The Holy Spirit says through Saul of Tarsus: “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11
Looking for Love?
Any kingdom-rebelling, condemnation-worthy, God-opposing person regardless of his or her forms of sinfulness, will find eternal forgiveness, an eternal Father and eternal life effected by the work of the Son and the Spirit–through the Good News. This is a freedom and acceptance which no good/bad law, or SCOTUS ruling can provide.
Additionally, the loving affectionate efforts of a good spouse in a Christian or unbelieving marriage of man and woman cannot make up for the need we all have of God’s love in Christ. Neither can the efforts that people engaging in same-sex intimacy make to show love satisfy the ultimate need we all have for the love of God in Christ.
In the text above, Paul is writing about the effects of this expression of God’s love. He changes us from who we were, to who we are.
Christ’s Love Changes our Identity
Paul’s use of “were” in 1 Cor 6:11 is as a customary stative imperfect. In other words, he means to indicate “a state that continued for some time.”[Wallace GGBTB 548]. The “you” are those in the Corinthian church who once were “the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers” (6:9-10).
Elsewhere in making “sin lists” he includes those engaging in same-sex intimacy, but also idolators,”[those who] being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful…” See Romans 1:16–31 for full paragraph.
In Galatians 5:13–26 Paul gives another “sin-list” and again shows it is not the only type or brand of sins we can commit. Here he writes “and things like these…” Again, similar to 1 Corinthians 6, the Holy Spirit makes clear that if I am living in and practicing unrepentant rebellion against my Creator, as typified by such sins, I am marked as one who will not “inherit” God’s life, family and forgiveness.
But, the Holy Spirit does not stop there: “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11
This (!) is the pathway to freedom, life and hope. This is the life Christians trust they have, and what they mean to reveal to the world. We try, but too often we are known for pointing out the “sin-lists” and not the love and the life. And that is a legacy I identify with, and if all Christians are honest, we will all own that unbalanced approach.
Christians Distort the Love of Christ
Christian, we were all “such” as these, whatever our favorite brands of sins were. Too often, we have considered ourselves somehow better than unbelieving people, with our words, attitudes and actions. Again and again, God has orchestrated life events so that we have to more and more fall back on Him for truth, guidance, humility and readdressing our lack of love for Him and for all kinds of people. One of the places we need to grow is in a proper representation of the grace and love of Christ regarding same-sex matters.
Yes, the Old Testament taught that sinners who engaged in same-sex intimacy were capitally punished in Israel under the Covenant of Sinai. But, so were adulterers, the incestuous, purposeful murderers, etc. There was no sacrifice that a Hebrew could offer that would cover this. Civil punishment in death was their punishment. Without going into details, these actions are still sinful, but there is no civil penalty to be handed down by the people of God. There are civil punishments handed down for murder and similar, but that is a matter for the magistrates to prosecute, not the church. While in regard to these and similar sins we are to disciple and discipline those within our church who profess Christ, our reach stops there. Our disciplining cannot include death, physical punishment, incarceration or similar. There is more to say, but I will stop there.
I bring up the death penalty aspect of same-sex intimacy only to point out that if we are in a conversation about this matter with a non-Christian, we should avoid statements such as “well you do understand that God used to have His people stone homosexuals” or similar. This is not to hide the past way that God dealt with His people Israel, but rather to make sure that we are able to point out to anyone that all of us are sinners, and all of us need the grace of God to escape His just punishment for our sins. In fact, all sinners through time have merited the death penalty of God. If someone asks about the OT issue, explain it, and bring out the grace of God in His New Covenant through Christ.
I learned how to mock people who acted effeminate, or who engaged in same-sex intimacy from comics and others in secular society (Eddie Murphy, etc). I also learned to do so from people who called themselves Christians. But, God has washed, justified and sanctified me, and He is slowly effecting that in my life. [Although I am going to use the pronoun “I” for a bit, anything “I” do that is growth in matters of love is solely due to God’s loving, patient work on me.] So, I am learning to more properly understand how God gifts men and women to express biblical masculinity and femininity in different ways. I am trying to learn how desires and the sense of “naturalness” of these desires drives the human heart.
