2. While God "richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Tim. 6:17), He commands us: "Do not arouse or awaken love" (Sol. 8:4) before the proper time.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... a time to embrace and a time to refrain... He has made everything beautiful in its time." (Eccl. 3:1-5).
My beautiful, 33-year-old daughter, Melanie, recently came to the place where God confirmed for her and her Christian sweetheart that they are moving toward marriage. Keeping herself pure for these many years has not been easy but long ago she made a quality decision to do things God's way.
Scripture always speaks approvingly of sexual pleasure as long as it is confined to married partners. God categorically and without exception prohibits premarital and extramarital activity.
"You will remember the instructions we gave you in the name of the Lord Jesus. God's plan is to make you holy, and that entails first of all a clean cut with sexual immorality. Every one of you should learn to control his body, keeping it pure and treating it with respect" (1Thess. 4:2-4, Phillips).
A fire is warm and wonderful in a fireplace under control, but if that same fire is set loose it can burn down a house. Likewise, water is refreshing in the tap under control, but that same water rushing through a broken dam on a rampage can devastate an area and destroy human life. The difference? Control.
Our Creator's brilliant plan is for single men and women to develop the fruit of self-control (Gal 5:23) prior to marriage by drawing on His grace and cooperating with His plan for sexual purity.
Do you know the number one reason marriages break up? Sexual problems? Financial problems? Emotional problems? No. The primary reason is simply a lack of self-control! If a person can't control himself, he or she is vulnerable to multitudes of problems. Sexual problems break in. If a person can't control himself, financial problems crash in. It's the same with anger problems. Prov. 25:28 reminds us, "A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls."
In marriage one must often forego sexual activity because of sickness, pregnancy or travel. Our daughter-in-law is currently expecting her third child, so she and our son find themselves in this season. Self-controlled individuals who cultivate this character quality before marriage reap the dividends in marriage!
Obviously, another way that self-control is developed is by overcoming inevitable temptations of masturbation.
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