Purity is not a trophy that you can fight for. If your relationship or spiritual life is all about achieving a pure standard, you’ll beat yourself up into miserable cycles of disappointment and defeat. You’ll see your faith in terms of “clean” and “dirty” and “let’s be good.” You’ll constantly ask why you’re not measuring up: and it’s because you were never meant to.
Jesus preempted our failure at “purity” and everything else by taking our mess to the cross.
So rather, purity is a gift given by God. It’s from this gift, not for it, that we gratefully act upon God’s life-giving law. Not because we’re trying to earn anything, but because God has already begun to work His power through you. It’s a tougher way, and often counter-intuitive: but it’s better, and worth it.
If you can bask in the gift you’ve already received instead of striving to achieve it: then a healthy heart can follow. It will not be works-driven, but other-centered and grace-empowered. It is both a pursuit from and a pursuit forward at the same time. Rather than slaving away to destroy our own natural impulses, God has handed us the keys to His mansion and said —
“You are clean already. You are invited. You are family. Now use this gift of purity for your maximum possible joy. Get to know the opposite sex for who they are instead of what they can give you. View them not as vehicles or obstacles, but human beings. You can have the best sex ever, in marriage, because this bond is forged by an ocean-deep commitment of lifelong promise as you travel through ups and downs on the greatest adventure of your life. That sort of sex will never be superficial or driven by performer’s paranoia.
“You can do this because I have made you pure through My Son, I have declared you new, you’re a re-creation, and I have set you free for joy. If you are single, hang on. If you are lonely, don’t fear. If you are struggling, I understand. I made you with this desire not to suppress you, but to pinpoint it for the exact purpose of divine intoxicating pleasure. It can be dangerous, but used My Way, it’s about as close to Heaven as you can get.”
Our self-control then is not merely running from lesser things, but to run towards better. God is always doing things like that.