Sins of impurity remain as common today as blades of grass.
They are everywhere around you, if you take the time to see them.
Immodest dress has become the social norm.
Fornication now serves as a rite of passage for young people.
Promiscuity rules as the socially-accepted means of spending at least a decade of one’s life, starting in high school.
Birth control use is treated as a birthright.
A website encouraging adulterous affairs has billboards around the country.
The porn industry rakes in billions of dollars every year.
And homosexuality has turned from a taboo topic in the public square to a civilly-protected freedom.
We all experience temptations towards sins of impurity. The easiest thing to do remains to give in, and not to resist. But there’s no virtue gained without any vice being overcome.
Where do these temptations come from? These four saints answer for us:
1. “A treasure is never safe, as long as a robber is harbored within; nor is a lamb secure while it swells in the same den with a wolf” –St. Cyprian
2. “He who wishes to remain near a serpent will not remain unhurt for long” –St. Isidore
3. “You stimulate the flesh; you arm it, and make it powerful against the spirit” –St. Cyril of Alexandria
4. “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” –St. James (James 1:14)
As we can see, the invitations toward sins of impurity (as well as other sins) come from a place within us. Sure, the devil entices us, as he likes to do. But, sadly, there is a part of us attracted to what he lays before us.
The primary threat we all face remains ourselves–namely our own passions, or emotions. In our weakness, we do not always allow our reasoning ability to control our actions. Mastering that will save each of us a whole lot of moral mistakes.
No one should allow their passions to rule them. Says Holy Writ, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions” (Romans 6:12).
Elsewhere, St. James instructs, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). But what does that look like? Are we to fight temptations head on, seeing if we have more endurance than Satan?
Christ Himself, knowing our weaknesses, gave us a different game plan. In fact, He commanded that we ask God for the grace to not even have to face the enticements from the evil one. “And when [Jesus] came to the place he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation’” (Luke 22:40).
And thankfully, by God’s providence, no temptation is insurmountable. For the Holy Spirit gave us this promise in Scripture: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:31).
So, how do we escape the invitations to sins of impurity? Here’s four more saints with some solid advice for all of us:
1. “Shun immorality. Every other sin which a man commits is outside the body; but the immoral man sins against his own body” –St. Paul (1 Cor 6:18)
2. “In the occasion of falling into sin, take flight, if you desire to gain they victory” –St. Augustine
3. “I do not wish to fight with the hope of victory, lest I should sometimes lose the victory” –St. Jerome
4. “In the warfare of the flesh, only cowards gain the victory; that is to say, those who fly” –St. Philip Neri
That’s right. In order to survive the attack, you must retreat.
Undoubtedly, this seems like strange advice. In the heat of the moment, leaving the room can prove difficult. That is where our ability to reason needs to remain ever-present and ready to kick in. You need to practice discerning when occasions of sin are coming at you and then sidestep them, before you fall into them.
Ever play the game dodgeball? Imagine the demons are throwing balls at you, and your job is to get out of the way!
This is not to say there never arises an occasion when you must enter an environment filled with occasions to sins of impurity. In those instances, God will provide the grace to escape unscathed, if you take advantage of them.
But we all should discern when those times are absolutely necessary, and avoid them otherwise. Lest sins of impurity earn us a ticket to suffering eternally.
In summary, we can say the trick to avoiding the sins of impurity is to take flight when temptation arises and to avoid the occasion of sin. That means getting out of dodge, lest you fall. And better yet, not giving the devil opportunities to ensnare you in a trap.
Easier said than done, huh?
Has anyone tried to put this advice into practice in the past? How did that turn out?
Anyone have any other quotes from saints pertaining to overcoming sins of impurity?
Please comment below!