“Cleanse your hands, . . . and purify your hearts.”
1. What do many people think is normal?
WE LIVE in a very immoral world. For example, many people think that it is normal to be a homosexual or to have sex with someone they are not married to. Movies, books, songs, and advertisements are full of sexual immorality. (Psalm 12:8) But Jehovah can help us to live in a way that pleases him. We can be chaste, or pure, in a world that is very immoral.
2, 3. (a) Why must we reject wrong desires? (b) What will we discuss in this article?
2 To please Jehovah, we must reject everything that he hates. But because we are imperfect, we may be attracted to immorality, like fish attracted to bait. If we start having immoral thoughts, we must immediately reject them. If we do not, the immoral desire will become so strong that when we have the opportunity to sin, we may do so. It is just as the Bible says: “The desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin.”
3 A wrong desire can grow inside our heart. That is why we should be very careful about what we start to desire. If we reject wrong desires, we will avoid sexual immorality and its bad results. (Galatians 5:16) In this article, we will discuss three things that will help us to fight wrong desires: our friendship with Jehovah, the counsel from his Word, and the help from mature Christians.
“DRAW CLOSE TO GOD”
4. Why is it important for us to draw close to Jehovah?
4 The Bible tells those who want to “draw close to God”: “Cleanse your hands” and “purify your hearts.” (James 4:8) When Jehovah is our best Friend, we not only want our actions to please him but we also want our thoughts to please him. If our thoughts are chaste and pure, then our heart will also be pure. (Psalm 24:3, 4; 51:6; Philippians 4:8) Jehovah understands that we are imperfect and that we may start thinking about immoral things. But because we do not want to sadden Jehovah, we do all we can to reject wrong thoughts. (Genesis 6:5, 6) We do everything we can to keep our thoughts chaste.
5, 6. How can prayer help us fight immoral desires?
5 Jehovah will help us fight immoral thoughts when we keep praying for his help. He gives us his holy spirit so that we have the strength to remain chaste. In our prayers, we can tell Jehovah that we want our thoughts to please him. (Psalm 19:14) We humbly ask him to see if there are any harmful desires in our heart that could make us sin. (Psalm 139:23, 24) Keep asking Jehovah to help you to reject immorality and to do what is right even when it is difficult.
6 Before learning about Jehovah, we may have liked doing things that he does not approve of, and we may still be fighting these wrong desires. But Jehovah can help us change and do what pleases him. For example, after King David had sexual relations with Bath-sheba, he repented and begged Jehovah to give him “a pure heart” and to help him be obedient. (Psalm 51:10, 12) So if we had strong immoral desires in the past and are still fighting them, Jehovah can help us to have an even stronger desire to obey him and to do what is right. He can help us to control our imperfect thoughts.
“BECOME DOERS OF THE WORD”
7. How can God’s Word help us to reject immoral thoughts?
7 Jehovah can answer our prayers for help by means of his Word, the Bible. In it, we find God’s wisdom, which is pure. (James 3:17) When we read the Bible daily, we fill our mind with pure thoughts. (Psalm 19:7, 11; 119:9, 11) Also in the Bible, there are examples and warnings that help us to reject immoral thoughts and desires.
8, 9. (a) Why did one young man have sexual relations with an immoral woman? (b) What situations can the example in Proverbs chapter 7 help us avoid?
8 At Proverbs 5:8, God’s Word warns us to stay away from immorality. In Proverbs chapter 7, we read the story of a young man who went for a walk at night near the house of an immoral woman. The woman was on the street corner, “dressed like a prostitute.” She walked up to him, grabbed him, kissed him, and said things that created wrong desires in him. He did not reject those desires, and as a result, he had sexual relations with her. Even though he did not plan to sin, he did. Then he had to live with the terrible results. If he had understood the danger, he would have stayed far away from her!
9 Like that young man, we could make poor decisions because we do not understand the danger. For example, at night, some television channels show immoral programs, so it could be dangerous to keep changing the channels just to see what is on TV. It could also be dangerous to click on Internet links without knowing where they lead to, as well as to visit chat rooms or Web sites that include immoral advertisements and links to pornography. In these situations, what we look at can make us have immoral desires, and this can lead us to disobey Jehovah.
