Purity before marriage is a goal many have desired, yet failed to reach. They know the Lord desires it as well; they know their parents hope for it; they know the church expects it. They, themselves often have the goal, yet still they fall. Why?
We can think of a million excuses to yield to our own desires and many hold to these after they have fallen. We can argue that our sociality is to blame, our entertainment tempts us, our self control is weak. These are reasons sure enough, but they are also excuses we create to make ourselves feel less guilty. They comfort us in our time of failure, yet they are not the true reason; rather they are a symptom of the true reason, which is rarely discussed.
The reason lays within passages like Psalms 119:9-10 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” These verses, on the surface, seem to tell us how to clean up our act, but if we look deeper, into the meaning of the words themselves, in Hebrew or Greek, depending on the testament we are reading, we see a greater span of meaning, a deeper, richer understanding.
We don't need a degree or even have to know the two languages to understand what God is telling us. We need only a dictionary. Take the two verses and look up the words and discovery is yours! For this example lets take each word or phrase one by one. While this is not always necessary, it can be enlightening and surprising at times. The preconceived ideas of what English words mean is not always what the passage is saying. Take, for example, Psalms 119:15 “I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.” When we read the word respect, due to our English understanding, we think of honor or admiration or a regard for one's wishes or traditions. Yet, the word means something completely different in the verse. When you look up Hebrew and Greek words in a concordance referring to the word in the Bible, each word has a number. The same English word can have more than one number depending upon the original word used and the English word given at the time of translation. H5027 or Hebrew word number 5027 is the Hebrew word for respect in Psalms 119:15 and here is the meaning: A primitive root; to scan, that is, look intently at; by implication to regard with pleasure, favor or care:—(cause to) behold, consider, look (down), regard, have respect, see. So Psalms 119:15 actually reads : “I will meditate in thy precepts, and look intently at, considering, with great pleasure, unto thy ways.” (Definition underlined). It brings a bit more meaning than our English word respect, don't you think? We only looked at one word in that verse, what about the words meditate, precepts or ways. They can mean what we think they do according to our understanding of English or they may have a richer depth, if we look them up the original language! Again the hard work is done, the words are all numbered both for the Hebrew and the Greek.
I learned this the hard way, in a debate with someone over the meaning of a passage and was I humbled when the verse meant much more then I perceived by knowing only the English definitions. I'm glad I learn it early on and it has brought awe to my studies of the Word. The detail God has given us through His Word is often washed away in translation! Maybe this is why God instructs is to seek Him with our whole heart as if we were looking for a hidden or buried treasure. If we merely look on the surface we miss the jewels below. The deeper with dig, the rarer the find, the richer the reward.
Returning to the point at hand: Psalms 119:9-10 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” Each Hebrew word is below. Some definitions will yield what we thought, some will have a bit more clarity and others will amaze us in a depth of understanding we didn't fathom. The passage is rewritten using the definitions, which yields a deeper insight following the definitions:
Wow, as mentioned, some definitions yield great depth, some a bit more understanding and others, what we already understood the English word to mean. Now take the verse into consideration with the above knowledge:
Psalms 119: 9-10 – “How, when and whereby shall a young person be translucent, clean and pure on the pathway or road as a traveller? By taking guard to protect and attend to, by creating a hedge or wall, implying protection, being careful to observe and preserve one's self as a watch-person on the lookout according to and by the keeping of God's Word: His commandments, promises, sayings, oracles and thoughts. With all, every part, of one's heart, feelings, will, intellect, understanding and wisdom to frequently follow and pursue diligently inquiring searching and seeking out the Lord our God: asking not to be lead astray, to mistake or cause another to go astray through ignorance from God's commandments, laws, ordinances and precepts.”
For me, this brings to mind a clearer more pointed understanding of the passage. Now take the verses and do as they instruct incorporating them into our daily lives. How does a person remain pure in a society and entertainment world that is consumed with sex? Observe what is and needs to done to protect one's self from outside influences that we may not have control over: I, as a teen, observed my friends and their girlfriends. The story was similar and repetitive. Guy and gal get to together; it was new and exciting. Soon the newness was gone and the girlfriends would complain that their boyfriends weren't really listening to them. The guy would push for more and more physical intimacy. The more physical the relationship got, the less communication there was. I observed also, the Lord's commandment to save sex for marriage. I then, after having made the error of placing my hand up a girl's blouse, realized, I needed a plan to stop that behavior from reoccurring or escalating. While we did not have sex and I can, by God's mercy, truthfully make the claim of still being a virgin at the time of this writing, being 41 years of age. I knew that the more physical I became with a girl, the more, I was tempted to want and do more.
Therefore, I made an action plan: never be alone with a woman in her room or home for that matter. Do “dating” as a group event, you'd be amazed at how fast you find out who you do and don't want to be with: everyone is more relaxed in a group setting. When they are on a one and one date, with the one they want to impress, you're not necessarily seeing the true person; you see who they think you want to see. I also took an extreme stand, which I still believe in today: save not only sex for marriage, but save your lips for your first kiss on the wedding day! This alone can reduces a lot of temptations! Clearly not the temptation to kiss, but the temptations that follow. Plus, it honors your future spouse in a special way! It also honors those around you. If you “date” even just 10 people in your life before you marry and you do with them what you will, you are doing so with the future spouses of 9 other people. Would you honesty want someone else all over your spouse? Not to mention, you're being faithful to one person, before you even met or marry and you're honoring Scripture: 1 Timothy 5:1-2 “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” You may kiss your siblings, but not as you would your future mate, right? Honor them and allow them to honor their future spouses too!
Remaining pure, is a commandment of God. To this, there is no debate! How we do it, is up to each of us and subject to the Lord's leading, of course. My way, is one way, there are others. The key, is to do so by following God and being consumed with His Word so that we obey Him and resist temptation. Jesus was an example to us on how to live for God while on earth. He overcame temptation by having the Word of God in his heart! Matthew 4:1-11 shows us how Jesus overcame temptation: He quoted Scripture and He was so consumed by God and God's will for His life that He resisted the Devil: James 4:7 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Bottom line: It's up to us to live our lives honorably before the Lord our God and the world around us. They are ever watching us to see if we are Christ-like or like them. We do this by living by the Spirit rather than the flesh! We are without excuse, for Christ