Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God's Beautiful Design for Women, Day 32

Leslie Basham: Purity is maintained through small choices. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Satan will cause you to think that this conversation, this email exchange, this touch, this warm expression, this look exchanged between eyes will meet some need, that it will fill some empty space in your heart. What he doesn’t tell you is how deadly and destructive the outcome will be. I hear this from women all the time.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

Your small choices today can have a huge effect. That’s true in many areas of life, but one of the most important areas is in moral purity. Poor choices in this area can lead to some devastating results.

If you have small children, you may want to divert their attention while you listen to Nancy, continuing in a series called "God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living Out Titus 2:1–5."

Nancy: In 1894 Ruth Smythers, who was the wife of the Reverend L. D. Smythers, wrote a guide for young brides. In part of that guide, she says this:

To the sensitive young woman who has the benefits of proper upbringing, the wedding day is ironically both the happiest and the most terrifying day of her life. On the positive side, there is the wedding itself, in which the bride is the central attraction in a beautiful and inspiring ceremony, symbolizing her triumph in securing a male to provide for all her needs for the rest of her life.

I read that, and I thought, There has never been a man created who could meet all of a woman’s needs for all of her life. But so she said in 1894. Then she says,

On the negative side, there is the wedding night, during which the bride must “pay the piper,” so to speak, by facing for the first time the terrible experience of [what was a hard word to say in those days] sex.

One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY. Otherwise, what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.1

Now, you’re groaning. You would really groan if I read to you more of what she said in there. There’s just some really way-off-base thinking—some thinking that is not sound thinking, not according to God’s Word—in this guide for young brides, written by a minister’s wife in 1894.

As I read that, I thought, it is so like Satan to twist our thinking. He tries to convince us that what God calls good is bad; and what God forbids or says is off limits, Satan convinces us that it is good.

It struck me, as I was thinking about this, to wonder, How come so many girls and women today can’t wait to be sexually active, and think they can’t live without sex, and are enticed by the thrill of illicit sex outside of marriage, while at the same time so many women who are married think of physical intimacy with their husbands as a duty at best, a necessary evil, something they have to do, something to be endured?

You see how Satan twists our thinking? He makes us think what is good is bad and what is bad is good.

That’s why we have to have sound thinking, and we get our sound thinking from sound doctrine, which we get from the Word of God. That’s where we need our thinking, even about this very practical area of physical intimacy, our sexual lives.

Whether single or married, we need to go back to the Word of God and ask, “What does God’s Word say?” to inform our thinking and, therefore, our living.

One verse that came to my mind quickly as I was reading that guide for young brides is Hebrews 13:4, “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled.” This is good.

In the context of marriage, it is wonderful; it is awesome; it is a gift. It is not an orgy of sexual lust for a husband and wife to be physically intimate.

“Let the marriage bed be undefiled,” Hebrews 13 says; and then here’s the other side, “for God will judge the sexually immoral [Greek pornos] and adulteress,” those who do defile the marriage bed, who enter into physical intimacy outside of the bounds of marriage.

There is no question that the devil has a stranglehold on people’s lives today, including many Christians, in the area of sexual purity. He is wreaking havoc in our culture on this subject. It’s a huge issue.

I was going back through some emails that have come in to our ministry as I was preparing for this series. It was just interesting that each time we touch on this topic: we talk about marital fidelity, we talk about affair-proofing your marriage, we talk about sexual purity, we talk about putting up hedges in male/female relationships. Anytime we get on this subject, we get a flood of response, and a lot of it is heart-breaking.

It evidences that people have been led astray and have made foolish choices. They do not have sound thinking.

Single people, married people, older people, younger people, people with children, people without children, people who have a good upbringing and home backgrounds, people who have very messed up home backgrounds—every walk of life I see people who are being deceived and led astray and making foolish choices when it comes to the sexual area. As a result, there are painful, devastating, destructive consequences.

Let me read a couple of emails I came across as I was going through some of those files. One person wrote and said,

I wondered if you could do some programs on the problem of women who have become trapped by the urge to find sexual self-gratification through sexually explicit movies, books, or phone-sex hotlines, and how they can overcome this bondage.

Here’s another one—I hesitate to read this, but it’s not all that uncommon. This woman says,

I am in a good marriage, but my heart has been indulging in sin with none other than my pastor! This has been going on for about three years now. I want so desperately to be free of this dangerous attraction, yet I am so drawn to it.

She doesn't give any indication that there is fault or responsibility or involvement on the part of her pastor. And I want to say, "Thank God that there are many godly, God-fearing men of God who are in our pulpits today, but there are also many who are not.

There is no man and no woman, regardless of their responsibilities, position, or background who are immune to this battlefield of sexual purity and morals.

