CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Sex, Lies and Christianity

May 22, 2010

To be honest, I am getting tired of listening to so-called believers making cheap excuses for their sin. They seem more intent on justifying their selfish and sinful lifestyle than in walking with Jesus in the only way he told us to: by picking up the cross, denying ourselves, and following him.

Just about every lousy sin in the book has been excused by one Christian or another, by one church or another. It is time for this to stop. I am more convinced than ever that there will be plenty of surprises come judgment day. Plenty of folk who were certain they were making it into heaven’s gate will find a rude awakening and a quite nasty surprise when they meet their maker and judge.

And I believe there will be many who did not think they would make it in who will be pleasantly surprised. Jesus was quite clear about this: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

I cannot agree more with A.W. Tozer on this: “This is the day of excusing sin instead of purging sin. An entire school of thought has developed justifying sin within the church and trying to prove that sin is perfectly normal, and therefore acceptable.”

Let me give you a recent example of this. I had a guy come to my site with a comment saying he is a “pot-smoking Christian”. He went on and on trying to justify his lifestyle, and he asked me what was wrong with all this. I prayed and thought for a while, then felt led to respond as follows:

“Let me cut to the quick, because I am not interested in playing any games here. I am sick to death of carnality in the churches, and you are not alone in this regard my friend.

“The issue here is this: it is not about your stupid marijuana. You can substitute anything else here for that, and we still have the same core problem. The way I read it is this: right now Jesus Christ is not Lord of your life – you are. You are so interested in defending your selfish lifestyle choices that you have effectively put marijuana as your god right now.

“You are more intent on justifying a selfish lifestyle of getting high than giving Jesus Christ 100 per cent of your life. Until you do my friend, stop kidding yourself. Jesus is either Lord of all or he is not Lord at all.

“And don’t tell me what other ‘Christians’ are doing. I don’t care if they too are living a life of sin and seeking to justify a me-centred life. You have only one person you are responsible for, and that is yourself. So stop looking to others, stop making cheap excuses, and start repenting of your selfishness and sin.

“Jesus did not come and die a horrible death on the cross so you can justify getting high all the time. He did not live a life of suffering, rejection and opposition so that people could go around flaunting cheap grace, thinking they are believers when they are still living lives straight out of the pit of hell.

“Jesus is worth all, since he gave us all. So forget this selfish nonsense about your right to get high, and get on your knees and get right with God. That is what you need right now.

“You asked for my advice, and I gave it. And this applies to everyone else who is pretending to be a Christian, when instead all we have is self still on the throne, with Jesus so very far away on the sidelines.”

One of the most common forms of excusing, justifying and promoting sin in the churches today concerns the issue of homosexuality. Deception abounds here, as so-called believers seek to tell us that this sin is just fine, that God makes us this way, and that we can fully bless it in our churches.

This is abhorrent. But don’t take my word for it. Listen to someone who has been there and done that. Michael Glatze was a leading homosexual activist in the US who had a life-changing encounter with the risen Christ. He is now shocked at how some Christians want to wed a holy God to a sin-soaked lifestyle.

Parts of his story are worth recounting here: “I was once a gay activist, and the editor of a national gay magazine. I lived a life with a same-sex partner, with a dog, a house, and many friends. Then, I got saved, and realized that I couldn’t be gay and Christian – because, that would be living a lie. Soon, I found help to heal from homosexuality, and found myself living a new life, as a heterosexual man – complete with memories and a certain perspective of what it’s like to be under the grips of a life lived in the excuse of a sin.

“Jesus provides a way out of all temptations that are common to man. Homosexuality is one of those temptations that some people face. There will always be the temptation to dive in, completely, becoming identified with a sinful behavior; in fact, this temptation has become a political movement – supported by many politicians and courts in our land, as well as other countries in this world. But Christians aren’t to be afraid of the pressure of an increasingly prevalent world system; we are not to be yoked together and conformed to the ways of this world.”

