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, June 30, 2015

Come Early Stay Late


Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early. . . . But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, . . . .  - John 20:1 and 11

Have you ever found yourself caught up in the rapids of life? Do you catch yourself wondering where did the day go? Or where did the week go? Or Where did the month. . . .  year . . . decade go? Or where did my life go? Caught up in the rushing currents of life’s activity it dawns on you one day that you’re feeling a bit out of control. You feel robbed by a pace that doesn’t allow for peace. Ever feel like a rodent in a worldly rat race? Feel like you’re swirling around and around in a circle of swirling water that’s sucking you moving closer and closer to the engulfing garbage disposal? Life can be like that.

Christians are not immune to such entrapping life currents. Ever wake up one morning to remember you haven’t picked up your Bible today, or in days, weeks, months? If that’s the case then you need to press the pause button and consider your walk with Jesus. W.C. Fields once comically commented, “Remember, a dead fish can float down stream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.” [1] A lifeless or spiritually lethargic Christian will float along on worldly currents, but a living vibrant born again Spirit-filled believer will swim against that flow. Which are you?

Many Christians and much of the church have allowed themselves to be caught up in a worldly pace. We may refrain from worldly types of things but we are caught up in a worldly pace. When Jesus wrote His letter to the church in Ephesus He noted they had a lot going on and were effective apologists for the faith. But even though they were busy He said there was something very wrong with them. “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5). Ministry busy-ness is no excuse for neglecting your relationship with Jesus; your first love.

An unknown saint wrote, “Seven days without God’s word makes one weak.” How’s your devotional life? Do you have one? Do you know what a devotional life is? A devotional life is the quiet time you spend alone with Jesus and His word. It’s the time you devote to Him; just Him. Do you spend any time with Jesus; just with Jesus? We hopefully set aside time to spend with those we love: our spouse; our children; family; and friends. But we shouldn’t sacrifice our time with Jesus to spend time with others or to do other things. When we sacrifice or neglect our time with Jesus it reflects negatively on our other relationships. The better more intimate and quality devotional time with spend with Jesus, the better more quality time we will have with others. The blessing and quality of all other relationships flow from the quality of our relationship with Jesus. And our devotional time with Jesus is foundational to that.

If we want a quality relationship with Jesus it begins with our attitude toward our relationship with Jesus. Our devotional time is one indicator that reflects our relationship with Jesus. But our attitude toward church attendance, ministry activities, and things relating to Jesus are also indicative of our relationship with Jesus. Let me ask you something, honestly, are you one of those people who chronically arrives late and chronically rushes out at the end of a Jesus related activity? Do you rush to do your devotions? When you are physically in your devotional time are you mentally elsewhere? When you’re physically in church are you mentally on to the next activity? I want to make an argument that rather than coming late and leaving early to Jesus related activities we should be willing to come early and stay late to things related to Jesus.

My case study to base my argument for coming early and staying late in things relating to Jesus is resurrection morning.  In the Gospel accounts and John’s account in particular it states: “Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb” (John 20:1). It’s not accidental that the account of the Resurrection begins “early” in the morning “while it was still dark.” It was early in the morning before the break of day that Mary “saw” (Greek blepo) or perceived and beheld that the stone had been rolled away from the tomb. If you want the stone rolled away so you can see more of Jesus, if you want the stone rolled away so you can know more of Jesus and see His miraculous power and revelation, coming early in the morning into His presence devotionally is a good way to start.

The Lord honors those who put Him first in their day. Early morning devotions are a trade secret of those who have been mightily used by the Lord. If you look at the great people of God who He mightily used almost without exception they practiced the habit of rising early to meet devotionally with the Lord.

We see meeting early with the Lord throughout the Bible. Abraham rose early to meet with God (Genesis 19:27; 22:3). Jacob rose early to ponder what God had given him in a dream (Genesis 28:16-18). Moses rose early to meet with God (Exodus 24:4; 34:4). Joshua rose early to meet with God (Joshua 3:1). Gideon rose early in the morning to meet with God (Judges 6:38). Hannah rose early to worship the Lord (1 Samuel 1:19). Job rose early in the morning to worship the Lord (Job 1:5). King Hezekiah rose early to go to the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 29:20). David said, “Early will I seek You” (Psalm 63:1; cf. also Psalm 5:3; 57:8; 119:147). The ideal godly woman rises early to start her day (Proverbs 31:15).

When we look beyond the Bible into history we see that nearly all of the Church Fathers practiced early morning devotions. Later in history we see this pattern of early morning meetings with Jesus in people like John Calvin, Martin Luther, George Whitefield, John and Charles Wesley, Francis Asbury, David Brainerd, Jonathan Edwards, William Wilberforce, William Carrey, Hudson Taylor, C.H. Spurgeon, D.L. Moody, William and Catherine Booth, Hannah Whitehall Smith, R.A. Torrey, A.W. Tozer, Corrie Ten Boom, Billy Graham, Chuck Smith and the list could go on and on. There is something about rising early in the morning to meet with God that He honors and blesses. Are you starting your day with the Lord? Are you rising early to meet with Jesus? He’s waiting to meet with you. Hear Christ’s call to rise and shine and meet Him in His presence.

But most importantly, Jesus rose early to meet with His Father. “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (Mark 1:35). If Jesus rose early for His devotional time, so should we. God’s predestined plan and purpose for us is to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus. Rising early and meeting with the Father in Jesus’ name as led by the Holy Spirit is a part of that conformity to Christ-likeness (Romans 8:29; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6; cf. also John 13:15). How’s your morning devotions?

The Lord reveals Himself to those who start their day with Him. Mary loved Jesus. Jesus had delivered Mary Magdalene from seven demons (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). She was probably up all night waiting to go to the tomb of Jesus. She didn’t know He would be risen. Maybe she hoped He might be risen; just like He said He would be. But Mary loved her Lord Jesus. She just wanted to be close to Jesus as much as she could, as soon as she could, even if it was just outside the tomb that held His dead body. Mary Magdalene models that hunger and passion for Jesus that we should all have. And the beginning of that hunger and passion begins with seeking to be close to Him early in the day.

