Freedom From the Chains

I recently heard a song by a Christian artist named Jordan Elias called ‘Tickle My Ears Gospel.’ And in the song he made reference to a world that only has the stomach to tolerate a lukewarm gospel. A world that wants a politically correct Jesus. A world where if God is love, then God must be tolerant of our sins or else he would be unfair, harsh, and judgmental. Elias sung about a world that defines a loving God as being one who calls sinners to come, but would never require them to change. This is the world we currently live in. And in this world of over contextualization, we seek to worship a God that is all loving and not wrathful. We seek a God who is accepting of sin and not judgmental towards it. We seek a God who is a buddy and not one who is Lord and King of all creation. There is only one problem with this God our generation has sought out.

It is not the God of the Bible.

Having lived in a third world country on the mission field for a time, I can honestly say that the hardest place to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ is right here in America. Because we don’t want to hear a message of truth, we want a message of prosperity. We want a Heavenly Father who would never discipline His children or be angry at them, but instead, beg them not to sin. And if by chance His children do sin, then we’ve told them that its ok….as long as they come to church and say that they love Jesus, then God will still love them. Because again, he’s not a judgmental God, but loving. America wants a modern, hipster Jesus. We want to bring Him kicking and screaming into our twenty first century. We have this attitude of entitlement. That Jesus owes us a good life because we consider ourselves good and moral. Our generation beats its chest boldly and proclaims that we should not have to change. Rather, Jesus should get with the times and be the one to change. This is the Jesus the majority of our world worships. This Jesus is so easy to follow. He literally requires nothing but morality and a profession of the lips. But there is still one tiny problem with this God.

It is not the God of the Bible.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,” 2 Timothy 4:3.

Give me some of that “Tickle my ears” Gospel. Its so easy to drink down. So comfortable to digest. Yeah, that’s what we want. But that is not message of Jesus. I had a conversation with a family member a few years back. This family member was living a homosexual lifestyle. I was able to share the gospel with him. And in a loving way, I pointed out that the lifestyle he was choosing to live was sinning against God. This family member claimed to love God, but saw nothing wrong with his sexual orientation. I love this family member with all of my heart, and I wanted him to know Jesus. But the more I talked to him, the more I realized that he had done just what 2 Timothy 4:3 was describing. He had morphed the Jesus of the Bible into a God that would suit the sinful passions of his flesh.

My family member’s first retort was, “Well we all sin. And God knows Im not perfect.”

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23.

Very true. We all sin. We all fall short. But I began to point out that there is a difference in stumbling into sin, as we all do, and willfully choosing to sin as a way of life.  1 John says it like this;

“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9.

Think of when you were in high school and you had ball practice. You knew that you would participate in this. You prepared for it. You set your mind to do it daily. A practice is anything you set your mind to do on a regular basis. A practice is a way of life. And the scriptures speak in the most elementary terms, saying that if a person is claiming to be born of God, they may sin, but they cannot make a practice of sin. Why not? Read the verse. Because a true Christian has been born of God and now has God’s spirit living within them. They cannot practice sin because their new nature in Christ will not allow it.

Can a Christian fall into sin? Absolutely.

Can they walk in sin as a way of life? By no means.

I then went to Hebrews 10:26, one of the most clear cut and startling passages of scripture I have personally ever read.

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” Hebrews 10:26.

The key word here is deliberately. Again, a Christian can and will sin. But one who has been truly regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit cannot walk in sin as a way of life. And if a person does indeed continue on in deliberate sin, the verse says something that would be considered scandalous in our world today. The writer of Hebrews says of that a person that would deliberately continue sinning that the sacrifice no longer remains for his sins. What sacrifice? The only sacrifice that can cover our sins, Christ crucified.

This is not a politically correct God. But it is the one of the Bible.

This family member then went on to try to justify that he was born gay. That he couldn’t help  how God made him. And he actually referred to the Bible to attempt to prove his point. Here is the passage he quoted;

“For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” Matthew 19:12.