He says that “it is frustrating when Christians lose their principles and compromise on the brilliant truth and the power of the gospel to save people from all sins. It is frustrating when Christians take the side of the enemy, against fellow believers. And it is frustrating when Christians re-crucify Christ, through their obsession with never-ending transgression. But, all these things – and, so much more – needn’t make us afraid; they should make us more ready to love.”

He acknowledges how tempting compromise is these days: “For Christians, today, this is a period of testing. As the devil increases in strength, forcing apostasy within the Church, taking over our Christian country – unless we stand strong – the only way to success in Christ is to let Him love others through us. This means we do not re-write the Word of God. We do not re-write the Holy Scriptures. We do not say, as some so-called Christians have said in recent times, that somehow the apostle Paul just ‘didn’t understand’ modern times. We trust Jesus, not our own understanding. We give up any notion we have of our own understanding, humble ourselves to the power of the gospel to save, and love through our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We have the Holy Spirit within us; we do not want to grieve Him.

“For me, it is remarkably frustrating to see some people within the so-called ‘Christian’ sphere compromising the Word of God on the issue of homosexuality. It terrifies me to think of what might happen to these people’s souls. I know that homosexuality is a powerful force in today’s world – but don’t forget that it was a powerful force in ancient times as well. Remember in the book of Judges, how homosexuality pops up at the end of a long, progressive apostasy? Remember how homosexuality is described as one of the lusts that enflames people, after they have turned away from God, causing in them the results of their transgression? Have we gotten so far from God that we are willing to attempt a revision of reality, simply because we’re too afraid to see how bad things have gotten?”

He concludes as follows: “Christians, we don’t walk the easy, wide road; we walk the more difficult, narrow road. But, when we have the grace to do so, we know that we are doing the right thing, because Jesus is leading the way. And what a blessing it is to stop resisting Him, to stop making excuses for Him, to stop justifying ourselves in the light of His more superior truth, and give in to Him – and let Him lead and let His love flow through us.

“It is in this love that we must continue to shine as lights in this world, helping people heal from their infirmities and helping people heal from homosexuality.”

Whether the issue is homosexuality, illicit drugs, or whatever, it is high time that believers stopped making excuses for sin, and stopped pretending they are followers of Jesus when in fact they are slavishly following the world, the flesh and the devil.

I can do no better than to allow Leonard Ravenhill the last word here: “All we have is a sinning-repenting cycle. That is not what Jesus died for! We need to shout from the housetops and tell people everywhere today—in the church and out of it— that Christianity is N.O.T., NOT a sinning religion.”

www.onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=1013086

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28 Responses to Sex, Lies and Christianity

  • A friend of mine recently told me that traditional (real) Christians are hypocrites and that we sin just as much as everyone else. I agreed with him but replied he was missing the point. We are just as sinful as most people, we don’t claim to be perfect. The difference with us however is that we recognize sin and admit we are wrong. We don’t just try and justify sin as being natural and hence OK.
    James Leach

  • Christians seem to have forgot the gospel that teaches God sets us free from sin. God came to save us from sin, not just from the consequences of sin. Unfortunately most people struggle with the first step of getting free from sin found in 1 John 1:9. If we confess our sins…
    Felicity Rachael

  • Bill there are a few rare men I will never forget, one is a unknown American man called Garry Kroeze (who now lives in Switzerland) I have never ever heard anyone speak like he does, never! His life is characterized by one phrase, the fear of the Lord, the very tone of his voice speaks of the deep dealings of God and brokenness.
    One day a young “Christian” man who had cheated on his wife was brought to him and he was in tears blubbering about how sorry he was for what he had done. Gary immediately commanded him to stop and confronted him saying, stop crying, you have deceived your wife, your family your parents even your pastor, that you are sorry for what you had done. You are not, you just got caught, you did what you did because you wanted to do it and you loved it, but everyone has shown you sympathy because of your tears. You need to repent and I have a little shack down in the woods, go down there and get on your knee’s before God and fast and pray and don’t get up and don’t come back until you have really repented before God and he comes and saves you, otherwise you are lost and will do it again and continue to deceive everyone you are a Christian, now get going.
    Rob Withall

  • There exists confusion in the minds of many Christians when they are told that they must not judge anyone. To be homophobic is equated with being judgmental and lacking Christian love. After all, didn’t Christ eat and drink with sinners and prostitutes? He certainly did, but different rules apply to those saved from the world and brought into the kingdom of God. We are commanded to judge the behaviour and attitudes of other Christians.

