“Cleanse your hands, . . . and purify your hearts.”—JAS. 4:8.
1. How does the world view chastity?
CHASTITY is not a popular virtue. That is particularly true in our time. In many lands, homosexuality and sex outside of marriage are viewed as normal. These lifestyles are even promoted in advertising and entertainment. (Ps. 12:8) Immorality has become so pervasive that you may wonder, ‘Is it really possible to live a chaste life?’ Our confident reply is, Yes, with Jehovah’s help, true Christians can remain chaste.—Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.
2, 3. (a) Why is it essential to fight unclean desires? (b) What will we consider in this article?
2 First, however, we must recognize that in order to live a chaste life, we must reject immoral desires. Just as a baited hook may attract a fish, so immoral thoughts and lewd desires—when not immediately dismissed—may begin to draw out and entice a Christian. They can appeal to our fallen flesh and lead us toward immoral acts. In time, the allure of sin may become so great that the unclean desire becomes fertile. At that point, even a servant of Jehovah may be ready to act on his desire when an opportunity arises. Yes, “desire . . . gives birth to sin.”—Read James 1:14, 15.
3 It is sobering to reflect on how a momentary desire can develop into a serious sin. But how encouraging it is to know that if we prevent unclean desires from taking root, we need not become involved in immoral conduct and suffer its bitter consequences! (Gal. 5:16) Let us consider three aids that will help us in the fight against unclean desires: our relationship with Jehovah, the counsel of his Word, and the help of mature fellow Christians.
“DRAW CLOSE TO GOD”
4. Why is it important to draw close to Jehovah?
4 The Bible’s direction to those who wish to “draw close to God” is: “Cleanse your hands, . . . and purify your hearts.” (Jas. 4:8) When we treasure our friendship with Jehovah, we strive to please him in every aspect of our life, including our thoughts. We desire to have “a pure heart” by focusing our minds on what is chaste, virtuous, and praiseworthy. (Ps. 24:3, 4; 51:6; Phil. 4:8) Granted, Jehovah makes allowances for our imperfect nature. He knows that we are prone to improper desires. But we recognize that it saddens him when we nurture wrong thoughts instead of doing all we can to reject them. (Gen. 6:5, 6) Reflecting on this fact makes us ever more determined to keep our thoughts chaste.
5, 6. How can prayer help us in our fight against immoral desires?
5 An important way to show our complete reliance on Jehovah is by making our fight against unclean thoughts a matter of prayer. When we draw close to Jehovah in prayer, he draws close to us. He generously gives us his holy spirit, thus strengthening our resolve to resist immoral thoughts and remain chaste. So let us make known to God our earnest wish to please him with the meditation of our heart. (Ps. 19:14) Do we humbly ask him to examine us in order to identify any “harmful way”—any improper desires or inclinations—that could lead us into sin? (Ps. 139:23, 24) Do we regularly petition him to help us maintain our integrity when we are faced with temptation?—Matt. 6:13.
6 Our upbringing or our past conduct may have developed in us a liking for practices that Jehovah condemns. Even then, he can help us to bring about necessary changes so that we can continue to serve him acceptably. King David recognized this. After he had committed adultery with Bath-sheba, David implored Jehovah: “Create in me a pure heart, . . . and put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one.” (Ps. 51:10, 12) Sinful conduct may strongly appeal to our fallen flesh, but Jehovah can stir within us a willing spirit, the desire to obey him. Even if wrong desires are deeply rooted and tend to crowd out our chaste thoughts, Jehovah can guide our steps so that we can obey his commandments and succeed in living by them. He can prevent anything harmful from dominating us.—Ps. 119:133.
“BECOME DOERS OF THE WORD”
7. How can God’s Word help to protect us from unclean thoughts?
7 Jehovah can answer our prayers for help by means of his Word, the Bible. The wisdom contained in God’s Word is “first of all pure.” (Jas. 3:17) Reading the Bible daily and meditating on what we read can help to guard our minds against immoral thoughts. (Ps. 19:7, 11; 119:9, 11) Additionally, the Bible contains examples and specific counsel that can help us to avoid falling victim to unclean desires.
8, 9. (a) What led one young man to become involved with an immoral woman? (b) To what modern-day situations can we apply the warning example found in Proverbs chapter 7?
8 At Proverbs 5:8, we read: “Stay far away from [the immoral woman]; do not go near the entrance of her house.” The danger of disregarding this counsel is illustrated in Proverbs chapter 7, where we read about a young man who goes for a stroll near the house of an immoral woman. Night is falling. At the street corner, he is approached by the woman, who may be clothed in revealing attire. She grabs him and kisses him. Her seductive speech awakens in him a desire that he seems unable to resist. They engage in sexual immorality. Apparently, that young man did not set out to commit immorality. He is inexperienced and lacks good judgment. Even so, he has to live with the disastrous consequences of his actions. If only he had stayed far away from her!—Prov. 7:6-27.