As we’ve been saying throughout this series, wrong thinking and wrong doctrine result in wrong living. If we don’t have sound thinking based on sound doctrine, we will end up in impurity.

We’ve been talking about Titus 2, where older women are to train younger women to be pure. If we’re going to be pure, we’ve got to have right thinking that leads us to pure choices. This whole area of impurity and sexual issues is one that’s emphasized a lot in the Scriptures.

For example, Ephesians chapter 4 talks about how wrong thinking in doctrine leads to wrong living and impurity.

You must no longer walk as the Gentiles [pagans, unbelievers] do, in the futility of their minds. [That’s where the battle starts.] They are darkened in their understanding. . . . They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity (Eph. 4:17–19).

You see how wrong thinking leads to impure living? On the other hand, sound thinking and a sound mind lead to purity and love, two of the qualities we’re talking about in Titus 2.

Still in Ephesians chapter 4, verse 20:

But that is not the way you learned Christ! [to be given over to sensuality and impurity. You were taught] to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, [sophron, a sound mind] and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (vv. 23–24).

Where does holiness come from? Where does purity come from? From sound thinking, being renewed in our minds.

Ephesians 5:1-2, continuing:

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love. [Love and purity are the result of sound thinking, which is rooted in sound doctrine.] Live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

If we had pure hearts and the love of Christ in our hearts, there would be no sexual sin, because you can’t be pure in heart and loving others as you love yourself, and sin against them sexually, in mind, thought, word, or deed. You can’t do it.

So the purity of heart and the love which we’ve talked about already in Titus 2—loving your husband, loving your children—if you love others with the love of Christ, if you have a pure heart, then you will be sexually pure.

First Peter 1:22 says it this way: “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth [that’s the mind] for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” See the connection between love and a pure heart?

First Timothy 1:5, “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart,” a cleansed heart. If you want true love for others, you’ve got to have a pure heart, and if you’re going to have a pure heart, you’ve got to have a sound mind, sound thinking.

We are not naturally loving. You know some people who are really loving, and you may think of you mother or your sister. But no one is born naturally loving. Well, let me say an exception to that: We are all born naturally loving ourselves. But we are not born naturally loving God or others. We are naturally selfish—which is what loving ourselves is.

Even what appears to be love is generally tainted in some way by, "What's in it for me?" The expectation of being loved in return. So before we can truly love others, we must first prepare our minds for action, be sound in our thinking, and then be cleansed or purify ourselves.

That's where these characteristics, these qualities in Titus 2 are all intertwined. You can't have one without the others. And if you have one, it will help you build the others in your life.

God takes this issue of sexual purity seriously, and so must we.

We’ve just been reading the end of Ephesians 4 and the beginning of Ephesians 5; now we continue on in Ephesians 5. Listen to what it says. We’re told to love one another, to live a life of love, and then he says in verse 3,

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. [You’re saints—you need to live like saints.]

Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord (vv. 4–10).

If you’re a child of God, it will not be a burden to you. If you’re the bride of Christ, it will be a delight to you to find out what pleases the Lord.

Verse 11, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Purity—it’s a characteristic of a redeemed life.

External, visible purity—in our words and actions and behavior; but also internal purity—purity of heart, thoughts, desires, and motives. Those two are connected, because if we have pure hearts, then we will have clean hands.

If we’ve had inner transformation and have been made pure within, then there will be an outer transformation because, as we’ve been saying throughout this series, “as [a man] thinks in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7). The thoughts, the inclinations, the state of mind of our inner heart will determine our behavior.

I was talking with a friend, while I was preparing for this series, about this whole matter of intense, blinding purity. My dad used to say that we wanted to be as pure as the driven snow. If you come from up north in particular, that is a vibrant word picture. 

My friend was saying how often we settle for less than God calls us to—for a level that is less than what God wants to refine us to in the area of purity, because we’re comparing ourselves not to God’s pristine holiness but to the rather shabby attempts at goodness that we see around us.

So comparing ourselves to others, we think, Well, I’m not sleeping around, I’m not . . . I don’t talk this way, I don’t do that. Then we settle sometimes for less than God’s awesome holiness. We’re prone, perhaps, to deal with the obvious issues, but we need to be asking, “Does my level of purity extend through and through—my heart, my mind, my thoughts, my motives, my words, my actions, my relationships?”

In Titus 2, back to that passage, older women are to train the younger women to be pure (vv. 3–5). I think in that context it has to do with moral chastity, primarily; sexual purity, being faithful to their mate.

We said that the passage in Titus 2 assumes the majority of women are wives and mothers; that God’s calling to women is to be a helper to their husband and to bear and nurture children. So in this context, he’s saying to these women who are married, “Be faithful morally to your mate.”

