Fighting for Spiritual Purity (Psalm 119:9-11)

Psalm 119:9-11
How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
In Psalm 119:9, we get our first question from the Psalmist and it is quite the question. “How can a young man keep his way pure?” Way to start with a hard one! When we think of purity, I think that we immediately associate it with sexuality. How to stay away from pornography? How do we stay away from premarital relationships? How can we make sure that our children are not exposed to all the dangers that can be found online? Now these are all good questions (we may have a separate post in the future to help answer these questions if there is enough interest) but those aren’t necessarily the questions that the Psalmist is asking. His question includes many of those specific questions, but it is a broader question. The Psalmist doesn’t ask, “How can a young man keep his way sexually pure?” He asks, “How can a young man keep his way pure?” I think that we need to rephrase the question to make it a little easier to understand. The Psalmist seems to be asking, “How can a young man be holy?” How is this accomplished? By guarding it according to the Word of God. If one desires to be holy, there needs to be a desire for God and His word. You won’t find instructions for holiness anywhere outside of God’s word. The pursuit of holiness is a battle. Notice the author says that we are to guide our ways. This means that when sin comes into our lives, we need to go to war with it. If you aren’t guarding yourself from sin, you will only allow it to have its way with you. This leads us over to verse 11. The Psalmist says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Many translations will change the word stored to the word treasured. By treasuring God’s word in our heart, we have a desire to do what is pure and holy. How much of God’s Word do we treasure? Do we value it so much that we cannot function? If it were to disappear from our lives, would we feel that we have lost a great treasure? You fight for the things that you treasure. One of my spiritual heroes is Jonathan Edwards. When Edwards was about 20 years old (maybe as young as 18) he wrote his famous resolutions. What these were, was a list of things that he promised to do in order to give glory to God, live his life in the pursuit of holiness, and to serve as a reminder if he were to ever backslide. One of the resolutions says this: “Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.” Here was Edwards, a young man that was just barely out of his teen years saying, “Even if I might fail to totally destroy my sin, let me never give up in my battle of it. Even if it beats me to the ground, give me the strength to get back up and continue the fight.” Here was a man that treasured God’s Word. I wish I could be half the man that Edwards was! If we want to pursue spiritual purity, we are going to have to fight for holiness. Holiness is not something that we can obtain at one moment. It is something that we keep running after, keep pursuing, keep treasuring. In 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, Paul says, “So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” Paul does not say that he ran aimlessly or he disciplined his body. He uses the present tense of the words. Paul was still running! He was still disciplining himself! The greatest preacher in history knew that holiness was an ongoing battle!  Paul did not stop pursuing purity, he never once stopped pursuing holiness. Jerry Bridges has an excellent book called, The Pursuit of Holiness, and he writes these words: “The pursuit of holiness is a joint venture between God and the Christian. No one can attain any degree of holiness without God working in his life, but just as surely no one will attain it without effort on his own part.” If we want to be holy, we need to work for it. God is always faithful on His part in our pursuit of holiness. If we pursue it, we will find it, but no one ever finds anything if they aren’t actively looking for it. Do you want to be pure? Do you want to be holy? Guard the treasure of God’s word with your whole heart. That is an excellent place to start.
(Let us know in the comments if you are interested in a blog post or a video on pursuing sexual purity.)
Additional Resources:
If you are interested in reading all of the resolutions that Jonathan Edwards made as a young man, the following link is provided. The Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards-
The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges-