31 Days of Purity

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day twenty-five:

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

You may be asking, “What in the world does forgiving others have to do with 31 days of purity”? It has everything to do with personal purity. Even when you are neck-deep in sin, or even better, deeply engaged in the battle against sin, the bitter roots of unforgiveness can be spreading throughout your heart. God’s Word tells us that the one who is forgiven much must also be so willing and eager to forgive others. It is entirely possible that as you’ve indulged in sexual impurity you have been carrying around a secret bitterness toward the objects of your disordered affections. Or perhaps you’ve been sinned against sexually in the past and the bitterness has grown.

As you have sought forgiveness from God for your sexual sin, have you considered your need to forgive others? Have you forgiven your dad for exposing you to that pornographic magazine when you were only a little boy? What about the bitterness you may feel toward the people who produced the pornography in the first place, or the people who have marketed it so effectively so they’ve tripped you up again and again? While you can and should see them as enemies to the gospel and enemies to personal holiness, Jesus told us to pray for our enemies and to forgive all those who have asked for it. Are you willing to forgive? Are you willing to let go of the bitterness? Will you, who have been forgiven so great a debt, still hold another person’s sin against him?

Father, you have forgiven me of a debt that I could not pay. I have sinned against you more than others have sinned against me, and yet I harbor feelings of bitterness and unforgiveness. Reveal to my heart the places where I have not forgiven others and give me the grace to forgive them if and when they ask. I pray that you would bless those that have done me harm. Restore my bitter heart with a heart of deep forgiveness and appreciation for your grace. Amen. 

What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Todays devotional was prepared by Mike Leake. Mike is associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Jasper, IN. He and his wife, Nikki have 2 children (Isaiah and Hannah). Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and regularly blogs at mikeleake.net.

31 Days of Purity

Through the month of March, I am inviting you to 31 Days of Purity—thirty-one days of thinking about and praying for sexual purity. Each day features a short passage of Scripture, a reflection on that passage, and a brief prayer. Here is day fourteen:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2, ESV)

God’s Word cuts and cuts deep. This kind of cutting doesn’t always feel like a blessing to those who are living in impurity. It hurts. It convicts. It wounds as it penetrates our hearts and exposes our sin. God’s Word lays us bare before Yahweh. But it also strengthens and sustains. God’s Word is the weapon that He wields (and that we wield) in our fight against impurity. It is through His powerful Word that mountains melt like wax. It was through His powerful Word that your heart came alive. And it will be through His powerful Word that our impure hearts will be transformed into the likeness of His Son.

If we want a passion for God, it will only come through a passion for God’s Word. If we want to be rescued from the land of scoffers and the counsel of the wicked, then we’ll want to position ourselves under God’s Word. It is here that our delight in God will grow. Therefore, let us pray that the Lord would give us an abiding passion for His Word.

Father, we thank you for your Word. Thought it slays me I know that it also restores me. I know that naturally I do not have a passion for your Word. I will not drift into reading and meditating upon your Word. I certainly will not naturally treasure it. But through your Spirit the Word will be a delight to my heart. So, God I pray that you would incline my heart to you. Give me an abiding passion for your Word, a passion unlike any I have known before. Use your Word to conquer my sin and unbelief. 


What Now? Consider joining our 31 Days of Purity Facebook group. It is optional, but you will find it a good place to go for discussion and encouragement. (Note: that Facebook group is for men only; here is one for Women Supporting Men).

Todays devotional was prepared by Mike Leake. Mike is associate pastor of First Baptist Church of Jasper, IN. He and his wife, Nikki have 2 children (Isaiah and Hannah). Mike is the author of Torn to Heal and regularly blogs at mikeleake.net.

I hear it so, so often: “Help! My kids are looking at porn!” A few days ago one mom wrote to say that she and her husband had allowed their young teenaged boys access to the Internet to play an online video game, thinking they had taught and trained the boys well enough that they would be able to resist whatever temptation they encountered out there. They were wrong, and had just learned that for the past four months, when mom and dad left the house for a date or to run some errands, the boys had been looking at pornography. What should they do? How should they respond?

I have dedicated a lot of attention over the past several years to the battle against pornography and would like to offer a two-part answer. Today I will address the immediate response and tomorrow I want to help you put together a plan that will protect your family in the future, both preventing those who want to look at porn and protecting those who don’t yet know that it exists.

For today, here are some suggestions for how to respond when you learn that your children have been looking at or looking for pornography.

Don’t Despair

Different parents react in different ways when it comes to their children and pornography. Some treat it in a matter-of-fact manner while others respond with more emotion and can find themselves on the brink of utter despair. Guard yourself against those depths of despair. While this situation is difficult and painful, it does not mean the world is ending; it does not necessarily mean your children are unsaved and certainly does not mean they are unsaveable. By looking at porn they have opened up a window to their heart and you now have the opportunity to address it in a helpful way. Despair will only interfere with your ability to do this effectively.

