As our culture struggles with serious moral issues, how do we as the church respond, especially if those moral issues stand in conflict with the Bible. It is important for us as Christians to keep in mind that real people suffer real anguish over sexual identity issues and other moral issues. As Christians, we of all people, should understand the struggle of the inner man that occurs because of sin and the fall of man. Paul says this in Romans:
Romans 7:21-23 NASB
21 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,
23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
These are real people with struggles that need our understanding and compassion. Compassion however, does not mean compromising biblical truth. We are to speak truth, but in love as it says in Ephesians (Eph 4.15). “In love” means speaking with great respect, ￼￼empathy, and humility. Every person who deals with moral issues is a real person who bears the image of God.
I am concerned that as Christians we are being shamed into believing lies and a false wisdom that is not from God. We are warned about this in Romans ...
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Our culture today is struggling with exalting self-fulfillment and self-autonomy over other people and truth itself. One of the lies of the sexual revolution is that sex is a private matter ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼and is does not affect anyone but myself.
"The sexual act is private, but our sexual decisions have public consequences, they are not done isolated from our communities and relationships with other people" (John Stonestreet).
We must not allow the world to shame us into silence. We need to be able to speak, but speak from an informed place and speak with wisdom and love. We can present our values without attacking and making derogatory comments about the other side. However, for cultures to drift morally, there must be a shaming of people into silence. This is something that we see happening today. If you speak up against any of the popular moral issues of today you will surely be shamed and pressured to change what you believe.
We are being led to believe that we cannot speak truth and love people at the same time. We do not have to chose between speaking the truth and being loving in the way we speak.
"Both truth and love find their existence in the person of Jesus Christ who is the ultimate expression of both truth and love" (John Stonestreet).
Jesus came to deliver all of us from our domains of sinful darkness, no matter what those struggles are.
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
It is Jesus’ truth that sets us free ...
"... and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
We need to pray for ourselves and for all those in our culture caught in sin, that we and they would experience genuine encounters with God and find true freedom from sin.
Prayer in its simplest form is communicating with God. I like to view prayer as looking to God for help, comfort, wisdom, for any and all aspects of life. In Numbers (Num 21:4-9) the people of Israel were complaining about Moses' leadership. This upset the Lord and He sends serpents among them. When people were bitten by the snakes they would die. The people repented of their sin and asked Moses to intercede for them before God. God instructs Moses to build a fiery serpent. He builds a bronze serpent and mounts it on a pole. Whoever is bitten by a snake, if they looked up to the serpent on the pole, would live and not die.
This is a picture of looking to God for deliverance from sin, clearly an Old Testament reference to the Gospel message. Jesus Christ was lifted up on a cross for our salvation.
It is so important that we learn to look to God first in prayer before trying to fix our problems with natural wisdom or self-effort. Prayer helps us to view life from an eternal perspective.
One of the most difficult aspects of walking with God is the concept of being holy. What does it mean to live a holy life? How does God view holiness? Does holiness depend on what I do or do not do, or is it primarily a heart issue before God?
Recently I have been reading through the Psalms and found myself in the longest Psalm of the Bible, Psalm 119. Whether I understand all the questions concerning what holiness is or not, I certainly pray for God’s help is living a holy life. Below are several verses from Psalm 119 that you can turn into prayers as you seek God for the grace to live a life that pleases Him:
Pas 119:5 Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.
Psa 119:17 Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
18 Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.
19 I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.
20 My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.
Psalm 119:24 Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.
As the Bible says elsewhere, "let the Word of God richly dwell within you." (Col 3:16)
Pastor Aaron brought an excellent word on Sunday (May 31, 2015). I would encourage you to check it out here if you have not heard it. Below are a few of my thoughts taken from his sermon:
We must be careful not to approach the Bible through the lenses of our own personal biases and prejudices. It is important to avoid rationalizing scripture to fit our particular mindset. As you read the Bible learn to absorb what it says first and then apply it to your life, even if it is contrary to your worldview. We must fit our mindset and perspectives into the Bible rather than trying to make the Bible fit into our understanding of life.
Two excellent verses that speak to this our found in 1 Corinthians …
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12.1-2)
Meditate on the Word of God and allow it to permeate every part of who you are. God's Word will never return void in your life. Believe it!
The Bible has a lot to say about one another and assembling together, both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. There is something significant that takes place when God's people gather together for the purpose of praying and worshiping Him.
You find interesting verses like this one from the book of Leviticus ...
7 ‘But you will chase your enemies and they will fall before you by the sword; 8 five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall before you by the sword. (Lev 26:7-8)
There seems to be a multiplying affect that takes place when God's people move together in agreement. There is power in agreement.
Look at the words of Jesus in Matthew ...
“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Mat 18:20)
We know that we have the Holy Spirit and that God is always with us, so why would Jesus say this? I believe there is something that happens when the church gathers together that does not happen in our own private prayer closets.
Consider this thought from the book of Psalms ...
Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. (Psa 22:3)
Some Bible translations say that God “inhabits the praises” of his people. When we are gathered together God comes in a different, and perhaps greater capacity, than when we are alone.
Paul, speaking to the church in Corinth about the reality of the many members Body of Christ, makes the following observation ...
What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation … (1 Cor 14:26)
Every member is significant in the eyes of God and has something to contribute. The church needs each and every member to be present, spiritually healthy, and aware that they are a part of the many membered body of Christ, and that they have something necessary to offer that only they can provide. Again, there is something released when we gather together as the church and allow God to move in and through us as a member of His spiritual body here on earth. Each person is an important contributor to the whole. Each person is a necessary part of the whole.
One final thought from King David …
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psa 122:1)
This past Sunday my family celebrated five birthdays at one time. Truly, a birthday extravaganza!
As I was thinking about birthdays, it occurred to me that a birthday marks a significant point in the divine purposes of God. You are His special creation for His special purpose that only you can fulfill. A birthday is a day to celebrate who God created you to be and to look ahead to His wonderful plan for your life. Never discredit the glory of God's creation by belittling the person that he made. Celebrate who God made you and rejoice in His wonderful purposes and plans for your life. Do not stumble over who you are not, but celebrate who you are.
Posts are a collection of thoughts by the Pastors and leaders of Church on the Rock Melbourne.