9 Might we at times show a similar lack of good judgment, perhaps straying into dangerous situations that could awaken wrong desires? For example, at night, television networks may relax their restrictions on program content. What if we occasionally channel surf? Or perhaps we might aimlessly follow links on the Internet or frequent chat rooms and sites that carry invitations to view pornography or offer other sexual services. Could it be that in such circumstances we would be confronted with something that would arouse improper desires and undermine our fight to remain chaste?
10. Why is flirting dangerous? (See opening image.)
10 Another way the Bible helps us is by giving counsel on how to treat those of the opposite sex. (Read 1 Timothy 5:2.) Such counsel clearly rules out flirting. Some may view the use of body language, gestures, and glances that have romantic overtones as harmless in that these do not involve any physical contact. But flirting, or responding to it, may arouse unclean thoughts that can lead to serious sexual wrongdoing. It has happened before—it can happen again.
11. What good example did Joseph set?
11 Joseph acted wisely in this regard. When the wife of his master, Potiphar, tried to seduce him, Joseph rejected her efforts. But she did not give up. Day after day she invited him to remain with her. (Gen. 39:7, 8, 10) According to one Bible scholar, Potiphar’s wife was, in effect, saying: “‘Let’s just be on our own together for a little,’ in the hope of making [Joseph] take the first step.” However, Joseph was determined never to encourage, or even tolerate, her seductive overtures. He refused her flirtations, and he would not flirt with her, thus preventing any wrong desire from taking root in his heart. When she tried to force him to have sexual relations with her, Joseph acted decisively. “He left his garment in her hand and fled outside.”—Gen. 39:12.
12. How do we know that what we look at can affect our heart?
12 The Bible also alerts us to the danger of allowing our eyes to lead our heart astray. A roving eye can awaken or intensify wrong sexual desires. Jesus warned that “everyone who keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28) Recall what happened in King David’s case. “From the rooftop [David] saw a woman bathing.” (2 Sam. 11:2) He failed to look away and to direct his thoughts elsewhere. That led him to desire a woman who was someone else’s wife and to take steps to commit adultery with her.
13. Why do we need to ‘make a covenant with our eyes,’ and what does that involve?
13 In order to combat immoral fantasies, we need to ‘make a covenant with our eyes,’ as did faithful Job. (Job 31:1, 7, 9) We must solemnly decide to control our eyes and not allow them to gaze with immoral lust at another person. That would include averting our gaze from sexually charged images, be they on a computer screen, a billboard, a magazine cover, or anywhere else.
14. How can we benefit from the counsel to remain chaste?
14 If any of what has been presented so far has identified areas in which you could be more effective in your fight against wrong desires, take immediate action. Willingly submit to the counsel of God’s Word, which can help you avoid wrongdoing and thus remain chaste.—Read James 1:21-25.
“CALL THE ELDERS”
15. If we are struggling with unclean desires, why is it important to seek help?
15 If we are struggling with wrong sexual desires, fellow Christians are another source of help that we can turn to. Of course, discussing with others problems of such a personal nature is not easy. But courageously placing ourselves under the kindly scrutiny of a mature Christian may prevent us from rationalizing any wrong desires. (Prov. 18:1; Heb. 3:12, 13) Talking about our weakness with a mature, spiritually qualified Christian may help us to identify blind spots. This can help us to make the necessary adjustments in order to remain in Jehovah’s love.
16, 17. (a) How can the elders help those who are struggling with unclean desires? Illustrate. (b) Why is it good for those who view pornography to seek help promptly?
16 Christian elders are especially qualified to help us. (Read James 5:13-15.) A young man in Brazil struggled with wrong desires for many years. He relates: “I knew that my thoughts displeased Jehovah, but I was too ashamed to share with others what I was feeling.” Fortunately, a concerned elder in his congregation reached out to him and encouraged him to get help. The young man recalls: “I was surprised at how kind the elders were to me, much kinder and more understanding than I felt I deserved. They listened carefully to my problems. They used the Bible to reaffirm Jehovah’s love for me, and they prayed with me. That made it easier for me to accept the Bible’s counsel that they provided.” Years later, after making good spiritual progress, he says: “I realize now how important it is to seek help instead of trying to carry our burdens alone.”
17 Seeking assistance is essential if the source of any immoral desires is the unclean habit of viewing pornography. The longer the delay in seeking help, the greater the risk that unclean desires will ‘become fertile and give birth to sin’ that will hurt others and bring reproach on Jehovah’s name. The desire to please Jehovah and to remain in the Christian congregation has moved many of his servants to accept loving help.—Jas. 1:15; Ps. 141:5; Heb. 12:5, 6.
BE DETERMINED TO REMAIN CHASTE!
18. What is your determination?
18 As the moral decline of Satan’s world continues, how proud Jehovah must be to find his devoted servants putting forth earnest effort to keep their thoughts clean and to uphold his high moral standards! To that end, may each of us be determined to remain close to Jehovah and accept the guidance he provides by means of his Word and the Christian congregation. Remaining chaste results in satisfaction and peace of mind now. (Ps. 119:5, 6) In the future, after Satan is removed, we will have the privilege of living forever in a world cleansed of his corrupting influence.