I’ve been writing posts recently based on a Bible study series on the Church of Scotland decision to permit the ordination of homosexuals. Some readers will disagree with what I’ve written. I’ve tried to truly show what the Bible says on homosexuality — that’s my responsibility. How you respond is your responsibility. But the Bible talks about many other things, too, and I’d like to mention some of that.
There was a time when Jesus was speaking to some religious people. Perhaps some were homosexual, perhaps not. It didn’t matter, for what He had to say:
1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?
3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
He repeated that word: “all.” All who did not repent would perish — religious or not, “gay” or “straight”, whatever, it applied to all. Jesus warned everyone they would perish if they didn’t repent. He said not to think that other people are worse sinners than you — all need to repent.
If we “updated” the Bible like some people suggest, and eliminated every verse about homosexuality, you’d be the same as “straight” people — one of those “all” who need to repent. If we leave the Bible as it is, you are still one of those “all” who need to repent. Changing the Bible wouldn’t change that. If we completely ignore homosexuality, we’d still come to this in the Bible:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
There’s that word “all” again. Whether “straight” or “gay”, there is sin. Pride, greed, lust, selfishness, lying, coveting (wanting something belonging to someone else), hatred, etc. We are all guilty of several of those things, and others as well. We’ve sinned — fallen short of God’s standard, not just once or twice, but over and over. It’s part of who we are.
We are born that way, born sinners. It’s a problem we all have, and one we all have to come to terms with. Like a person born with a disability has to find a way to deal with it, we are born with a sin problem. We have to deal with it — that’s what Jesus was saying when He said we have to repent.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way;
Some say, “I’m no sinner. I’m no worse than anyone else.” But this verse uses the “all” word again. We all go our own way, not God’s way. We might be more moral than the next guy in some ways, but we’re still following #1, doing what I choose because I chose to do it.
“Better than the next person” doesn’t solve the problem, because he is going the wrong way, too. It doesn’t matter if you are a safer driver than the guy in the next car — if you both drive down the wrong motorway, neither will get to the right place.
Going our own way creates a major problem for us:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Iniquities is another word for sins, the wrong things that we do. They put a barrier, a separation, between us and God.
For the wages of sin is death….
Wages are the payment you earn for the work you do. This tells us that the payment we earn for our sins is death.
You might say, “But we all die, Christians too.” You are right. But if we look at the rest of the verse, we get the entire picture:
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The best part is that God has a gift for us. I’ll say more about that, but for now, I’ll focus on the contrast between “death” and “eternal life.” The second part is talking about spiritual life, eternal life in Heaven, and the first part is about spiritual death, eternal separation from God in a place called Hell. That is the wages for our sin.
People may not like talk about Hell, but we can’t bury our heads in the sand. If you could make things go away by ignoring them, we could cure cancer and AIDS, end world poverty, and end pollution. Few object to raising awareness of those problems — it is irresponsible to pretend they don’t exist. People don’t like someone to raise awareness of sin and Hell, but ignoring this won’t make it go away.
Buying a Gift
Fortunately, there is a solution, and we get a hint of it in that verse I just cited. God has a gift of eternal life. Every gift costs the giver something, and this gift is no different.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God gave His Son, the only Son of His own nature. (That’s the idea of “begotten” in this verse — of the same nature as God.) Jesus, the Son of God, came and died for us, even though we are sinners, because of His love:
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
He did that to pay the price, to take the “wages” (mentioned above) for our sins.
If God just wiped our sins away, that wouldn’t be justice. If the law sets a mandatory fine, a judge can’t ignore it. But a judge could always pay a convict’s fine for him. In this case, it was more than a fine, it was death, but Jesus paid it. It wasn’t only physical death, because He took our sins on Himself. That verse about iniquities separating us from God? Jesus went through that, too.
I Peter 2:24
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
Jesus took our sins on Himself to pay for them and to change us into people who “live unto righteousness”, who live for God rather than for ourselves. He heals us of our sin, breaking its power over us, changing us spiritually.
I Corinthians 15:3-4
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
After Jesus died, He rose from the dead. That isn’t hard to believe, when you stop and think about it. If there really is a God, of course He can raise the dead. A lot of people saw Jesus after He rose from the dead. At least one was a skeptic, until he saw Jesus.
A lot of this might seem strange if you’ve not heard it before, but if you think about it, it all fits together. It makes sense that God would have a moral standard, and it is obvious that people in this world aren’t living by it. It makes sense that God would either zap this messed-up world out of existence or do something to fix it.
If He loved us, He would want to fix it, but He wouldn’t compromise His own standard of justice. So a price would have to be paid, and if none of us are good enough to pay that price, He would either make the choice to destroy us, or to love us enough to pay it for us. It’s not surprising that God would choose love.
But if He was going to pay it for us, He would make sure people knew He had done it. So He would raise His Son from the dead in a way people could see. That would show who Jesus was, and that God was pleased with Him and what He had done in dying for us.
3 Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
4 And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
There are many reasons Jesus rose from the dead, but one important reason was so we could know this is all real, that He really is the Son of God, the One who came to take care of our sin problem.
So that is how God paid for this gift of eternal life which the verse above (Romans 6:23) mentions. He sent His Son, Jesus, who willingly laid down His life for us.