The account continues: “Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:2).  Because Mary Magdalene was the first to the tomb she was the first to receive and be able to bring news related to the resurrection of Jesus to the other disciples. She had been rewarded for her diligence and was now acting on what she had perceived.

Unless we act on what God reveals to us it serves no purpose and profits us nothing. Can you imagine the opportunity Mary Magdalene would have missed out on if she had just kind of shrugged her shoulders and turned away telling no one of the empty tomb she had seen? It would not have deterred the fact of the resurrection, but it would have eliminated her from the story and delayed the news that Jesus had risen from the dead.

We don’t only see in Mary an example of early eager seeking of Jesus. In Mary we see she “ran” to tell others about Jesus. This was not running to do peripheral things about Jesus. This was a running to tell others directly about Jesus. There is a time to run. There’s a time to run ahead of the worldly flow. Mary had forsaken sleep and been rewarded with the position of the first to see and know that Jesus wasn’t in the tomb. Mary was running against the dead water of laziness, lackadaisicalness, and lethargy. Mary had a passion to be with Jesus? And now she ran to tell the others what she had seen.

We need to receive revelation from the Lord. But we also need to act on it. If we don’t act on what God reveals to us when we study His word and hear from Him, it will be useless. If we don’t add acts of faith in implementing God’s revelation we’ve received we will be stunted in our spiritual growth and fruitless. When you rise early and receive something from the Lord make sure to share it with others.

Now we see the contagiousness of Mary’s excitement and urgency: “Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first” (Jon 20:3-4). As Peter and John received word of the empty tomb from Mary they both immediately responded. John adds that he outran Peter. It was a race of first responders. They’re sense of immediacy, urgency, eagerness, and priority is something we should follow. When was the last time you received word about the Lord and dropped all you were doing to check into it more? When was the last time you put Jesus related things at the TOP of your priority list and acted like they were? Are you interested in the things of the Lord? Are Jesus and the things of Jesus your top priority? Do you act like it?

 

If Peter and John would have shrugged off Mary’s news they would have lagged behind in the account of the greatest event of all time. So often we miss out on what God is doing because of our lackadaisical spirit or lack of interest. We miss out on so much because the things of God aren’t a priority for us. What if Peter and John had said to Mary, “Well isn’t that interesting. Humph. We’re going fishing now but for sure we’ll check this out later”? No, Peter and John immediately put the empty tomb at the TOP of their to do list. What’s on your “to do” list? Are Jesus and the things of God TOP priority for you? If not, you’re probably missing out on some of the greatest life changing experiences of your life.

 

“And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed.” (John 20:5-8). Now notice an important pattern here. John was first to the tomb. Once there he stooped down and “saw” (Greek blepo) meaning he simply observed the empty linen cloths (20:5). John arrived first at the tomb but it was Peter that entered the tomb first. Peter entered the tomb and “saw” (Greek theoreo) meaning as a spectator viewing an event; studying the evidence and thinking about it (20:6). We get the word theory from this Greek term used in verse 6 that is translated “saw.”  But in verse 8 it says when John comes into the tomb after Peter “he saw and believed.” “Saw” (Greek eido) here means to experience, to put together facts and get an idea. We get the English word idea from the Greek term translated “saw” in this verse. As John looked at the evidence an idea formed in his mind and the result was he “believed” (Greek pisteou) or was convinced, came to confidence in, trusted, put his faith in, became willing to rely on what the evidence meant.

 

There is a natural progression seen here of those who come to faith in Christ. First a person is given some information, data or evidence to observe or hear. Second, the person thinks about what they’ve seen and gathers the evidence; they process the evidence of what they’ve seen or heard. And as the observed facts or heard information percolates within finally you come to personally understand and accept and trust in what you’ve heard or seen; you believe what you have heard, read or seen about Jesus.

 

This is often how we learn and grow in our walk with the Lord too. At first we may only see words on a page. But as we prayerfully take in God’s word it begins to establish a place in us. As we let God’s word ruminate within the Spirit brings the pieces together and helps us make sense of what God’s word is saying.  If at first you don’t understand what you are reading or studying in God’s word, be patient, pray, let it ruminate within. Meditate on God’s word; think about it; ponder God’s word. The Spirit will help you understand. And then act in faith on what you come to know.

 

Notice also that those who saw the evidence and formed a belief had to “stoop” down to look in. this is an image of humility. We come to Jesus on His terms not our own. We come humbly before the Lord to receive from Him. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). The Holy Spirit has a way of convicting and humbling the sinner (e.g. John 16:8-11). Come on your knees to Jesus and He will reveal Himself to you.

 

But you don’t have to be a theologian to be saved from your sins. “For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes” (John 20:9-10). The disciples didn’t fully know the scriptures. They didn’t fully know the scriptures that Jesus “must rise again from the dead.” That’s pretty important stuff. Later Paul will be inspired to write salvation is rooted in believing Jesus has risen from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). The disciples did know this, yet. But they knew enough to believe in Jesus.

 

You don’t have to know everything about Jesus to trust in Him as your Savior and Lord. You don’t have to be a theologian to know Jesus personally as your Savior and Lord. You will grow in your faith. You will eventually come to know scripture more and more. The Spirit will help you with that (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:9-14). But trust the Lord based on what He has revealed to you. When you come to something you don’t understand lean on what you do understand. You don’t have to know everything to believe in Jesus. You don’t have to know it all; you just need to know enough to believe in Jesus. Once you put your trust in Jesus you will grow in your understanding and knowledge of Him. It worked for these disciples. It will work for you.

