Ten Keys for a Holy Life
In the late 1800s in the United States, bakeries began to realize that if they joined together, they could buy larger amounts of wheat at a cheaper price. As smaller bakeries merged, and then as those larger companies merged, there came into existence the largest baking conglomerate in the country. It was called the National Biscuit Company. Today, we know it as Nabisco.
Two of the men who were instrumental in forming what would eventually become Nabisco were the Loose brothers. They lost control of the company, and so they decided to form a new company called the Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company, which would eventually be named Sunshine Biscuits.
To rival what was happening at Nabisco, the Loose brothers created something their competitor didn’t have. It was called a sweet cake. Today, we call them cookies.
Cookies were usually reserved for the wealthy, but the Loose brothers wanted to develop something that was more affordable. They also wanted something that would set their product apart from the other commercial desserts which didn’t have much more than flour, sugar, and butter.
After many attempts, they decided to try an ingredient that was gaining popularity in the country—cocoa. In 1908 they debuted a new product, a mini sandwich consisting of two chocolate cookies around a vanilla filling.
Wanting to convey the purity of their ingredients, this new cookie sandwich was named after the two atoms in water, hydrogen and oxygen. It was called Hydrox, and it was stamped with the imprint of a flower known in Latin as Oreodaphne. It began to grow in popularity, and Nabisco found that its profits were falling.
In response. Nabisco created a copycat cookie of its own, which had a more appealing name. In 1912, four years after the release of the Hydrox cookie, Nabisco released their own chocolate cookie with a flower imprinted. Interestingly, they called it an Oreo sandwich.
Initially, Hydrox was the preferred brand in America, especially since it had come onto the market first. But all that changed in 1922 when Nabisco pushed a new ad campaign capitalizing on the habit of twisting a cookie apart. As history has proven, marketing can make all the difference.
Over the next decades, Oreo began to grow in popularity, even though Hydrox was less expensive and, unlike Oreo, never included lard or hydrogenated oil or genetically modified ingredients or high fructose corn syrup. Oreos’ higher price gave people the impression that it was a higher quality product. The next generation of Americans began to think that Hydrox was a cheaper imitation rather than the original.
Long story short, Oreo is now considered the king of cookies, and Hydrox went out of business. The cookie was restored in 2015 still using the pure ingredients, but many stores no longer carry it. Though Hydrox sales have increased, they don’t come close to the billions of dollars that Oreo brings in for Nabisco every year.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I think this is a good illustration of what we see in our culture regarding romance and sexuality. God has created a pure original. He created it for joy and for the coming together of a man and his wife. But our culture has rejected the original and marketed to us an inferior imitation. God’s design, we could say, has been hijacked. As a result, this culture is given over to all kinds of sexual immorality, and we face temptation to give in continually.
Today, I want to help you in that battle with the wisdom of the Bible. With the world selling us an inferior but appealing product, how do we equip ourselves to pursue purity? The LGBTQAI agenda is not going away anytime soon. Immorality and sexual allurements are rampant on TV and movies and in our music and in our social media feeds. What can we do in this fight for purity?
This morning’s message is not going to be a traditional sermon focusing on one specific passage. I want to give you ten principles from Scripture to help you and to help you help others in this battle. And I’m going to be moving somewhat fast, so just be prepared.
In the interest of time, I’m not going to have you turn to the various passages, but I will cite them for you so you can jot them down and use them later if that helps you.
Last week, I shared with you the first keys in the fight for purity, so let me review those to begin, and then we’ll continue in our list.
The first key in the battle for purity is Embrace the Gospel. Embrace the Gospel. This is the starting point for all of us.
We need to recognize the holy perfection of God and recognize that we have fallen short of His standard. We are sinners who deserve judgment because of what we think and say and do. But God has shown us grace in Jesus Christ who died and was raised again as a perfect sacrifice for sin. Everyone who turns from their sin and trusts in Jesus is forgiven and cleansed. If you do that, you will also receive the power to say “No” to sin. You are a new creation in Christ.
You need to preach that to yourself every day. We need the gospel every day to remind us of the weakness of our flesh, of the grace of Christ, and of the power of a new life. We need to embrace the gospel.
The second principle is Elevate God’s Design. Elevate God’s design.
This was a reminder about valuing and promoting God’s beautiful design for sexual pleasure and sexual intimacy between a man and a woman. And we also need to remember that physical intimacy, as significant as it is, is only one aspect of a marriage that honors God.
