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Archive for the ‘Sin’ Category

Is It True That Jesus Never Addressed Same-Sex Marriage?

SOURCE:  Family Life/Daniel Akin

According to the Scriptures, Jesus spoke clearly about sex and marriage, and about issues of the heart.

Today it is popular among those promoting same-sex marriage to say that Jesus never addressed the issue, that He was silent on the subject.

Those who affirm the historical and traditional understanding of marriage between a man and woman often are admonished to go and read the Bible more carefully. If we do so, we are told, we will see that Jesus never addressed the issue. So, the question that I want to raise is, “Is this assertion correct?” Is it indeed a fact that Jesus never addresses the issue of same-sex marriage?

When one goes to the Gospels to see exactly what Jesus did say, one will discover that He addressed very clearly both the issues of sex and marriage. He addresses both their use and misuse. And, as He speaks to both subjects, He makes it plain that issues of the heart are of critical importance.

What did Jesus say about sex?

Jesus believed that sex is a good gift from a great God. He also believed that sex was a good gift to be enjoyed within a monogamous, heterosexual covenant of marriage. On this He is crystal clear. In Mark 7 Jesus addresses the fact that all sin is ultimately an issue of the heart. Jesus was never after behavioral modification. Jesus was always after heart transformation. Change the heart and you truly change the person.

Thus, when He lists a catalog of sins in Mark 7:21-22, He makes it clear that all of these sins are ultimately matters of the heart. It is the idols of the heart that Jesus is out to eradicate. Among those sins of the heart that often give way to sinful actions He would include both sexual immorality and adultery (Mark 7:21). The phrase “sexual immorality,” in a biblical context, would speak of any sexual behavior outside the covenant of marriage between a man and woman.

Therefore, Jesus viewed premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual behavior as sinful. And He knew that the cure for each is a transformation of the heart made possible by the good news of the gospel. The gospel changes us so that now we are enabled to do not what we want, but what God wants. Here we find real freedom and joy.

What about the issue of marriage?

Is it truly the case that Jesus never spoke to the issue in terms of gender? The answer is a simple no. He gives His perspective on this when He addresses the issue in Matthew 19:4-6. There, speaking to the institution of marriage, Jesus is clear when He says, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

That Jesus was committed to heterosexual marriage could not be more evident. A man is to leave his parents and be joined to a woman who becomes his wife. This is heterosexual marriage. That He also was committed to the permanence and fidelity of marriage is clear as well.

So how might we sum up the issue?

First, Jesus came to deliver all people from all sin. Such sin, He was convinced, originated in and was ultimately a matter of the heart.

Second, Jesus made it clear that sex is a good gift from a great God, and this good gift is to be enjoyed within heterosexual covenantal marriage. It is simply undeniable that Jesus assumed heterosexual marriage as God’s design and plan.

Third, Jesus sees all sexual activity outside this covenant as sinful.

Fourth, it is a very dangerous and illegitimate interpretive strategy to bracket the words of Jesus and read into them the meaning you would like to find. We must not isolate Jesus from His affirmation of the Old Testament as the Word of God nor divorce Him from His first century Jewish context.

The hope found in Jesus

Fifth, and this is really good news, Jesus loves both the heterosexual sinner and the homosexual sinner and promises free forgiveness and complete deliverance to each and everyone who comes to Him.

John 8 tells the story of a woman caught in adultery. The religious legalists want to stone her, but Jesus intervenes and prevents her murder. He then looks upon the woman and, with grace and tenderness, tells her that He does not condemn her.

Then He says to her, “go and sin no more.” In Matthew 11:28 Jesus speaks to every one of us weighed down under the terrible weight and burden of sin. Listen to these tender words of the Savior, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

This is the hope that is found in Jesus. This is the hope found in the gospel. Whether one is guilty of heterosexual or homosexual sin, one will find grace, forgiveness, and freedom at the foot of the cross where the ground is always level.

When I came to fully trust Jesus as my Lord and Savior at the age of 20, I determined that I wanted to think like Jesus and live like Jesus for the rest of my life. When it comes to sex I want to think like Jesus. When it comes to marriage I want to think like Jesus.

