Repentance

The Bible and Homosexuality

I have changed my mind regarded Homosexuality. I’d encourage you to do the same. I used to think it wasn’t a sin. For the sake of some people I knew, somehow, I justified it. Who doesn’t want everyone to be OK? Right? I sure do!

rainbow_notwBecause of my desire to have everyone in my life be OK and to avoid the messiness of confronting sin, over the years I have justified many sins in others lives (and my own life). In fact, I once thought that those who practice homosexuality had a spirit of a different gender, so of course they were acting according to how God made them. Was I deceived? How would I know if I was? What is the standard for truth?

Why I trust the Bible as the Standard for Truth.

I trust the Bible because Jesus did and taught us to as well. He proved he could be trusted by his sinless life, the signs God gave him to bear witness to who he was, and the clincher, He rose from the dead. It has been said that there is more evidence for Christ’s resurrection than that Julius Caesar ever existed and that you could prove it beyond any reasonable doubt in a court of law today. Research it for yourself! (Here is one of the best defenses. William Lane Craig debates in colleges all over the nation).

So because of Jesus testimony regarding the trustworthiness of Scripture, I trust it.

So, is it really “clear” from the Bible that those who practice homosexuality are “missing the mark” (def. of sin) of what God intended for human beings? Let’s talk about that.

Here are a quick list of some Scriptures on the subject of homosexuality:

Genesis 1:27 & Genesis 2:18-25 (God creates man and woman. His world, his humans, his design. Who are we to argue?)

“Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.” Leviticus 18:22

Leviticus 20:13 (& a capital offense among those who are called to be holy and in God’s family. When people make war on love, they do so at the risk of, not only their lives, but  their everlasting soul.)

Genesis 19 (Homosexual Sodomites want to rape some angels and Lot)

“And don’t forget Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighboring towns, which were filled with immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and serve as a warning of the eternal fire of God’s judgment.” Jude 1:7 (Commentary on Sodom and Gomorrah which were destroyed as a warning to all who would give themselves to sexual immorality)

“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. 25 They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. 26 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. 27 And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved. 28 Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done.” Romans 1:24-28 (This sin is part of the final stages of God having to hand people over to sin and Satan because of persistent rebellion)

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

“We know that the law is good when used correctly. 9 For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy, who kill their father or mother or commit other murders. 10 The law is for people who are sexually immoral, or who practice homosexuality, or are slave traders, liars, promise breakers, or who do anything else that contradicts the wholesome teaching 11 that comes from the glorious Good News entrusted to me by our blessed God.” – I Timothy 1:8-11 (The laws purpose is to expose and confront sins such as these)

These are the main passages of what the Bible has to say on the subject.

The good news is that we get to change our minds (i.e. repent).

“When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”” (Acts 11:18 NLT)

We have the wonderful amazing privilege of repenting (having a change of heart and mind and turning away) from any sin, whatever it may be. In Jesus, we can walk away and never look back from this particular sin or any other sin you may be involved in. YEA!!!!

Have you ever considered what a gift it is to part ways with sin? Jesus already has paid the death penalty for your sin. As I read through the Bible I was confronted with things I had done that deserved the death penalty. How amazing that there no longer remains any punishment, for Christ has taken it all and he commands, and allows us in his grace, to repent. Take advantage of his offer today. It really is a gift! (More on the gift of Repentance)

Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t in any way hate or even dislike people who commit this particular sin. I am a sinner myself, and I wish to extend the same grace that God has extended to me when I get entangled in sin to anyone who is caught in the snare of this or any other sin. Sin is the enemy.

It’s pretty obvious that sin hurts the one who sins and not only them but also everyone around them as well. We are all in this together. We have all sinned and every one of us needs grace and forgiveness to be set free and stop hurting ourselves and each other. May we have the humility to receive the salvation and freedom that Jesus freely gives to any willing to receive it.

It’s obvious that God doesn’t want us to sin. He wants us to live as he created us to live. In his image. To live loved, and in turn, to live lives marked by His love. Sin is incongruous with God’s loving intentions. Sin is anti-love. Sin wars against love. God created us not harm ourselves with sin, but for love. It pains God to watch us hurt ourselves by choosing sin over love.

God, because of Jesus and all he accomplished on the cross, has nothing but mercy, forgiveness and cleansing – yes, even complete redemption – for all sinners who want his grace and are simply willing to receive it. Do you want to be free? I know I do.