Also, I am convinced that due to our Fall into sin, and sin’s curse, same-sex attraction and a desire for same-sex intimacy can feel as natural and inborn as the desires most have for the opposite sex. With this, I also believe the Scripture teaches that that “naturalness” can also be seen by the “naturalness” many people feel to move from one sexual encounter to another with the same or opposite sex. Clearly natural desires for sin and wrong are not limited to these areas only.
In other words, the wounds of the Fall affect us all, but they affect us all differently. We all “have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” We all have hearts that are “desperately sick” and “deceitful”–hearts that only God can properly know, and tell us how to overcome what our deceitful hearts lead us to. While same-sex intimacy is a choice, just like my sinful sexual acts are a choice, the desires feel like they are not. Denny Burk has a great article on this, see dennyburk.com under “Publications” tab. So, to speak of same-sex issues as a choice is correct, but it is not enough, see Denny’s article.
There are many (many ) other ways that we Christians are distorting the Good News. Our goal must be that others can only truly reject our message because of the “offense” of the Gospel (Romans 9:33 and 2 Corinthians 6:3). Our goal should be that if they find our message and/or lives offending, it is only because they have a mis-perception of God’s love in Christ. On that note I am reminded that Mohandas Ghandi’s complaint “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ” has some traction, but it is also self-serving. To fully understand Christ and Christianity is to understand that Christ saves people as hypocritical and hypocritical as me. And technically, He is still saving me! That is the beauty of Christianity!
Now certainly, I am not off the hook if I misrepresent Christ to others, I will answer to Him for that, and I may prove to be a stumbling block to an unbeliever. But Mohandis Ghandi is not “off the hook” so to speak with God, if he rejected Christ and claims this as a reason. He has chosen some other lesser love, not the sin-forgiving, jerk-like-me-saving love through which God saved me.
Everyone is Equal in God’s Eyes–Equally in Need of His Christ!
The acceptance that all kinds of sinful people want is best satisfied in the hope of Jesus Christ! For those not trusting Christ, you will find no other system of belief or worldview that truly treats all people the same. But I do not mean this to somehow pit Christianity against everything else. Rather, as we all look for hope, fulfillment and meaning in our relationships, everyone of us is equally in need of God to mercifully forgive us of the equally condemning sins we are all busy committing. In other words, hope, fulfillment, meaning and eternal life are only found in a loving relationship with God. We need God through His Spirit to convince us of our sinfulness and of the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ; a convincing which results in our calling to Him for forgiveness of sins, believing that Christ has borne their penalty for our sake, and trusting that He alone is the source of love, hope, truth and life!
God the Father, Son and Spirit once worked in me to believe this truth, to receive His love, to move from condemned to justified, to trust my life to Him forever. I take no credit for that. He did it all. He now looks at me as having the perfections of His Son Jesus Christ. One day that will be completed in fullness. Right now, I know He loves me, will always love me, and is continuing to save me. And I pray each day, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
He offers this new identity to you through trusting Christ. Please contact me if you would like to find this love in Christ!
There is a certain thrill, be it self-satisfaction, even self-aggrandizement, or something similar found in seeking “revelation,” “messages,” “prophecies,” “prophetic words,” “anointed words,” “spirit of prophecy,” or similar non-scriptural, and extra-scriptural sources. (more…)
Living the Good News to the Glory of God and Interacting with Everyday People and Politicians
In the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit instructs us to make the glory of God our highest priority (1 Cor 10:31) even down to our motivations for consuming food!
Elsewhere He also exhorts us to live in such a fashion as to discern wisdom from folly, and good from evil. In matters that regard our political leaders, (more…)
The blood moons are in the news and on the minds of people within Christendom. So, I thought it might be worth posting some articles that will discuss the matter from a biblical standpoint. The articles will critique the ideas of two men, John Hagee and Mark Blitz. * Here are the articles: Tim Challies and Answers in Genesis.
The people promoting the present importance of the blood moons generally have to do a lot of “proof-texting” in order to make their case. Additionally, they take upon themselves (more…)
When I was young, I would see people doing something (skating, skiing, playing music, etc.) and clearly they were enjoying themselves. I would eagerly want to start doing those things–which would mean that my parents had to buy me skates, skis, etc. (more…)
“Christianity” is not only a religion (and it is that certainly!) but it is specifically a trust in God through Jesus Christ which works out in the whole being of a person (Faith and Practice). The understanding of what to believe (the object of faith) is found in the New Testament Scriptures, and is based on prophecy, promises and teachings from the Old (Luke 24:27). The way of practicing that faith is largely found in the Acts, and the Epistles (wherein the Apostles give us “the mind of Christ” with commands, principles, guidelines and even the examples of the Apostles).
