Homosexuality: How Must the Church Respond?

 On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States of America snuffed out the light of moral authority in the government of this nation with two historic decisions. The first decision declared unconstitutional the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman. Following that decision, the federal government was required to recognize marriage between two people of the same sex and pay federal benefits to which married couples are entitled. The second decision let stand a decision by a homosexual Federal District Court judge in the state of California that declared unconstitutional an amendment to the state constitution. That amendment had been approved by the voting citizens of California and defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.

“On Friday, September 27, 2013, a New Jersey judge ruled that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, saying that not doing so deprives them of rights that were guaranteed by the United States Supreme Court in June.” (NY Times, 9/27/13)

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples have the right to marry and must be allowed to marry no matter where they live, and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples the majority of people in the United States accept homosexuality as normal, respectable behavior.

All branches of the United States military accept homosexuals and lesbians into their ranks. In 2014 and 2015 respectively, the Boy Scouts of America approved policies to allow homosexual boys to participate in the Boy Scouts and adult homosexuals to serve as leaders in the organization. Same-sex marriage plunges yet another gigantic tidal wave of depravity along the path of a cultural tsunami of sexual immorality that is flooding our nation and the world. Our society has been forever changed.

Facts point our attention to a culture that is saturated in sexual immorality. Homosexuality glares shamelessly in the streets where it is surrounded by premarital sex, adultery, pornography, and lewdness that are practiced, applauded, and made famous and profitable by the great majority of Americans. So, I am not surprised by the Supreme Court’s decisions.

I am surprised by what seems to be a silence throughout the land on the part of Biblical preachers and theologians concerning this cultural tidal wave of sexual immorality dramatically measured by the advance of the homosexual agenda. At various times throughout history, the sexual immorality of nations and cultures has besieged the church. The church in the United States is now besieged by a culture of sexual immorality that demands acceptance by everyone in every arena of society including the church. This spirit of sexual immorality seeks to redefine morality itself and by so doing to redefine the church.

Consequently, people in churches are responding in a variety of ways to the circumstances facing the church. Some people are political activists and are throwing their time, energy, money, and prayers into changing the laws. Some people who own businesses have made decisions to refuse goods and services to people based on their sexual behavior. One couple in Oregon who owned a bakery refused to cater a same-sex wedding. They were sued and harassed and eventually closed their business. Another couple in New Mexico refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony. They were sued, and in August 2013, the New Mexico Supreme Court found them liable for discrimination. Some Christians are trying to figure out how to respond to family members who are living sexually immoral lives. One mother participated publicly with her lesbian daughter in a demonstration to support benefits for employees who had same-sex partners, and her church excommunicated her. At the same time, many churches are openly embracing same-sex couples and welcoming them into membership. The hour demands a coherent, Biblical understanding of how the church, comprised of Christians, must respond not only to homosexuality specifically, but to sin in general. So, my goal in the is to explore this topic of sexual immorality and to strive to articulate a Biblical understanding of how Christians must respond to sin in the church and in the world. Should we be angry? Should we become political activists? Should we tell people they are going to hell and that we do not want to associate with them? Or, should we change how we think about sin? Should we welcome those who practice any and every kind of sin into membership in the church? How should we respond if our children, grandchildren, or other close family members live lives marked by flagrant practices of sin? How should we respond to co-workers whose sin-filled lifestyles are quite normal for them and applauded by the culture? We are often confused and frustrated when we seek answers to these questions. But, God does not leave us confused. God gives us answers to every situation in life in the Holy Scriptures. Let us trust in Him and rely on His Word to direct us so that we might be the light of God in the world.