Honestly I would rather not write a blog post on this topic of homosexuality, but after having a few dreams I thought I must at least voice my concern. My dreams were about how the enemy (yes, I’m talking about the devil that most people don’t really even believe exists) was planning (and is well into implementing his plan) to desensitize and thoroughly corrupt people by putting homosexuality on display, especially in front of impressionable kids.

I see it happening. Don’t you? So this blog is for my nieces and nephews who are being lied to every day by a media that homosexuality is just an acceptable lifestyle.

I get it. People need love. People need intimacy. But we need to realize that the intimacy we were made for is actually meant to be fulfilled in relationship first and foremost with God and, in lesser ways, our mates or our “mates” (of course with the Aussie understanding of the word). God wants to be in close relationship with you and indeed with everyone he has made.

There is an intimacy with God available that is so much better and a far more satisfying way then mere sex could ever do for you.

We get a few pictures of this kind of intimacy between friends in Scripture, which I believe model for us the kind of satisfying relationship/friendship that we can have with God himself. Take for instance the relationship between David and Jonathan:

“Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself” (1 Samuel 18:1 NIV)

David’s tribute to Jonathan at the news of his death:

“I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.” (2 Samuel 1:26 NIV)

or Jesus and the apostle John (who referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved):

“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask who it was of whom He spoke. Then, leaning back on Jesus’ breast, he said to Him, “Lord, who is it?” (John 13:23-25 NKJV)

Neither of these close friendships were in any way sexual, and to even imply so would taint this beautiful picture of friendship. We too can be, and are meant to be, one in spirit with Jesus and have a level of intimacy with him that will meet every need of our hearts so we can stop looking for fulfillment elsewhere in what God forbids us to do.

God loves and knows us best and he wants the absolute best for us. This intimate relationship with Jesus is what’s best for us and is what we were created for and will satisfy our intimacy needs. Unfortunately, more often than not, this relationship with Jesus is either neglected or even rejected. And so we are left with unsatisfied hearts searching for love and intimacy elsewhere… in sin.

So many people are confused about this issue of homosexuality, saying people were born this way, etc… and I suppose when I was in the most deceived time in my life, I too believed the same. I once had thought that God had just put a spirit of a woman in a man, or vice versa, but this is complete nonsense when you hold it up the truth of Scripture.

You must read this very thoughtful article on this topic by Ron B. entitled Love that does not Count the Cost.  It was amazing and shed so much light on the subject. Way more than I could or would ever intend to do.

If we say we believe in Jesus, we have to agree with him about what he says is sin and what isn’t. Right? It has been said that Jesus never condemned homosexuality as a sin, that he never spoke about it in his earthly ministry, therefore… what exactly are we supposed to derive from this line of reasoning? Paul was just a homophobic hateful person? Moses got it wrong and had cotton in his ears when God was giving the law? Jesus brother Jude was a heretic?

Anyone familiar with the Gospels will quickly realize that Jesus never came to overthrow the law. The law stands. In fact he upped the ante. I mean, why would he need to say having a perverse form of lust is wrong when he says that to lust is to commit adultery in your heart?

Here is a video from a woman who has a really close walk with God who has visited heaven. I saw this on the Youtube sidebar and was curious if she was going to stay in line with the Word of God. Her talk and many others I’ve since heard are in line with the truth of Scripture and worth considering.

I love John Crowders perspective:

FURTHER THOUGHTS

I have been disturbed that many professing Christians don’t know homosexuality is a sin or worse, are even defending it as an acceptable lifestyle. I even talked about this with a pastor who, when asked, told me that he didn’t know if it was a sin. Really?

I think the reason we compromise with the clear teaching of Scripture is that either we don’t want to give up our sin or, there are loved ones or people in our lives with this sin and we have to reconcile with that. I can see how difficult it is. But the answer is not to capitulate the truth, for the truth is what sets us free. (John 8:32)

As I see it, this, and every other issue, boils down these questions: What is the truth? Is God the creator? Does he love us and intend the best for us? Do we trust him? Is he pure and absolute perfect love itself as his word says? And as the loving Creator he is, does he have the authority and right to dictate to us what is love and what isn’t love (what is sin)?