That means I will affirm covenantal heterosexual marriage. It also means loving each and every person regardless of his or her lifestyle choices. It means, as His representative, proclaiming His gospel and extending the transforming grace of the gospel to others that takes us where we are, but wonderfully and amazingly, does not leave us there. That is a hope and a promise that followers of Jesus gladly extend to everyone, because we have been recipients of that same amazing grace.

Does the Bible Say Much About Homosexuality?

SOURCE:  Kevin DeYoung/Family Life

Some suggest that Christians talk too much about something the Bible hardly addresses.  But the Scriptures are clear and consistent on this issue.

The first step in delegitimizing what the Bible says about homosexuality is to suggest that the Bible hardly says anything about homosexuality. In one sense this is true. The Bible is a big book, and the rightness or wrongness of homosexual practice is not at the center of it. If you read through the 1,189 chapters in the Bible and the more than 30,000 verses, you’ll find only a dozen or so passages that deal explicitly with homosexuality.

So does this mean the traditional view of marriage is based on nothing more than a few fragments? Is it fair to say that just six or seven passages have for centuries prevented those engaged in homosexual activity from finding acceptance in the church? Are denominations and families and friendships and organizations and institutions being torn apart because of a small handful of disputed texts concerning a minor issue about which Jesus never even said anything?

Or to ask the question another way: If the Bible says so little about homosexuality, why do Christians insist on talking about it so much?

Let me make six points by way of response.

1. We need to remember that this controversy was not dreamed up by evangelical Christians.

The reason there is so much discussion about issues like abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriage is because many have sought to legalize and legitimize actions that were, until 50 years ago, considered immoral and illegal. When it comes to the cultural flash points of our day, it hardly seems wise to avoid talking about what everyone else is talking about.

2. The reason the Bible says comparatively little about homosexuality is because it was a comparatively uncontroversial sin among ancient Jews and Christians.

There is no evidence that ancient Judaism or early Christianity tolerated any expression of homosexual activity. The Bible says a lot about idolatry, religious hypocrisy, economic injustice, and pagan worship because these were common sins for God’s people in both testaments. The Bible talks about bestiality even less than it talks about homosexuality, but that doesn’t make bestiality an insignificant issue—or incest or child abuse or 50 other sins the Bible barely addresses. Counting up the number of verses on any particular topic is not the best way to determine the seriousness of the sin involved.

3. Having said all that, it’s not like the Bible is silent on the issue of homosexual behavior.

It’s explicitly condemned in the Mosaic law (Leviticus) and used as a vivid example of human rebellion in Paul’s most important letter (Romans). It’s listed among a host of other serious vices in two different epistles (1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy). It’s one of the reasons God destroyed the most infamous cities in the Bible (Sodom and Gomorrah). And that’s not even mentioning all the texts about marriage in Genesis, in Proverbs, in Song of Solomon, in Malachi, in Matthew, and in Ephesians.

4. Furthermore, there is nothing ambiguous about the biblical witness concerning homosexual behavior.

Even many revisionist scholars acknowledge that the Bible is uniformly negative toward same-sex activity. The gay Dutch scholar Pim Pronk, after admitting that many Christians are eager to see homosexuality supported by the Bible, states plainly, “In this case that support is lacking.” Although he doesn’t think moral positions must be dependent on the Bible (which is why he can support homosexual behavior), as a scholar he recognizes that “wherever homosexual intercourse is mentioned in Scripture, it is condemned.”

5. It cannot be overstated how seriously the Bible treats the sin of sexual immorality.

Sexual immorality is precisely the sort of sin that characterizes those who will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  There are at least eight vice lists in the New Testament (Mark  7:21-22; Romans 1:24-31; 13:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-9; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Revelation 21:8), and sexual immorality is included in every one of these. In fact, in seven of the eight lists there are multiple references to sexual immorality (e.g., impurity, sensuality, orgies, men who practice homosexuality), and in most of the passages some kind of sexual immorality heads the lists. You would be hard-pressed to find a sin more frequently, more uniformly, and more seriously condemned in the New Testament than sexual sin.