So, is the life I have that I call “Christianity,” formed by the Scriptures ( properly understood) as an attempt to continue the faith and practice handed down from the Apostles? Or is it phenomenally influenced by or even specifically founded in the thoughts, writings, visions, (or whatever) of someone else?
If one’s belief and practice is founded in the writings, visions, thoughts of someone else since the Apostles, why would I trust that person–those people? Paul was deeply concerned for the church of Corinth in that they are in danger of straying from the Good News (faith and practice) he brought to them. His concern is expressed throughout both Epistles, but is clear in 1 Cor 2:1-5. Are you putting faith in the “power of God” or in something dreamed up (often quite literally these days) by a non-chosen, non-Apostolic, non-messenger of God?
Thinking of the some of the themes from:
Colossians 2:18-19 18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God. NASB95
Also in terms of the force which Apostolic teaching must have:
1 Corinthians 11:1-2 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ. 2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.
1 Corinthians 11:16 16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.
1 Corinthians 11:23 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you,
1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
In order for a person to be a member of the body of Christ through the New Covenant, (i.e. to be a Christian) there must be a Divine, miraculous change in the heart of such a person. That change culminates in faith and repentance; faith in the finished work of Christ while turning from sin–calling on God to bring salvation.
That is a heart-work no human being can do, but only the Spirit of God. In reading John 9 and 10 (Jesus healing the blind man and Jesus’ subsequent discussion of the “sheep fold,” the “flock” and “other sheep” outside “the fold”), we see how sheep from Israel (“fold”) and “other sheep” (outside of Israel, i.e. Gentiles) are combined together into a “flock” who have one true Shepherd. BTW, this will not be obvious in the KJV (there is a mistranslation of some of the original language).
What is the fellowship or commonality these in the “flock” hold? Is it their outward appearance, genetic background, or anything visible? No, it is a spiritual, Divine fellowship–“my sheep hear my voice and follow Me” and “I know My sheep and they know Me.” This is the essence of belonging to the New Covenant people (to bearing the name “Christian”)–an invisible, Divine spiritual work through which His people follow and know to follow their Shepherd. They trust in Him for forgiveness, salvation and life, and through the Spirit’s power and Christian graces, they keep following until He returns.
Any togetherness beyond this divinely-produced, invisible unity, or any claimed connection to the regenerate (born-again) Body of Christ through heritage, genetics, familial ties, etc. is something other than Christian unity, however pleasant, sentimentally-comforting, etc. that “unity” may be.
Example: I hear this often from Christians–it goes something like this: “I don’t try to waste my time in evangelizing that person anymore because in Matthew 10, Jesus told His disciples to shake the dust off their feet and abandon people who either rejected Jesus or would not help them in their mission.”
I even heard a person recently use this to defend the notion of not needing to forgive someone (who, by the way was just one of the many on a list of that person’s “unforgivable” people).
A simple question: If you are going to obey Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 10:13-14, are you also going to obey what He says in the same speech in verse 5 “Matthew 10:5-6 Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel?”
This from one of the most hardworking (and prolific) Baptist soulwinners. (I say soulwinner, because based on what he has to say, many would say “Why not just stop this divisive talk and get back to the Gospel”). Notice where he points his hearers…
From Charles Haddon Spurgeon,
THE PARACLETE, NO. 1074, A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY MORNING, OCTOBER 6, 1872, AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON
Dear Brothers and Sisters, honor the Spirit of God as you would honor Jesus Christ if He were present! If Jesus Christ were dwelling in your house you would not ignore Him, you would not go about your business as if He were not there! Do not ignore the Presence of the Holy Spirit in your soul! I beseech you, do not live as if you had not heard whether there were a Holy Spirit. To Him pay your constant adorations. Reverence the august Guest who has been pleased to make your body His sacred abode. Love Him, obey Him, worship Him! Take care never to impute the vain imaginings (more…)
Whether we are faithful in praying or not, whether we pray rightly or not, God the Holy Spirit is deeply earnest and divinely effective in personally communicating the saint’s deepest needs to the Father. Romans 8:26-27