Besides, even if we all agreed that homosexuality wasn’t a sin, would that change the truth? Can we shout loud enough to drown out the voice of God? Can we change his mind about how he intended his creation to be if we all agree to protest? There is an account in Scripture of a time to come in the last great rebellion when the masses will unite to overthrow God’s rule. Do you think they succeed?

The worldly media has been saturated with the homosexual agenda. You know it and I know it. There is hardly a show out there that doesn’t have the token gay character or at least have guest appearances of gay characters. It’s an agenda to desensitize us and make this sin commonplace and an accepted part of society.

But, it is all a deception. We live in enemy occupied territory you know. The devil exists and rules this sin saturated world. (And only rules because of our sin.) He seeks to turn us all away from our loving heavenly Father. He seeks to twist and corrupt what God intended for good – our sexuality – and pervert it.

Based on what I have read in Scripture, I don’t believe anyone is born homosexual. I do, however, believe the enemy may come in at an early age and deceive and distort and bring confusion to someone’s sexual identity. This is what the enemy does. He seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus has come that we might have life abundant and free… free from sin.

If you are caught in this or any other sin, God can and will lovingly restore your innocence if you let him. He loves you and created you just the way you are for his glory.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION – LEAVE A COMMENT!

Other Great Articles on this topic:

Why Homosexuality is not like other Sins (Desiring God)

http://www.caintv.com/a-detailed-explanation-of-why

Categories: Homosexuality, Repentance, Resurrection | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beauty of Repentance, the Gravity of Sin

A few years ago I read through the Bible in a couple months time and documented the experience of it. It was one of the best things I have ever done. In fact, just yesterday I was thinking about how blessed I was because of it. I had one of the most fruitful and amazing years of life.

Why? Because I prayerfully read through God’s Holy Scriptures asking the author, the Holy Spirit, to teach me and change me. I let his word reshape the way I think, and subsequently behave. In other words I repented – allowing his truth to become my world view.

We all have a tendency to drift away from the truth. We can, as a culture come to celebrate pride – the very sin that caused the devil to become the devil – and the most shameful and degrading of sins.

Peter said to his first audience after the Holy Spirit came:

“And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!”” (Acts 2:40 NASB)

So how do we do this? Through whats called repentance. Repentance is actually the process I described above. Allowing God and his truth to reshape our worldview – how we view reality.

I am due for another read through the Bible. I was thinking of reading through it in 90 days. Who is with me?

The following post is one of the most difficult posts I wrote during that time in my life:

This is the hardest post I have written thus far. It has been stalled for days as I pondered about how to, and whether I should, tell you the issues that the reading thus far has brought up for me. It opened a pandoras box of questions, doubts, and fears – like letting the smoke monster loose on the island. This reference may have been lost on some you. (Incidentally, after all the evil was let loose from the pandoras box, the last remaining item was hope.)

And so my blogging came to a screeching halt as I tried to sort through these issues. I have to warn you, not only is this post long, but it is regarding some very sensitive and grave issues regarding the Christian faith. I share this because it is the truth from Scripture, and it may even save the soul who takes it (the Scripture – not me) seriously. It is a deadly serious thing to continue to pursue a life of sin as a “Christian”. But there is always hope that things can change for the better in ways you can’t possibly imagine right now because God’s love always hopes, always perseveres, and never gives up on us! (1 Corinthians 13:7)

“Repent” was the first message that both the prophet John the Baptist and Jesus ever preached:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 3:2 & 4:17 NIV)

The word “repent” just smacks us in the ears, doesn’t it? It reminds me of “turn or burn” messages like Jonathan Edward’s sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, which to be honest, deeply offends me.

I don’t believe Jesus and John the Baptist are delivering a fiery “turn or burn” message to their audience here, but instead, calling them to change their minds and hearts regarding God and the truth He has for them. Jesus always told the truth because that’s what love does. Love doesn’t hide the truth from those they love, even when the truth may be difficult to hear.

The word “repent” meant something slightly different to the original hearers of Christ’s words than it does to us in the 21st century:

“Prior to the Christian meaning we have inherited, which for the most part is similar to Webster’s definition, the Classical Greek metanoia (repent) meant something quite different—changing one’s mind or heart about someone or something.” (http://www.metanoiaministries.org/Historical.html)

So “repent” meant to have a change of mind or heart about someone (God) or something. I like that. Repent then, in essence, means to take on a new worldview – to think about things from a radically different perspective.

