Sexual Purity: 10 Words of Counsel For Single Christians

John Piper gives ten words of counsel in this fourteen minute video on sexual purity for single Christians.

Feel free to watch the video, or you can just read the ten counsels below, to go along with all of the the follow-up points that Piper makes.

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1) Do not seek regular sexual gratification through masturbation. 

  • Don’t use it because it does not solve the problem in the long run.
  • It does not relieve and release the pressure for very long.
  • It becomes habitual.
  • It produces guilt.
  • It contradicts the God given design for sexuality.
  • Our bodies are designed for fulfillment through personal union and self-stimulation contradicts that purpose, and produces a sense of wrongness.
  • Last of all, masturbation is inevitably accompanied by sexual fantasies which we would otherwise not allow ourselves in reality.

2) Do not seek sexual satisfaction through touching or being touch by another person. 

  • This rule applies even if you keep it short of sexual intercourse.
  • Intimate touching is the prelude to sexual intercourse.
  • If you stop, you get frustrated and end up in masturbation.
  • Caressing and touching tend to become manipulation of another person for a cheap, private, and personal thrill.

3) Avoid unnecessary sexual stimulation. 

  • Be aware of movies, magazines, and other forms of media that may increase temptation.

4) When the stimulation and desire starts to come, perform a very conscious act of transfer to Christ. 

  • I wish someone would have shown me this years ago.
  • I learned this after I was married.
  • When tempted, take the desire, and very consciously pray something like this, “Jesus, it’s there now. And I acknowledge that you are my Lord and God. My greatest desire is to obey and delight in you. Therefore, Lord, I take this desire, purge it, and give it to you. And I thank you for liberating me.”
  • It’s remarkable how much power we can gain by the direction of our desires.

5) Pray that God would give you a longing to love and obey him above all else. 

  • The most effective way to get rid of a desire you have but don’t want is to push it out, and replace it with a new one.
  • You can’t effectively get rid of your sexual desire any other way; it must be replaced.
  • Prayer is the summoning of divine assistance to produce those new desires.

6) Bathe your mind in the Word of God everyday. 

  • Jesus prayed for his disciples, “Sanctify them in your truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17).
  • The person who does not take up the sword of the Spirit is going to lose in the battle for his life.

7) Keep yourselves busy.

  • When there is time for leisure, to quote Paul, seek your leisure in things that are pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise.
  • Idleness in a society like ours is asking for trouble.
  • It is much harder for sexual temptation to get a foothold in our lives when we are busy.

8) Don’t spend too much time alone.

  • This is not easy for some singles.
  • The church has to help you with this; you must spend time with Christian people.
  • “Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25). The context of this is not just on Sunday mornings, but in many times, in all kinds of situations.
  • Get together, encourage one another to love and good works.
  • Talk about your struggles with trusted friends; hold each other accountable for purity.

9) Strive to think of all people, especially people of the opposite sex, in relation to eternity.

  • It is not easy to sexually fantasize about a person if you think about the eternal torment that person might shortly suffer in hell due to their unbelief.
  • Paul says we know no one according to the flesh (2 Cor. 5:16).  That means we look to everyone from God’s perspective.
  • That will clean up your mind in a hurry.

10) Resolve to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and he will add to you everything you need sexually.

  • All the sex that you need will be added to you.
  • That may be a spouse; it may not be. It may mean the grace and freedom to live single in peace and in joy and contentment.
  • That’s God’s job. Our job is to seek first the kingdom of God.

Anything else you’d add? Post your comments below.

What’s John Piper Really Like?

In God’s providence, I ate dinner with one of John Piper’s Seminary students back in the fall at a Conference. This student knew Piper well. Really well. So when asked to comment on Piper, I’ll never forget what he said.

“With Piper, what you see is what you get. He’s a polarizing figure. Some people love him, some people hate him. But he’s a man of integrity and transparency — what you see it what you really get.

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I was trying my hardest not to be “that guy.” You know, the off-putting fan boy who spends the rest of the night with inquiries regarding someone he’s never met. So I decided to only ask one follow-up question.

“What do you mean by what you see is what you get? Can you elaborate?

Okay, so I asked two questions.

I don’t remember what he said verbatim, but he spent the next few minutes honoring Piper’s integrity. That’s it. Not a word about his theological soundness. No sentiments or sentences about his charisma, leadership, or preaching ability. No remarks about his spiritual gifts or past experiences or critical-thinking skills. Nothing. For this student, he was most impacted by what Piper is like in private. Indeed, it was Piper’s personal piety that he was eager to mention.

