By Randall Pressnell
Senior Pastor, Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mount Carmel
Focal Passage: Romans 1:18-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
During a family vacation, Sarah got a little ornery and pushed Hannah. “Did you push your sister?” I asked. “No,” she denied. Since this was becoming a growing pattern for Sarah, I decided to take a walk with her to get to the bottom of things. “Sarah,” I told her, “I’m really disappointed with your behavior. What do you need to do about it?”
I expected Sarah to tell me she needed to stop lying or apologize to her sister, but instead, with tears in her eyes, she said, “I need to ask Jesus to come into my heart.”
There I was, zeroing in on behavior modification, and my 6-year-old daughter was dealing with the bigger issues of needing forgiveness, cleansing, and internal spiritual change. I was focused on morality, she on the spirituality that makes morality possible and sincere (Ken Canfield, The Heart of a Father, Men of Integrity, July 2001)
Homosexuality is a hot-button issue in our culture today. And as Dr. Gregory Pouncey wrote, “this issue is not going away.” However, this lesson is not about behavior modification for those attracted to or involved in a homosexual lifestyle. This lesson is not about the sinfulness of homosexuality. The Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is sinful and perverts God’s intention for human sexuality as do premarital and extramarital heterosexual relationships. This lesson is about the hope God gives to all sinners devastated by sin.
Homosexuality is no different than any other sexual sin. The father who was zeroing in on behavioral modification for his daughter admitted that he was missing the obvious need in her life for forgiveness, cleansing, and spiritual renewal. I fear that the church often zeroes in on certain sinful behaviors and misses the opportunity to offer the hope God gives through Christ to all sinners devastated by their sin. If the church is to be like Christ — we must love and treat all people the same regardless of their sin. How can that happen?
We must internalize the biblical truth that God’s wrath will be revealed against all sin including homosexual sin (Romans 1:18-27). God’s wrath (v. 18) is His holy and loving response to the human embrace of godlessness and unrighteousness (v. 18). All that is contrary to and in opposition to His holiness is sin and is rebellion against Him. All are without excuse (v. 20) since there has been enough revealed about God through what He has made (v. 20). All are held accountable for their own sin. In this case God allowed people to choose their own way as He delivered them over to degrading passions (vv. 26-27).
We must internalize the biblical truth that God’s grace allows all sinners to be renewed through the finished work of Christ on the cross (I Corinthians 6:9-11). Paul doesn’t whitewash the truth as he writes that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom (v. 9). He continues with a warning that readers should not be deceived because no one guilty of being sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers (vv. 9-10) will inherit God’s kingdom. Did you see yourself on the list? He reminded the Corinthian church that some of you used to be like this (v. 11). What made the difference? They were washed, sanctified, and justified (v. 11) by the Spirit in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus is willing to change anyone’s mind about sin. He is able to change any lifestyle based on sin. If the church is to be like Christ — we must love and treat all people the same regardless of their sin. That church will be ready to minister when homosexuality devastates!
— Pressnell is senior pastor of Oak Grove Baptist Church, Mount Carmel.