We absolutely MUST first and foremost repent (change our heart and mind) about our notions of who God is!

Perhaps the most important Scripture in the Torah is when God reveals his Name to Moses. God tells Moses who he is and what He is like as a person. (In the book of Numbers, Moses reminds God of what he said in the passage below when pleading for forgiveness and for the lives of rebellious Israel).

Exodus 34:5-7 NLT:

Then the Lord came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,

“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”

(Those last lines are regarding the far reaching consequences of our sin – see NOTE Regarding Exodus 34 at end of post.)

Just consider who this God is! He is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! The Almighty powerful God to whom we are all responsible to, and, as it turns out, he is GOOD! Have you ever considered how lucky we are that this is the One and only God? How fortunate and blessed we are that God isn’t a mean tyrant, that he isn’t seeking to make us all as miserable, spoiling all our fun… though this is how he may be portrayed by some. (Such as myself and others who have struggled with a self-righteous religion).

What if God were not these things? What if he was a capricious God? What if he was a God that demanded thousands of human sacrifices a year like the Aztec’s god? (Ever watched Apocalypto?) What if he was a harsh taskmaster, impossible to please? What if?

How thankful we ought to be that this is the God we are dealing with – a God of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, filled with unfailing love and faithfulness, lavishing love to thousands, forgiving iniquity, rebellion and sin… yet, he is also just, He does not let the guilty get away with anything! Does this sound like a God you could trust? Does this sound like a God you would like to get to know?

I’d like to pray about this before moving on any further.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for being God! Forgive our suspicion and our mistrust of you. We acknowledge that you are a good and loving God. We repent, inviting a change of mind and heart concerning all our past and present notions of who you are God. Reveal yourself to us and may we follow you and love you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Thank you for being you!

Repenting of our Sin.

Let’s face it. How can what God said about not excusing the guilty bring any comfort to us when every last one of us is guilty? All have sinned!

In the law, the sins of homosexuality, adultery, blashphemy, dishonoring your parents, treating the holy and sacred (and the Holy God) with flippancy, or contempt all carried the death penalty. Of these sins, I was guilty of more than one!

In fact, I doubt anyone in the world could not read the Torah, the books of Moses and the law, without coming to the awareness that, by God’s law, they too are under the death penalty. For this is precisely what the laws purpose is! To condemn!

“If the ministry that brought condemnation (the law of Moses) was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!” (2 Corinthians 3:9 NIV)

And it doesn’t help our situation that Jesus in his “Kingdom Manifesto” (Sermon of the Mount) actually increases the weight of the law and applies it to the very motives of our heart. Hatred is murder. Lust is adultery. I was guilty of both.

I squirmed under the realization that God’s law condemns me. His law had it’s intended effect. That same night after reading through the law, I had a dream about how I treated the sin of lust so lightly. God considers my sin to be a far more serious and dangerous than I do.

Sexual Sin.

In the book of Numbers, when the seer Balaam was hired by Balak, the Moabite king, to come and curse Israel, God did not allow him to curse but instead compelled him to bless them three times. But Balaam’s heart was not for blessing Israel at all, as the story reveals. Balaam was more interested in the money Balak would have given him to curse Israel than in God’s interests to bless, so he told Balak how he could bring a curse to Israel. Send in the women!

His plan was to let the Moabite and Midianite women seduce the men of Israel into committing sexual sins and worshiping Baal Peor (a vile sex idol) to bring on God’s wrath. His plan succeeded and 24,000 of the men involved in this sin were killed in the subsequent plague from the Lord.

After considering this story in Numbers and my own sin, I felt the need to address and confront this particularly destructive sin of lust that afflicts 99.9% of all men.

Consider these two Scriptures regarding sexual sin:

“Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NLT – read more of the context here)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Jesus – Matthew 5: 27-30 NIV)

Cut off your hand? Gouge out your eye? This kind of hyperbolic language that Jesus uses here greatly emphasizes the gravity and deadly seriousness of this sin!

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT) (See also: Ephesians 5:3-7 NIV)

We must recognize what a gift it is to be able to renounce and walk away from sin. What a gift! Praise God! What if there were no possible means of forgiveness for sin and you had to pay the penalty for sin yourself?

