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Why Rules Aren’t Enough to Keep You Pure

Why Rules Aren’t Enough to Keep You Pure

Recently I heard from a girl who was struggling to remain pure. She had just started dating a guy long distance. After her first weekend visit, she wrote: The physical temptation is so real. Even the smallest thing will set off a wildfire in my heart. It’s a war I didn’t realize I would struggle with. I wish I had been more prepared to guard our hearts in the most heart-racing moments. I can relate.

My Rule-Making Strategy

Before Trevor and I married, we also dated long distance. I’ll never forget my first visit to spend time with him over Christmas. Unlike this girl above, I did anticipate that it would be tough physically. So I set a couple rules for myself before boarding the plane:

  1. No lying down horizontally.
  2. No kissing on the lips.

And while I technically didn’t break either of those rules on that first visit, I found myself flirting at the very edges of those boundaries, like a hummingbird hovering near sweet nectar.

I kept “the letter of the law” while ignoring “the spirit of the law.” I observed my literal rules but not the intent behind the rules: purity, so I might see and enjoy God (Matt. 5:8).

Don’t just run from sexual immorality, though. Run to Christ.

It was soon blazingly obvious: Rules weren’t going to do the trick of keeping me pure. For example, if I had set a boundary, “I won’t be in a bedroom with him with the door closed,” my flesh would surely have countered, “Okay, I’ll go to the garage instead.”

Pastor and theologian Gerald Hiestand describes this well when he writes, “Every ‘objective’ boundary can be worked around by sin-inspired creativity.”

Colossians 2:20–23 also explains that boundaries and rules aren’t enough to keep us from doing wrong. On our own, they’re not capable of getting to the root issue—they don’t deal a deathblow to our ungodly passions and desires.

What, then, is to be done?

Your Dating Strategy

First, as 1 Corinthians 6:18 says, “Flee from sexual immorality.” Get your running shoes on and start sprinting like mad! Don’t just run from sexual immorality, though. Run to Christ.

  • Flee sexual immorality and fly to Christ, in whom every treasure is found.
  • Ask God to send His Spirit to help you see and despise your sin.
  • Be brutal with your sin. Don’t just exile it; cut its head off!

I’m not saying there is no place in dating for boundaries. But even if you do set rules, don’t rely on them alone to keep you pure. You aren’t strong enough to battle your ungodly passions in your own strength. Run to Christ. Only He is strong enough.

Be brutal with your sin. Don’t just exile it; cut its head off!

How about you? Have you set any rules or boundaries for yourself once you begin dating? If so, what will you do when your flesh doesn’t cooperate with your good intentions? Then what?

Why Rules Aren’t Enough to Keep You Pure was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

How to Tell if He’s a Christian

How to Tell if He’s a Christian

Sweet girl,

I hear a really nice guy has been showing you a lot of attention lately. I know you’ve gone on a couple dates, and you like him a lot. He’s told you he’s a Christian, but you’re not sure how strong he is in his faith.

Maybe he is a Christian; maybe he isn’t. I don’t know. But here are a few thing I do know . . .

Be on the lookout for the fruit of faith. Anyone can claim to be a Christian (just like anyone can claim to be an astrophysicist), but there should be evidence of Christ’s transformative work in His followers. James (Jesus’ brother) puts it like this:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? . . . So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (2:14, 17, emphasis added).

Pay attention to how this guy lives. Is he living like a young man who has been redeemed from the slave block of sin? Or is he still living like a slave to sin (Rom. 6:15–23)? Put him to the test (1 John 4:1). I’ve included one below.

You shouldn’t have to wonder if this guy is a Christian or not. It should be obvious. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

No, he’s not going to be perfect. Yes, we’re all in process. But if he truly has the Holy Spirit of God living in him, he will look more and more like His adoptive Father.

If he truly has the Holy Spirit of God living in him, he will look more and more like His adoptive Father.