 

This is a word for those of you reading this teaching who have yet to be born again through faith in Jesus. Jesus said a person has to be spiritually born. We are physically born into this world but with that birth comes a sinful nature. We need a second birth. Because of our sinful nature we are prone to sin. And we do sin and live in rebellion toward God. If we persist in this way of living and die in our sins we will spend an eternity separate from God in a dark tormenting place called hell. The person who dies in their sins is locked away eternally from God and His people because they have refused to allow God to treat the damnable infection of sin. God allows no sin in heaven. Sin causes pain and sorrow and He has purposed heaven to be a place of eternal bliss and joy with Him. The Holy Spirit reveals all of this to the sinner as well as the good news of a God ordained solution.

 

The Holy Spirit convicts the sinner of their sin and points them to Jesus as the Savior and solution to the sin problem. The person who has been physically born into the world must be spiritually born if they want to spend eternity with God. Sin kills us spiritually (Ephesians 2:1-3). But God provides a way for us to receive His eternal life in exchange for our deadness in sin (Romans 6:23). God, freely, as a gift of His grace, had Jesus come and pay the penalty for humanities’ sin on the cross. That the Father accepted this atoning work of Jesus on the cross is proved by the resurrection (cf. 1 Corinthians 15).

 

Anyone who turns from their sins and puts their faith in Jesus as Savior asking the Father to forgive them will receive forgiveness from God and eternal life through their relationship with Jesus. “For he made Him who know no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Have you done this? It’s the only way to escape the peace-robbing pace of this world and find peace with God and the peace of God (cf. Romans 5:1; Philippians 4:6-9).

 

All of these circumstances began with the early morning seeking of Mary. But there is another character trait of Mary that led to even more revelation for her. The disciples went away “to their own homes.” They separated from each other but they were united in what they had seen at the tomb. They went home no doubt pondering, meditating on what they had seen. And they were no doubt processing all they remembered from Jesus’ teaching and what they had now seen in the empty tomb.

 

But Mary stayed behind: “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:11-12). Mary had come early and she stayed late. Mary just couldn’t leave. Not only had she seen her Savior Jesus crucified the day before but now His body was gone. She didn’t understand. All she did know was her heart was broken in grief for Jesus. But when she stooped down into the tomb she saw something amazing.

As Mary Magdalene stooped down and looked into the tomb, looking through her teary eyes, she saw “two angels.” The angels were “in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.” Now for a Gentile unaware of the Old Testament the imagery might be missed. But for a Jew familiar with the Temple, Holy of Holies and Ark of the Covenant the imagery of the two angels sitting on either end of where Jesus had been laid would be unmistakable. You see, the lid of the Ark of the Covenant was called the “Mercy Seat” (Exodus 25:17-22, 34; 37:6-9). The Mercy Seat was made of pure gold and had two angels on each end of the cover, facing each other with wings outstretched. The Mercy Seat was where the High Priest once a year made atonement for the nation of Israel on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). The empty tomb, with two angels “one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” is a visual confirmation that what the Mercy Seat of old had typified was now fulfilled in Jesus (cf. Hebrews 9). What a blessing!

Now don’t miss this. Mary saw more and was blessed more completely because she stayed later than the other disciples. Because she stayed a little longer she looked in and saw the imagery of the fulfillment of God’s mercy in Jesus. And in just a moment more Mary will see Jesus Himself. “Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’She turned and said to Him, ‘Rabboni!’ (which is to say, Teacher)” (John 20:16). Oh what a glorious and joyful meeting that must have been. The grieving Mary meeting the resurrected Jesus; wonderful. And all of this because she just stayed a little longer.

The disciples left. They would see Jesus later. But Mary met her Savior Jesus. She had early sought to be close to her Lord Jesus. She had cared enough to stay longer. And she had met “my Lord” (John 20:13). And that really is the key to all of this; Mary personally, passionately, powerfully sought “my Lord.” She just had to be close to “my Lord.” Because Jesus to her was “my Lord,” she was driven to come to seek Him early and stay later than the others. And Jesus rewarded her for that. How about you, is Jesus to you, “my Lord”? Do you have a personal passion that powerfully impacts your life, enough to seek Him early and stay late until He makes His presence known to you? If your “walk” with Jesus is come late and leave early you’ll most likely miss out on meeting Jesus. But if you come early and stay late, if you follow His pace, you’ll be blessed with His presence and His peace and He’ll reveal wonderful things to you. The choice is yours.

 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Good News for those Caught in Sexual Sin


“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes . . . . “ – Romans 1:16a

 

“And such were some of you” – 1 Corinthians 6:11

 

 

Sexual sins such a pornography, fornication (any and all sexual interaction outside of marriage), adultery, homosexuality/lesbianism, bestiality, are rampant in our day. So deep is our world in such sins that governments both national (e.g. the United States) and international (e.g. United Nations) are actually passing legislation to legalize and protect those who indulge in such sin. Laws are being passed to justify those who indulge such sins and prevent people from discriminating against them. It is socially anathema to speak against those living immoral lifestyles. And standing for holiness and speaking against such immorality is becoming more and more of a "criminal" offense. Our world is twisted. These are days when evil is called good and good is called evil (Isaiah 5:20). But there is a greater truth. There is a higher reality.

 

The acceptance of immorality as "good" in our world today is bad enough, but the greater tragedy is that the world refuses to see the addictive nature of immorality. Immoral thoughts and actions release chemically addictive elements in the human body. The images of immorality scar human memory. And the end result is slavery to the sins of immorality. Sexual sin affects every aspect of people; body, mind, and spirit. Sexual immorality is one of the worst addictive enslavements in our day. But there is a way to be freed. There is a way out. You can make an exodus.

 

Sexual sin perverts our view of humanity reducing people to objects not people created in the image of God. It literally dehumanizes people. Sexual sin ruins marriages and families. It is frequently instrument of unfaithfulness and covenant breaking. It bankrupts people financially. People lose homes, jobs, everything to feed their sexual appetites. All of this is an allurement of a spirit of hedonistic "pleasure." That "pleasure," is far from God's definition of pleasure. Sexual sin leads to the putrification of the person. But there is a way to be purified.