Husbands, you need to remember, and you need to work to change your heart so that the measure of a man is not what culture tells you. It is a man who fears and honors God and who courageously protects and provides for his wife as he leads her and loves her sacrificially. That’s God’s design.
And the beauty of a woman is not found in her measurements. It’s found in her confidence in Christ, and in her submission and her purity. First Peter 3 tells us that a gentle and quiet spirit is precious to God, and it should be precious to us as well. We need to elevate God’s design in our hearts so that we can push back against the false imitations of this world.
Okay, with that review, let’s keep moving forward. Here’s a third key in our battle for purity—Utilize Your Connections. Utilize Your Connections.
God did not intend for you to go through this alone. We are members of the body of Christ, and we are members of one another says Romans 12. God places us in a spiritual family so that we can help one another.
Proverbs 17:17 says a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 18:1 says that if you isolate yourself, you’re fighting against sound judgment. Don’t do that. Don’t go into battle alone. Provers 27:17 says one man sharpens another just like iron sharpens iron.
Ephesians 6 talks about the armor of the Lord, and that’s important, but it also says there that we need to persevere in praying for one another. Hebrews 3 says we need to exhort one another every day.
If you are really battling with purity in your own mind and in some relationship, tell someone you trust in the Lord. James 5 says we should confess our sins to one another. Sin loves to thrive in the darkness. By including other people we step into the light and make more progress in putting sin to death. Utilize the connections God has given you.
Principe number 4 is this—Build Your Arsenal. Build Your Arsenal.
When Paul talks about our spiritual armor, what is the one offensive weapon we have? It is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. This is a primary weapon in our battle against sin. But what good is a sword if it’s all rusty in the corner of your garage?
When I say build your arsenal, I mean you need to pour Scripture meaningfully into your life. Psalm 119:9 says this—How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
And then verse 11 says this, many of you know it—I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
The idea there is that you are storing up God’s word. You’re putting it away so you can use it when you need it. It’s like amassing a collection. Practically, that means you need to read and memorize Scripture. Doesn’t have to be a long verse, but find verses that specifically address the issue you’re dealing with.
You can go back through this series on holiness and find some good passages. Read Proverbs 5, 6, and 7, and choose some other ones. Rather than fill your mind with the false and alluring messages of the world, fill it with the truth of God’s word. Until the day you see Jesus, you are going to have a sinful heart, but the pure truth of God’s word helps dilute the poison. It helps incline your heart to God’s design.
If you’re complaining about sexual sin and sexual temptation, but you aren’t feeding on God’s word, that’s like whining about being hungry but you aren’t willing to make yourself something to eat. God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. And He has given us His powerful truth which we can access at any time. Reading and memorizing the Bible is how you build your arsenal to fight for purity.
So, we have 4 principles so far. Embrace the Gospel. Elevate God’s Design. Utilize Your Connections. Build Your Arsenal. Now, number 5 is this—Flee your temptations. Flee your temptations.
This should seem so straightforward for us, but our sinful, lustful heart doesn’t like to run away from temptation. We prefer to flirt with it. We want to see how close we can get to the fire.
Paul told Timothy, Flee youthful passions. He told the Romans, Make no provision for the flesh.
Speaking of the possibility of adultery, Proverbs 6 says: Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes.
Is this father basically saying, “Don’t even look at her?” Yes, he is. Here’s a woman who is actively trying to seduce you. So, just like Joseph did with Potiphar’s wife, you run in the other direction. And to make his point about the danger even clearer, the father continues with some rhetorical questions— Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched?
If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned. That is true for adultery and for any other example of sexual immorality. It can be physical, or it can be digital. It might be overt. It might be something that appears innocent. Whatever it is that leads you to sin, run in the other direction! That’s the wisdom of God for sexual temptation. We don’t run from beauty; but we do run from sin and temptation. run away from the things that feed, arouse, or foster sinful desires in your heart.
In Proverbs 7, the father continues by describing the foolish man who walks alone at night passing by the house of the seductress. That was his first mistake. He didn’t stay away.
So, when you think about sexual sin and sexual temptation, what are the most dangerous times and places and peoples for you? What are the apps on your phone that you need to be careful with, or stay away from altogether? If you’re dating someone, what limits do you need to put on that relationship to make sure you’re not drifting into danger? Think about that specifically. What times, what places?
If you’re trying to go on a no-carb diet, you don’t go walking through a bakery, right? If you know you’re susceptible to gambling, you don’t go walking through the casino with all the lights and sounds, right? It’s the same way with with lust.
Colossians 3 says that in obedience to Jesus Christ, you need to put immorality to death. Kill it. If sin were a snake, you don’t take it in as a pet. You don’t even lock it up in cage. You kill it! You chop off its head and you throw it away!
Does that sound extreme to you? It should, because that's the kind of language Jesus used in Matthew 5 when he talked about fighting immorality in your heart and body.
Speaking metaphorically, He said: If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
Get as far away as you can from whatever is leading you to sexual sin. Run. Let the world think you’ve lost your mind, but your battle against sin, your fleeing from temptation, needs to be that extreme. Rip out of your life whatever is leading you to keep falling into sin.
If you want to get serious about this, and much more practical, talk to someone you trust who is older in the faith. Ask them, “What did you do to flee temptation?” Or, “What are you doing now?” Or, “What can I do?” And then have a serious conversation about what it means to flee your temptations.
Now, despite the seriousness of Christ’s command, there is still more we need to do. And this leads me to our sixth key for fighting for purity. Principle number is this: Address Your Heart. Address Your Heart.
Fleeing temptation is primarily an external thing, but you need to work on the inside as well. In Proverbs 4:23, the father instructs his son—Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
The invisible center of who you are, the Bible calls that your heart. And that’s where this battle begins. Even if the opportunity to sin externally were to disappear, that doesn’t mean the battle would be over, because our hearts want to sin. We might say we don’t want to sin sexually, but the reality is that many times we want to lust. We want to sin, even if it’s only in our minds.
Addressing your heart and your mind means you need to step back and think about the deeper desires that fuel your lust. Maybe it’s laziness. Maybe it’s a desire for attention. Maybe it’s a desire for pleasure or comfort or control. Maybe it’s a legalistic view of salvation— “I was so good for the last two days, now I can do this.”
In Ephesians 5, Paul contrasts sexual immorality with giving thanks. He does that because he’s aiming at the heart. Sexual sin flows from ingratitude, a heart of entitlement.
Listen, there’s more to what’s going on than just hormones. You are not just a physical body. You are have an invisible heart that is actively creating desires.
Addressing the heart isn’t easy, because the heart is deceitful and difficult, but if you’re including someone else in this battle, they might be able to help you explore some possibilities concerning what is behind your sin. More importantly, they can help you battle with sexual sin at a deeper level.
If you are giving in to sexual temptation out of a desire to be accepted by a boyfriend or by a group of peers, then you need to fight against fear of man. You need to teach your heart that, in Christ, God has accepted you.
If you’re giving in to sin because you feel guilty about something else, you need to remember the complete forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
There’s much more that can be said, but the main point here is that you recognize that the battle is much deeper than the external. There are other desires that fuel our lusts, and we should work to find out what those are and to move toward change at the level of our hearts.
In the long run, we want our hearts to grow to hate sin and to focus on what honors God. We all need to learn to awaken our hearts to a true love for God.
I didn’t give prayer a point of its own, but I think this is where it fits in nicely. Yes, we should pray for the strength to flee temptation, but we can also pray that God would work in our hearts by His Spirit and by His word so that we grow to hate what God hates and love what God loves. That level of heart change requires God to move, but it also depends on our willingness to commit to the things we’re talking about today.
You work out your salvation with fear and trembling, and God works in you so that you would desire and obey His will for your life. You need to address your heart.
Let me move on now to principle number 7—Confront the Deception. Confront the Deception.
Jesus said that to follow Him is to deny yourself. Denying someone is different than ignoring them. If the person next to you at school, or at work, or in a restaurant, is bothering you, you could ignore them, but that might not make them stop. If you deny them, you are recognizing that they are there, you look them in the eye, and you say, “Stop it.” That’s denial. That’s what it means to confront.
Denying yourself means learning to say, “No” to yourself. Just because you weren’t looking for sin, and just because something feels like an automatic impulse, that doesn’t mean sin isn’t involved. Our sinful hearts are waiting to be allured. So, we need to act.
John Piper has written this: “Say ‘No’ to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. ‘In the name of Jesus, NO!’ You don’t have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to be almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, ‘Be killing sin or it will be killing you.’ Strike fast and strike hard. ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.’”
When Satan came in the form of a serpent, the major mistake was to engage him in a conversation. The moment he tried to question God’s goodness, Adam was supposed to step in and stop the conversation right there. But he didn’t, and neither did Eve. They let the conversation continue.
