“Confessing your sins is great, confessing your temptations is even greater" - Randy Alcorn
This article is a summary of the book The Purity Principle by Randy Alcorn. The book discusses sexual purity, why is important to maintain sexual purity and how we can achieve the same. Randy quotes the scripture as and when required in order to authenticate the message he wants to convey to the reader through this book. Nobody is free from temptations. Even pastors are prone to temptations. Throughout the book, Randy shares his own experiences and thus the reader is able to connect with the author.
The book begins with a brief account of the lives of various people such as Eric and Tiffany (fictitious names, probably) who have pursued immoral, impure paths of life and ended up with disastrous results. Although God forgave their mistakes, they had reached a point of no return in their lives. This was because, as Randy asserts, punishment is built into sins we commit. Randy views purity as wise and impurity as stupidity.
Sin can be of various types. However sexual sin is different from other kinds of sin. Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities destroyed by God, had fallen deeply into sexual sin. Paul reiterates this in his letters to the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:18) and the Thessalonians (1 Thess 4: 3-8). An interesting point to note is that sex is more of what you are, rather than what you do. Sex defines us. Thus it is important to purify ourselves by keeping away from sexual sin. Also, by accepting Jesus as the Christ, we were bought at a price and hence, our body belongs to God (1 Cor 6:19-20). As a result, we cannot do anything that we please with our body.
When it comes to temptations, Christians are the most vulnerable because of the constant threat from the devil. It is important to be careful about the mind to maintain purity. Sometimes, it is better to avoid temptation rather than resist temptation. Notice how avoid is different from resist. If we keep resisting, we are subjecting ourselves to the temptation. On the other hand, when we avoid temptations, we are staying away from them altogether.
Randy lists down various aspects of life where it is necessary to maintain a pure mind and body and thereby follow the purity principle. In spite of the wickedness of larger sins such as infidelity, it is important to focus on the lesser ones that feed our minds on a daily basis in the form of media, peers, novels, movies and arts. For example, if we regularly watch a TV programme that shows immoral content then avoid it. We live in an era where media and technology (e.g. Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram) can control our lives immensely. We have to have a prudent approach towards the manner in which we use these resources. Randy contrasts his words with what Jesus instructed in Mathew 5:29. Randy claims that whatever he instructed is nothing radical compared to Jesus’ command.
Randy makes it a point to handle the cases of singles, and married couples differently. Single, unmarried men and women, should prepare themselves for their marriage. Randy explores various issues related to dating, masturbation, and peer pressure. Now for married couples and parents, Randy observes that umpteen marriages have suffered due to dishonesty by either of the partners. Even after entering into marriage, we are not free from sexual temptations. It is necessary for couples to be open with each other about everything, especially sexual temptations, and request prayers from one another.
The book concludes with a discussion on maintaining accountability with others. Randy recalls how on one occasion he underwent temptation and how the temptation vanished after a phone call with his friend. Thus, we are in a constant battle with the devil. However, this is a battle that we can win. It is indeed possible to avoid temptations and thereby maintain sexual purity and holiness.
And that's what The Purity Principle is all about!