Remember earlier how God said, “But I do not excuse the guilty”? After pondering this, I realized that He didn’t excuse the guilty:

God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV)

God sent his son Jesus to be the “guilty one” – to be sin – to condemn sin once and for all on our behalf. Jesus absorbed all the fiery wrath of God in our stead. Not only that, but can you believe it? Now we are his righteousness?

Scripture is clear throughout that only God is holy. Man is not. And then he commands us to “be holy as I am holy”. With the command would he not also make a provision?

It is by grace through faith that we (believers in Jesus) become partakers of his holiness. (Please dispel any notion from your head right now of a puritanical somber, holier-than-thou, religious idea of holy).

You come to life when you are holy! You become who God always meant for you to be when you become holy! You had no idea how good life could be, how fun, exhilarating, and adventurous, so full of hope and promise, joy and peace and love that life could be before becoming holy! With holiness you start to actually enjoy God and you fellowship with him, and actually hear from him, and you “share a meal together as friends” and have “wonderful times of refreshing in his presence” when you are holy!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19 NIV)

Guys, do you still want to pursue sexual sin, and dabble with porn? You have a free will. Go ahead. Indulge. But, don’t you realize that you are making yourself an enemy of love and therefore of God when you choose sin over him? It’s idolatry.

Consider the tenderness and forgiveness of Jesus in this story:

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. 3 As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

6 They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” (John 8 NLT emphasis mine)

Jesus, thank you for the forgiveness of sin, victory over sin, and most of all, giving us your Holy Spirit, as we simply trust in you. Forgive us for running away from you. Forgive us for avoiding you. Forgive us for loving our sin more than you. We repent. Thank you for sharing your holiness with us as we simply trust in you. Please reveal to us all the vibrant beauty in what it means to be holy. May we pursue you with all our heart and remain pure in our devotion to you.

(NOTE Regarding Exodus 34) 

I don’t believe God is just being vindictive in his statement, “laying the sins of the parents on the children and grand children”. For in other places in Scripture he says he doesn’t punish the children for their parent’s sin (See Ezekiel 18). He is speaking of consequences of the parents sin.

As parents, we can pass on a blessing or a curse depending on whether we follow and love God, or not. If not, then the practical implications of inviting and serving demons in your home by choosing to sin is that your children will be raised with demonic influences. Not only will this impair them spiritually but they in turn will, more than likely, continue in the same sin patterns the parents followed and bear the same curse.

When will the sin cycle be broken? That’s up to me and you. Whatever the sin cycle is for you, whether it be alcoholism, a porn addiction, or an internet or entertainment addiction, the victory has already been won for us by Jesus. Jesus actually did accomplish something on the cross!

Please leave a reply below! Subscribe to this blog on the home page.  I promise the blogs won’t be as long as this in the future.

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Changing the Way We Think

“But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 15:57 NLT

I am desperate to help others. I see so many racing toward destruction, rejecting God in favor of sin. You can’t have both you know. They are mutually exclusive. Fortunately Jesus has solved the sin problem but we must appropriate the gift.. the victory! We must have a change of mind (i.e. “repent”).

I read in a book entitled, “Is That Really You God” by Loren Cunningham, about a practice where you prayerfully ask God for chapter and verse in the Bible to guide you. Immediately I tried this and prayed, “Lord, what verse would you have me read?” The answer came within moments: “Romans 12:1-2 but specifically verse two. Pay attention!”

So I opened my bible and read:

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2 NLT

God will transform me into a new person by changing the way I think.

To change your thinking is what the Bible translates as “repent”. Jesus said it again and again:

“From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of (change your thinking about) your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”” – Matthew 4:17 NLT

“And you will perish, too, unless you repent of (change your thinking about) your sins and turn to God… No, and I tell you again that unless you repent (change your thinking), you will perish, too.” – Luke 13:3,5 NLT

If you don’t change the way you think about sin, Christ, the cross, the Gospel, the true nature of God, your true identity, you will suffer… unless you overcome (through simple childlike trust). This suffering will extend into the afterlife and will get a great deal worse. Jesus loves you enough to warn you because that’s what love does. Love warns the kayaker of the deadly waterfall and rocks ahead.

Jesus wants to spare you from all suffering and wake you up to a whole new way of being. A new way to be human. Happy ALL the time! Full of joy unspeakable and full of glory!