 

This is a longer than usual study. It’s longer because it deals with one of the most egregious, debilitating, prevalent and widespread plagues of sin in our day; sexual immorality. I hope you can prayerfully take the time to go through this study. I pray the Spirit use it in your life if you are caught in the web of sexual sin. I pray the Spirit helps you to use it in other people’s lives who may be caught up in sexual sin. But I pray God uses this teaching to bring a revival of setting captives free. God’s word is, after all, described as “the law of liberty” (James 1:25; 2:12).

 

In Paul’s inspired letter to the Romans he connects sexual immorality to the downward spiral of humanity into to ever deepening sin. Romans chapter one gives great insight into the nature, cause, and solution regarding sexual sin. Here is the arrow that can bring down the beast of sexual immorality that has stampeded the land.

 

In the opening lines of Paul’s letter to the Romans he says, “I am a debtor” regarding the sharing of the gospel (1:14). Paul felt the good news of the gospel of God’s grace and salvation was so incredibly wonderful that it would be criminal to not share it. The powerful gracious love of Christ that he experienced compelled him to share the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Romans 5:5).  Why did he feel this way?

 

Sin is mercilessly captivating and enslaving no matter the form it takes. It chokes the life out of the sinner. Sin works a slow death in people. Sin can work a swift death in people too. But sin always kills, murders, and destroys. Sin wrecks lives. Sin leaves spent bodies and broken promises in its wake. Deviating outside the parameters of God’s truth into sin always carries with it cancerous consequences. But there is a cure. There is a gracious cure from God that is good news for the person bending and near breaking under the weight of sin. The word “gospel” means good news. And the gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest of good news. The gospel sets sin-captives free and that liberation by God of the sinner is what Paul was indebted to pass on to all slaves of sin.

 

What was it that so impressed and moved the apostle Paul and caused him to feel indebted to write this epistle and share the gospel? There are four reasons stated by Paul in Romans for his feeling this way and they are immensely pertinent to anyone caught in a lifestyle of sexual sin. 

 

First Paul says, For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 1:16a). Paul would not shrink back in shame because some did not receive the gospel or God’s truth. He was not inhibited by peer pressure or public denunciations from his enemies. He cared more about serving God and Christ’s opinions than the opinions and opposition of people. The philosophy of the world is often presented as one of “tolerance.” But that tolerance is selective in that only those views that do not challenge the comfort of those living in sin are tolerated. You have to go with the flow of the status quo to be tolerated in the world today. Go against that flow and you will be labeled and libeled and discriminated against in the most intolerable ways. You will be persecuted. In some parts of the world to point out a lifestyle or act as sin leads to a fine or prison time.  That day is near if not already here in America. Just as Paul stood and courageously proclaimed in love the truth of God, no matter what, so should we (1 Corinthians 4; Ephesians 4:15)

 

Second Paul says, For it is the power of God to salvation for everyone” (Romans 1:16b). The good news is that the gospel of Christ is God’s powerful tool to save people from their sins. The gospel empowers people to live righteous lives. That is what makes the gospel worth sharing. We are saved from the death sentence of sin through the free gift of eternal life received by faith in Christ (Romans 6:23). The gospel introduces us to a grace that helps us overcome sinful lifestyles. It breaks the chains of sinful habits that on our own we cannot overcome (Romans 5:20; 6:4, 14,22; 7:24-25; 8:1-4, 37; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The grace of God is able to set the sin-slave free. That’s a great reason to share the gospel.

 

Third Paul says, For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17). The gospel of God is received by faith and lived by faith. “Righteousness” (Greek dikaioisune) refers to the character or quality of being right or just. Righteousness was formerly spelled “rightwiseness.” Righteousness refers to the right way things are to be done.

 

Righteousness is determined by God’s word.   When “righteousness” is used to refer to an attribute of God it is equated with God’s faithfulness or truthfulness (Romans 3:25-26). God is “righteous” in that He is faithful and consistent to keep His word. God keeps His promises. When we talk about the righteousness of God, we mean the highest, most holy, just and good standard of what is right. Since God is the highest and holiest of all, so is His righteous standard of governing the universe.

 

Part of the good news of the gospel is the bad news of sin. Unless a person realizes the bad news of their sinful state, the good news of God’s gospel will not be worth much to them. In the words of the ancient church father Jerome, “You cannot understand the antidote until you first understand the poison.”

 

Sin is the poison we need to identify before the antidote of the gospel can be administered. It is the law of God that is meant to expose the poison of sin in life. Paul wrote: “But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, 9 knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust” (1 Tim. 1:8-11). Two sexual sins exposed by the law here are “fornicators” and “sodomites.”  Let’s look at these two areas of sin.

 

The law of God states that sex outside of marriage is sinful. Sexual activity outside of the marriage relationship is called “fornication.” When we think of fornication we may limit our understanding to a sinful act. But the holy standard of Jesus, the one all people will be accountable to, is something that begins in the mind. Sin begins in our thoughts. Jesus elevated sexual sin or “lust” to our thought life; our fantasies. He said, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28).

 

Sexual fantasies are not harmless; they are sinful. Pornography, which preys on the “pleasures” of the mind, is not harmless. It pollutes our thoughts. It crowds out the pure thoughts God would have us meditate on (Phil. 4:8-9). We are called to be renewed in our minds (Eph. 4:23). Those caught up in impure sexual fantasizing need to have the gospel applied to their minds. God is able to renew and purify our thoughts. Jesus is able to cleanse and scrub your mind clean of the filth. He does this with the cleansing power of His word (cf. Eph. 5:26).

 

The word “sodomites” refers to homosexual behavior. Homosexuality is included under the umbrella of sexual sin. God is very clear when He states in His word, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22; See also Romans 1:18-32).