I was extremely encouraged. At that moment — more than ever — I decided that’s the kind of reputation I want for myself. I want to be known as a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy.

May we all strive for biblical, Christlike character and display transparent, genuine integrity in all of our actions — both in public and private. Without hesitation, may our closest friends and family be quickly inclined to describe us as what you see is what you get kind of people.

Why No Testimony is Boring

What’s your testimony?

I’ve been a Christian since Junior High and I’ve met many Christians over the years. I’ve heard many testimonies of faith, but I’ve seem to notice a common denominator with many: Many people think they have a “boring” testimony.

Let me say this: There is no such thing as a boring testimony. When God raises someone from the dead, it is always staggering.

I think I  know what people mean when they say “boring.” They mean to say, I think, that they’ve never done drugs, didn’t sleep around, didn’t have an alcohol problem, didn’t come to the end of themselves, and were born into a Christian family where God saved them at a young age. If this is the case, the testimony may not be as dramatic as some, but it certainly isn’t boring.

A testimony is what our life was like before we got saved, how we got saved, and how our life is now different because we are saved. The remedy to removing the word “boring” from our understanding of our testimony is a proper understanding of what our life was like before we got saved.

Remember what Paul said to the Ephesians?

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:1-3).

According to Paul, before we met Jesus, we were:

  1. Dead in our sins.
  2. Following satan.
  3. Children of wrath.

Then God saves you. And makes you a Christian where you become adopted, forgiven, loved, sharing in Christ’s inheritance, and seated with him in the heavenly places. We go from the Kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of light. Surely, there is no such thing as a boring testimony.

We can have testimonies that are more or less dramatic, but never one that is boring. When God raises someone from the dead, it is always staggering.

Post your comments below.

A Theological Answer To Your Anxiety

We all struggle or have struggled with anxiety. We might know why practically, but do we understand why theologically?

There are many different theological answers one might give for our anxious behaviors. But in this post, however, I’ll give one reason that I’ve noticed many Christians seem unhealthily preoccupied with: the hidden will of God for their life. 

The Bible speaks of the will of God in several ways. So when someone asks, “What’s the will of God for my life?” it’s not as easy to answer as one might think. We first have to define what we mean by will before answering the question. Though there are more, the most frequent usages of the word will in Scripture refer to (1) God’s decretive will, (2) God’s preceptive will, and (3) God’s will of disposition.

In his book, What is Reformed Theology?, R.C. Sproul defines the aforementioned wills in this way:

1) Decretive Will: Sometimes referred to as God’s sovereign, efficacious will, by which what he decrees must necessarily come to pass. If God decrees sovereignly that something will happen, it will certainly take place. The decretive will is irresistible.

2) Preceptive Will: Refers to God’s precepts or commands as outlined in Scripture. It’s the law he enjoins upon his creatures.

3) Will of Disposition (or desire): This describes God’s attitude. It refers to or means that which is pleasing or delightful to God.

But then there’s also the hidden will of God. Or some refer to it as God’s will of direction. What does this will entail? This entails what most of us are looking for: knowledge of every little detail of God’s specific, individual plan for our life.

It answer questions like: Will I get married? What city will I live in five years from now? Will I get the job? How will the meeting go next week? When will I die? How will I die? We want to know this because we’re trying to be God.

I don’t think that Christians who battle anxiety are fretfully anxious about God’s decretive and preceptive will, or his will of disposition. We know that God is sovereign, we trust the Bible, and we seek to please him. What I am arguing, however, is that when we do struggle with anxiety, it is primarily because we are anxious about God’s hidden will for life.

In practical language, we might say something like, “I’m having a hard time trusting that God will provide for my future, that everything is going to turn out okay.” If we were to translate this into theological language, we would say, “I’m having a hard time trusting in God’s hidden will for my future.”

Do you see how this creates anxiety?

We’re anxious because we want to know something God does not intend to reveal beforehand. To be preoccupied with God’s hidden will is a fool’s errand. God’s hidden will is just that: hidden. It’s a secret — he is not pleased to reveal it, nor is he pleased that we seek it. This, moreover, as Sproul puts it, is “an invasion of God’s privacy.” God’s hidden will for our life is none of our business, and it is not spiritual nor helpful to seek it. As Deuteronomy 29:29 puts it, “The secret things belong to the LORD our God . . .”

