I'm a 26-year-old guy who has completed my bachelor's and has worked for two years. I would like to know what to do to build myself to be a better man. I'm quite concerned at a lot of what I hear lately that men do (especially in the realms of sex, marriage, etc).
Also, I ask because I have struggled in the past with sexual sins (but I have now experienced victory in these areas which I'm still maintaining by the grace of God) and I know I'm not far from such things. But I want to make sure I do not go in that direction. I'm not in any relationship right now. I once was, but it didn't work out.
Also, I know I'm not called to celibacy, so I also want to seek marriage in a godly way.
Please advise me. Thanks.
Thanks for writing. These are great questions and godly pursuits you are thinking through, so well done. Your question brings to mind several thoughts and resources that I think will be helpful to you.
First, your comment that you have struggled with sexual sin in the past caught my eye. I obviously don't know exactly what you mean by that, but I am glad to hear that you have had some victory in those things and that you are maintaining that victory by God's grace. That part of your question provides an opportunity for me to remind you (though it sounds like you are in a good place) and other readers of Boundless that (1) we all struggle with sexual sin, and (2) there is grace in the Gospel for those sins if we confess them and repent in Christ. Incidentally, the things I suggest below as aides to growth and maturity are also a great way to stay on the victorious path as it relates to sexual sin.
Now to the heart of your question: How can you take steps to become a more spiritually mature man, particularly as it relates to holiness regarding sex and the pursuit of godly marriage? Unless I've misunderstood, your question seemed to focus on what you can do to "build [your]self" into a better man. Certainly there are things you can do on your own, and a good part of what I'm about to suggest does involve pursuit and effort on your part (with God's help, of course). That said, as followers of Christ, we want to make use of the "means of grace" God has provided to help His people grow spiritually — and much of it involves other believers.
First — it seems like I write this every other column, but I can't say it enough — join a good, biblical church and get really involved. Make it a priority to be at every service. If the church has small groups or other discipleship opportunities, take advantage of those things. Get to know people, and just as importantly, be transparent and let people get to know you. Look for ways to serve others. Be involved in the church's ministries.
A short little book by Mark Dever called Nine Marks of a Healthy Church as well as Jonathan Leeman's book Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus would be great to read as you think through an approach to church and the kind of church to join.
Deep, transparent involvement in a strong biblical church will be critically helpful to the maturity in manhood and Christ you are seeking. All Christians need to hear and read God's Word regularly, and we need other believers around us to build us up, hold us accountable, help us examine ourselves and overcome our temptation to rationalize our own sin, and help us grow spiritually. Also, to your marriage question, it will put you in a better position to find a woman who clearly loves Jesus and whom you might pursue as a potential wife. The more you build your life around serving God and His people in the church, the more you will be able to see who the women are in your church who have the same priorities.
Within the context of a biblical church, a particularly great way to grow in Christ is to pursue one-on-one discipleship. Proverbs 27:17 says, "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another." If possible, look for a church in your area that has a strong culture of such discipleship. Find an older, more mature (hopefully married) brother in Christ and get in a regular accountability and discipleship relationship. Read Scripture together; read other good books by wise, godly authors. (Knowing God by J.I. Packer is a wonderful book to go through in a discipleship context. As it relates to marriage, Lou Priolo's The Complete Husband is great for meditating on the joys and responsibilities of being a godly husband.)
Be transparent about confessing your sin and be open to correction. Not only do such relationships build up both parties in spiritual maturity, but when the time comes to find and pursue a potential wife, you will have a ready-made counselor and advisor who knows you well to help you be wise in that pursuit. Speaking of marriage, a great resource for thinking through a biblical approach to marriage is Boundless' own online publication A Guy's Guide to Marrying Well.
When you say you want to be a "better man," the Bible has a particular vision for that, both as it relates to biblical manhood in general and husbands in particular. Study Ephesians 5:25-33 and 1 Peter 3:7 for God's idea of how to be a godly husband (as well as the example of Christ in His servant leadership of His people, chiefly in the cross). Look at 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for a description of godly manhood (as revealed in the qualifications of elders — leaders in the church). Certainly study and meditate on these passages on your own. You might also introduce them into your discipleship discussions.
You will find, as you meditate on biblical manhood, that selflessness, self-discipline, and humble, godly leadership are at the core. Two great extra-biblical meditations on the characteristics of godly manhood can be found in the opening essay of John Piper and Wayne Grudem's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and, more briefly, in Albert Mohler's article "The Marks of Manhood."
Again, it sounds like you are desiring and pursuing good things. I will pray that the Lord would provide wisdom, growth and continued grace as you seek Him.
For His glory,
Copyright 2014 Scott Croft. All rights reserved.