    But even the behaviour of those outside God’s kingdom, when necessary needs censure and restraining, especially when it comes to peddling death to our children, through drugs and homosexuality.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Have you noticed the euphemism used in Christian circles.
    Sin is rebelling against God and His rule. But now when Christians sin, they are not rebelling against God, but rather are “struggling” with sin.
    Thoughts?
    Joshua Bovis

  • I frequently hear it said that all sins are the same, so that for instance there is no difference between the sin of smoking (that destroys our bodies – God’s temple) and that of homosexuality. But as far as I am aware there are no lobbies demanding that we make smoking socially acceptable, or diversity programmes teaching our children how to smoke – far from it; the opposite is the case. The sin of the individual, like Peter Tatchell, practising homosexuality, is no greater or less than my own thought life that frequently does not match up to God’s measure of holiness. Who am I to take the speck out of his eye when I have a telephone pole stuck in my own? But homosexuality as an expression of Hegelian philosophy, used as a Marxist weapon to destroy the most intimate parts of society, marriage, family and our children, is no mere private peccadillo. It must be fought with everything we have and this, unlike combating pride, smoking, lying or gossiping will cost us dearly.
    David Skinner, UK

  • Bill, I don’t understand homophobia. I have very little against religion itself but I cannot fathom how an individual’s romantic interest impacts on society as a whole. Also, I don’t think you can be “cured” of homosexuality. It’s something you either are or aren’t.
    I may not agree with everything in the bible, but on the whole I understand where Christianity begins. On this issue however I have no clue.

    Please explain.
    Molly Finegan, Australia

  • Thanks Molly

    But respectfully, I do not understand people who claim to be Christians and then offer quite silly comments like your own. Please inform me: what does homophobia have to do with anything? I am not afraid of the same, as the term suggests. So just what does that remark mean?

    As to society being impacted by homosexuality, this is evident on many fronts. These activists are seeking to redefine marriage and family; they are attempting to foist their agenda on the rest of society; they want to deny children their fundamental right of having their own biological mother and father; and so on. And with around 85% of all HIV/AIDS cases in Australia due to homosexual activity and intravenous drug use, societies very much have an interest in both.

    There are of course many thousands of former homosexuals. I happen to know many such people. Are you calling all these people – including Glatze – liars Molly? If so, why? Especially if you claim to be a Christian. Do you not believe that God is able to change lives and set people free from their sinful addictions?

    It is clear that you have no clue about the issue of homosexuality. Do you have a clue as to what Christianity is about? Insinuating that God he is wrong in his declarations on homosexuality indicates a poor understanding of Christianity, if not an outright rejection of it.

    Please explain.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Another great article my friend! keep em coming, as I know you will.

    On the dope smoking issue, this question comes up regularly from the lost ‘well God made marijuana so why cant we smoke it?’ to which i reply ‘God made the cactus too but He didn’t tell you to sit on it! Hey an elephant’s a nice animal but only an idiot keeps it as a house pet!’, works every time, they crack up laughing and think I’m a real funny guy cos they finally got an intelligent answer to their theory, while they are laughing that’s when I then tell them that they will go to hell if they don’t repent of their sins and receive Jesus Christ before they die….that’s about when they stop laughing lol
    Dorian Ballard

  • Thanks for replying so quickly!

    Allow me to clear up something. I am an atheist. I, personally, don’t believe in God or follow any monotheistic doctrine. Allow me to make clear, however, that I do not in any way object to religion in any form (except extremism, of course) and I have read, and continue to re-read, the bible.

