The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Coming Out

“It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void” – Psalm 119:126

Recently a professional basketball player came out of the closet openly declaring his homosexuality in the media. It was the first active professional athlete to do so. The “hope” is that this opens the door for other professional athletes to “come out.” The response has been pretty much overwhelming applause as presented in the media. The tweets and twitters are affirming the “courage” of this player. Sports used to be an area where you could escape the influences of politics. Not anymore. There is no escaping the proclivities of this fallen world. It is expected that when this particular player is next introduced at a game that he will receive a standing ovation. If you were at that game, would you stand and applaud?

Self-imposed defenders of what is viewed as a civil rights issue are policing the media ready to pounce on and shout down any disagreeing comments. They are armed with tongues like knives that slash into submission using the words such as, “homophobic,” “out of touch,” “backward,” “haters,” and “bigot.” In our world today it’s trendy to support Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transvestites (LGBTs). We see the support and influence of this small percentage of the population throughout society and the world. From the water cooler to Washington, from unity rallies and parades to the United Nations we see the LGBT agenda promoted. And if you don’t see things their way be ready for some vicious intolerance from the tolerance police.

Schools have degenerated from being places of learning to being places of indoctrination; the mind controlling instruments of the State. This State is progressively pushing us away from God and His word. The consequence is our children at earlier and earlier ages are being introduced to sinful lifestyle choices. They are being encouraged, even forced to not merely tolerate those caught up in such sinful behaviors, but to investigate and try it out. The LGBT options are being presented alongside heterosexuality as normal alternatives to choose. Teachers are propagandizing children with role play exercises in the classroom that are heavily slanted in favor of an LGBT agenda. All this is done regardless of parental consent.

One of the propositions of those in support of LGBTs is that people with such propensities are born that way and therefore can’t help themselves from following these lifestyle choices. The contention is that there is no choice involved with LGBT lifestyles. Same sex attraction, bi-sexual attractions, (and be sure that other “attractions” will follow) are seen as irresistible feelings and inherent inclinations that must be followed through on for the sake of mental and general health. We are told that the only right way and acceptable thing to do is to “celebrate” such diversity. This contention is made with little credible scientific evidence. Evidence is optional. (For a nation that accepts leaders who pass healthcare legislation that affects millions of constituents that is composed of thousands of pages of legal guidelines, without reading it (!), why is evidence important?) Therefore, it is wrong to treat these lifestyles with discretion. There needs to be freedom to come out! It’s hypocritical to not come out! And those who view such lifestyles as sinful need to just shut up! Forget common sense, forget morality, forget thousands of years of societal history and mores, forget thousands of years of human tradition, and forget the inerrant, historically ever relevant revelation of the word of God our Creator. Tolerate LGBTs or be damned!

“The entrance of Your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). Humanity is born with a sinful nature. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). Such inherent sin manifests itself in many ways. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, . . . .” (Mat. 15:19-20a). Notice this list of Jesus uses plurals of each sinful heart produced behavior mentioned. Our sinful heart produces a variety of sinful behavior. Unrighteousness takes many forms. And it’s important that we recognize this sinful condition. “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to His ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. 17:10).

Sinfulness in its various inward and outward forms will keep us from entering God’s kingdom. “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Rev. 21:27). “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie” (Rev. 22:15). So if we are overcome with a sinful inclination in whatever form it takes, what are we to do? Are we doomed to a life of resisting the gnawing of our heart toward God-forbidden fruit? Should we just cave in and come out and forget about our eternal destiny? No, there is hope.

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word” (Psalm 119:114). Run to God. Hope in His word. In His word it states, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified” (1 Thess. 4:3-6). Later it is stated in this same Thessalonian letter, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24). God’s will is that we “abstain” or keep ourselves from sexual immorality. We need to take action to this end; to be sanctified or set apart from the sin of sexual immorality in its various forms and set apart to the Lord for His use. How is this done? We surrender to God who has promised to “do it.”  It is a work of the Holy Spirit in us (1 Thess. 4:7-8).

“Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me” (Psalm 119:133). We need to go to God’s manual for life, the Bible. What does God’s word say about the affections of our sinful nature? It says it is possible to be freed from and have victory over sin in our life no matter the form. We see this in the words, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 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” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). We need to know about the sin in our lives and not be deceived in heart. Deviating sexually from God’s prescribed parameters of His word disqualifies one from His kingdom; it is sin. But notice something here. “Fornicators,” “homosexuals” and “sodomites” covers what today we refer to as LGBT lifestyles; it is indeed sinful. But recognize that these sinful behavioral manifestations of the sinful heart are listed along with other manifestations such as “thieves,” those who covet, “drunkards,” skeptics and those who abuse people to extort things from them. Paul is inspired to give a broad list of sinful behavior here. If we are in our modern times going to condone and celebrate LGBTs, then we might as well condone and celebrate thieves, the greedy, and drunkards too. (Some would observe that is exactly what our world does.)

Such sinful behaviors are not prohibited by God because He is into exerting His power over lesser beings. God prohibits such sinful behavior because they cause pain and disorder to His creation. Physiologically this is undeniably true based on the barren reproductive capabilities of LGBTs as well as the increased detrimental health issues shown in medical studies of people indulging such lifestyles.

Where’s the hope? “And such were some of you.” The Corinthians had evidently experienced the power of the gospel to free them from the catalogue of sins listed here. “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.” Tarring sin can be washed away. You can be sanctified; cleansed in heart and made useable to the Lord who loves you. You can stand before Him, no matter your sinful life history, justified; just as if you’d never sinned. This is a work of the “Spirit of our God.” All you need do is turn from your sin, come to Jesus, and trust that His death on the cross paid the just penalty for your sins. Then God will give you spiritual life by indwelling you with the Person of the Holy Spirit. All of this is because God loves you (Rom. 5:8).

But what about those who have been either freed from such sin, or who are wondering about the proper response to those caught in such sin? How should we respond to the promoters of sinful lifestyles?

First, we need to seek the LORD. We are not to depend on the arm of human flesh. “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9). Politics is not the answer. We may work through politics at times, but understand it is a fallen system as weak as the people who govern in it. Instead, we need to call on God to come out. “It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void” (Psalm 119:126). We aren’t going to gain victory or have a credible response to the intolerant sinful philosophies of our day if we rely on our flesh. We need to seek the Lord in prayer. We need a supernatural intervention. We need revival.

“Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness; O LORD, revive me according to Your justice. . . . Plead my cause and redeem me; revive me according to Your word. . . . Great are Your tender mercies, O LORD; revive me according to Your judgments” (Psalm 119:149, 154, 156). God is for us (Rom. 8:31-32). We need to turn to Him to fight for us. We need to turn to Him to revive us with a Spirit anointing of His wisdom, courage, and most importantly, His love. We need to pour out our heart before God for the lost. We need hearts broken for the sad sinful state of the lost caught up not only in LGBT lifestyles, but for those caught up in all sin. The answer is not a fist fight or angry shout. The answer is broken heartedness before the LORD. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). “Rivers of water run down from my eyes, because men do not keep Your law” (Psalm 119:136). When was the last time you wept for the lost before God?

Second, we need to act. We need to come out for the LORD! How do we do this? “My zeal has consumed me, because my enemies have forgotten Your words” (Psalm 119:139). This is not harsh, hard-hearted activism. We are not to return evil for evil. We are to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21). We need to be set on fire with a passion for the LORD and His word and speak His truth in love (Eph. 4:15). We aren’t to fight fire with fire, but be set ablaze by God and compelled by His love. “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). We are all sinners. We exist only by God’s mercy, grace, and love. We are in no position to look down on those yet to be saved. Instead we offer the sinner a way out of sin.

“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:20-21). In love we need to live and share God’s word. We need to get closer to God than ever before. We need to hear what He has to say. We need to be able to say, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). God’s word is always relevant; for every age. Heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s word will be fulfilled (Mat. 5:18). “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89).

So when the world gives standing ovations to those coming out to proclaim publically their sinful lifestyles, don’t stand and applaud with them. The world is devoid of consciousness of sin. It doesn’t even know the questions of life let alone the eternal answers. It would rather encourage people to continue in unhealthy sinful lifestyles than find a truthful solution. The world sees tolerating and promoting self-destructive sin as loving. The world is in darkness. Bring God’s light into the darkness. We know the truth that aberrant lifestyles cause pain and enslavement to a life of frustration, futility, and unfulfillment.   We need to come out and say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16a). Those freed from LGBT lifestyles by the power of the gospel of Christ will thank you for your love and courage. They will thank the Lord for their liberation. When the world stands and applauds sin, will you stand and applaud with them? Or will you come out and share the powerful liberating gospel of God’s love? It’s your choice.

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