Two years ago, June 2015, I wrote a blog entitled, “Does God Ever Say, ‘Maybe?’”
I was expressing concern over the softening position of major Evangelical leaders regarding same-sex marriages. It seems over the last two years to have become a widening horizon.
Any position that would emphasize holiness and purity of life is likely met with harsh judgment, accusations of being unloving, and one with a diminished capacity for grace.
There will be theologians and spiritual leaders rise to dogmatically defend the oft-used statement, “We are not perfect, just forgiven.”
They continue by explaining that Jesus forgives our sin and understands our frailty.
We spend a lifetime, after all, struggling with sinful desires, human failings, and we often give in to temptations.
Modern day theologians, Bible scholars, and preachers have mastered the art of weaving a softened positioned of grace that no longer requires holiness of the born again child of God.
Should one dare take a firm position that holiness is expected and even required in Scripture, they must be prepared to receive a barrage of arrows and javelins with razor sharp words of “legalism,” “graceless,” “hater of sinners.”
Even worse, you might be considered “homophobic.”
After all, they will steadfastly contend, we are not made perfect until our glorification when Jesus returns.
A recent article in Christianity Today spotlighted this issue. Rachel Gilson wrote an article contending Scripture does not command one be heterosexual. She claims a walk with Christ in the power of the Spirit but steadfastly holds Jesus Christ has not made her “straight” because, by her own words, that has never truly happened in her life.
How does this match with Scripture?
Does God understand our propensity to sinful weakness and therefore give us pass for areas of sinful behavior or does He expect holiness in living?
Does God prefer we live godly lives in purity but understand our weakness to addiction and passion?
Does He prefer His children live in heterosexual relationships but realizes some are born with an attraction to same-sex relationships?
The final answer is not to be found in contemporary psychiatry, social engineering, or in contemporary theological treatise. Let’s go directly to the Word of God.
What was Jesus saying when He declared to the crowd gathered around Him on the hillside outside of Capernaum, “Therefore, you shall be perfect, just as your Father in Heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
The context is established in these words, “You have heard that it was said to those of old… but I say to you…” (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 31-34, 38-39, 43-44). Jesus Christ is defining the significant difference between the godliness of the Law of Moses and the godliness of the law of the Spirit.
Grace is not establishing an easier standard but a higher standard of behavior.
Grace is not godliness and holiness derived from outward actions but from the “law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” that come from the inside out.
The Apostle Peter reiterated the words and message of Jesus in his first epistle, declaring that grace to does not give to us a liberty to remain in our sinful behavior or excuse or carnal weaknesses.
Rather he declares grace expects obedience and grace will provide the resource for faithful obedience. “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13-16).
The Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Thessolonica, “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 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. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:1-8).
Holiness is not God’s preference for his children but His expectation for our lives. “God has not called us unto uncleanness but unto holiness” (1 Thess. 4:7 KJV).
The Apostle Paul made that abundantly clear when he wrote to the church at Rome, “What shall we say then, shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we who are dead to sin, live any longer therein.”
It is the amazing, miraculous work of regeneration (Titus 3:4-7) or being born again that makes this possible.
Peter wrote about this miracle in his second epistle. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promise; that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4).
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…” literally, a fresh object brought into creation by God. As such, the “old things” that are of the past; things of the original “have passed away” or gone out of existence.
- “All things”, everything, there is nothing left out “.
- “Are made”, come into existence that did not exist before.
- “New” afresh with a new style.
How is that possible for someone to be a “new creation?”
The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ make it possible.
When Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross, our life of sin was crucified with Him. Our old man, “old things” were put to death with Jesus Christ.
When Jesus Christ was buried in the borrowed tomb our old man “old things” were buried with Him, and no longer live.
When Jesus Christ walked out of that grave, His old grave cloths remained in the grave and He walked out wearing a new set of cloths, given to Him from Heaven. Our old man, “old things” remained in the grave, wrapped in those grave cloths.
We walked out of that grave with Jesus Christ, clothed in “new things” as a “new creation.”
That is why the Apostle Paul declared, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4).
God’s command is for us to walk in holiness and purity because He has made provision for us to live holy from the inside out.
When we continue to live our life under the power of old addictions or sinful passions we are not pleasing Him because we are not walking “in newness of life;” the very things Jesus Christ provided for us by the fullness of His sacrifice and the impartation of the Holy Spirit.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:11-13).
Yet, time and again, contemporary theologians, preachers of grace, taken out of balance, Christian psychologist and Christian social engineers deny the very power promised to the adopted child of God in Holy Scripture.
God has promised you, not a life patched up, but a new life.
It is a life you can live out of the power and dynamic of the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead.
A life that is victorious over the sinful lusts and passions of the flesh. It is a life pleasing to Father and glorifying to His marvelous grace that adopted us into the family of God, by which we are called “the sons of God.”