 

Proponents of homosexuality try to explain away the Biblical mandates against same sex relations. They try to dismiss God’s prohibitions based on many of the statements being in the Old Testament. But they cannot refute the underlying principles found in the Old Testament. In Leviticus and Deuteronomy when God provides His people with His Law He does so in part to prepare His people to stay away from unhealthy and unholy practices of pagan inhabitants that His people would encounter in the Promised Land of Canaan. The Canaanites did practice homosexuality. They did practice incest, bestiality, self -mutilation, human sacrifice and a host of other sinful behaviors. The Canaanites were examples of what humanity degenerates into when people live without the one true God. These sinful practices were abominable to the Almighty Holy God. And so God called His children to be holy, to live holy, to remain separate from the sinful practices of the pagans in the Promised Land.

 

Unfortunately as people in our day have moved further and further from God and His word they are indulging the very same sinful practices God warned His people of leading up to their conquest of Canaan. Humanity is not evolving into higher levels of living. Humanity is degenerating into lower levels of sin that threaten to surpass sinful civilizations of the past. We have a winner! But this race is not a good race. It is a race over a cliff.

 

God cannot simply overlook or dismiss sin. If He did that He would tarnish and contradict His righteousness and justice. God’s righteousness and faithfulness to His word holds the universe in order. Pagan gods are capricious. Pagan man-made gods are not faithful to their word. But the God of the Bible is righteous and true. You can depend on God and His word. That is a source of great security and comfort.

 

The order of the universe is based on God’s standard of justice. Murderers will not go unpunished, nor will the greedy, the covetous or the sexually immoral. These are, in the truest sense, crimes against humanity. Sin causes pain and suffering.  Sinful people are deceived into thinking their sin is harmless. The Holy Spirit knows better. And the school of hard knocks often teaches the sinner there is a consequence to sin. It’s true, “what a man sows, that he will reap” (Gal. 6:7-9).

 

All sin will be recompensed justly. It would be criminal to allow a murderer to go free unpunished. There is a penalty for those who cause pain to others. And there is even a penalty for those who pain themselves. We all belong to God. God created us. We have no right to harm ourselves or others. God’s oversight of the universe does not allow for unpunished criminals so that there is order and deterrence.

 

There is a penalty, a “wage” for sin that God’s righteousness has set forth. That wage is “death” (Romans 3:23; 6:23; Jeremiah 2:19). All those who sin are deserving of death according to God’s standard. But God is rich in mercy. God doesn’t give up on sinners. God loves those He has created. And because God loves us He is posed with a dilemma. How can, how does, a righteous God reconcile sinful humanity to Himself and still maintain His righteousness, His justice? The answer to that question is found in Christ. By God’s grace through faith in Jesus, we can be made righteous before Holy God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  God demonstrates His own love in sending Jesus to pay the sin debt penalty He did not owe, for sinners who owed a debt penalty they could not pay (Rom. 5:8).

 

Fourth Paul says, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). God provides a plan of salvation. He does so while remaining just. And it is that justice which requires recompense. In His holy justice God administers a penalty that fits the crime. Because God is just He cannot, He will not, He does not simply dismiss sinful offenders. Those who refuse to receive the loving, gracious, just and costly gospel of Christ by faith, the wrath of God is revealed and coming against them.

 

God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). There will be no plea bargaining on that day. Saying you are sorry will not be enough to gain a dismissal of the charges against you. The sinner should feel sorry for your sin. We don’t do God a favor by being sorry for offending Him. God is holy and just and His judgment will be fair. But He will fulfill His nature as Holy Judge. His judgment will be just and proper. For those who rebel and persist in denying God’s word and law and live on in sin, it will be a frightening Judgment Day. Rebellious sinners will come before God on judgment day and do so standing alone. They will come before the Almighty in their own strength without Jesus as their Advocate. It will be a time of great fear and doom (Hebrews 10:26-31).  This is why those who do know Jesus as Savior and have received the gospel and truth of God’s word have an urgency to share the gospel with sinners. Those given spiritual life in Christ want others to be saved from sin and receive eternal life too. The alternative is too terrible even for the worst of enemies. 

 

While we would rather preach and teach about the love of God, the wrath of God is part of God’s character and gospel truth. The holy justice of God results in the wrath of God on sinful injustices. Without God’s wrath on sin, God would cease to be holy and loving. A God who condones or casts a blind eye on sin is neither loving to the victims or just and powerful to maintain His law. This is reality. God is not who we say He is or think He is. God is who He has revealed Himself to be. And He has revealed who He is in His word. That is our only reliable source of information. If we go to the word of God it will lead us away from our sexual sin.

 

We are called to Sexual Purity. Sexual purity is God’s will for all people as Paul was inspired to write: “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 Thess. 4:3-8).

Everyone, especially the Christian, is called to walk to please God.” (1 Thessalonians 4:1) The Christian is held to a higher standard. A Christian cannot simply follow the secular standard or what the world says is right or wrong. A Christian is called to “the will of God, your sanctification.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). “Sanctification” (Greek hagiasmos) refers to holiness, dedication to the Lord, dedication to moral purity (Romans 6:19, 22; 1Corinthians 1:30; 1Thessalonians 4:3, 4, 7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:2f.).

Paul points to a particular area where the Christian is to be sanctified. That area is sexual purity. Looking at this passage we can define such dedication to God and moral purity in the following ways. Sanctified and acceptable behavior to God consists of:

 

  1. Each person should know how to control their body in a way that dedicates it to the Lord and is honorable and honoring to the Lord – 4:4
  2. Passionate lust is unacceptable because it is the way of those who do not know God. Passion for the Lord and passion to live within the parameters of God’s word is holy. But lustful fleshly selfish passions are sinful – 4:5
  3. We should not allow ourselves to be manipulated into sexually compromising situations. We should not manipulate others into compromising sexual situations – 4:6
  4. Remember, God called us to be pure and separate, not unclean and polluted by the world. We should guard against adopting worldly standards that compromise by way of rationalizing so that we unnecessarily put ourselves in tempting sexual situations – 4:7.
  5. Those who reject God’s call to sanctification and sexual purity are rejecting God’s best for them. They are rejecting God and the Holy Spirit who guides and convicts us in such matters – 4:8.

