The Purity Principle: Setting Boundaries

Setting Boundaries

To protect our purity we need to set mental boundaries.

On a scale of one to ten, adultery or pornography addiction might be a ten, at the top of a ladder. But the question is, what were the bottom rungs of that ladder—the ones, twos, and threes? When we identify those, disaster prevention can take place.

Of course, prevention’s not always easy—but it’s a lot easier than the alternative: misery.

Often we say we want purity, but then we make choices which sabotage purity. Choices have consequences. If we want different consequences we must make different choices.

A Covenant With Your Eyes

Job says, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl” (Job 31:1). Job made a commitment to guard his heart by guarding his eyes. The verses that follow spell out the terrible consequences should he not live by this covenant of purity (Job 31:2-12).

A covenant is an agreement between God and man. In this case we make a sacred commitment to God—and to our families and comrades. The agreement is to not look at—and to immediately turn away from—whatever pulls us toward lust.

Have you made a contract with your eyes, to not look where they shouldn’t?

Are you practicing this purity covenant when you walk across campus? When you work out? When you drive? When you select television shows? When you’re at church?

Have you announced your covenant to others? Have you asked them to pray for you and hold you accountable to it? Have you restated your covenant before God?

If not, why not do it now?

Parable of the Doughnuts

Imagine someone whose weakness is eating doughnuts. His doctor says, “No more doughnuts.” He vows to God, “No more doughnuts.” He promises his family “No more doughnuts.” He calls the church and gets on the prayer chain. He even goes to a doughnut deliverance ministry to have the demon of doughnut desire cast out of him.

Here’s a guy who means business, right?

But then what does he do? Well, if he’s like a lot of us, he goes right on reading about doughnuts, listening to doughnut music, and watching television programs about making doughnuts. He spends his time with other doughnut lovers talking about doughnuts, joking about doughnuts at the office, where he often glances at the doughnut calendars on the wall. He looks through the newspaper for doughnut coupons and subscribes to Doughnut Desires, with its glossy, color photos.

It’s not long before he’s driving to work the long way that “just happens” to go by a doughnut shop. He rolls down the window and inhales. Pretty soon he’s buying the morning paper from the rack right outside the doughnut shop. He’s lingering just long enough to check out doughnuts through the window.

Then he remembers he has to make a phone call, and hey, what do you know, the doughnut shop has a pay phone. And since he’s there anyway, why not have a cup of coffee?

Now, remember, this man has no intention of breaking his vow and eating doughnuts. But the totally predictable and inevitable result is—what? That he will give in and eat doughnuts!

And can’t you just hear his sad lament? “What went wrong? I prayed! I asked others to pray. I asked God for deliverance. Why try? I give up. You do your best and look what happens!”

The Purity PrincipleThe First and Most Basic Strategy

If we learn nothing else from the parable of the doughnuts, we should learn that sincere intentions, and even prayers, are not enough. To have victory over temptation we must have clear goals and sound strategies, and we must diligently carry them out.

What’s our first line of defense against impurity?

“Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

The Purity Principle includes practical guidelines to protect purity, for singles, for married couples, and for parents who wish to train their children in purity. These include controlling the television and internet, and offering alternatives for how to spend our time. It also includes confession, repentance and developing biblical accountability that doesn’t just admit sin, but prevents it.

Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries