I was single until I got married in my mid-forties. I can testify to the many temptations and challenges to my purity during that time. There were times when I felt frustrated by my singleness and jealous of the married people around me who seemed to be enjoying fulfilled sex lives
So, what helped me to obey God in singleness? Here are a few considerations that helped me along the path of sexual purity.
It helped me to realise that I was in a spiritual battle. Satan is an active agent in the battle to draw Christians into sin and he steadily waged war against my soul (1 Peter 2:11). I, therefore, had to be on constant guard – watching myself and praying as I went (see Luke 21:36). The Christian life involves keeping our natural sinful nature in check (Romans 7). I had to watch my purity of thought about the opposite sex. I did all that I could to avoid inflaming my sexual desires. To paraphrase the Puritan, Thomas Brooks, a man who wanders around with fireworks in his pocket avoids any sparks! I learned to give no space to sexual fantasies or to awaken sexual desires through sexual images or self-stimulation. It is important to remember that all Christians are in a battle for sexual purity, which lasts all our adult lives.
In this battle Satan deceives us about rewards. In tempting Eve, Satan blinded her to the extraordinary blessings of life in the Garden of Eden which could only be enjoyed on God’s terms. It helped to realise that God rewards sexual purity in both singleness and marriage. When attracted towards the pleasures that physical intimacy offered, I was strengthened by remembering that sex only truly blesses in the context of the God-given relationship of marriage.
However attractive they may seem, the pleasures of sexual sin never give lasting fulfilment.
Satan provoked Eve with the lure of short term gain. She would surely enjoy something very pleasurable, ‘good for food’ and ‘pleasant to the eyes’ (Genesis 3:6), if she disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. However, as Eve discovered to her cost, disobedience always has bad consequences. To use a fishing image, Satan teases us by presenting the bait and hiding the hook.
However attractive they may seem, the pleasures of sexual sin never give lasting fulfilment. In contrast, Proverbs 7 warns us that indulging our sexual sins can lead to death, both physically (‘it would cost him his life’ (vs 23)) and spiritually (‘her house is the way to hell’ (vs 27)). Satan knows what disaster he can wreak through a moment of sexual sin – damaging our lives, our health, our service for Him, our church, our family and prospects for future marriage.
I was also encouraged to pursue a life of sexual purity by trusting God, remembering that He never requires the impossible of us. My state of singleness was no accident. Rather, in His sovereignty, He had planned that this long phase of my life would be set aside in singleness and by His Spirit He would surely give me the strength to obey, if I asked Him for help.
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
God promises us that the pain and strain of our unmet sexual desires and frustrations will settle as we set our minds on Him and His Kingdom. This is my testimony. If you are wrestling with these things, may you be blessed in discovering this for yourself.
- 1 Peter 2:11 “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.”
- Luke 21:36 “But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
- Thomas Brooks’ Puritan Classic, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, (Page 68). Publisher: The Banner of Truth Trust.
- Genesis 3:6 “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[a] she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
- Thomas Brooks’ Puritan Classic, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, (Page 29). Publisher: The Banner of Truth Trust.