Interested?

Me too.

I just so happens that I was introduced to Graham Cooke recently and one of his teachings centers on this very thought… changing the way we think. I was listening to it for the first time tonight and thought I’d share it with you:

Leave me a comment and let me know how this teaching has moved your life.

Categories: Repentance | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We “Get To” Repent!

“Repent” is the very first message associated with the good news of Jesus. First proclaimed by his herald and forerunner John, it became the very first message preached out of the mouth of Jesus Christ himself:

“Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” ~ Jesus (Matthew 3:2 NLT)

Today is Yom Kippur. It is a day associated with the turning away from sin and atonement. Of course turning away from sin is one of the essential aspects of repenting. The other aspect has to do with identity. Thinking rightly about who God is, and who that makes you in relationship to him.

This is a big deal. It couldn’t get bigger. Thats why Jesus starts with:

Repent

So what does it mean?

Repentance literally means “to have a change of mind”. Start thinking rightly. About what?

Well, I would suggest that the most important thing to “have a change of mind” about is who God is.

Do you view God as he has revealed himself in His Word or as something else? Do you view him as the very essence and source of love and wisdom and beauty? Do you acknowledge him as Lord, the Master? Your Master?

Do you agree with him about what he says is wicked and evil? (Dare I say that most people don’t.)

Agreeing with him about what he declares evil in your own life is step one to being liberated from the evil that enslaves you.

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (1 John 1:9 NLT)

Who wants freedom?

First step is to agree with God about everything he deems as evil in your life.

Do you lust? Drink to much? Neglect God? Fail to honor him and put him first in everything? Confess it to God. Tell him in painstaking detail what you have done and failed to do, how many times you did it, who you did it with, and agree with him that it was wrong. Pour out your heart to him. He will forgive you. You have his word on that. Turn from your sin.

If you choose not to, I would not want to be you when you come to your “life review”. You choosing to remain tied to any sin guarantees that you are going to be ashamed come judgement day… and you forfeit so much!

“Those who worship worthless idols forfeit the mercy that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8 NET)

The fact of the matter is that if you don’t love Jesus more than anything else in your life, than you have an idol. That’s a given. An idol is anything that takes center stage in your life. What do you give your attention to? What do you invest your life in? Who has your heart?

Scripture says that those who fail to love Jesus are under a curse.

“If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come!” (1 Corinthians 16:22 NLT)

I was talking with a friend about falling in love with Jesus. We figured, if you are in love with Jesus and he is the pursuit of your life, then sin won’t be. You’ll come to hate your sin in the end for what it did to you and everything and everyone you influenced for the enemy. You’ll profoundly regret that you gave your strength and energies, attention and time to the enemy and enlarged the domain of hell because of who you chose to serve.

The wisest man (besides Christ) who ever lived once wrote:

“Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good.” ~ Solomon (Ecclesiastes 9:18 NIV)

I think about that.

Today I was pondering this warning in Scripture:

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NLT)

Anyone with a porn addiction or any other idol for that matter, will not inherit the kingdom of God… don’t fool yourselves.

Indeed a great deal of people are fooling themselves. They may say, “But I believe in Jesus”. The Lord’s brother James would say, ‘show me your faith by what you do‘.

“So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” (James 2: 17-20 NLT)

And what I read in Romans does not bring anyone comfort who still insists on clinging to their sin:

“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will judge everyone according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:4-11 NLT)

What are we going to do?

Respond with soft hearts to the Lord? Or press onward on the broad road that leads to destruction?

This is NOT bad news people! You get to repent of your sins! YEAH!!!!

Did you miss the first part of that last passage of holy Scripture? It’s God’s wonderful kindness and (perhaps infinite?) willingness to forgive and show us mercy when we do repent of our sins.

Repentance is woven into the good news of Jesus from start to finish.

Here is the Gospel message as recorded by Luke:

“It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.'” Luke 24:47 NLT

Only someone who has suffered for years with an inability to repent can really begin to appreciate the fact that we “get to” repent. As someone who was mercifully granted repentance, I appreciate the magnitude of this kindness from the Lord. He allows me the wonderful grace of parting ways with my sin.

Here is a passage about being granted repentance (what a gift!):

So here’s the thing, keeping in mind that repentance means “having a changed mind”, then we need to remember that a changed mind about sin is but a small part of all that repentance truly is.

