Stormproof Men II


To The Degree That

  • that I act on with my heart, mind, eyes, and actions

The last statement in the description of purity defines the breadth of application of the six previous principles: I experience purity to the degree that I make godly choices. In other words, purity involves my entire being. It involves what I desire, what I think, where I look, what I do, and everything in between. Sounds like a very high standard? Absolutely! But remember, God’s character defines the standard for our character, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY”. Not only does the standard seem very high, but it also seems impossible to reach. That’s where the seemingly odd phrase “to the degree that” comes into play.

Sexual purity is but one dimension of our spiritual life, and sexual transgressions are but one form of sin. In his first epistle, John makes some seemingly contradictory statements about sin in general that fit our topic: “… I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin… if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” John does not want his readers to sin, and he never gives permission to do so, but he also acknowledges that they will sin.

That’s part of the tension of life on this earth as a believer. We might never reach the target of never sinning, but it serves as the right target anyway. As we grow as a believer and more consistently “walk by the Spirit,” we will sin less often and take sin more seriously. Set your goals high, but do not be surprised if you fail. Purity is experienced “to the extent that…” The better we apply the principles in the description, the closer our experiential purity matches the ideals of Scripture; the worse we apply the principles, the further our experience from the ideal.

Keep in mind that experiencing sexual purity does not come free. Jesus called it “counting the cost”. If we want to make any changes in our life, we do the work towards making those changes because we believe the result is worth the cost required to achieve the change. Several years ago, I wanted to run a 10K race. I had three goals, two serious and the third tongue-in-cheek. First, I wanted to run the entire 10K (6.2 miles) without stopping. Second, I wanted to run it in less than one hour. This was not a record pace by any stretch of the imagination, but for me, it was a challenge to run that quickly! Third, I did not want to die in the process of running; I wanted to live to tell about the race.