What If You Feel Like A Sinner? (ATP)

 Question: If a homosexual (who doesn’t participate in sexual activity) goes to church & claims they love the Lord, would there really be any sincerity behind that love, despite knowing what the Word says about homosexuality? (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

1 Timothy 1:8-11 (NASB)

But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

This is a wonderful question thats answer will set some people free, so thank you for asking it! The start of the answer is in the title I gave it. Basically what is being asked is what if one feels inside like a sinner. In todays society, one might refer to it as their identity instead of their feeling and so that mindset unfortunately has found place in our understanding.

How a person identifies is kind of a big deal actually, both for good reasons and not so good. We have seen politicians encourage people along these lines because it benefits their cause. Doing so is nothing short of demonic inspiration meant to divide people. According to scripture there are few things we should allow to divide us and fewer still that we should identify with.

To begin with we should really understand an important scripture. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” Short but sweet and right to the point, Paul cleaned up a lot of potential messes with this verse. But what does it mean to be new, and that old things have passed away? Well, this could not possibly mean that you just completely feel different. When I got born again, it felt good. I was excited about my new life and I was convinced that I would never look back. As far serving God goes, I’ve never wanted to, either. However, when the honeymoon wore off and I had to deal with life again, I saw something I didn’t like. My old sins haunted me, calling me continually to come back.

Romans 7:18-19 (NASB) is very helpful in this understanding. “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” For space sake I didn’t share all the scriptures in this section but it wouldn’t be bad for you to read all these in context, you’d see the battle of this type of thinking. Also, to be clear, these verses are not giving us justification to sin. They are simply explaining what happens. The spirit of man is made new at rebirth, not our flesh or mind. If a person got saved as a homosexual, or any other type of sinner, they are still that in the flesh and probably the mind.

This is why, the scriptures tell us we need to crucify the flesh (Galatians 5:24) and to renew the mind (Romans 12:2). Neither of these things are a one time deal, we will have to contend with them until we are in Heaven. Now, crucifying the flesh is easy to understand. Essentially it is forcing the flesh to not do what it wants when what it wants violates scripture. With the mind however, this can be a bit more tricky. In renewing the mind, we must identify thoughts that are not Godly thoughts and change them to be so. The trick here is understanding what thoughts are right.

Sinful thinking is not a thought that enters the mind or one that troubles an individual. A sinful thought is only one that’s embraced. When we embrace a thought good or bad, it typically results in action. Now, the fine line here can be if a wrong thought enters your mind, and knowing it’s wrong you purpose to dwell on it, enjoying the thought in your mind. Jesus dealt with this when He said if you lust after a woman you’ve already committed adultery. He wasn’t saying if you simply have a wrong thought. He was talking about meditation on these thoughts.

I say all this to get our thinking renewed. There is one thing that a Christian should identify with and that’s the Body of Christ. Galatians 3:28 (NASB) says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We shouldn’t even identify as sinners any more really, to do so justifies the mindset of one. We know we have a tendency in our nature to sin, but we should not embrace this. So, in reference to the question (though this would apply to any sin), firstly a Christian should not identify as a homosexual. They could be a Christian who fights these tendencies or struggles with these thoughts. God is not mad at people because of their struggle.

In the scriptures that you referenced in 1 Timothy as well as any other place in scripture when the Bible refers to a certain set of actions (I.e. being an idolator, fornicator, homosexual) it is referring not to the one who struggles with thoughts but the one who makes a practice of embracing actions. The end of Galatians 5:21 (NASB) shows us this, “…that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

If we were condemned by a slip up or a thought, no one would ever be in Heaven. So to answer the original question let’s look at it slightly differently. If a person who has struggled or struggles with homosexual thoughts goes to church & claims they love the Lord, would there really be any sincerity behind that love? My answer is absolutely yes, they can be and are probably very sincere. Knowing what the Word says, those who refuse to partake of sin are fulfilling the law of God to “keep My commandments.” Only the devil will tell people that they are unacceptable to God. Jesus came for the worse to make them better. We should never embrace sin, but also not be condemned because it’s around us. God has made a way, despite how we are tempted to feel. Only in identifying with Christ will we ever be able to overcome the flesh.

Luke 5:30-32 (NASB)

The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff