How far is to far? In 21 years of student ministry I have heard this question on countless occasions about a variety of subjects. In the past, my answer has usually been “If you have to ask that question, you are probably already in the danger zone.” But recently I have been convicted of my answer to that question. Not because my above answer is not a true statement; but because it doesn’t address the real problem that the question presents.
The real problem is the question itself. Why are we always asking “how far is too far?” Why are we always so concerned with how close we can get to sin and still not compromise? The answer, I believe, lies in the fact that we are often seeking morality rather than purity. We see this invisible line that is the edge of what is moral or right. And if we cross over that edge we will find ourselves spiraling down into immorality. And we live our lives trying to see how close to that edge we can walk without falling off the plane of morality.
The definition of morality is “being in adherence to a standard of right or good behavior.” If we can stay on our plane of morality (no matter how close to the edge we get) we consider ourselves to be good people. But morality for the sake of morality is self-righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that “Our righteousness is like filthy rags” in God’s eyes. There are some who worship their morality. They want to cross the edge but wont do it, out of a sense of principle and self deprivation. God did not call us to live a life of self deprived morality. God called us to a life of purity and holiness. “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” – 1 Peter 1:15-16
The definition of purity is “freedom from contamination or pollution.” The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that “All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” So, how can we be free from contamination or pollution? We walk in the freedom that only comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Why is there freedom there? Because the responsibility is off of us. We are not responsible for our salvation. We cannot live a life that is “good enough” for God. The only way we can be seen as pure is through a relationship with Jesus. “If the Son sets you free, you are really free.” –John 8:36. We can’t save ourselves. It has been done for us. Once we realize that truth, there is tremendous freedom there. Purity is not trying to live up to a long list of do’s and don’ts in some moral standard of conduct. Purity walking in the freedom that comes from realizing that we can’t live up to the standard, but praise God, the blood of Jesus covers us and we are seen as pure in God’s eyes.
So, the question should not be “How far is too far?” The question should be “How far away from sin can I get and how close can I get to Jesus?” That is purity. It’s a daily battle against our sin nature. It’s daily renewing our minds with the truth of God’s Word. It’s allowing Him to set us free from the bondage of moral codes of conduct. Are making right choices and moral decisions a part of living a life of holiness? Absolutely. But those choices and decisions are born out of a passionate pursuit of Christ and His unfailing love for us.
Standing on the edge of a self-righteous moral high ground while secretly longing to be satisfied with the things of the world will never meet God’s standards of holiness. We must run in the opposite direction and sell out to the fact that the only true satisfaction is found in the freedom that comes from seeking after Jesus on a daily basis.
“How far is too far?” – if you have to ask the question, your heart is in the wrong place.