Again, he was using this verse to attempt to argue that people can indeed be born gay. The only problem is that he ripped this verse out without reading the whole chapter. If we read all of Matthew 19, it becomes apparent that Jesus is speaking about marriage, not homosexuality.

Consider also that the word “eunuch” is used three times in the verse, which suggests three kinds of men who are given to not marry. The first two usages were already familiar to the disciples. Jesus mentions those who are eunuchs from birth; that is, they were either incapable of marriage (i.e., physical deformity which prohibited having children) or have no desire to marry. The second is speaking of physical castration. Such eunuchs were often used in guarding harems. The third is the new category: those who choose to be single “for the kingdom of God.” In both cases there is not even a suggestion that people are born with homosexual orientation. If anything, the implication is to not be involved in marriage and sexual activity – which would negate homosexuality as an option.

Some view the Bible’s stance on homosexuality as judgmental, saying that Christians should be accepting of the homosexual community and their lifestyle. I believe that we as believers should be loving towards them. I believe that we should invite them to church so that they can hear the gospel message. But we are not called to be accepting of sin. Homosexuality is not a birth defect or a natural born gift from God. It is a sin. It was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19 where God was so angered by their perversion of sex that he destroyed the whole city with fire. Paul warned the Corinthians about many damnable sins given one chose to pursue them as a way of life in which homosexuality was mentioned;

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,” 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Also consider Romans 1;

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;  and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.” Romans 1:26-27.

Paul is writing of same sex relationships. Men and women consumed with passion for one another. Paul speaks of this in the harshest terms. “Shameless acts” and “error.” So what are natural relations defined by God?

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24.

For society to justify homosexuality or any sin that God has named is folly. To say Christians are judgmental for warning others of the dangers in practicing sin as a lifestyle goes against the very reason Jesus came; that being to call us to repentance. Consider this; If a man were arrested for being a serial killer and in the court room, he said, “I cannot help that I kill people, I was born with an anger problem.” Wouldn’t it be unfair of the judge to jail him? Of course not! We would never say that. So why does our world say that homosexuality is something to be accepted as a character trait and murder is not? God clearly states that both murder and fornication are both sins. So how can we justify one and not the other? Because we don’t see homosexuality as hurting anyone, therefore it must be ok! But again, in doing this and denying the fact that God calls it a sin we are ripping the Bible out of context so that it fits, as 1 Timothy said, with our lifestyles. In essence, we place ourselves on the throne of God and tell him to move over, because we know better.

Here is the thing that our society has not realized as a whole. The only reason a person seeks after sin and passions of the flesh is at the end of the day, for pleasure. Homosexuality, drugs, alcohol, gluttony, materialism, whatever vice it may be, at the very core we want gratification of some sort. And temptations are merely urges for us to chase after that longing to which we want gratified. One of my favorite passages in the Bible as well as book is Ecclesiastes. And in it there is a verse that sums up the problem of the human condition. God tells us how he wired us and what it is that will satisfy every longing within us.

“Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11.

God did not put murder into a mans heart. He did not put greed into a mans heart. And God did not put homosexuality into a mans heart. The text says that God wired all of us with an eternal void inside of us. And throughout life we so desperately try to fill the emptiness so that we can be full. And so temptation and Satan would tell us that alcohol will fill that void if we only take a sip. Yet at the bottom of the bottle and after the buzz has passed, there is nothing left but sickness and despair. The world would tell us to fill this void with the material things of the world. But as one celeb once said, “The more I have, the more I want.” Material things cant fill that void. And even our flesh cries out to look to sexual relationship to fill this eternal void. But this cannot fill an eternal void either.

The eternal void within a man’s heart can only be filled by something else that is eternal.