Please open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 5:1-7:4. As you can see, this passage of Scripture is rather lengthy spanning more than two chapters of the Bible. I plead with you to give your attention to the entire text, and to this poor preacher, as I attempt to draw your attention to some of the major truths that God speaks to us here in this part of the Bible through the Apostle Paul. Beginning in Chapter 5, verse 1, we read:

 

1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife! 2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” 6 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren! 9 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, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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. 12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. 13 Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power. 15 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! 16 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.” 17 But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 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? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 7 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

 

Obviously, I cannot address every doctrine and principle contained in every verse of this lengthy text, and that is not my goal. I selected this entire text because it teaches us some major things about sexual immorality and about the responsibility of the church. In order to discover these things, we must look at the whole text. I want to emphasize that there is much more we can learn from this text, and that it would take several weeks or even months to preach through this text for the purpose of giving each section detailed attention.  As we begin to look at this text, notice that the topic of this entire text is sexual immorality. All of chapter 5 deals with a specific case of sexual immorality, and chapter 6:9 through 7:4 picks up this topic of sexual immorality, listing examples and clearly defining sexual immorality as sin. Sandwiched between chapter 5 and chapter 6:9 are verses 1-8 of chapter 6. These verses deal with the matter of Christians filing lawsuits against each other in secular courts of law.   However, these 8 verses are not separated or severed from the context of chapter 5 and the rest of chapter 6 through chapter 7:4. At the heart of this issue of sexual immorality was the fact that the Corinthians did not know how to make godly judgments. They were not making right judgments concerning the case of the sexually immoral man in the church, and they were not making right judgments about settling conflicts among themselves; they were taking each other to court. They were obviously confused about how to make right decisions and judgments. So, in this part of the Bible, God teaches us some foundational things about sexual immorality and about making right judgments in response to sexual immorality and to sin in general.

There are three things in this text we are going to focus on today. First, people who commit any act of sexual immorality commit sin. Second, the church must judge and discipline church members who sin. And third, God judges people outside the church who sin.   Firstly, we discover that people who commit any act of sexual immorality commit sin. Sexual immorality of any kind is wrong. It is sin. In 5:1, the Apostle Paul writes, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles—that a man has his father’s wife!” In verse 5, he commands the church to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, . . . .” And, in verse 13 Paul emphatically declares, “put away from yourselves the evil person.”   There is no question that Paul is telling us that for a man to have sexual relations with his father’s wife is a sin.

But, that is not the only example of sexual immorality Paul addresses in this part of the Bible. In 6:9-10 we read, “9 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, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.”   This list includes “fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, and sodomites.” Although every possible act of sexual immorality is not named, these categories have one central thing in common; they are characterized by sexual relations outside of a marriage between one man and one woman. That is the essential definition of sexual immorality. In 7:2, Paul writes, “. . .because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” And, in 7:3-4, he continues by saying, “3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” Clearly, Paul is talking about sexual relations between a husband and a wife in vv. 3-4, and in verse 2 he is defining sexual immorality as any sexual relations that are not between one man and one woman who are married to each other. Within the marriage of one man to one woman is the only place sexual relations can take place without committing sexual immorality.

Notice also that the list Paul gives us in 6:9-10 includes “idolaters, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners.” You see, the categories of sexually immoral people are listed right along with a wide range of other sinners. Paul says that none of them “will enter the kingdom of heaven.” So, people who commit sexual immorality of any kind commit sin. Sexual immorality, including homosexuality, adultery, sexual relations with a boyfriend or girlfriend, and any other sexual relations outside of the marriage of one man to one woman, is sin. It breaks the law of the all holy, Creator, all powerful, eternal God who made everything and who rules over everything.

Secondly, in this part of the Bible, Paul tells us that the church must judge people in the church who sin. In 5:2, Paul chastises the church at Corinth for failing to judge and discipline the sexually immoral member of the church. He tells them, “2 And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you.” Then, in vv.3-5, the Apostle issues judgment against the man and orders the church to take disciplinary action when he writes, 3 For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” Also, in vv.12, Paul punctuates his command to the church by saying, “Do you not judge those who are inside?” And, as we read earlier, in v.13 Paul forcefully declares, Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” Finally, in v.5 of ch.6 Paul asks, “Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren?” Here, Paul is talking about Christians taking other Christians to secular courts over matters perceived as wrong or sin. And, whatever these matters were, Paul insists that the church is the place for these matters to be adjudicated or judged. We cannot read this part of the Bible and interpret it with integrity without seeing that it clearly and unambiguously demands that the church judge people in the church who sin.

The third truth this text communicates is that God judges people outside the church who sin. Let’s look again at ch.5 vv.9 through the first half of v. 13. Here, Paul writes, “9 I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. 10 Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges.”