6. To insist that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality is not really accurate.

Not only did He explicitly reaffirm the creation account of marriage as the one-flesh union of a man and a  woman (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9); He condemned the sin of porneia (Mark 7:21), a broad word encompassing every kind of sexual sin. The leading New Testament lexicon defines porneia as “unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication.” Likewise, New Testament scholar James Edwards states that porneia “can be found in Greek literature with reference to a variety of illicit sexual practices, including adultery, fornication, prostitution, and homosexuality. In the Old Testament it occurs for any sexual practice outside marriage between a man and a woman that is prohibited by the Torah.”

Jesus didn’t have to give a special sermon on homosexuality because all of His listeners understood that same-sex behavior was prohibited in the Pentateuch and reckoned as one of the many expressions of sexual sin (porneia) off limits for the Jews. Besides all this, there’s no reason to treat Jesus’ words (all of which were recorded by someone other than Jesus) as more authoritative than the rest of the Bible. He affirmed the abiding authority of the Old Testament (Matt. 5:17-18) and understood that His disciples would fill out the true meaning of His person and work (John 14:25-26; 16:12-15; cf. Luke 24:48-49; Acts 1:1-2).

We cannot count same-sex behavior as an indifferent matter. Of course, homosexuality isn’t the only sin in the world, nor is it the most critical one to address in many church contexts. But if 1 Corinthians 6 is right, it’s not an overstatement to say that solemnizing same-sex sexual behavior—like supporting any form of sexual immorality—runs the risk of leading people to hell.

Scripture often warns us—and in the severest terms—against finding our sexual identity apart from Christ and against pursuing sexual practice inconsistent with being in Christ (whether that’s homosexual sin, or, much more frequently, heterosexual sin). When we tolerate the doctrine which affirms homosexual behavior, we are tolerating a doctrine which leads people further from God. This is not the mission Jesus gave His disciples when He told them to teach the nations everything He commanded.

The biblical teaching is consistent and unambiguous: Homosexual activity is not God’s will for His people. Silence in the face of such clarity is not prudence, and hesitation in light of such frequency is not patience. The Bible says more than enough about homosexual practice for us to say something, too.

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Adapted excerpt from What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? Copyright © 2015 Kevin DeYoung. Published by Crossway.

 

Sexual Sin: Be Cautious & Active

SOURCE:  David Longacre/Living Free

“All of you must keep awake (give strict attention, be cautious and active) and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 AMP

Are you immune to the temptation of sexual sin?

The truth is, we all have boundaries that, if crossed, can result in the loss of self-control.

The sin of proximity happens when we allow ourselves to be enticed to sin by not avoiding events, people, places, objects or anything else that we know will likely stir up lustful thoughts in our minds. Some would describe the sin of proximity as allowing ourselves to come into contact with the occasion for sin.

When we commit a sin of proximity, what we are doing is setting the stage for overt sin to occur. We are prone to lie to ourselves that what we are doing will not have consequences. We think we can play around the edges of sin without actually acting it out. This thinking is self-deceptive because sin has great power and, if entertained, can overwhelm us.

Avoiding the people or events or things that may tempt us to sexual sin is vital to overcoming sexual addiction or to avoid entering into any kind of sexual sin. We must remember, however, that there is no “formula for success” in this path—otherwise we would trust the formula and not God.

The rules are only tools to enable us to better love Jesus. The real key is to stay in fellowship with Him—to “give strict attention, be cautious and active … and watch and pray.”

Father, I know that only as I stay in close fellowship with you—through prayer and through your Word—will I be able to resist the temptations that come my way. I thank you for your love. Please give me the wisdom and strength to avoid situations and relationships that may entice me to sin. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Crossroads: Choosing the Road to Sexual Purity by David E. Longacre. Crossroads deals with choosing the road to sexual purity.

How Will I Ever Overcome My Failures?

SOURCE:  Taken from the work of  J. G. Kruis 

Overcoming Sin

     1.  The truth sets us free.

John 8:32. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

  1. By nature we are all slaves to sin, but Jesus sets us free.
    John 8:34–36. Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
  2. A believer can overcome sin because he is a new creature.
    2 Cor. 5:17. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
  3. God has given us all we need for life and godliness.

