Brad Furges: How Can a Single Person Hope to Live Pure?
By Ella Chan
One of the most fascinating stories in the Bible is the life of Joseph. He spent many years as a single man separated from his loving father and his older brothers who had despised and rejected him. Although the LORD was with him and gave him favor throughout his "wilderness" experience, Joseph was not exempt from having to face sexual temptation.
Temptation came at him in a fury when he was serving as overseer in Potiphar's house. Once Potiphar's wife set eyes on the young, handsome Israelite, she was determined to have him for herself. However, in his battle to stay pure, Joseph demonstrated heroic courage as he withstood her daily advances and asked, "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?"(Genesis 39:9b)
I suspect that many Christian men reading this are thinking, "How was he able to do that? I can't imagine that kind of resolve."
Despite the attempts of Potiphar's wife to seduce him, Joseph feared God and had a deep resolve, a solid conviction that to yield to her was not an option. This is how he successfully fled from sexual immorality, even though his commitment to do the right thing was costly. Because of her false accusations, Joseph was thrown into prison for some time. But God was with him and made him to prosper in all that he did until he was eventually promoted to Prime Minister of Egypt.
The fact is, I believe that it takes the same kind of courage, conviction, and commitment for any single Christian today to maintain a pure life that is pleasing to God, despite whatever cost may be involved.
As singles we face an onslaught of pressure and challenges daily. We are in a real battle to stay pure in a very impure world. The Internet, TV, the entertainment and music industries, pornographers, the news media, our educational system...the list goes on...are keeping countless singles saturated in an intoxicating, lust-filled atmosphere.
The world, the flesh and the devil work relentlessly together to ensnare and rob us of the purity of heart the Lord desires for us. But we have HOPE in the midst of such a decadent culture, beyond even what Joseph had, because of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross and because of the power of His grace.
His grace is truly amazing. It teaches us, and it empowers us to stay pure!
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age..." (Titus 2:11-12)
I know of many singles who struggle with staying pure simply because they lack any real commitment to follow and obey Jesus Christ. Truthfully, intimacy with the Lord is lacking or nowhere to be found in some cases. They are much more concerned about pleasing themselves outside of God's will and simply do not trust Him enough to supply all of their needs.
According to author David M. Hoffeditz in They Were Single Too: 8 Biblical Role Models, "Recent studies show that 'fewer than 5 out of every 100 single adults in America are absolutely committed to the Christian faith, are actively seeking to grow in each of the pillar areas of spirituality, regularly invest themselves in intentional spiritual growth efforts and can identify and give evidence of using their spiritual gifts to serve God and His people.'"
Unfortunately, this study tells us that most singles have bought into the lie, many unknowingly, that God is not good and seek to worship and find fulfillment in created things rather than in their Creator.(Romans 1:25)
Nevertheless, for sincere Christians, believers who are willing to do what it takes to grow and put God first in their lives, it is paramount that we care enough-actually a whole lot-about what we're pursuing and the choices we're making in our daily lives.
Joseph had set his mind to serve his master faithfully and wasn't willing to indulge his flesh even for a moment. His courage, conviction and commitment to do the right thing behind closed doors helped him to maintain his personal integrity and revealed his genuine faith and trust in God.
Yes, it is a solid commitment to follow Jesus and to obey His words that is essential to our striving to stay pure. Psalm 119: 9-11 tells us, "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word. With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commandments. Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You." The Word of God grants us access to the pathway to purity, and it helps us guard our hearts from the negative, fleshly influences we encounter in life. I can testify that it is through seeking the Lord daily and meditating on His Word that I am able to maintain and experience a pure life. I have accepted the fact that as long as I'm on this earth-single or not-I will be engaged in warfare against something. And undoubtedly, my own flesh will always be at war with the Spirit of God in me. "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish." (Galatians 5:17)
Finally, Christian singles are called to a life that involves going against the normal flow of the culture, a culture which promotes a love of pleasure, self-indulgence, and reckless living. Paul charged young Timothy:
"Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." (2 Timothy 2:19-22)
Clearly, it is our responsibility to strive for purity. The Lord will always support and strengthen us when we choose to obey Him. He will never ask anything of us that is impossible for us to obey.
Over the past thirteen and a half years since I've made a real commitment to follow Jesus, I've faced my share of overwhelming temptation. But rather than caving in to utter despair because of the intense battle or my own raging flesh, I've always known that there was HOPE for me because Jesus promised me that I would never be snatched from His hand! (John 10:28) I can testify that the Lord will keep anyone who wants to be kept.
So, to all singles who desire a pure life, I urge you to turn your eyes upon Jesus, commit yourself fully to Him and watch how He empowers you to overcome lust and temptation, "for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13)
"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us." (Romans 8:37)
Brad Furges is the Director of Men's Counseling at Pure Life Ministries. Brad holds a B.A. fromtheUniversity of Virginia (UVa) and an M.A. inBiblical Counseling from Master'sDivinity School.
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