Sexual Purity: Living Near the Cross

God demands absolute purity, and he gives what he demands.

God demands absolute purity, and he gives what he demands.


“Thou hast taught me the necessity of a Mediator, a Messiah,
to be embraced in love with all my heart,
as king to rule me,
as prophet to guide me,
as priest to take away my sin and death,
and this by faith in thy beloved Son who teaches me
not to guide myself,
not to obey myself,
not to try to rule and conquer sin,
but to cleave to the one who will do all for me.
Thou has make known to me
that to save me is Christ’s work,
but to cleave to him by faith is my work,
and with this faith is the necessity of my daily repentance
as a mourning for the sin which Christ by grace has removed.
Continue, O God, to teach me
that faith apprehends Christ’s righteousness
not only for the satisfaction of justice,
but as unspotted evidence of thy love to me.
Help me to make use of his work of salvation as the ground of peace
and of thy favour to, and acceptance of me the sinner,
so that I may live always near the cross.”
The Valley of Vision, “Reconciliation”

I love The Valley of Vision. If you are unfamiliar, it’s a collection of Puritan prayers that grasp at the vitals of true religion and robust doctrine like few other devotional resources. It will teach you to pray. It will stoke your love for God. And I hope today that it teaches us, as men, how to fight for purity.

Purity isn’t nebulous. God requires absolute purity, an untainted life in thought and deed. Yet none of us will ever achieve that standard by our own effort. Thankfully as believers in “faith [we can apprehend] Christ’s righteousness,” as the Puritan says. The justice of God is satisfied. It is finished. There’s now and never will be a court who can say, “Guilty!”

However, we live in the not yet of an over-sexualized culture, easy access internet pornography, and the commodification of girls and women. Corey Poff recently wrote a knock down article where he describes Adam’s blame shifting in relation to the notion that chivalry is dead. Corey writes, “Translation: ‘It’s the lady’s fault. And Yours, too, since You made her to begin with. Stop looking at me. She’s the one You
want.’”

Upon eating the fruit, Adam immediately blames Eve and you might think that’s justifiable. She did eat first, you might think. But God didn’t think so. He looked Adam squarely in the eye and doled out justice for what Adam chose and how Adam failed as a leader of his family and the Garden-temple.

Many men today are playing the same game.

  • “Look at how these girls are dressing. They’re begging for attention from men.” Blame game.
  • “Pornography is easy to access and filters only get in the way of websites that I need to access.” Blame game.
  • “If only the girls at church would protect my eyes, I wouldn’t lust as much.” Blame game.
  • “If only my wife would meet my needs sexually . . . ” Blame game.

Check mate.

Now you can find many articles (some that I have written) with practical advice to make lusting harder and tools to use to avoid pornography. Those are all needed and helpful, but today I want to dig to the root.

First, the Puritan says,

“Thou has make known to me
that to save me is Christ’s work,
but to cleave to him by faith is my work,
and with this faith is the necessity of my daily repentance
as a mourning for the sin which Christ by grace has removed.”

“To save you is Christ’s work.” Men, Christ has saved you. You are a participant in the New Exodus accomplished through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. You are united irrevocably to Jesus Christ and, therefore, have unfettered access to the fellowship of our great Triune God.

That is objectively what Christ did for you. And what does the poet later say? That this was accomplished “as unspotted evidence of thy love to me.” That objective gospel truth is evidence of God’s love for you. That love doesn’t change based on your obedience. That love does empower striving after purity. For if God loves you, you will love God and neighbor. And that’s the root of lust—a failure of loving God more than your sexual desires, those good desires he gave you as a gift, and a failure to love the people you are lusting after, objectifying image bearers of God.

Second, the Puritan says,

“not to try to rule and conquer sin,
but to cleave to the one who will do all for me. . . .
but to cleave to him by faith is my work,
and with this faith is the necessity of my daily repentance
as a mourning for the sin which Christ by grace has removed.”

It’s clear from the first few lines and the following lines after the ellipses that it is not striving the Puritan despises, but striving after our own rule, guidance, and passion for our self-justification.

He then mentions three ways in which we can work because of Christ’s work on our behalf:

  1. Cleave to Jesus Christ by Faith
  2. Pursue Daily Repentance
  3. Mourn for Our Sins

Therefore, do not try to rule sin on your own. You will not win that battle, but there is One who won the war and will do all things for you. By faith he will rule and conquer sin in you. By faith he will give you daily repentance. And by faith he will give you godly mourning for your sins.

To what end? The last line sums it up, “so that I may live always near the cross.” When you live there brothers, purity will be yours hands over fist because near the cross all the promises in Christ are yes and amen. Near the cross is where we fight for purity. We fight where we know the war has been won.


Mathew B. Sims is the author of A Household Gospel: Fulfilling the Great Commission in Our Homes and a contributor in Make, Mature, Multiply (GCD Books). He completed over forty hours of seminary work at Geneva Reformed Seminary. He also works as the managing editor at Gospel-Centered Discipleship and the assistant editor at CBMW Men’s Channel. He regularly writes for a variety of publications. Mathew offers freelance editing and book formatting. He is a member at Downtown Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC.

Originally posted at CBMW’s Manual.