Martin Luther contributes by saying:

For thoughts of this kind (God’s hidden will), which we want to search out something more sublime, above, and outside that which has been revealed about God, are thoroughly diabolical. We accomplish nothing by them expect to hurl ourselves into destruction, because they propose an object to us that defies investigation, to wit, the unrevealed God. Let God rather keep His decrees and mysteries in hiding.

There is a great relief when we let God do his job. Yes, God has a specific plan for your life. Yes, all of God’s decrees will certainly come to pass for you. Yes, he is working all things out for good in Christ Jesus. And yes, in hindsight we’ll be able to trace his hand to see how and where he’s brought us. But, while we’re in the here and now, we don’t need to be anxious about stuff we don’t know. We don’t need to be anxious about every little decision we make. As Kevin DeYoung says, “Because we have radical confidence in God’s will of decree, we can commit ourselves to his will of desire, without fretting about his will of direction.”

Let God be God. To be preoccupied with God’s hidden will is not spiritual nor helpful. God does not burden us with the task with respect to figuring it out. Don’t self-inflict yourself with anxiety by fretting about something that God will not reveal to you. Instead, give your life to God’s revealed will trusting in God’s decrees for your life, knowing that our great God and King is both sovereign and good.

Post your comments below.

4 Questions to Consider When Choosing A Church

If you are in the process of choosing a church, or know someone who is, some sort of criteria for the decision-making process can be helpful. But there’s no reason to nit-pick until the cows come home. Every church has its flaws. If you find a church that’s perfect and then become a member it will, then, well, no longer be perfect.

So where do we start? In his book, Rescuing Ambition, Dave Harvey proposes four questions — to go along with follow-up questions — as a helpful guide. These questions are certainly not exhaustive nor comprehensive, but they do portray a healthy outline for what we should primarily look for.

Harvey suggests that we ask the following questions:

1) What are the church’s values and vision? What does the church teach? It is sound, biblical doctrine? Is the gospel at the heart of what the church is about? And how is this doctrine applied in the church’s values and vision? Does the church practice what it preaches?

2) How is the church pastored and governed? Is the governing structure of the church one that can be supported by the Scriptures? Are the leaders (elders and pastors) qualified to hold the positions they have, based on the biblical qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9? Are the teaching, pastoring, and pastor care of the church done with faithful and gracious application rooted in the hope of the gospel and consistent with God’s Word?

3) Is there true fellowship among the people? Do you see evidence that membership in the church goes beyond attendance at meetings and acts of service? Though these are important, church membership should lead to developing relationships and deepening fellowship. Each person should find a spiritual family and home in the church (Heb. 10:24-25).

4) Does the gospel move the church toward those outside the church? A great evidence of a good church is that they see beyond themselves. We don’t turn inward and construct church cocoons. Nope, the Great Commission is real, it’s potent, and it moves us toward the lost.

Harvey concludes by saying, “Those are the four ways we ask visitors to evaluate our church. Notice that a lot of things we might think are important — size, worship style, socioeconomic makeup, denominational affiliations don’t make it on the high list.” Indeed, it’s not that those things aren’t necessarily important, but that they’re simply not preeminent.

So, find a church. Become a member. Serve and sacrifice … and get ready to experience a lot of joy and annoyance.

Hey, it’s a family after all, right?

Post your comments below.

C.S. Lewis and John Stott on Ambition

Are your motives behind your ambitions selfish or godly? Are you doing what you’re doing so that Jesus may be made much of, or so that you would be made much of?

These can be tough questions. Especially for those of us that are highly ambitious. But we should find comfort in that ambitions for God are not just allowed, but commanded. We are not called to be passive. But still, it’s helpful to figure out the “why” behind our “what” for our ambitions.

Ambition Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Sky and Clouds.

In his less famous book, God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis describes ambition this way:

Ambition! We must be careful what we mean by it. If it means the desire to get ahead of other people . . . then it is bad. If it means simply wanting to do a thing well, then it is good. It isn’t wrong for an actor to want to act his part as well as it can possibly be acted, but the wish to have his name in bigger types than other actors is a bad one . . . What we call “ambition” usually means the wish to be more conspicuous or more successful than someone else. It is this competitive element in it that is bad. It is perfectly reasonable to want to dance well or look nice. But when the dominant wish is to dance better or look nicer than the others — when you begin to feel that if the others danced as well as you or looked as nice as you, that would take all the fun out of it — then you are going the wrong way.

