Boys to Men Day 3: The Challenge of Purity
“Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Romans 13:14, NIV)
If Christian men were asked to name a topic they most hate to write about, discuss, or preach about, purity would have to be high on the list. It’s not because it isn’t important, of course, but because doing so can feel very hypocritical. You are not reading a devotion written by a man who has conquered purity—far from it. Plus, entire seminars, books, and retreats are planned and written on purity. So, in a short devotion, it makes sense to pinpoint the battleground for purity run amok: our minds.
Our minds can be both a blessing and a curse. Having a good memory can come in handy. Remembering names, faces, birthdays, anniversaries, fun times, vacations, and facts would probably be considered a blessing. Remembering hurtful words, betrayal, abuse, and other related things would probably be considered a curse. Once something becomes lodged into our minds, it’s usually there to stay. This is the reason that taking control of our minds is so important. The things we allow to come into our minds are there to be recalled at any moment. The pictures we view, the movies we watch, the words we read, and the music we listen to can all negatively impact our minds. If I spend time viewing pornographic images and videos, they reside in my mind. If I listen to music with profane, sexual lyrics, it resides in my mind. What we allow to enter our minds hangs out just waiting to rear its ugly head at a moment’s notice. Recall can be triggered by just about anything.
Lust and purity begin to be a struggle typically in the preteen years for boys. Note: they begin to be a struggle. It only grows from there. It affects how we view girls and young women as we grow older. If my mind is constantly focused on sexual matters, I will view them as sexual objects. When I consider a girl I would like to date, I’ll be thinking about what I can physically do. The pictures and videos and music will simply be mind-fodder. Trust me, it won’t take you any place you spiritually want to go, and it can lead you down negative life-changing paths. Teen pregnancy, STDs, and so on—these are real issues in the lives of young Christians. We aren’t immune from them. Paul guided the Roman believers to avoid this type of thinking. Instead of thinking about fulfilling our lusts and desires, there are far better things to be thinking about!
So then, what’s a guy to do? It’s rather difficult to guide people not to think about something. If I tell you to stop thinking about elephants, what do you think about? Elephants! It’s far more useful to point our minds toward better subjects. Paul says in our passage to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ. When we “wear Him,” it keeps us close to Him. When that’s the case, I believe we’ll find it easier to focus on better subject matter. Fill your mind with better images, better videos, better words, and better music. Fill your mind with Scripture and psalms of praise. Whatever we feed our mind is what our mind will recall. When a time of temptation arrives, what will come to mind? Will I remember sexual media I’ve viewed? Will I remember the latest pop music, film, or internet star urging me to fulfill my lusts? Or will I remember a Scripture, a song, or the words of a fellow Christian steering me toward godliness? The ball is going to be in my court well before that moment. What I’ve filled my mind with is what will most likely come to mind in those moments. We have the ultimate weapons: the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. But the question remains, will I utilize them? Will I do the work of feeding my spirit with the Word of God? Will I call on Him when I need His fortifying strength?
The mind is a powerful thing, but it cuts both ways. It can powerfully lead us toward Him, or it can destructively lead us away from Him. The choice is ours to make.