Friday, August 1, 2014

Death by Sin, Life by Christ

“God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.  Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.”
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:1-2

            Every person to walk the earth has rebelled against God, except Jesus.  We all sin, in many ways, continuously through life.  Past and present (and surely future) struggles for me are laziness, selfishness, lust, anger, jealousy, impatience…and really I could go on for days.  As Paul said in his letter 1 Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”

            As our Creator and embodiment of all things good and perfect, God is the only one able to accurately define what is right and wrong.  He provides an outline in the Bible, and those who love him are to follow in humble submission, being made more like Christ through repentance and faith in his Word.  However, attempts to turn from sin are not the means of salvation.  God does not extend forgiveness based on human effort and goodness.  By his grace and mercy, Jesus absorbs the punishment of death for all the wicked sinners (ex: ME!) who place their faith in him.  What follows such faith is a desire to deny oneself and follow Christ, living out the good works he has placed before us.  It is not easy, but a lifelong journey. [John 14:15; Romans 3:23-24; Luke 5:27-32, 9:23, 19:10; Ephesians 2:1-10]

            It's difficult because we are born with sinful desires, but our personal pleasures never trump the authority and wisdom of the God of the Universe.  Although sin will be present in the lives of Christ-followers until he returns, we are not to accept it, but rather wage war against sin.  For this reason, I must currently address the sin of homosexuality.  I would dare say all of us, at some point at least, will deal with sexual sins, and homosexuality is just one among the list.  As I see this sin being not only accepted, but celebrated, even among Christians – I just have to take a moment to say that this is not right.  I do not say this out of superiority or hate, but out of anguish that God’s word and will is being twisted or disregarded altogether.  For those who accept Christ as Savior and Lord of their life, and are attracted to the same sex, my hope is not that you be sneered at or banished.  My hope is that you find encouragement and accountability in the church, as I have found for the struggles of my own sinful nature.  If our church members begin congratulating us for our sin, it’s time to leave and seek biblical discipleship elsewhere. [Romans 6:1-14; 2 Peter 2:1-3, Hebrews 12:1-6]

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11
            May we all recognize the filth within, and turn to God for forgiveness and the strength to resist temptation.  May we never be ashamed of the gospel, and the counter-cultural implications of Scripture.  Love God for who he is and what he’s done, not judging him or editing his commands.  Love others as Christ loves us, sacrificially and boldly extending truth and help.  The hope we have in Jesus triumphs over every sin and trial!  God does not call for self-loathing or indulgence, but repentance and faith.  He knows and loves us more intimately than any person on earth.  I encourage nonbelievers to consider Christ, and believers, including myself, to follow him whole-heartedly!