There's A Difference... Abstinence v. Purity
Updated: Mar 9
I could not wait to get this blog out! God totally wrecked me with this topic!
Today I’m going to break down the difference between abstinence and purity for you! Grab your notebooks because this is a good one!
“Walk in purity, not just abstinence.”
This all came about after I saw an IG post from George Hines, Jr. (@georgehinesjr), he was explaining why you don’t need to “test drive” your partner before marrying them. At the end of his explanation, he urged viewers to “walk in purity, not just abstinence”. You’re probably thinking, ‘what’s the difference?’ I wondered the same thing!
I started studying and God poured out so much revelation. I want to share the info He gave that brought conviction, a renewed mind, and a guarded heart!
Let’s start by breaking down the difference between celibacy, abstinence, and purity.
3 words used interchangeably but with 3 distinct meanings.
Celibacy is the state of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations. It is a lifelong commitment, historically practiced by clergymen.
Abstinence is the practice of restraining oneself from indulging in something - this is could be anything. It’s usually a temporary commitment or connected to a specific time frame.
Purity is freedom from contamination, adulteration; freedom from immorality of a sexual nature. To be “pure” means to be set apart and sanctified. It is an eternal commitment reflective of your relationship with God and determination to honor Him by the way you honor yourself and others.
I’ll make the general assumption that most of you are not practicing celibacy and you’re looking forward to participating in “active worship” as Jackie Hill Perry calls it, but if you are, more power to you. Either way, keep reading because this message is for you too!
"Abstinence is temporal. Purity is eternal."
Now on to the good stuff! Here's the difference between Abstinence and Purity as it pertains to sex.
Abstinence is a physical choice and it is maintained physically. Meaning, you’re only restricting yourself from the physical act but have no mental or spiritual boundaries in place. Though you’re not physically having sex, you may still be lusting after people, thinking about having sex with them, coveting others, pursuing opportunities opposite to the standard you’re to be upholding. Abstinence is commonly tied to a religious belief, but it’s not restricted by it. Those practicing abstinence may just be doing so for a certain amount of time. For example, until they meet “the right one.” Until 90 days are up. Until marriage. Until they feel comfortable enough with a person. Or simply until they don’t want to abstain anymore. The end goal is simply to “make it”.
Purity, on the other hand, is a spiritual choice that is maintained spiritually, but the result is spiritual and physical. When practicing purity, we use spiritual strength to maintain physical abstinence. We’re renewing our minds with the Word of God. Keeping ourselves far away from temptations, not pushing the envelope to see how close we can get to it the fire before getting burned. We’re seeking wise counsel on how to remain pure. Choosing purity is choosing to honor God’s command of preserving sex for marriage, but more importantly, it’s choosing to live holy. Purity is faithful love, it doesn’t take advantage of others, it has clear boundaries in place. It requires intentionality - it is a heart posture. Unlike abstinence, even after you become sexually active you can still operate in purity because your heart, mind, spirit, and soul are focused on the things of God. Abstinence is temporal. Purity is eternal.
"What the world believes 'isn’t a big deal', will tip the scale into sin for a follower of Jesus."
Abstinence says, “I never acted on my inappropriate thoughts, no one knows but me and it’s ok.”
Purity says, “According to Jesus, Even looking or fantasizing at others lustfully means I’ve already committed adultery! So I’m held accountable even for my thoughts!”
Matthew 5:28 says, "But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Abstinence says, “Well, all we did was fondle each other, I know people who actually went all the way, but we didn’t!”
Purity says, “Why are you comparing yourself to those who disobey God?! God’s desire is for you to be sanctified and holy, to have self-control and honor. To be SET APART.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God….”
Abstinence says, ”It’s just masturbation. Oral is not the real thing. Sexting is ok.
We’re just touching. If I can’t have sex, we’re at least going to make out!
Purity says, “I’m going to stay as far away from sin as possible!
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Friends, I want to educate you all so that you can be aware of the enemy’s schemes against you - he’s the master of deception and comes in ever so subtly so that we don’t even recognize him. What the world believes isn’t a big deal, will tip the scale into sin for a follower of Jesus.
I want us to not only be aware of the danger of sin but even more so, be empowered that not only can you avoid it but you can overcome it all together!
Being educated through the Word of God, the “sword of the Spirit” will keep us protected and able to live in real PURITY, in EVERY area not just as it pertains to sex. The bible is our manual for life and it teaches us how to do so.
I’ll leave you with this. In Romans 12:1-3 AMP, appropriately titled ‘Dedicated Service’, Paul urges the church to, “present your bodies, dedicating all of yourselves, set apart as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world any longer with its superficial values and customs, but be transformed and progressively changed as you mature spiritually by the renewing of your mind focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes, so that you may prove for yourselves what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect in His plan and purpose for you. For by the grace of God given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of himself and of his importance and ability than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith and a purpose, designed for service.
And Romans 13:9-14 AMP
9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and any other commandment is summed up in this statement: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor it never hurts anyone. Therefore unselfish love is the fulfillment of the Law.
11 Do this, knowing that this is a critical time. It is already the hour for you to awaken from your sleep of spiritual complacency; for our salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed in Christ. 12 The night [this present evil age is almost gone and the day of Christ’s return is almost here.] So let us fling away the works of darkness and put on the full armor of light. 13 Let us conduct ourselves properly and honorably as in the light of day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for nor even think about gratifying the flesh in regard to its improper desires.
Friends, The Bible says loud and clear how we should conduct ourselves. We are children of Light. As you seek God, He will give you continued and abundant revelation on what is pleasing and appropriate by His standards and what is not.
If this message blessed you, please share! Email me what your biggest takeaways were.
I hope you feel equipped and empowered to do better now that you know better!
I’m praying you grow to have an unbreakable bond with Jesus, so that living in purity would be less of a task and more of a privilege. Pray this for me too!
We’re in this together.
As always, Thank You for walking this Journey with me!