Even if you aren’t married, be faithful to a future mate that you may have, and be faithful to other women’s mates. Part of sexual chastity and purity for me is not only protecting my own heart and my own life, but it’s protecting your marriage, and it’s protecting the marriages of others.

To be pure through and through; pure not just in our behavior that speaks of marital fidelity and modest conduct; not flirting and not responding inappropriately to male attention—things that women know how to do. Okay? Am I right?

So sexual purity, chastity, has to do with those behavioral issues, but it extends to every area of our thoughts as well—fantasizing, our minds wandering off in places that are not holy, not appropriate; emotional engagement, things that can be fueled by romance novels and movies and television programs.

Let me read to you a few emails that women have sent to us. Sometimes I change these just enough that they would not be identifiable, but here’s a woman who wrote,

Due to many circumstances and my husband’s hours at work, we had become estranged while living under the same roof.

By the way, one of the great protectors, morally and of chastity and sexual purity, is to have a loving marriage. Which is one of the reasons I think Titus 2 starts with loving your husband. Now, one way you love him is by being sexually pure and faithful. But to develop and cultivate a loving marriage will help you to be sexually faithful and pure. Here's a marriage that was already in trouble:

We had become estranged while living under the same roof. The loneliness I felt at home caused me to further enjoy the friendship of a man at work.

Now, when we talked earlier about women loving their husbands, we said it’s a friendship sort of love. It’s enjoying your husband. It’s dating him. It’s having companionship with him. If you’re not protecting your friendship with your husband, you will be more vulnerable to cultivating an inappropriate relationship with someone outside of your marriage.

So this woman said, “I began to enjoy the friendship of a man at work.” Whose friendship should she have been enjoying? Her husband’s.

Now, I'm not saying she was all at fault in this. I don't know enough. It doesn't matter who was at fault. The issue is, it was misplaced affection, misplaced enjoyment and friendship.

She said, “I considered it casual at first.” Isn’t that always the case? It seems so harmless. It’s just innocent.

“I don’t mean anything. We’re not doing anything. I don’t feel anything.” But she already said, “I was enjoying the friendship of this man at work.” She said,

I considered it casual at first. However, it became a growing emotional attraction. . . . I had been very disappointed with myself—having been a Christian for most of my life, knowing the Scripture, and yet letting something like this develop. Now I see how common it is and how much we need to guard our hearts from the enemy’s subtle deceptions.

Here’s another one, and it’s interesting how many of these—not all, but many—relate to the workplace and relationships established there. This woman said,

With my work, I talk to a lot of different men via email and phone across the country. Over the past year, there have been times that the emails and phone calls have gotten out of control, and I have heard God prompting me that this is not right—stop.

That’s the Holy Spirit. Thank God for the Holy Spirit! Now, if you have a sound mind, you will be able to discern much more quickly than if you don’t have a sound mind.

If you’re not thinking straight, you may never discern, but if you have a sound mind—if you are sophron, as we’ve talked about earlier—you will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of sanity and spiritual reason saying, “This is not right. Stop!”

She said, “I would stop for a while, but then my mind would wander again.” What was this woman not doing? She was not “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).

She said, “With one individual, what started out as a friendship evolved into much more—telling each other things of deepest secrets.”

Now, here’s a woman who is a foolish woman—she’s admitting that—she has a lack of discretion. She’s not thinking soundly. She’s setting herself up for moral failure and for the destruction of her marriage.

She said, “Even though the emails and phone calls were to an out-of-state client, my mind was thinking of all sorts of fantasies that could come true.”

This woman is on a pathway to destruction—not only her destruction, but that of her marriage, that of this man or other men and their marriages, that of her children, grandchildren—you start to think about all the potential consequences, and it makes you want to have a sound mind that will result in sexual purity.

Let me just read one more here. Here’s a woman who already had a lot of struggles in her marriage; she talked about that, and then she said,

Last week, I stopped into a store, and a really nice employee helped me. We spent thirty minutes talking about [and then she describes a common interest they had]. I felt such a rush of feeling, a connection in thirty minutes with him that I’ve NEVER experienced with my husband, even after seven years together.

Now, some of you are looking wide-eyed while I’m reading this, but I want to tell you there are more women who have experienced this than have not. To experience the temptation is not the sin. The question is, what do you do with those thoughts when they come into your mind?

Do you have a sound mind that can bring those thoughts into captivity to the obedience of Christ? Do you run? Do you flee? Or do you stay for thirty minutes talking to the guy? That’s what determines or reveals whether you have a sound mind. She said,

For an entire week I’ve lived in a fantasy-daydream romance with this man who I spent thirty minutes with. The next day when he called to follow up on my visit to the store, my desperate heart actually talked me into thinking this was a sign of attraction on his part, and I even sent him an email that night.

I’m saying sirens should be going off in this woman’s mind and in her heart—not once the affair starts, but way back at this stage. Don’t send the email! Don’t stay in the store!