Trust me on this one. You don’t want someone who maybe, possibly, probably, hopefully is a Christian. One who just barely squeezes by. You want a thriving Christian. A white-hot Christian. A young man who is well on his way to being able to lead you spiritually.

So here are a few questions to ask about him, straight from 1 John:

  • Does he walk in “light,” or does he walk in “darkness” (1 John 1:6–7)?
  • Does he confess his sins, or does he claim not to have sin in his life (1 John 1:8–10)?
  • Does he keep God’s commandments, or does he live differently than Jesus lived (1 John 2:3–6)?
  • Does he love others, or does he hate others (1 John 2:9–11, 4:7–21)?
  • Does he love the Father, or does he love the world and the things in the world (1 John 2:15–17)?
  • Does he confess that Jesus is God, or does he deny that Jesus is God (1 John 2:22–23)?
  • Does he practice righteousness (1 John 2:29) or does he make a practice of sinning (1 John 3:4–10)?
  • Does he believe that Jesus came to earth and took on human flesh, or does he not believe this (1 John 4:2–3)?
  • Does he have the Spirit of God? The Son of God? Or is he just doing life on his own (1 John 3:24; 4:12)?

If the majority of your answers were on the right side of the comma rather than the left, this guy is not for you, nice as he might seem. God is the treasure in this life—and in the life to come—and you will want a man who will consistently point you to this treasure . . . through his words and his life.

How about you? Are you currently dating or considering dating someone you have doubts about? Where does this post find you today? I’d love to hear from you.

How to Tell if He’s a Christian was originally published on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist

Dear “I’m falling in love with an atheist,”

Please don’t read this letter with a harsh, condemning tone, but with an urgent, pleading one. I’m deeply concerned for you, and I want you to wake up. Let’s start with who a Christian is.

A Christian:

  • is now one with Christ.
  • has been rescued by Jesus out of the darkness of sin and has been brought into His marvelous light—transformed from the inside out.
  • has the spirit of Christ living inside of them.
  • is someone whose entire identity has been refashioned around Christ. Christ is their life; He’s the reason they are now accepted and beloved by God the Father.

An atheist, on the other hand:

  • denies that God even exists
  • hates God, just as you and I did until God graciously opened our eyes to our need to be forgiven and cleansed of our sin, to be reconciled with our Creator, and to be given an “alien” righteousness so we could live with a holy God forever.

An atheist and a Christian are not compatible. How do I know this?

Years ago, the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, urging them not to enter into any kind of a close partnership with an unbeliever. After telling them not to team up with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14), Paul peppered them with the following questions. Read them carefully:

  • How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?
  • How can light live with darkness? 
  • What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?
  • How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever? 
  • And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said:

“I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14–18).

One way we can apply this to our lives today is not to date or marry someone who is not wholeheartedly pursuing and delighting in God. King Solomon made this mistake, and we’re told in 1 Kings 11:4 that,

“His wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the LORD his God.”

You will have to choose between God and this man; You can’t have both. James warns,

“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Let me be clear about this, though. If you choose God over this man, God will not love you any more than He already does. It won’t earn you extra points with God. If you truly trust in Christ Jesus as both your Savior and your Lord, you are already His 100% dearly loved child.

Does that mean that you have the freedom to date this man? No way. Besides, why would you want to, when Christ has revealed Himself to you as the greatest treasure there is—both in this life and for the life to come?

I know you feel strong passion toward this man, but I encourage you to:

  1. Explore whether you truly have been born again, and whether Jesus is both your Savior and your Lord (He can’t be one without being the other).
  2. Tell an older, godly woman about your struggle. Be completely honest with her, and ask her to help hold you accountable.
  3. Break off your relationship with this guy. Remove his number from your phone, do whatever it takes to distance yourself from him.
  4. Pursue Jesus through His Word. Get to know Him. Learn to enjoy Him the way He delights in you.

Praying for you,

paula

I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.