 

In light of these words what should we do? We should guard against putting ourselves in compromising situations and take every precaution to fulfill God’s call to walk a holy and pure life, especially in the area of sexuality.

 

Some are Loophole Christians. God has promised to not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able. He has promised to make a way of escape so that we can refrain from sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). That path to purity is not to presume on the grace of God (Romans 6:1ff). We are not free to sin, but free not to sin. We should not be looking for loopholes to justify our indulgence in sin. We should not have an attitude that seeks to go as far as we can while still rationalizing our “holiness” before the Lord. Such an attitude is evidence that one has already begun the descent down the slippery slope of sin. We need to take every precaution, make every effort, and refrain from every questionable action that threatens God’s call to holiness (Ephesians 5:1-3).

 

Practically this means we need to put aside the attitude that says, “Others are doing it, why can’t I? God will understand.” This is the sin of presumption. Presumption is assuming immunity or God’s approval when it is not there. We need to put the sin of presumption far from us. We need to take the lead in purity not follow the flow of impurity. Any dead fish can float down stream. It takes a live fish to swim against the current.

 

The only place sexual contact of any kind is holy and permissible is in the marriage relationship (between one man and one woman), nowhere else (Hebrews 13:4). Dating, engagement nor any other state outside of marriage is acceptable for sexual contact. It is a gigantic mistake to disregard the cautions of God and His word in this area.

 

Protect Your Honor. Each person must “know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor.” The word “know” (Greek ŏikĕiŏs) is a word that speaks about our dwelling, our home. We are to “know” our bodies just like we know our home. Another word closely associated with this is “edification” (Greek ŏikŏs). It is a construction term that means to build up.  The point made here is that each person is responsible to know how to handle their own body. You have to know how to handle yourself. Know your weaknesses and avoid situations that you are most susceptible to be defeated in. And you need to know what you need to be built up spiritually. You need to know how to handle yourself so that you will be sanctified or prepared and available for God to use. This is our responsibility. The Holy Spirit will empower us to live sanctified lives. But we have a part to play here too. We need to live reverently so God can work righteously in us (Phil. 2:12-13).  

The word “honor” (Greek time, pronounced tee-may´) means a value, valuables, of the highest degree, or the dignity itself . . . honour, precious, price, some.  Your body and its purity are precious and you should take every precaution to protect yourself from doing anything that would lessen its value and preciousness. Christian your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore live in a way that would not embarrass the Holy Spirit who resides in you (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

What is Sexual Immorality? What is “sexual immorality”? “Sexual immorality” is translated from the Greek term porneia refers to “harlotry (including adultery and incest) idolatry . . .  fornication.” [1]  During the years of President Clinton’s time in office and the Monica Lewinsky scandal he justified his interaction with Ms. Lewinsky by interpreting “sex” as only intercourse and therefore he reasoned the alternative sexual interaction he indulged in with this young woman was allowable. Many youth today justify their sexual activities similarly. The Bible makes no such distinctions. Sexual immorality/fornication is any sexually related contact or interaction between unmarried people or between married people with those they are not married to. Sexual immorality/fornication is any activity that arouses passions and lusts in those outside the holy marriage relationship. Sexual immorality is closely connected to idolatry because a person who is willing to disregard God’s commands concerning sexual interaction has made an idol, a god, of sex.

God promises to make a way to escape so we can overcome the common temptations that come our way due to our natural desires. The desire for sexual activity is from God and is good. As long as sexual desire is used according to His plan and will in marriage, it is holy. When God given sexual desires are provoked prematurely, purity is pummeled.

Wisdom is the ability to apply practically to life the revealed truth of God from His word. In Proverbs it states, “Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:27-28). The context for this verse is a proverbial warning against the deception and danger of being drawn into sexual sin by a temptress, a harlot. But there is a broader application here. A modern day translation would be “If you play with fire, you’ll get burned.” The natural sexual desires that God has built into the human being to be used in marriage can be inflamed into an inappropriate burning lust that burns up our purity. And it doesn’t take much. A seductive look, a seemingly innocent touch, a caress, a song, a picture, an image on the screen, words, all of these can provoke passions that are sinfully lustful and need to be avoided. This is true for both males and females.

God loves us and He has given us sex as a wonderful gift. But He has also prescribed certain boundaries for sexual activity, marriage (between one man and one woman). Don’t have the attitude of, “I can handle it.” You can’t! That is presumptuous. That is pride. God opposes the proud. He gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5). Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Don’t play with fire. God loves you so much and there’s a reason why He warns you of the dangers of playing with the fire of sexual passions. He wants to keep you from getting burned. He wants to spare you and others pain.

Sexual desires were meant by God to be fulfilled with one person (of the opposite sex) to whom you have entered into a holy matrimonial life relationship of love and commitment. Your sexual purity is a precious gift to give to the one with whom God has ordained you spend the rest of your life. Unfortunately many cast that precious gift of virginity aside prematurely with those they thought they would spend their lives with. Sadly people spend that preciously valuable virginity on the wrong people. They waste that precious treasure on people God has not ordained for them. There is no room for slipups with your sexual purity. If you relinquish it, it cannot be regained. You can be forgiven by God if you indulge this sin. But that precious gift God gave you to share with the one human you love supremely will have been lost forever. Don’t take the chance. Submit to God and the words of the Holy Spirit. Wait for the right person. Wait until you are married in the sight of God. You won’t regret it.