John Stott is helpful here as well. From his well-known, The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, Stott shows us that ambitions for God must be big:

Ambitions for self may be quite modest . . . Ambitions for God, however, if they are to be worthy, can never be modest. There is something inherently inappropriate about cherishing small ambitions for God. How can we ever be content that he should acquire just a little more honour in the world? No. Once we are clear that God is King, then we long to see him crowned with glory and honour, and accorded this true praise, which is the supreme place. We become ambitious for the spread of his kingdom and righteousness everywhere.

Don’t let less ambitious Christians make you feel bad for your dreams. But in the same token, be sure to regularly examine your heart, and truly get to the bottom of why you’re doing what you’re doing.

The Day I Met Lecrae

“What’s up, fam?”

These were the words that Lecrae spoke to me when I introduced myself to him. I remember the day like it was yesterday. But it was 2008.

It was the beginning of my sophomore year and I attended a college in a town of about 10,000 people. All my life I had been a fan of Hip-Hop music, but never was able to attend a concert. Soon into the Fall semester, I started hearing rumors of a Christian Hip-Hop concert that would be held at a small Church in town. When I heard my favorite Artist was going to be there, I knew I had to find a way to attend.

The interesting thing about this whole story, though, was that Lecrae wasn’t “big” yet. He may be a household name now, but he wasn’t back then. He just dropped his third album, Rebel, and he was starting to blow up, but the bomb hadn’t quite ticked yet. Looking back on it, I think I met him right before he starting getting international notoriety.

At any rate, I showed up to the small Church building on a cool Friday evening in Maryville, Missouri. I was with some friends and our adrenaline was soaring. We weren’t the only ones who got the memo for the concert as there were probably about 500 hundred of us total packed in a tiny, quaint Church building. There was hardly any room to move let alone breathe. But nevertheless, the concert was incredible. It was electryfying. The energy was high, the beats were jamming, and my heart was encouraged.

But this wasn’t the best part.

After the concert, there was an opportunity – for those willing to wait in a very long line – to meet Lecrae. Knowing that I might never get this chance again, I decided to wait. I only waited in line for 30 minutes but it felt like three hours – I couldn’t wait to meet the guy.

In front of me in line was a boy who was eleven or twelve. Or maybe he was a teenager – I’m not quite sure, I just know that he was very young. The most amazing part of this story wasn’t when I talked to Lecrae, but when he did. As I waited in line, I couldn’t help but notice this young boy’s facial expression and body language– it was one of fear, of distress, of concern. I thought he might be very nervous to be near the presence of a guy like Lecrae’s stature.

I was wrong.

I’ll never forget the interaction between this young fellow and Lecrae. I thought he was going to ask for an autograph or request to take a picture. But he didn’t. When he finally got to meet Lecrae, their dialogue caught me off guard. Considering the nearness of both Lecrae and the young fellow in a small Church, I was able to hear their conversation, which went a little something like this:

Boy: “Hi, Lecrae.”

Lecrae: “What’s up, young man!”

Boy: “Umm. Umm. Nothing. I have a question for you.”

Lecrae: “What’s up?”

Boy: “My grandma is about to die. She is not a Christian. I want to share the gospel with her, but don’t know how. I’m very concerned about her. I don’t want her to die apart from knowing Jesus. Lecrae, what should I do?”

I was stunned.

Most kids his age — or mine, for that matter — would not have asked such a question when meeting someone they greatly admire. We typically want a photo to share on Social Media, an autograph to show our friends, a hug or hand shake that we’ll remember forever. But this kid was concerned for the salvation of someone he loved.

Lecrae’s reply was memorable, yet simple. He humbly and confidently opened his Bible to the book of Colossians. He quoted Paul in the last chapter: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the Word . . .” Lecrae emphasized the last part of a door being opened for the Word. He said to the kid, “Pray for an open door to share the gospel, share the gospel, keeping praying and trust God. And that’s all you can do.”

He thanked Lecrae and walked away. I never saw the young fellow again.

It was then my turn to meet my favorite rapper. But how would I respond after what just took place? What was I supposed to do? In a moment, the young fellow’s question put things back into perspective for me. There’s nothing wrong with having heroes, admiring loved ones, or even asking for an autograph from someone who’s inspired you. But this kid’s question reminded me of what’s truly important in life: Knowing Jesus, and introducing others to him.

In the end, I just simply thanked Lecrae for his music, laid my hands on him, and prayed for God’s blessing over his ministry and life. We shook hands, and then I left the Church.

I went home full of joy and deeply encouraged. I was very grateful that I got to meet Lecrae and pray for him. I had a lot of fond memories from the night, but what happened right before meeting Lecrae tops them all. I often think about that moment, even to this day.

I wonder if Grandma ever became a Christian.