    I seek not to attack your belief, merely to understand it. Although I appreciate your response, you haven’t really answered my question. How do homosexuals existing mess with society? And if you truly believe that homosexuality is a disease to be cured, why condemn them? I am not calling the people that claim to have been cured liars, they could very well have been cured, I am not them so I cannot prove one way or the other. However I have many homosexual friends and I see homosexuality more as a personality trait, rather than an affliction.

    If you believe that homosexuals are trying to “foist their agenda on the rest of society”, why are Christians foisting their agenda on homosexuals?

    Molly Finegan, Australia

  • “…Stop kidding yourself …” – I love someone who tells it like it is! The “this is my God-given nature” argument results from a failure fully to appreciate the fallen nature of humanity, that God made what we were and might again, with his grace, become. Our prayer should always be “Change me Lord” – God is never satisfied with what we are, but what he knows we should, and maybe can, become.
    Molly, “reparative therapists” don’t claim to be able to remove a man’s same-sex attraction, but enable him (if he wants it – it’s his call) to live free of homosexual physical acts, and the addiction to them that characterises the gay “scene”/lifestyle. We all have urges to bad things, the key is to not give in to them, and to see them/know them to be sin.
    John Thomas, UK

  • Thanks Molly

    It nice to get some clarity as to where you are actually coming from.

    As to your questions, you need to ask the proper question. Where do I ever talk about the existence of homosexuals? That is not the issue. All sorts of people live in the world. The issue here – as I discuss elsewhere – is a radical agenda being pushed by a small minority group to remake society in their own image. Something that radical at least needs to be discussed and assessed first. In a democracy I have as much right to ask questions and raise concerns as anyone else.

    And where exactly did I say “homosexuality is a disease to be cured”? It is largely a lifestyle issue, one in which real choice is an important element, as many of the more honest homosexuals themselves admit.

    And just how am I foisting my agenda on homosexuals? As I said, at the moment this is still a democracy, so I have the right to share my concerns. I am quite aware that many homosexuals want to deprive me of this freedom altogether, labelling any such concerns as “hate crimes”. The intolerance, social engineering and attack on freedom is not coming from my side, but theirs I am afraid.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks John

    Actually many former homosexuals claim that their same-sex attraction is lessened or removed, and a heterosexual attraction replaces it. Indeed, many go on to heterosexual marriage and having children. With God, nothing is impossible. He can work both with actions and inclinations.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • To Josh Bovis,
    I think you will find that true Christians do not use this term as a willful excuse for sinning. You are absolutely correct – sin is in effect, rebellion against God. However each day can be a struggle as Christians are being spiritually attacked and I know I commit sin each day with some sort of sinful thought or attitude and some times it is a real struggle to stand and fight these sinful thoughts as you know where they come from and the devil is always looking for an angle to catch you off guard. The beauty of this though is that we know we are not alone and are blessed with the presence of one more powerful than the evil one and his minions and it is this presence in the Christian’s heart that enables us to see our sins for what they are and to confess them before God and repent of them and move on. I find that sometimes I might have to repent and confess 5 times a day, even more on some occasions. I just thank God that he is gracious enough to accept me and is always waiting beside me ready to take me by the hand and lead me again.
    Steve Davis

  • Just a thought – I find one Matthew 7:21-23 one of the most frightening verses in the Bible as I cannot sometimes help wondering if I am one of those Christians these verse are referring to. Anybody out there who also feels like this sometimes? If so how do you deal with it? Bill, some advice from you would be much appreciated!
    Steve Davis

  • Thanks Steve

    This is an important passage indeed. Of course one’s theology will determine how one approaches it. But I have been saying for some time now that we need to take the warnings of Scripture seriously. Sure, we can rejoice in biblical doctrines such as Christian assurance, the preservation of the saints, and so on. And we can ask whether a believer can lose his salvation, or whether these warnings are addressed to people who were never saved to begin with.