Self -Worship and Homosexuality. In Romans Paul continues, “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”  (Romans 1:25). Paul speaks of an unholy exchange. The word “exchanged” is found in Romans 1:23, 25, and 26 (also translated “change”). This word is translated from the Greek term metalasso and means, to exchange, change, alter, and substitute; to exchange by leaving.  Those Paul is referring to here do not merely turn away from God’s truth; they replace it with a “truth” of their own making. But this alternative “truth” is really a “lie.” People leave God’s truth and replace it with a “truth” that they feel comfortable with. They avoid God’s truth because it shines a light on their sinful behavior. Rather than repent and turn from their sin, they make up their own standard to live by. And their standard approves their sin.  Any alternative to God’s truth is a lie!

 

Paul is speaks of a specific lie as indicated by the article “the.” What is “the lie”? The lie is the belief that man does not need God. This is based on Satan’s temptation to believe that man can become God. Satan wants people to believe they can rule their own life and destiny.  Satan in the form of a serpent deceived Eve with the words, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Satan’s personal sin was to try to exalt himself above Almighty God (cf. Isaiah 14:12-15). This lie is at the root of all sin. The lie is rooted in sinful pride and a lust for self-sovereignty. It’s a lust to sin and serve self regardless how it affects others. This is at the cancerous root of all sexual sin.

“The lie” says, “I don’t need God; God does not exist; God is not a factor; what matters most is  ME.” The lie says, “I don’t need God,” and will try to kill God or remove God from consideration in order to accomplish the goal of self-rule. The wrath of God is on these sinners for substituting their “truth” in place of God’s truth. And this continues today. We see it in people who say, “God accepts me for who I am. He created me as a homosexual. Therefore to be a homosexual is okay.” This is a perfect example of not only misrepresenting God, but also trying to insert a falsehood in place of His truth.

In order to attain the goal of self-rule the sinner will try to explain away God and His word. This is attempted in a number of ways. Here Paul points to the elevation of the creature to godhood, idols made in the image of the creature. Idolatry is foolish (Psalm 115; Isaiah 44:9-20).  God is justified in giving such idolatrous self-worshipers up to their own rebellious preferences.

There are Vile Passions. Paul speaks of the consequence of departing from God saying, “For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” (Romans 1:26-27).  

 Paul says, “For this reason.” What reason? Because they refused to receive God’s revelation truth of Himself (Romans 1:19-24). They rejected God and not only rejected Him but twisted His truth with their own warped view of reality. And because of this, “God gave them up to vile passions.” God allows people to not choose to worship and thank Him. Here we see the downward spiral of sin. “Vile passions,” are the natural consequence of rejecting God. Look around you, what do you see in our post-Christian world? We see a host of vile passions. When you reject God you enter into a warped view of existence. That warped view leads you into all sorts of contorted, mangled, mixed up, hell bent ways of seeing the world around you. Remove God and expect an anything goes world. That’s exactly what we see today. Same-sex marriage, polygamy, transient open marriage, are in vogue now. Is there any doubt that bestiality will be a future trend?

Paul speaks of “For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, . . . ” When a person rejects God their sin leads them to abuse nature and do things that are actually opposed to nature. One function of sex is procreation. Homosexual and lesbian sexual activity is unnatural. Such interaction contradicts and goes against nature disregarding the procreative purpose of sex. Homosexuality and lesbianism are a perversion of natural human desires.

Turning from God and His revelation leads to idolatry and the height of idolatry is worship of self.  Homosexuality and lesbianism are self-worship as people worship their own gender image in other people; women with women and men with men.

Then Paul says of these people that they, “burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.” This is the only occurrence of this particular word for “burned” here in the New Testament. The word “burned” is translated from the Greek term ekkaio and means burned out; consumed; inflame deeply; or set ablaze. The idea here is that so deep is their lustful burning for one another that they actually burn out and are consumed by their lustful pursuits. This may allude to physical consequences (e.g. disease), emotional consequences, and certainly spiritual consequences. Sexually transmitted diseases are a big problem and a source of much pain and suffering for those indulging in immoral sexual behavior.

God created sex. Sex is not sinful. God created sex (i.e. “one flesh” - Genesis 2:23-25). Sex only becomes sinful when it is misused outside of God’s ordained parameters. When sex is misused in ways God never intended it has the opposite effect of God’s intended purpose. God intended sex to bring two people together as one in a very wonderful way. When two people enter into sexual activity outside of marriage a uniting takes place out of sync with the process God laid out as right and proper.

Sex unites. Paul warned against adultery and sex outside of marriage because there is a uniting that occurs between the two parties involved. Paul was inspired to write, “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”  (1 Cor. 6:15-20).

Sex is a beautiful part of God’s creation. Sexuality outside of the marriage covenant makes unholy connections. It is Satan’s strategy to take what God meant for beauty and loving expression between two people and turn it into something dirty and shameful. That is what the downward spiral of sin does.

When I was a boy I enjoyed building models. But as a young boy I was impatient and didn’t always read the instructions or follow directions. Nowadays you can buy models that are already painted. But in my day you had to paint the models and then assemble them. As I would put the models together I’d sometimes get impatient. The instructions called for me to paint certain parts in certain areas, let them dry, and then glue them together. Inevitably my impatience would get the better of me and I’d paint over areas I was supposed to leave paint-less and try to glue parts together before the paint was dry. What I found is that the glue never held pieces together that I impatiently tried to glue when the paint was still wet. Then I’d try to take the pieces apart to wipe them clean and I’d have an even bigger mess. When I didn’t follow instructions and acted impatiently the model always got sticky and weakly assembled and never lasted very long. The same is true with sex and marriage. If you try to glue two people together with sex before the Lord prepares the parts properly your relationship will wind up weak and likely won’t last. It’s always best to wait on God and follow the instructions of His word (the Bible) when it comes to marriage and sex, and everything else in life for that matter. 