Apparently, Paul had written to the Corinthians previously and told them not to associate with sexually immoral people. Now, he clarifies his instruction to them and explains that he was not talking about people outside the church. Christians cannot live in the world without “keeping company” with sinners. The church has no authority to judge people outside the church who sin. God judges people who are outside the church.

Fourthly, in this letter to the Corinthian church, God tells us that the church must not look to the world for judgments concerning sin.   “1Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? 2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? 4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” In other words, the members of the Corinthian church were turning to secular courts outside the church for judgments about right and wrong concerning minor disputes between church members. They were sinning against each other, then they were going outside the church to seek judgments against each other. Paul tells them it would be better to “accept wrong” or “let themselves be cheated.” The problem was that they were looking to a worldly authority outside the church to make a judgment concerning sin and conflict within the church. The Holy Spirit, through the inspiration of the Apostle Paul, absolutely forbids such actions.

The fact that these Christians were bringing lawsuits against each other in secular courts focuses attention on the depth of the seriousness of the situation in the church. The fact that they had failed to discipline the sexually immoral member of the church, combined with their practice of taking each other to court, showed that they were accepting the standards of those outside the church. Matthew Henry, in his commentary on the New Testament, explains “some among the Corinthians seem to have imagined that they were as much at liberty in the point of fornication as of meats, especially because it was not a sin condemned by the laws of their country.” Henry writes further that “There is a liberty wherewith Christ has made us free, in which we must stand fast. But surely he would never carry this liberty so far as to put himself into the power of any bodily appetite. Though all meats were supposed lawful, he would not become a glutton nor a drunkard. And much less would he abuse the maxim of lawful liberty to countenance the sin of fornication, which, though it might be allowed by the Corinthian laws, was a trespass upon the law of nature, and utterly unbecoming a Christian.” Those in the Corinthian church seemed to be proud that they were no longer “under law” and believed that their liberty of conscience allowed them to embrace and accept the sexual immorality of the man who had taken his father’s wife. Sexual immorality was not illegal in Corinth. In fact, it was completely acceptable under Roman law. They were making the same case as the Corinthian pagans outside the church. They were accepting the pagan definition of right and wrong. So, here in this text, God tells that the church must not accept the values and standards of those outside the church – whether they are the culture, the government, or even family members. God gives us the definition of right and wrong in His law that we find in the Bible. Quite simply the church must be guided, directed, and governed by the law and the Gospel of God found only in the Bible – nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else.

Fifthly, Christians must follow Biblical principles of authority, or standing, in making decisions concerning their responses to people who sin. In 6:4, Paul introduces this principle of standing, when he writes, “4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge?”   I believe Mounce’s Interlinear Greek New Testament translates this verse more accurately as, “So if you have ordinary cases, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?” The phrases “are least esteemed” and “have no standing” are translations of the Greek word “exoutheneo”. It means to “despise, to treat with contempt and scorn, to disregard, or to reject with contempt.” Paul makes the point that only those who are rightfully esteemed and respected by the church should judge matters in the church. They must be people with status whose influence is recognized and accepted and who are granted Biblical authority. Notice, that Paul applies the same criteria to judgment of those outside the church. As we have read previously, in 5:12-13, Paul writes, “12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges.” In other words, neither Paul nor the church has standing or authority to judge those outside the church.

So, we must know what the Bible tells us about this matter of standing or authority in order to know how we must respond to people who sin. In the Bible, God establishes four spheres of authority over mankind, which are the authority of the government, the authority of the husband over the wife, the authority of parents over children, and the authority of the elders over the church.

We read about the first sphere of authority in Romans 13:1-7. Here, the Apostle Paul tells us that God has established governments and given them authority. Paul writes, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Now, this is the authority of the government in whatever form. Paul simply refers to those who hold this authority as “the governing authorities”, “rulers”, and “God’s ministers”. God established this authority to rule over nations and groups of people. God uses the governing authorities to prevent anarchy and restrain evil. The legitimate function of government is to establish laws that promote the good of the people and to punish lawbreakers. Certainly, there are times when governments themselves are evil and should not be obeyed. However, even bad governments carry out legitimate functions. Notice that neither husbands, nor parents, nor the church has any authority to govern nations. God specifically gives that authority to rulers.