God has placed eternity within our hearts. And in the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, the wisest most wealthy man who ever lived tried to fill that void with everything under the sun. He had hundreds of women at his beck and call, and in the end he said it was meaningless. He had mansions upon mansions and more material possessions than anyone who has ever lived and he called it a foolish pursuit. Solomon had everything a man could want and he called all of his pursuits vanity. Because he could never find lasting satisfaction in anything he chased after. The book of Ecclesiastes is basically a journal of Solomon chasing all of his fleshly desires in an attempt to find satisfaction. And at the end of the book, he concludes his experiment of chasing to gratify his flesh like this;

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Solomon concluded that he was never the center of the universe. And in thinking that life was all about the gratification of his desires only ended up constantly disappointing him. In chasing fleeting happiness, he missed out on eternal joy. The void with us cannot be filled by the things of this world. We were created… wired, to find our deepest joys in a living, breathing, vibrant relationship with the creator of the universe Christ Jesus. And when we justify the sins of other people and call it being loving, we are depriving them of knowing real joy and letting them run after a happiness that is but a mirage in the desert.

The great author and theologian CS Lewis said it like this;

“We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

In Christ, there is infinite joy abounding! Yet we continue to keep our eyes focused on ourselves and not on Him. We are the biggest enemy to our own joy.

There are those that would say I am being judgmental by labeling homosexuality as a sin. To begin with, I would lovingly point out that I have not labeled anything. The Bible has already done that. Secondly, if my child was running towards a busy intersection and in danger of being hit by a car, yet he said that it was fun to him and what he wanted, would it make me unloving to point out the danger that lie ahead in the path he was choosing to run? In the same way, I am not the judge of human race. But I do know what the judge says.

Some would say its unloving to call homosexuals to repentance. When in all actuality, what would be more unloving is to allow them to pursue sin instead of Christ because we dont want to offend anyone. And I love people….ALL people….regardless of their sexual orientation to much to stand by and watch them running towards their destruction. More than that, I want them to know REAL JOY!! I want them to know that this emptiness they feel within their souls that some blame on birth….I want them to know that the void can be filled! But not with the things God calls sin or worldly pursuits!

That is why Jesus came! To save us from the bondage of slavery to these fleeting, fleshly pursuits called sin that in the end lead to death!

“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. ” Romans 6:16-18.

Please read that verse again!! We are slaves to whatever we choose to obey be it sinful actions or trying to be good enough without Christ! But Praise God that Jesus came to set the captives free!!

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,” Luke 4:18.

All sin, including homosexuality oppresses those to whom it enslaves! Jesus came to bring set us free and bring and abundant life that no sexual orientation or sin choice of any kind will bring.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10.

Satan has come to steal the joy Christ desires to bring. And he will do this by tempting us to justify the sins that we struggle with. But no one who is ever chained to a wall struggles to stay in the shackles. They  struggle to get free! In the same way the Bible says were are captives chained to sin. Yet so many dont struggle against their chains, but instead justify as to why they should stay in them. They’ve grown fond of the dark cellar in which they are prisoner. But they’ve been in the prison so long that they have forgotten the beauty and freedom that comes from breaking those chains of sin in their lives.

What are you filling that void with today in your life? I pray that all would see that I do not write this blog in judgment of anyone. But as a former prisoner who has tasted the abundant life Jesus offers I can honestly say Jesus is better than any sin I have ever tasted in my life. And I want you to be set free to experience the infinite joy that is in Christ! Ill close with a quote by Saint Augustine. Augustine struggled with the sin of lust throughout most of his young adult life. He lived with a prostitute for many years because of his addiction to sex. But Augustine met Jesus, and on that day tasted freedom that was better than anything he’d ever tasted. He called his addiction to lust upon meeting Christ, “fruitless joys”. He had once feared to lose those chains he had clung to for so long, but upon encountering Christ, here is what he said;

“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose..! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place…. O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.”

Jesus is the true, sovereign joy that came to set you free from the chains of sin in your life. The question is, will you struggle to stay in the chains, or struggle to experience abundant life? I dont want to pursue my own happiness, because nothing in this temporary would can satisfy the eternal chasm within my soul.  I want Jesus.

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