Abstinence provides ceremonial cleanliness, preparatory to communing with God.
“The woman also with whom man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even” (Leviticus 15:18).
“And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women. And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel” (1 Samuel 21:5-6).
“Defraud [apostereō] ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency [akrasia]. But I speak this by permission [syggnōmē], and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself” (1 Corinthians 7:5-7).
Lust [epithymia] toward any person or thing is not spiritually beneficial
Abstinence also helps keep one’s mind away from fleshly desires, so that one’s mind can really focus on spiritual matters.
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts [epithymia] thereof” (Romans 13:14).
“Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust [epithymia] of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth [epithymeō] against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh . . . And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections [pathēma] and lusts [epithymia]” (Galatians 5:16-7, 24).
“If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts [epithymia]; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-4).
“Flee also youthful lusts [epithymia]: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts [epithymia], we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-2).
“I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly [sarkikos] lusts [epithymia], which war against the soul [psychē]” (1 Peter 2:11).
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts [epithymia] of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:1-2).
“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust [epithymia]” (2 Peter 1:4).
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust [epithymia] of the flesh, and the lust [epithymia] of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust [epithymia] thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-7).
“Be wise in the days of your probation; strip yourselves of all uncleanness; ask not, that ye may consume it on your lusts, but ask with a firmness unshaken, that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God” (Mormon 9:28).
“Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light-mindedness, and from all your wicked doings” (D&C 88:121).
Being sensual [psychikos] is not spiritually beneficial
It is better to gratify one’s spirit than one’s senses.
“How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts [epithymia]. These be they who separate themselves, sensual [psychikos], having not the Spirit” (Jude 1:18-9).
“But the natural [psychikos] man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
“This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly/terrestrial [epigeios], sensual [psychikos], devilish [daimoniōdēs]” (James 3:15).