Be Careful with Shame

There may be a tendency to compound shame upon shame, to want to ensure that your kids are feeling the shame they ought to feel. But be careful with shame. Our goal is to have the Holy Spirit convict your children of their guilt more than to have mom and dad make them feel a deep shame. It is very possible that you are feeling embarrassed or feeling a sense of failure as a parent, and this may lead you to be harsher than you ought to be. Your goal is not to convict your children of their shame before mom and dad, but to assist the Holy Spirit as he convicts them of their guilt before God.

Ask Questions

Whatever else you do, you need to communicate with your kids. It is easy for a parent to assume he knows why his children have been looking at pornography, but I’ve learned over the years that there are a host of reasons. Some children look at porn purely out of lust and curiosity; some do it primarily to fuel masturbation; some do it out of a desire to be disobedient and act out against the authority figures in their life; some do it out of a response to abuse they’ve suffered in the past. Where the temptation will be to bludgeon your children with reasons they should not look at porn, your time will be spent far more effectively if you are able to slow down, ask lots of questions, and engage them in conversation. Find out what the allure is. Find out what need it seems to be meeting. Prepare for uncomfortable discussions about topics you don’t want to discuss, like masturbation and even abuse. Don’t let their bad behavior distract you from addressing their hearts.

Go to the Gospel

I said earlier that by looking at pornography your children have opened up a window into their hearts. They’ve opened it up and shone a spotlight onto a particular sin. They’ve shown that they are dissatisfied, that they are lustful, that they are disobedient to God and to their parents. And that’s just who the gospel is for—for the dissatisfied and lustful and disobedient. All of this presents a powerful opportunity to get straight to the gospel. The gospel offers them forgiveness, but it also offers them hope that they can overcome this sin, that they can be rescued from the guilt of the sin, that they can find a deeper and more lasting satisfaction than what pornography promises. As always, the heart is the heart of the matter.

Plead With Them

I believe that as a parent you have many opportunities to teach your children, but only a few opportunities to really plead with them. This is a time to plead with them, to plead for their lives and to plead for their souls. You are older and wiser than your children, you understand the Bible more than your children, and you know the long-term cost of a commitment to sexual sin. If ever there is a time to plead with them for their life and for their souls, this is it. Allow Solomon to give you your words:

And now, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
and at the end of your life you groan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say, “How I hated discipline,
and my heart despised reproof!
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.” (Proverbs 5:6-14)

You are battling not just for personal purity, but for their lives. Plead with them to save their lives and to save their souls!

Take Measured Action

By looking at pornography your children have violated your trust and shown themselves unworthy of it. That trust will need to be earned and regained over a period of time as they prove themselves responsible and obedient. You will need to be actively involved in training your children to use their privileges well and to use the Internet and their digital devices without this kind of behavior. You need a plan that will account for their devices and their lack of Christian character. I will turn to this plan tomorrow.

Beat that Bad Mood

Over the weekend I came across a few different articles on a common theme: grumpiness. These were articles meant to offer guidance in those times—those inevitable times—when you’re in a bad mood and just can’t break out. While the articles had some helpful advice, they had this in common: They dealt with symptoms rather than root cause. They dealt with overcoming the manifestations of grumpiness instead of looking for the heart of grumpiness. Christians can do better.

I know a thing or two about bad moods. I am usually an upbeat person, but on a regular basis am forced to deal with a pretty significant case of the grumpies. I know how difficult it is to snap out of that bad mood. But even though it may be difficult, it is not impossible. Here’s how to beat that bad mood:

Go to the Gospel

If there is ever a time to preach the gospel to yourself, this is it. Reminding yourself of the gospel is the ultimate reality check. Reminding yourself of the gospel, and allowing those truths to cross your mind and heart, is reminding yourself of the deepest realities of the universe. You will remind yourself that you are a sinful person who deserves God’s wrath, that God himself entered this world as a man, that he bore all your sin and condemnation, that he suffered the wrath of God on your account, that he died the death you deserve, that he rose in triumph, and that all of his righteousness has been given to you. Some people say that when you’re grumpy you ought to meditate. They’re exactly right, except that instead of that Eastern mind-emptying meditation, you need that Christian mind-filling meditation, where you deliberately fill your mind with the truth of the gospel.

Call It What It Is

Having preached the gospel to yourself, you are now in a place to call that grumpiness what it is. It is sin. It is exactly the kind of sin Jesus had to die for. There is never an excuse for being grumpy. To be grumpy is to be bad-tempered and sulky, surly and peevish. You get grumpy when life has not gone the way you wanted it to, when others have interrupted your plans for a peaceful and easy life, when others have somehow irritated you. You may even just wake up grumpy for what appears to be no reason at all. Grumpiness works itself out in your mind, so you keep chewing over ways you have been wronged. You become irritable and short-tempered. You snap at others and excuse yourself. There is a category of righteous anger (“Be angry and do not sin,” says Ephesians 4:26), but there is never righteous grumpiness. Jesus was angry and indignant in the face of moneychangers in the temple and in the face of disciples who would tell children to get lost. But he wasn’t grumpy. Grumpiness is sin, plain and simple.