    Either way, there is nothing amiss in performing regular spiritual checkups, staying on our knees and being humble before God. Being presumptuous and arrogant here is certainly not the way to proceed. I would rather stay broken before the Lord, and ask him to search my heart and test my paths than to glibly assume I am one of the elect – especially if their appears to be no fruit. Indeed, fruit inspection is the very thing Jesus speaks about just prior to the verses you mention (7:15-20).

    I deal with this further here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2009/01/16/christian-discipleship-asking-the-hard-questions/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Bill, I went and had a look at your article on this and found it helpful – I think the crux of what you were saying is that we need to see the spiritual “Big Picture” here, looking for fruit in our lives and not just works or converts or praise from men etc. I have to agree with you that it is better to stay broken before the Lord and ask him to search our hearts instead of thinking of yourself as some superior form of humanity simply because you are now one of the elect because as you rightly stated, Christians can have some spectacular falls from grace as well. I actually read that book “I was wrong” by Jim Bakker many years ago and regardless of what people might think of him, you cannot but admire how open and honest he was in dealing with his situation, he actually gave a low key talk at a church in Ryde in Sydney and I went to see him more out of curiosity than anything else but what I saw was a man who really laid bare his soul about his experience and I must admit that before he went to prison, I used to look at him and the other televangelists with scorn in the belief that their flamboyance and twisting of scripture was dangerous so when I heard he went to prison, I could not help thinking “well your prosperity gospel has finally caught up with you pal”. I went up to him and shook his hand and told him what I used to think of him but after hearing him talk , I told him that I had found new respect for him and wished him well in his new walk with God. One thing your reply did for me Bill was to confirm my belief in approaching the throne of God in fear and trembling, regardless of how saved you feel or how good you feel, better to live a fearful Christian life than a fearless unChristian life.
    Steve Davis

  • Thanks Steve

    Yes I quite liked Bakker’s book. He really went through the ringer, and could have given the whole thing away, but he was humble before his Lord and he came out a better man for it.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Do you know what Jim Bakker is doing now? The last I heard, he was assisting some pastor at a youth hostel in Los Angeles?
    Steve Davis

  • Bravo Bill. Could not agree more that much of the contemporary church excuses sin to be more relevant.

    More of this needs to said so that people will understand their own depravity and need of a saviour.

    Paul Wakeford

  • Thanks Steve

    I have not followed his most recent movements, but most things can be found out nowadays by a quick Google.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • It is frustrating when Christians take the side of the enemy, against fellow believers.

    Yep. That’s the hardest bit, I reckon.

    Hilary Gilbert

  • Our home group are doing a 12 week study by John Bevere called “Under Cover”. Such topics as the consequences of disobedience, the secret power of lawlessness, rebelling against authority that is God ordained, etc.
    John Bevere goes on to mention James 1:22: be doers of the word and not hearers only deceiving yourselves. The worst thing about deception is it is deceiving.
    The word of God is powerful when it is received with gratitude instead of twisting God’s word to suit a sinful agenda.

    Michael Bourke

  • As well as being humble before God and having regular spiritual checkups, I’d also add how important it is to have accountabillity relationships with other Christians. Sometimes us blokes aren’t very good at this, but I think it’s necessary in this day and age.
    Ross McPhee

  • Thanks Ross

    Yes quite right. We all should be in small accountability groups, especially guys. We are not meant to fight all these battles alone. We very much need each others help.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, it’s not just the homosexual Christians we should be worried about. What about the cray-fish eating Christians, or indeed the mixed-fabric wearing Christians. Both these “Christian” types distort God’s holy directions as laid out in His bible. What do you suggest we do, Bill?
    John Grant

  • Thanks John

    Foolish comments like yours which are just pushing agendas usually go into the bin (as per my rules). But for the sake of others, I have answered it here: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2010/06/28/more-theological-revisionism/

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Found this after reading an article on a “church” in Preston for homosexuals. I liked (well not exactly) Rob Withall’s story. Perhaps should say was challenged by it. What he says could apply to all of us at times. I don’t mean we all cheat on our spouse just that we all “repent” better if caught or challenged. So we need to keep challenging ourselves as well as others.
    Katherine Fishley

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