There is Hope of Deliverance from Sexual Sin. Sexual sin can be addictive whether it manifests itself in the actual physical adulterous act or the lustful fantasy of the mind. Trying to overcome such sin in one’s own strength is futile and frustrating. But there is hope. As we mentioned earlier the gospel is powerful. God is able to deliver the person caught up in sexual sin from that sin. The Bible states: “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). Notice what Paul says, “But such WERE some of you.” He is inspired to speak of the sin of the Corinthians in the past tense because it was a thing of the past; it had been put behind them.  

How were they able to put their sins behind them? Later in the same epistle Paul writes: “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13). God’s promise is to not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. He promises to make a way of escape so you can stand and get through it. That’s His promise and the person caught in sexual sin needs to pray long and hard over that verse.

God is faithful. He will show you the way out of your sinful lifestyle or addictive habit. That way out starts with turning from your sin to God and putting your faith in Jesus. You put your faith in Jesus by asking God to forgive you based on His sacrifice for you on the cross. Receive God’s forgiveness through faith in Jesus. The Holy Spirit will then give you spiritual life; eternal life; abundant life.

In another letter of Paul’s he writes: “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” (Phil. 3:13-14).  It’s time to put your sin behind you and press on with Jesus to His higher calling (see Jeremiah 31:34; Micah 7:18-19; Romans 6:14). That means leaving your homosexuality or any other sexual sin behind. Now is the time to put your faith in Jesus. Now is the time to seek forgiveness of your sin based on His cross work. Now is the time to receive the eternal life and indwelling of the Holy Spirit God promises in His gospel. The New Testament puts it like this: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 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, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7). Those are wonderful words.

A story is told of a man who purchased a white mouse to use as food for his pet snake. He dropped the unsuspecting mouse into the snake's glass cage, where the snake was sleeping in a bed of sawdust. The tiny mouse had a serious problem on his hands. At any moment he could be swallowed alive. Obviously, the mouse needed to come up with a brilliant plan. What did the terrified creature do? He quickly set up work covering the snake with sawdust chips until it was completely buried. With that, the mouse apparently thought he had solved his problem. But the truth of the situation was that sawdust chips wouldn’t hold back the snake. The solution to the mouse’s problem came from outside of the cage. The man looked down at the plight of the mouse and took pity on him lifting him out. In the same way, no matter how we try to deny our sinful plight by covering up the truth of our need, in the end the snake of sin will fatally bite us. 

You Can Have A New Heart with New Desires. In the Old Testament God promised a time when people would be able to receive a “new heart.” We see this in the following verses: “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” And later in Ezekiel the prophet is inspired to write, “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them” (Ezekiel 36:25-27). Those are wonderful prophetic promises. THESE PROMISES FOR A NEW HEART ARE ALL FULFILLED IN THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST!

This promise from Ezekiel is elaborated upon and explained later in the book of Hebrews where it states: “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. 15 But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, 16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:12-22).  

When we look at these verses from the Old Testament illuminated by the New Testament we learn  that when a person repents or turns away from their sin and to God, trusts in “this Man” Jesus and His sacrifice, that God will wipe our sinful slate clean. Wonderful! But not only that; Paul in Romans states God will give us “a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience” Romans 8:9-11). God gives us a new heart; a heart filled with the Holy Spirit. 

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he was inspired to speak of how in a relationship with Jesus we become a “new Creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). That’s what we need to overcome sexual sin, a new heart with new holy desires. When a person turns from their sinful life to God through faith in Jesus, God promises to give them a new heart that will be receptive to His law and word.

For those who have received a new heart but allowed it to be dirtied and tarnished once again with sin, there is continuous ongoing cleansing available from God as we confess our sins to Him honestly and walk on in the light of His word (1 John 1:7,9). We should always ask God to search our hearts to expose sin so we can confess it to Him and He can keep us clean (Psalm 139:23-24).

God has revealed His righteous plan of redemption from sin through faith in Christ. No matter how we try to suppress or hold down the truth that we are sinners and need a Savior, this truth cannot be denied. The only way to be saved from sin is to turn to the One outside the cage of this fallen world. We need to turn to God in Christ by the Spirit. If we continue to reject and hold down God’s truth, sin will fatally bite us, (Satan the snake is waiting – Genesis 3; Revelation 12:9; 20:2). 

If by reading this you are convicted of your sinful state and know you would be found guilty on God’s righteous judgment day, you need to turn from your sin to God (repent) and place your faith in Jesus Christ to save you. You can know you are forgiven and going to heaven. You can receive a new heart filled by the Holy Spirit.

Below is a simple gospel summary for you to follow. God didn’t make hell for people. Only people who persist in their sinful rebellion will go there. God is reaching out to you through His only Son Jesus. He wants to forgive your sin and save you from it. Don’t let this gracious opportunity of God pass you by.

The Bible states you can know for sure whether or not you are going to heaven?

  • 1 John 5:13 - 13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

How can you know for sure?

 

  1. Realize you are a sinner –
    • Romans 3:23 - 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
    • Galatians 3:10 - 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
    • James 2:10 - 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.
  2. Realize there is a price for sin –
    • Romans 6:23a - 23 For the wages of sin is death,
  3. Realize Jesus paid the price for you –
    • Romans 5:8 - 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Galatians 3:10-13).
    • 2 Corinthians 5:21 - 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
  4. Realize your salvation is a free gift that requires only a heart decision from you to receive it –
    • Romans 6:23 - 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5)
    • Romans 10:10 - 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
  5. Realize you must now call upon Jesus to save you –
    • Romans 10:13 - 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

A SALVATION PRAYER: “Dear God, I know I am a sinner. Please forgive me for my sins. Come into my heart and save me. Send Your Holy Spirit to me and help me to live the life that you have for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

 



 
[1]Strong, J. 1997, c1996. The new Strong's dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (electronic ed.) . Thomas Nelson: Nashville