You say, “Well, I’d have to shop somewhere else.” Shop somewhere else! Cut off every avenue of indulging your flesh in order to protect the purity of your marriage. She said,

How did I get here? A year ago I was bent on saving my marriage at ALL COSTS, and now I feel absolutely NOTHING toward my husband and am so vulnerable that a mere thirty minutes with another man can send me into a complete fantasy mode. HOW did I get here, and HOW can I get away?

Nothing has actually materialized with this man [physically, she’s saying, although I would say something has materialized in her mind and in her heart], but I can tell from my immediate reaction that I am SO vulnerable. Satan has pretty much gotten me right where he wants me.

Satan makes forbidden fruit alluring. He makes it attractive. He can cause you to feel a rush of emotion and feelings and connection that you have not felt in your marriage in seven years. Again, I know that where there are marriage issues there are both parties involved. I'm not saying that her husband was a hero or a great husband.

The issue is this woman is not cultivating her marriage, and they have not been cultivating their marriage. As a result, she is vulnerable to impurity. Satan will cause you to think that this conversation, this email exchange, this touch, this warm expression, this look exchanged between eyes will meet some need, that it will fill some empty space in your heart.

What he doesn’t tell you is how deadly and destructive the outcome will be, and I hear this from women all the time.

One woman wrote and said,

To anyone who is contemplating an immoral relationship, PLEASE DON’T DO IT! IT IS DEATH. I feel like I am dying. This is the worst pain of my life.

Another woman said,

I have grieved the loss of my virginity so deeply, it literally almost killed me. All I ever wanted was to be able to present myself to my husband on our wedding night, pure and spotless. I feel ruined, trashed, no good, ashamed that I am not whole anymore.

Now, praise God for grace! “The blood of Jesus Christ . . . cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7), and there is no sin, including that of marital infidelity, sexual sin, that cannot be forgiven and cleansed by the blood of Christ.

But there are tracks that you make in your heart when you don’t think properly, when you don’t have sound thinking, and when you give in, even to emotionally and mentally giving your heart away to a man who does not belong to you. So Paul says,

This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness (1 Thess. 4:3–7).

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, showing us how purity puts the beauty of the gospel on display. She’ll be right back to pray. Today’s program is possible in part thanks to a listener who took part in a food research study. How? They wrote to us and said:

For the past year, I have been listening to the Revive Our Hearts podcast on my computer. I always see a message on the right side of my screen giving the opportunity to support Revive Our Hearts. I always wanted to do it, but find it so hard to donate to your ministry when we give all our tithes and offering to support the ministry at our church.

I wanted to give to Revive Our Hearts, but did not know how. So I prayed and asked God to provide the money so I could give. God is so creative.

I received a phone call from a research company, asking me to be a part of their research, and they would pay me $135 for that job. Yesterday I went downtown Chicago. The other people came in after me. I noticed that when it was time to taste the food for the research, they called the people who arrived last first—six of them. Then they came and said, "We won't need you, but here is your payment." I basically went downtown to get the $135 cash.

Today I donated it to Revive Our Hearts! God is so good.

I learned from my mom: whenever she wanted to give to missions, she always asked God to provide an extra job or a means for her to give, and guess what? He always did! I’m so happy I can be part of supporting this amazing ministry. May God provide for all your needs. 

What a cool story! And we are facing some serious needs as a ministry. Donations have been declining, especially among radio listeners, for many months, and we’re asking the Lord to help make up a budget deficit of about $500,000. So would you ask the Lord for a creative solution like this listener and be part of supporting Revive Our Hearts?

When you give any amount, we’d like to send you Nancy’s new book, Adorned, to say "thanks." Call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send one book per household for your donation during this series.

In the book of Titus, we read that women are to be “workers at home.” That raises a lot of questions. Nancy will start addressing that phrase tomorrow. Join us again for Revive Our Hearts. To wrap up today’s session on the importance of personal purity, Nancy’s back to pray.

Nancy: Father, how I pray for some woman listening today who’s playing with fire, and she’s justifying and defending things that are going on in her heart and in her mind and in her actions, something that she’s having to keep hidden or secret.

Oh Lord, I pray that You would have mercy and would convict and convince of the foolishness of going astray morally, and that You would provide the grace that only You can give to run from that situation, to flee, to do whatever is necessary to pursue purity and holiness of heart.

Oh Lord, would You rescue and redeem and protect those who have not gone down that road. Would You protect their marriages and put a hedge of protection around husbands and wives and their marriages, these young couples and older couples.

Keep us from sin, O Lord, that our lives and our marriages may reflect to the world the purity of Christ and His love for His bride. I pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1Caroline Mahaney. Feminine Appeal,  p. 73.

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