Give It a Name

You have acknowledged that your grumpiness is sin. That’s a great first step, but sin is a general term. You should now advance one step farther and give that sin a biblical name. Grumpiness isn’t a term the Bible uses, so it is far better to go with irritability, impatience, or unrighteous anger. Maybe all three. Those are the ways the Bible describes your grumpiness and in every case it describes it as sin. You may want to dress it up in all kinds of pretty clothes (“I’m just struggling right now” or “It’s fine, I’m just in a bad place”), but in the end it is simply one or more of those sins. By naming grumpiness as sin—the sin of unrighteous anger, or the sin of irritability, or the sin of impatience—you have allowed yourself no excuse and have put yourself in a position to deal with it properly. And the proper way to deal with it is to ask God’s forgiveness for it.

Note: I know this all sounds rather formal and wooden, but all three of these steps can be accomplished in all of ten seconds. It may be worth taking longer, especially when grumpiness becomes a pattern, but in the heat of the battle, this kind of thinking can be done in a very short time. 

Go to the Source

You have gone to the gospel, you have named that sin what it is, and you have asked forgiveness for it. Now is the time to go to the source, to try to establish the reason for that grumpiness. It may be that you have been allowing yourself to meditate on what is ugly and sinful and that your sinful mood is related to your sinful thoughts. It may be that someone has sinned against you. It may be that you have sinned against your child or your spouse. It may be that pride is at the cause, and that your grumpiness is a response to embarrassment or a response to being overlooked. It may be that you had a dream in the night and somehow your brain is confusing that dream with reality. (Am I the only one this happens to?) It may even be that you will never find a source. But if and when you do find that source, you also find a clear means of response or restitution—an apology (when you have sinned against someone), a confrontation (when you have been sinned against), a good laugh at yourself (when you realize that you are in a bad mood only because your pride has been wounded).

Counter Sin with Truth

The way to beat error—the kind of error that leads to grumpiness—is to counter it with truth. Truth is always more powerful than error. The problem with grumpiness is that it is so, so difficult to reason yourself out of it. In your bad mood you need to act contrary to the way you feel. When you feel grumpy, it is the time to act in truthful, joyful ways and to trust that your feelings will follow your actions. Some can do this by simply meditating on what is true. But for many others, extra help is needed, and here we have help: Truth plus music is a powerful combination. It’s a combination that can so easily turn the heart in a whole new direction. So sing! Sing of what is true—of God and the gospel and the work of Christ. And then act in godly, truthful ways.

The sin of grumpiness, like every other sin, is an issue of the heart. Our temptation is always to deal with the manifestations rather than the root. The best and most lasting way of beating that bad mood is always to go to the heart and to deal with the deepest root cause.

Valley Of Vision
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Over the past few months I have enjoyed exploring some theological and historical themes and I have been posting the results here every Sunday morning. I hope to begin a new series next week called “The False Teachers.” The series will look at some of church history’s notorious false teachers, stretching from ancient times to today.

This morning, though, I found myself enjoying this prayer from The Valley of Vision and wanted to share it because it is ideal for the Lord’s Day. Did you know Banner of Truth has the whole of Valley of Vision at their site? (Simply visit, then scroll down and look in the right sidebar.)

This is a sweet prayer; maybe it be a prayer shared between you to your God today…

O God, My Exceeding Joy,
Singing thy praises uplifts my heart,
for thou art a fountain of delight,
and dost bless the soul that joys in thee.
But because of my heart’s rebellion
I cannot always praise thee as I ought;
Yet I will at all times rest myself in
thy excellences, goodness, and loving-kindness.
Thou art in Jesus the object of inexpressible joy,
and I take exceeding pleasure in the thought
of thee.
But Lord, I am sometimes thy enemy;
my nature revolts and wanders from thee.
Though thou hast renewed me,
yet evil corruptions urge me still to oppose thee.
Help me to extol thee with entire heart-submission,
to be diligent in self-examination,
to ask myself
whether I am truly born again,
whether my spirit is the spirit of thy children,
whether my griefs are those that tear
repenting hearts,
whether my joys are the joys of faith,
whether my confidence in Christ works
by love and purifies the soul.
Give me the sweet results of faith,
in my secret character, and in my public life.
Cast cords of love around my heart,
then hold me and never let me go.
May the Saviour’s wounds sway me more
than the sceptre of princes.
Let me love thee in a love that covers
and swallows up all,
that I may not violate my chaste union
with the beloved;
There is much unconquered territory
in my nature,
scourge out the buyers and sellers
of my soul’s temple,
and give me in return pure desires,
and longings after perfect holiness.