How does one become morally impure?
Moral freedom is not the right to do what we want, but the power to do what we ought. Moral impurity develops when one violates his conscience and does not resolve the guilt he feels because of his sin.
Guilt should motivate us to bring our sins before God in confession and repentance, seeking His forgiveness and the forgiveness of others as necessary. Through the conviction of sin, God desires to increase the scope of our moral consciousness so that we are aware when we offend God and others. This consciousness is a key to living with responsibility and honor.
However, when we respond to guilt by justifying our actions, rationalizing our decisions, or trying to compensate for our sin by doing “good” things, we do not resolve the guilt. Eventually the mind and conscience will alleviate the pressure of guilt by justifying moral impurity. This response dulls our spiritual perception and the conscience becomes hardened. (See I Timothy 4:1-2.) Consequently, we become bound by impurity and false philosophies.
The progression of moral impurity can be traced through the following sequence:
1. Natural Curiosity
Curiosity is appropriate in every area except immorality. The Apostle Paul admonished believers in Romans 16:19: “I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.” He also charged the believers in Ephesus: “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret” (Ephesians 5:11-12).
2. Awakening of Conscience
When a person comes into contact with an immoral situation, his conscience is awakened. Asking the question “Should I do this?” and then finding reasons to justify the action are indications of an awakened conscience.
3. Questioning “the Rules”
Scripture states, “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14). As a person is tempted, he will begin to question the rules and look for excuses to allow his behavior.
4. Violation of Conscience
When the mind and emotions focus on an evil action and delight in the imagined pleasure or benefit that will accompany it, it is not long before the will surrenders to that temptation.
Once the immoral action is carried out, a sense of guilt immediately follows. Guilt is a function of the spirit, not a function of the mind. If guilt is not quickly resolved, it will damage the spirit, soul, and body. At this point, the person will either repent and resolve the guilt (upholding moral purity) or justify his actions and try to alleviate the guilt (developing moral impurity).
6. Religious Compensation
One way a person may try to compensate for his guilt is by doing a lot of “religious” things in an attempt to appease God. However, attempts to ignore guilt will fail.
Once temptation has been yielded to, a person will experience tension and frustration. He knows and wants to do what is right, but he has a stronger desire to do what is wrong. When his efforts to appease God do not alleviate his sense of guilt, his frustration will mount.
8. Justify Immorality
Most likely, at this point a person will begin to resist Biblical rules or standards, proclaiming that they are too rigid or unrealistic. He will seek out philosophies that agree with what he wants to believe—and embrace them as his own.
Now at a point where he has made a conscious choice to follow immorality, whether that involves lying, stealing, sexual immorality, or other sins, he realizes the need to convince others that his philosophy is right and theirs is wrong. This situation leads to arguments, debates, and condemnation of hypocrites.
Moral Freedom Is Possible
Through the power of God, the bondage of moral impurity can be broken. God’s power is available to all who humble themselves before Him, acknowledge their sin, repent of it, and receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. The Spirit of God can teach and guide the believer. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:8–9).