Receiving the Gift
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
“Grace” is God’s love, love we don’t deserve. That is what saves us, God’s love, because that is why God made the gift available to us, why He was willing to pay the price for it.
“Faith” is how we receive the gift. Faith is believing — that we have a sin problem, and believing what God says about it; that we need a change of mind and heart, and that we can’t make ourselves good enough. It is believing our sins are bad enough that a wage of death is due, and that Jesus paid the price. It is believing His death was for me, to solve my own personal sin problem, to take my punishment and change me to go His way, not mine. It means I believe Jesus really did rise from the dead because He really is the Son of God.
“Through faith” we are saved (delivered, set free) from our sins. We don’t solve our sin problem by being good enough, by doing enough good works, by stopping our sins. If it were by being good, we could boast about ourselves being good enough. But faith means we believe that God’s gift is good enough to solve our sin problem.
The Bible doesn’t add anything. It is just taking God’s word that He is telling the truth about these things. You don’t have to pray a prayer (though it is good to thank God for what He has done for you). You don’t have to walk a church aisle (it is good to tell other people you have believed, and some churches use walking an aisle as a way to do that). You have to believe that what God says is really true. It really is that simple.
What About “Repent”?
What about that “repent” that Jesus was talking about? Doesn’t that mean doing better, stopping sinning, cleaning up your life? Only indirectly.
“Repent” means a change of thinking, a changed way of looking at things. If you look at the last few paragraphs, about faith, you’ll see it is exactly that, a completely changed way of looking at yourself, your sin, and at God. It is seeing these things the way God does, believing that He knows more about them than you do and is telling the truth.
Changed thinking changes behaviour. If you believe arsenic is poison, you don’t eat it, even if it might look good, even if a wee taste seems good. Changed thinking about sin and God means you don’t want spiritual poison anymore. It means we believe God’s warning labels about spiritual poison. So true “repentance” will mean “doing better.” But it isn’t talking about painful self-reform, denial of good stuff you wish you could have, it is saying, “I know I used to like the taste of that, and I still might like the taste, but I know what it is now.” It is sorting out our thinking, so that our behaviour gets right.
Our thinking might not change about everything at first, but it will on the big things — about needing to go God’s way rather than our own, about how much He loves us, and about what He has done to solve our sin problem. The other stuff may take some time, but if God loves us enough to rescue us from the wrong road, He will help us stay on the right road.
If you are homosexual, it means your thinking will change about that, too. But whether your sins are other things plus homosexual behaviour, or just other things, you aren’t on your own. God will help to change your thinking. He calls it “the renewing of your mind” (thus, the name of this blog). You don’t have to go through life controlled by any sin. He sets people free, changing them, giving new spiritual life (that’s where “born again” comes from, it is about a new life of following God rather than going our own way).
Is God a Liar?
It comes down to this. Do you believe God is telling the truth, or do you believe He is a liar? That’s what we all must face. Will I believe God, or won’t I? He left us no middle ground. He says if you won’t believe what He says about His Son, about who Jesus is, and about why Jesus came to die (to solve our sin problem and give us eternal life), you are calling God a liar. Your actions say, “Liar,” whatever your words may say.
I John 5:10-12
10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
All I can do is tell you what God says in the Bible. You can read it for yourself. You can look up these verses I’ve given (type the references in the “Bible / Dictionary Search” box at the top of the page on that link). I’m not making this up. It is the Bible that says if we don’t believe, we are calling God a liar. It is between you and God. I’m just reporting what the Bible says — my personal opinion in this doesn’t matter for anything.
“I Wish I Could Believe, But I Can’t”
Sometimes, I’ll talk to someone who says, “I wish I could believe that, it sounds so good, but I just can’t believe it.” I know sometimes that is an excuse, but perhaps that is you, and you really mean it. I have two verses for you.
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
Jesus said he would heal this man’s son, if he would believe. The man said he believed, but asked for help with his unbelief — and Jesus healed his child. So the first thing, if you find it hard to believe, is that God doesn’t set this bar high. If you really want to believe, but find it hard, you can ask Him to help you believe. Maybe it won’t be a miracle, maybe He will just help you see things in a different way. If God loved us enough for that “grace” thing by sending His Son, then of course He’ll help with the “faith” part, too.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Start seeking for Him.
Look in His Word, the Bible. You’ll find things you don’t agree with, things that are hard to understand, things that seem wrong. But mainly you’ll find amazing, wonderful things, a wonderful story of God’s love and forgiveness despite people rejecting Him.
Find a church to help you. If they won’t help you find God because you are homosexual, go somewhere else. If they say homosexual behaviour is ok, they are cowards. Go elsewhere. You need someone who will help where you are but will tell the truth about where you need to be. Look for a church where people open Bibles during the sermon because it explains what the Bible says, and where you can follow in a Bible yourself and see if what is said matches. If you can’t find the right kind of church, contact me on my contact page and I’ll try to help you find one.
Pray. That just means talking to God. Get by yourself somewhere, and just talk to God about wanting to be able to believe, and ask His help. Don’t dictate terms to God, telling Him you’ll believe if He’ll do this, or that. We don’t have the right to set terms for God — He is the One who sent His Son to die for us. Giving God an ultimatum is all wrong. Just ask Him for help.
Someday this life will be over. It may be sooner for us than we might think. We’d better make sure this sin problem is sorted out, that our relationship with God is right. Eternity is a long time.