The second sphere of authority, the authority of husbands over wives is stated in Ephesians 5:22-24 22where we read, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” This is authority over the marriage and the management of the home. Notice that there is no place for the government here. The government has no authority or standing in the life of the family. Certainly, the laws the government establishes that apply to all people of the nation apply to the members of the family. The family has to pay taxes. Family members must not steal or kill or run stop lights. But, the government should have no authority to tell decide who cooks dinner on Wednesday night or who makes the bed or who takes out the trash or what time everyone goes to bed. The government should have no authority to establish a worship time or to decide where a husband and wife are going to go on their next vacation. God gives the authority over the marriage and the home to the husband.

The third sphere of authority is the authority of parents over children. In Ephesians 6:1-2, Paul writes, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise.” Notice that God has given authority over children to the parents, not to the government or the church. While there may be laws concerning children, the authority over the day-to-day lives of children is given to parents and parents alone.

Finally, the fourth sphere of authority is articulated in Hebrews 13:17, where it is written, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” This is the authority of the elders over the church. Notice that neither the government, nor husbands, nor parents have authority over the church. God gives that authority to the elders through the church. That is the reason Paul chastises the church in 2 Corinthians 6 for taking each other to court. The government and secular courts have no God-given authority or standing in the church.

I have taken the time to discuss this matter of authority or standing because it is an important Biblical principle for us to understand in order to know how to respond to people who sin. You see, as Christians, you and I must respond to matters of sin from this Biblical perspective of standing, or position of God-given authority or influence in relation to the person or people who commit the sin or practice the sin. For example, if Sally, who is not a church member, regularly speaks disrespectfully to her mother, no one except Sally’s mother and father have the necessary standing to discipline Sally. Neither the government nor even the elders of the church possess the God-given authority to pass judgment on Sally and discipline her. Now, if the parents are church members, the elders of the church do have the standing to take some action in response to the parents, if Sally’s behavior disrupts the peace and unity of the church, affects its worship, or harms its witness. However, if Sally’s mother is not handling the situation properly, the elders have no standing to give directions to Sally’s mother. That is the husband’s responsibility. The elders do possess the standing to address the issue with the husband, but, at whatever point such action might become necessary, the elders would be addressing the husband’s failure to exercise his God-given authority. In this situation, there is no place for the government.

Allow me to take this example one step farther. If Sally and her parents lived next door, but were not members of our church, neither the elders nor the government nor anyone else would have any God-given standing to correct Sally or her parents. Even if the parents professed to be Christians and were members of another church, neither the elders nor the members of our church would have any standing to correct the situation.

I hope this analogy will be somewhat helpful to you in a few moments when we make some applications of this Biblical principle of standing that the Apostle Paul introduces here in 2 Corinthians 6:4.

Finally, as we conclude our examination of this rather lengthy text, the sixth thing we discover shines a brilliant light of wonderful truth on everything else we have learned here and stands as the lighthouse or beacon that must guide us through the turbulence of sin we encounter both in the church and in the world. The sixth thing our text tells us is that God saves sinners. In chapter 6, verses 9-11, we read, “9 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, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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.”   Homosexuality is sin. Homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God. Premarital sexual relations are sin. It is what the Bible calls fornication. Fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God. Sexual unfaithfulness to a husband or wife, or sexual relations with someone else’s husband or wife is sin. It is adultery. Adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Idolatry is sin. Idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God. Thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners are sinners. They will not inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, but look at the glorious light of the love of God in verse 11! Paul writes, “And such were some of you. But you were” saved! That phrase, “And such were some of you” reminds the Corinthians and us that we were all hopeless sinners who could not inherit the kingdom of God, who could not hope to know God or go to heaven.   But, we are “washed, sanctified, and justified”, we are forgiven and saved and taught to live godly lives by “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” God saves sinners. God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Being of God, to become a man. He lived a human life perfectly obedient God. He was completely sinless and totally righteous. God accepts His holy life in place of the holy life that guilty sinners like you and I cannot possess any other way. God gives guilty sinners whom He saves credit for the holy life lived by Jesus. And, Jesus suffered the judgment and condemnation of God against guilty sinners He came to save when He died on the Cross. God raised Jesus from the dead and He ascended into heaven in His resurrected body to show that He had accomplished His mission. Jesus provided the sinless life people need to know God and live with Him, and He paid the penalty for sin and guilt that must be paid in order for God to forgive anyone. God saves sinners. He sends His Holy Spirit to cause people to see their sin. He sends His Holy Spirit to cause people to actually hear the truth of the love of God in Jesus and the forgiveness and salvation that Jesus has accomplished. He sends His Holy Spirit to give people faith in Jesus and enable them to turn from the sins that have enslaved them. God saves sinners.