2 Peter 1:3. As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.

  1. God requires you to work out your salvation in every area of life.
    Phil. 2:12. Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
  2. God enables you to do so; you need not go it on your own.
    Phil. 2:13. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
  3. God is able to make all grace abound to you, to enable you to overcome any specific sin.
    2 Cor. 9:8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
  4. We are being transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus.
    2 Cor. 3:18. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
  5. You must keep working at breaking sinful habits and developing new and godly ways.
    Eph. 4:22–24. That you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.
    Col. 3:9–10. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.
  6. Like a runner in a race, keep pressing on until you have gained the victory.
    Phil. 3:12–14.
  7. Don’t keep dwelling on past failures; nor should you get discouraged and give up after you have failed. Hang in there!
    Phil. 3:13–14. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
  8. Get rid of everything which might hinder you. Persevere!
    Heb. 12:1. Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
  9. One who is saved by grace must no longer serve sin. Keep working at overcoming it, using your body to serve only the Lord.
    Rom. 6:11–22. (Romans 6 contains much good instruction concerning how a Christian must and can overcome sin through the grace and power of God.)
  10. Don’t be mastered by any sin.
    1 Cor. 6:12. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.
  11. Christ, dwelling in us, enables us to overcome sin.
    Gal. 2:20. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
  12. Drunkards, homosexuals, idolaters, and others caught up in wickedness can overcome sin by God’s power and grace.
    1 Cor. 6:11. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
  13. Paul, Titus, and others were set free from the power of sin. God gave them victory through the Holy Spirit.
    Titus 3:3–7.
    Titus 3:5–6. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
  14. Use the infallible Word of God.
    2 Tim. 3:16–17. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
  15. A true Christian will not live in sin.
    1 John 3:6. Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
    1 John 3:9. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.
  16. Jude mentions three things that are necessary to remain faithful to God.
    Jude 20–21. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

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Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

 

Lord, Forgive all, All, A-L-L My Sins

SOURCE:   tollelege

The Valley of Vision — “Pardon all my sins”

Merciful Lord,

Pardon all my sins of this day, week, year,
all the sins of my life,
sins of early, middle, and advanced years,
of omission and commission,
of morose, peevish and angry tempers,
of lip, life and walk,
of hard-heartedness, unbelief, presumption, pride,
of unfaithfulness to the souls of men,
of want of bold decision in the cause of Christ,
of deficiency in outspoken zeal for His glory,
of bringing dishonour upon Thy great name,
of deception, injustice, untruthfulness in my dealings with others,
of impurity in thought, word and deed,
of covetousness, which is idolatry,
of substance unduly hoarded, improvidently squandered,
not consecrated to the glory of Thee, the great Giver;
sins in private and in the family,
in study and recreation,
in the busy haunts of men,
in the study of thy Word and in the neglect of it,
in prayer irreverently offered and coldly withheld,
in time misspent,
in yielding to Satan’s wiles,
in opening my heart to his temptations,
in being unwatchful when I know him nigh,
in quenching the Holy Spirit;
sins against light and knowledge,
sins against conscience and the restraints of thy Spirit,
sins against the law of eternal love.

Pardon all my sins, known and unknown,
felt and unfelt,
confessed and not confessed,
remembered or forgotten.
Good Lord, hear; and hearing, forgive.

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–Arthur Bennett, ed., “Sins,” in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth, 1975), 87

 

Abuse: Call It What It Is

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by  Leslie Vernick

Let’s Not Call It Abuse

 [This article was originally published on ChristianCounseling.com on June 9, 2014]

 Samantha had high hopes that something might change after she got an appointment with a Biblical counselor at her church.  She had hoped that her counselor would stand with her and be her advocate.  When she began to describe what was happening in her home, her counselor carefully listened to everything she told him.

Samantha recounted the names her husband called her when he got angry or she failed him.  She described things such as not allowing her to give her own perspective during an argument, not allowing her to leave a room when she was feeling scared, and demanding she submit to his most trivial demands like cook him a full breakfast every morning even though she worked full time and had a baby to get ready to take to the babysitter.  She told him how her husband lied, how he twisted Scriptures, how he bullied her and threatened her.

Samantha took a huge risk sharing these things with her counselor but she believed that if her counselor and church leaders knew what was happening, they would get behind her and lovingly but firmly tell her husband (who was active in their church) that his behavior was sinful and ungodly.  She thought that once she got others to agree that his behavior was destructive, he’d be less likely to tell himself the lie that what he was doing wasn’t that bad.