We do the same thing so many times. We just let our sinful desires continue without stopping it right there and without confronting the deception.
Have you ever seen a bad guy in a movie who lies to people to get his own way? And when that happens, you think, “Why do they listen to him?! He’s the bad guy! He’s a liar!”
That’s the kind of attitude we need to take with our own heart and sexual temptation. It’s a scam. It’s a lie. Ephesians 4 says they are deceitful desires which corrupt. We need to call that out.
In Hebrews 11, it says that Moses chose to obey God rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. So, the Bible says that sin is pleasurable. But it also tells us that it’s fleeting.
So, when your flesh is saying, “Do it. Look at that girl. Look at that photo. Watch that video. Click on that link. Take it one step further. It’ll be nice. It’ll make you feel better”— you can say, “No. I’m not going to do that. The pleasure will only be temporary, and then the conviction and the discipline of God comes. This will only hurt me.” You need to expose the lie. Confront the deception.
We have three keys left, and then we’ll be done. Principle number 8 is this—Look to Jesus. Look to Jesus.
In the first principle, we talked about remembering Jesus in a more generic way, but here I mean that you need to make it personal. Some men would never take their wives or their children to a place marked by immorality. Why is that? It’s because of the relationship. In the same way, we need to have a deepening relationship with Christ. We need to love Him and focus on Him so that He matters more to us than any sin.
Do you remember what Joseph said Potiphar’s wife tried to convince him to be with her? He said, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” That’s the kind of relationship we are supposed to have with Jesus Christ.
One author said it like this: “The ultimate power to kill lust lies in the person of Christ Himself holding sway in our hearts… When we wander into sin we always wander away from a person. hat person is firstly, Christ. So we must work to see His power and beauty, wisdom, righteousness and grace, to that He becomes more compelling to us that sin or anything else. We do not want to cut out lust without filling the void with Christ.”
You cultivate a love for Christ by reading about Him in God’s word and praying and meditating. The book of Hebrews says we need to look to Jesus. He endured temptation. He endured the cross. And He has guaranteed our victory. We need to consider Jesus. He will give us mercy and grace in our hour of need, if we draw near to Him.
First John 3 says that as we place our hope in seeing Jesus one day, we purify ourselves just like Jesus is pure. Never forget to look to Jesus in the battle for holiness.
For the final two keys to holiness, I won’t spend a lot of time, but I think they are very practical reminders. The ninth key in the battle for purity is this: Do Something Productive. Do something Productive.
In other words, get to work. Don’t just sit around waiting for lust to go away, put the energy God gave you to use.
I assume most of you are familiar with David’s sin of adultery with Bathsheba. That takes place in 2 Samuel 11. But a lot of people don’t really take to heart what we learn in the opening two verses. It says there: In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king's house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.
David should have been out at war with his troops, but instead he was at his palace. And what was David doing before he decided to take a stroll on his roof. It says it was late in the afternoon and he got up from his couch. David wasn’t where he was supposed to be. He was lounging around being lazy. That’s how this all started.
Again, I’ll quote from John Piper on the topic of fighting lust. He says, “Move into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviors. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. “Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord” (Rom 12:11) … Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. Fix a faucet. And do it for Jesus’s sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you “zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds.”
Find ways to be productive and to serve others, and that will help you battle sin. Do something productive.
Finally, we come to the final key in the fight for purity. And here it is—Persevere in Battle. Persevere in Battle.
Just because I gave you ten keys to fighting lust doesn’t mean that it simply boils down to following some simple process. Until the day we see Christ, we are going to be fighting.
None of us should come back next week wondering, “I did all ten things, so why hasn’t my lust disappeared.” That’s not how this works. God has given us wisdom and His Spirit so that we can progress in our faith and be sanctified, but that is a journey that will never end this side of heaven.
Paul reminded the Corinthians about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and he pointed them forward to our own final resurrection. and in doing that, he said this—Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Our victory in Christ is guaranteed, but every day is going to be a battle. By the grace of God, our battles in ten years won’t be what they are today, but it will be a battle, nonetheless. So we need to learn to keep going.
We are going to fall. We are going to fail our Lord and Savior. That’s part of living in a sinful body. But by the gospel of Christ, we confess, and we repent, and we get back in the battle for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Listen to Paul’s message to the Galatians, Galatians 6:9—let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
We need to run with endurance. We need to persevere in the battle.