10. Why is flirting dangerous? (See opening picture.)
10 The Bible also tells us how men and women should treat one another. (Read 1 Timothy 5:2.) Christians give romantic attention to only their marriage mate or to someone they want to marry. They do not flirt. Some may think that behaving in a romantic way with someone, such as with their body movements, gestures, or glances, is harmless as long as they are not touching. But when two people flirt with each other, they can start having immoral thoughts, and this can lead to sexual immorality. It has happened before, and it can happen again.
11. What lesson do we learn from Joseph?
11 Joseph is a good example for us. Potiphar’s wife tried to tempt Joseph to have sex with her. He rejected her, but she did not stop trying to tempt him. Every day she asked Joseph “to remain with her.” (Genesis 39:7, 8, 10) One Bible scholar explained that Potiphar’s wife hoped that if they were alone, Joseph would desire her. Joseph was determined never to respond to her flirting, and he did not flirt with her. Thus, he did not let wrong desires grow in his heart. And when she grabbed Joseph’s garment and tried to force him to have sexual relations with her, he immediately “left his garment in her hand and fled outside.”
12. How do we know that what we look at can affect our heart?
12 Jesus warned that what we look at can affect our heart and create wrong sexual desires. He said: “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.” (Matthew 5:28) This is what happened to King David. “From the rooftop he saw a woman bathing,” but he did not stop looking at her and thinking about her. (2 Samuel 11:2) Even though she was another man’s wife, he started to desire her and had sexual relations with her.
13. Why do we need to make “a covenant” with our eyes, and how do we do that?
13 If we want to reject immoral thoughts, we need to follow Job’s example. He said: “I have made a covenant with my eyes.” (Job 31:1, 7, 9) Like Job, we can decide never to think in an immoral way about someone we look at. And if we see a sexual picture on a computer screen, an advertising sign, a magazine, or anywhere else, we will immediately look away.
14. What must we do to remain chaste?
14 When you think about what we have discussed, you may realize that you need to do more to fight against immoral desires. If you need to make changes, make them immediately! When you obey what Jehovah says, you can avoid sexual immorality and remain chaste.
“CALL THE ELDERS”
15. If we are finding it hard to fight wrong desires, why is it important to ask for help?
15 If you find it hard to fight wrong desires, talk to someone in the congregation who has been serving Jehovah for a long time and who can give you good advice from God’s Word. It may not be easy for you to talk about your personal problems with others, but it is important to ask for help. (Proverbs 18:1; Hebrews 3:12, 13) Mature Christians can help you to realize what changes you need to make. Then make those changes so that you can keep Jehovah as your Friend.
16, 17. (a) How can the elders help those who find it hard to fight immoral desires? Give an example. (b) Why is it important for those who view pornography to ask for help immediately?
16 The elders in our congregation are especially qualified to help us. (Read James 5:13-15.) For many years, a young man in Brazil found it hard to fight wrong desires. He says: “I knew that my thoughts displeased Jehovah, but I was too ashamed to share with others what I was feeling.” An elder realized that the young man needed help and encouraged him to let the elders help him. The young man says: “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.” After strengthening his relationship with Jehovah, he says: “I realize now how important it is to seek help instead of trying to carry our burdens alone.”
17 If you have the habit of viewing pornography, you should ask for help immediately. The longer you wait to ask for help, the greater the danger that you will commit sexual immorality. Then you will hurt others and may cause people to speak badly about Jehovah. Many have asked the elders for help and have accepted their counsel in order to please Jehovah and remain in the Christian congregation.
BE DETERMINED TO REMAIN CHASTE!
18. What are you determined to do?
18 Satan’s world is getting more and more immoral. But Jehovah’s servants work hard to keep their thoughts pure and to be chaste. Jehovah is very proud of these Christians. Let us stay close to Jehovah and follow the counsel we get from his Word and the Christian congregation. When we do this, we will be happy and have a clean conscience. (Psalm 119:5, 6) And in the future, after Satan is removed, we will live forever in God’s clean new world.