Sadly the counselor became fixed on two words Samantha used when finishing her story.  She asked her counselor, “Please tell him to stop emotionally abusing me.”  Her counselor’s first response to Samantha’s story was, “Samantha, let’s not use the words emotional abuse.  It’s such a trendy term these days.”

Samantha’s heart sank.  It was hard for her to breathe. Her chest pounded, her head started spinning. Now what?  She thought to herself, If this isn’t emotional abuse, what is it?

Our culture is adept at watering down language so that it becomes vague, meaningless and doesn’t offend.   For example the phrase termination of a pregnancy is softer than the phrase killing an unborn child. Terminating a pregnancy lacks the emotional wallop of the truth – a real baby is being killed.  Termination of pregnancy sounds nicer and it whitewashes and sanitizes the true meaning of what’s happening to both the child and the mother.

When we refuse to recognize and name emotional abuse for what it is and instead describe it as marital conflict or mutual sin, it’s not that we’re incorrect; it’s that we are imprecise.  We water down what’s really happening.

When a doctor tells a patient who has cancer he’s sick, that’s true.  But if he doesn’t use the C word because it’s too potent, he’s not telling his patient the whole truth.  As a result, the patient might not get the treatment he or she needs because he or she doesn’t see the full problem they face.

As biblical counselors our mission is not only to be truth seekers but truth tellers.

Naming things in Biblical days had special significance. Names represented a character trait, a special ability, a future expectation or a proclamation of what’s happened in the past.  Names are significant and what we name things has meaning.

When we say to our clients, “Let’s not call what’s happening to you ‘abuse’,” that’s wrong. What we’re saying is that what’s happening to her is no big deal?and that is not true.  Minimizing what’s happening in her marriage damages her, her husband, and their marriage. Abusive behavior is always bad, always sinful and always destructive.

The Bible repeatedly tells us that God comes alongside the victim. He is against those who seek to destroy and damage others.  He never tells them it’s not that bad or calls it something other than what it truly is. We need to speak the truth about what is happening, without flattering abusers that their behavior is not as bad as their spouse claims (Psalm 12:2-3).

Honesty: I Desire To Sin More Than I Desire To Obey Christ

SOURCE:  R.C. Sproul

How should we deal with stubborn pockets of sin in our lives that won’t seem to go away even after much prayer and honest heartfelt desire to change?

One of the great Christian classics is a devotional booklet written by Saint Thomas à Kempis called The Imitation of Christ.

In that book he talks about the struggle that so many Christians have with habits that are sinful. He says that the struggle for sanctification is often so difficult and the victories that we achieve seem to be so few and far between, that even in the lives of the greatest saints, there were few who were able to overcome habitual patterns. We’re talking about people who overeat and have these kinds of temptations, not those who are enslaved to gross and heinous sin.

Now Thomas à Kempis’s words are not sacred Scripture, but he gives us wisdom from the life of a great saint.

The author of Hebrews says that we are called to resist the sin that so easily besets us and that we are admonished and exhorted simply to try harder to overcome these sins. You say, How do we escape these pockets of sin that we have such great struggles with, that we have an honest and heartfelt desire not to commit? If the desire not to do it is really honest and penetrates the heart, we’re 90 percent home. In fact, we shouldn’t be locked into something.

The reason we continue with these pockets of repeated sins is because we have a heartfelt desire to continue them, not because we have a heartfelt desire to stop them.

I wonder how honest our commitment is to quit. There’s a tendency for us to kid ourselves about this anytime we embrace a pet sin. We need to face the fact that we commit the sin because we want to do that sin more than we want to obey Christ at that moment. That doesn’t mean that we have no desire to escape from it, but the level of our desire vacillates.

It’s easy to go on a diet after a banquet; it’s hard to stay on a diet if you haven’t eaten all day. That’s what happens particularly with habitual sins that involve physical or sensual appetites. The ebb and flow of the desire is augmented and diminished. It increases and fades. Our resolve to repent is great when our appetites have been satiated, but when they’re not, we have a growing attraction to practice whatever the particular sins may be.

I think what we have to do is first of all be honest about the fact that we really have a conflict of interest between what we want to do and what God wants us to do. I think we have to feed our souls with the Word of God so that we can get what God wants us to do clear in our mind and then build a strong desire to obey.

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