Now, let’s make some applications of these truths given to us by God through the inspiration of the Apostle Paul. Firstly, we must not be confused about what constitutes sexual immorality. Christians must understand the Biblical definition of sin, and we must hold fast to that definition. Sexual immorality is any sexual relation outside of a marriage between one man and woman. That includes homosexuality. Homosexuality is sin and the church must never accept any other understanding. God decides what is right and wrong. That is part of Paul’s point in 7:2, where he writes, “. . .because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” If you are not a Christian, please examine what you think about sexual immorality. For decades, the majority of people in our culture have accepted the idea that if something feels good, or if the most people think something is okay, then there is nothing wrong with it. The result of that idea is that the definition of right and wrong is determined by our emotions, our feelings. Please hear this truth from God today. That kind of thinking is a lie. There is an eternal, creator God who made everything, owns everything, and rules everything. This God of the Bible has established laws for human relations. God’s law is absolute. It does not change. And, here in 2 Corinthians 7:2, God defines sexual immorality. If you have sexual relations outside of marriage between one man and one woman, you break God’s law. You sin, and the wages of sin is death. It is separation from God in this life, and in the life to come, unless you turn from your sin and trust in the person of and work of the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive you and give you life with God.

Secondly, if you are a Christian, “flee sexual immorality”. That’s what Paul tells us in 6:18. And, in verse 19 he asks, “ . . . 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?” You may have been confused about what constitutes sexual immorality. You must not be confused any longer. If you have been sexually immoral, or are currently involved in sexual relations that are immoral, you must repent and do whatever is necessary to turn away from that sin. Additionally, as Christians, we must not give our approval to relationships that are sexually immoral by accepting the culture’s definition of morality. We will talk more about Biblical principles guiding our responses to matters of sin in the culture next week.

Thirdly, Christians must esteem sexual relations in marriage between one man and one woman. The world esteems and exalts perversion. Christians are to cherish sexual relations in marriage and regard those relations as a high privilege given by God. Husbands and wives must mutually seek the joy and satisfaction of each other. These relations must not be seen as a duty or a right. They must be cherished as tender and intimate expressions of affection and love that honor God in a world filled with selfishness, emptiness, insatiable appetites, loneliness, broken hearts, and broken lives.

Fourthly, the church must judge sin within the church. This is the church’s God-given responsibility. This responsibility applies not only to sexual immorality but also to any and all matters of unrepentant sin on the part of church members. It must not be ignored, and it must not be given to people outside the church. Failure to carry out this responsibility rejects the command of God we find here in the Bible, approves of open sin in the lives of Christians and encourages it, dishonors the Lord Jesus Christ, makes mockery of His suffering and death, destroys the witness of the church, and, ultimately, destroys the church. The church must judge people in the church who sin and take appropriate disciplinary action designed to call the sinning church member to repentance.

Finally, fifthly, the church must not adopt a condemnatory or damning attitude or condition of the heart towards people outside the church who sin. Now, regardless of how terrible or evil or repulsive or unacceptable or distasteful the sins of people outside the church might be, the church is not given authority or responsibility for judging those people. “Those who are outside God judges.”

Submitted and Posted by:  Bob Curley, Elder, Emmanuel Reformed Baptist Church, Georgetown, Texas

All articles posted on this Blog are published solely for reader consideration and are not position papers of TAARBC or official opinions of TAARBC.

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