I am reminded of a Scripture in Romans:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 NLT)

So repentance is really about adopting a whole new mind. It is to be transformed in the way you think and percieve reality… as God does! This is a life long pursuit.

The Atonement

Yom Kippur is a day for celebrating the atonement.

“It is finished.” ~ Jesus

Jesus spoke these words on the cross. What weight and significance do these words carry as the Lamb of God was slain for the sins of the whole world? Jesus has now reconciled all things to himself. What does the Atonement mean? What are the implications?

I’m going to close this post with a reflective reading on this Holy day of Atonement (Yom Kippur):

Christ Is Supreme

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
which is his body.
He is the beginning,
supreme over all who rise from the dead.
So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. (Colossians 1:15-22 NLT)

Do you believe it?

Next, to explore: What does “the Kingdom of heaven is near” really mean?

Categories: Repentance | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

A message for young (and old) men

Dreams are one way that God speaks to me. Often what the Lord shows me in them are quite serious, sometimes life changing, sometimes they contain messages for the world (which I feel is my duty to share). The latter is what last nights dream was about. A message for men everywhere.

I was on vacation with my family. My girls were teens and we were on a boat going up a river. We arrived at a house by the river that we were staying at and two young men were there for our protection. There were nefarious forces (who I understood to be demons) seeking to do travelers harm and these young men were here to defend us in the house.

The problem was that one was falling asleep on the job and the other started to try to seduce my eldest daughter. I took a flat metal rebar and roughed him up a little bit and said, “If you try that again I’m going to have to put this through your chest. Don’t make me do it!”

I had the feeling in my dream that these young men were representative of all young men. They were called to be warriors, protectors, defenders who wage war against the forces of darkness. They were meant to be honorable warriors for truth, purity, and love. But they had lost the vision for their calling. They were bored and falling asleep. (And playing video games?)

Others have left from their intended role as defenders of truth and morality to being partners with the enemy they were meant to defend others from. They had given themselves to sexual vice.

How patient and long-suffering God is to us. How many times have my actions warranted a metal rebar being plunged through my chest? Yet he gives us time to repent. He doesn’t want to bring the judgement our sins deserve but would rather forgive and forget. He would much sooner redeem and transform our heart, restoring us to our true purpose and calling.

(Update: As I was pondering this blog post I thought I had wrote, “How many times has the LORD wanted to plunge a metal rebar through my chest?” Which would have been a gross misrepresentation of the LORD. (On par with Moses striking the rock twice in anger, for which he was denied access into the promised land). The fact is, God does not wish or want to bring anyone suffering. It is our own sins that do us harm, not the LORD. Judgement from the Lord consists of him allowing us to do as we wish. It’s a handing over process because we insist on leaving and love does not demand its own way. He lets you leave his loving care and presence and go into the darkness where there are a plethora of demons and evil spirits ready to torment you. Of course this hardly applies to those innocent who are victimized. To the victimizers Jesus has said that it would be better if a millstone were tied around your neck and you were drowned in the depths of the seas. But even they (child molesters for instance) can find grace and redemption if they seek it. For God is not willing that any should perish but all to come to repentance.)

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20 NIV)

I am concerned for those who are pursuing their sins and refusing to repent. The sad fact is that people are using sin to reject and push away Jesus, and to reject your only Savior is what lands anyone in hell. To reject Jesus is to fire your only defense attorney who has never lost a case. And I don’t believe anyone has ever won a case in heavens court without him. We need to truly and humbly come to Jesus and beg his forgiveness and begin to honor him or face dire consequences.

Scripture says that those who continue in sin are storing up wrath on the day of judgement unless they repent:

“But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. 6 He will judge everyone according to what they have done. 7 He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. 8 But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. 9 There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 10 But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:5-11 NLT)

I am concerned about my daughters future. If Jesus doesn’t return for 15 more years, who is raising my daughters future husband? Are they honorable men teaching their boys to be warriors for purity, honor, and love? Or are they lost in a porn addiction and letting the demons have their kids as well?

John writes in his letter:

“I have written to you who are young in the faith
because you are strong.
God’s word lives in your hearts,
and you have won your battle with the evil one.”

LORD, make it true of young (and old) men everywhere.

Categories: Dreams, Repentance | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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