That, combined with modern encouragement to do what feels right to you regardless, can make resistance agonizing. But there’s the agony of real injury, when something is literally broken or wounded, then there’s the agony of pushing harder than ever, running the extra mile, getting the second wind and breaking through your own exhaustion. And that, at the risk of sounding masochistic, is a delicious agony indeed. It’s the victory of the spirit over the flesh, the spirit rejoicing in an eternal goal, knowing what the flesh demanded was a want, not a need. As Jamieson Faucet and Brown perfectly put it:
“Unless the soul keep the body under, the body will get above the soul. The body may be made a good servant, but is a bad master.” The Blue Letter Bible
I hope today that we know where we stand, where we’re headed, and what will be required of us if we’re going there. There’s a prize, and there’s a compromise, and I’m certain we’ll choose one of the two before tomorrow. Here’s hoping we’ll all be able to say ours was the right choice.