People think they can define what is love regarding sexual behavior. But, this role belongs purely to our Creator.
[Gary Petty] As a Christian, should you denounce LGBTQ lifestyles and behavior? Should you embrace them? You may have a friend who says, "Love is love, and Jesus is all about love. So if you reject my lifestyle, you don't seem very Christian." But then you open your Bible and it says that people should not participate in these kinds of lifestyles. Your friend says, "Love is love," the Bible says, "God is love." What's a Christian to do? Homosexuality is having a cultural moment, and many Christians feel caught in the middle. Today we're going to have a frank biblical talk about love.
What is love? I mean, every day you hear people say things like, I love that dress, I love my wife. I love that new car smell. I love my cat. Now in each of these statements, love doesn't have the same meaning. Maybe you've heard this phrase, "love is love." Well according to the Urban Dictionary, the term love is love is, "A phrase meaning that the love expressed by an individual or a couple is valid regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the lover or partner."
The Bible says, God is love. Love is love, God is love. Christians are vehemently disagreeing with each other on the meaning of these terms. Some Christians claim that the love of God accepts all sexual relationships and gender identities. Other Christians claim that a loving God forbids certain sexual relationships. This controversy may be raging at your church today, and it's often heated debate. Well we're eventually left with two questions and many Christians are confused on how to answer these two questions. The first one is, if I do not accept the lifestyles of the LGBTQ+ community, does that mean I am not a real follower of Jesus who commands His disciples to accept and love everyone? Now, the other question is, if I do accept the lifestyles of the LGBTQ community, does that mean that love is love is a foundational teaching of Jesus and we are to ignore the biblical instructions against these behaviors?
The question Christians must really answer: which side of this debate did Jesus stand on? And this is the question we're going to be talking about today here on "Beyond Today." Let's begin by looking at something that Jesus taught. We want to look at specifically at the teachings of Jesus today. And this is one of the most often quoted verses in the history of the Bible. Jesus said, "For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have ever lasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but the world through Him might be saved." Jesus packs a lot into these few statements. First of all, God loves humanity. God created us. And you know what? Every one of us has value to God. Second, God's love is expressed, and this is very important. How does God express His love? It's expressed in the giving of His son, Jesus, so that we can have eternal life. Jesus came from the father and became a human being, as an expression of God's love. And three, the reason Jesus came to live among us is to save us from condemnation. This means that every one of us is in desperate need of being saved. Now think about this, God loves all humanity. This is what Jesus said in those two verses, God gave His only Son, and Jesus came to save us. To save us from what? Now we're going to come back to what Jesus said in this passage later in the program.
But first, let's look at something the apostle John wrote. And John was very close to Jesus, very close to Him. And this is something he wrote later in his life, years after what Jesus said when He was on earth. And here's what John writes. "He does not love. God does not know God for God is love." Here's where we get the statement, God is love. He then says, "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.” So here he's just reiterating what Jesus said, right? The expression of God's love, ultimate expression of God's love is that He sent Jesus Christ here. And then here is why He did it. He says, "In this is love, not that we loved God, but He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins." Propitiation. It's not a word you use very often, is it? At work, sitting around the water cooler, you don't hear that word used. Now you know the story of Jesus, right? How people close to Him betrayed and abandoned Him. How Roman soldiers tortured Him and beat Him to the point He was unrecognizable and nailed Him to a stake, and then they killed Him. Propitiation means that all human beings are separated from God because of our sins. That's what John said. And God must, through His love and His grace, take an action so that we can have a relationship with Him. We can't have a relationship with God unless He takes an action. And Jesus Christ, through his life, death and resurrection, is the action. It's the way God is restoring you into a relationship with Him and it's an undeserved relationship by the way, from His viewpoint.
So why are we separated from God? Why do we not naturally deserve a relationship with this loving God? Well John says, "Because Christ was sent because of our sins." And this is the core message of the gospel. All of us have to be saved. That means there's something wrong with all of us. That's what Jesus said, it's what John says. Your relationship with God isn't one between equals, where you can create your own definitions of good and evil, or even our own definitions of love. Remember, God is love. And He is our creator, and God defines love, not our natural human feelings. And this is at the core of this argument. I mean, sin is anything that is offensive to the goodness of God. In fact sin, remember Jesus came because of sin, sin is the opposite of the love of God. And so sin separates us from the love of God. Human sexuality is an aspect of our nature as created beings, as defined by the love of God. And it is a gift from God with a purpose.
How do we know what the gift of God is in terms of human sexuality? Well, we have a biblical situation where there was a sharp debate among Jewish religious leaders on what were morally acceptable reasons for divorce. So they come and they ask Jesus, and here's what Jesus says. And He answered them and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning, made them male and female?" He jumps right to the book of Genesis. Now this is Jesus, He goes to the book of Genesis and says, don't you know, from the very beginning, God made them male and female? You know, it's often said that Jesus never spoke about homosexuality or personal gender identity, but He did, right here. According to Jesus, God made two gender identities because God only created two genders. He then defined God's purpose for creating human beings as male and female. So we're going back to Jesus. What did He teach? He said, this is what God says then, "For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they're no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man separate." Marriage and the one flesh aspect of the marriage relationship was ordained by the love of God. It is His purpose for creating us male and female and this is the teaching of Jesus Christ.
Now I want you to think about this, this is really, really important. God said that He created human beings in His image, that's back in Genesis where Jesus is quoting. This is an awesome truth. You know, it tells us why we're here. This is why we're here, 'cause God made us in His image. God desires to have children to share life with. Wrap your mind around that one. And then ask this question, how did God design His creation to keep producing children in His image? Well, He designed the one flesh relationship between a man and a woman in marriage, so they can keep producing His children. That's unbelievably profound. And it does help us understand how God is love and this is why the misapplication of human sexuality as defined by God, is a sin against Him. Understand that. And this involves all sexual sins. I mean, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught that adultery was sin. In fact, He said, if you're lusting after a man or a woman that's not your husband or wife, that's a sin. So how did Jesus deal with sexual sin? When He was walking the earth, how did He deal with sexual sin? That this will tell us something about how God looks at sexual sin.
There's an often quoted story of a woman who had been caught in adultery and was brought before Jesus. John describes a dramatic scene. Jesus is speaking in front of a group of people and they drag this woman to Him and they proclaim, this set of religious leaders, that she was caught in the act of adultery. Now there's one interesting question here I've always would like the answer to, where was the man? They just dragged her. These were Pharisees and they quote from the biblical law. And actually what they're quoting is true, is that a person who commits adultery can be condemned to be stoned. They can be judged and actually condemned to be stoned. Now, the real reason they were doing this, when you read the passage, is because they were trying to trick Jesus. They were trying to bring some accusation against Him. These men did not care about loving God or loving their neighbor. Then Jesus says something that's very strange. He kneels down and with His finger, writes something in the dirt. He just writes something in the dirt, and He says to those men, He says, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." Now, we don't know exactly what Jesus wrote, but according to the story, John says the accusers were convicted in their own conscience and they left the scene. So they leave the scene. And here is what Jesus says to the woman. This is real important. He gets up, He says, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" In other words, haven't you been condemned to be stoned? This was the condemnation. There's a judgment, and then there's a penalty. Have you not been condemned? And she says, "No, Lord, no one, they've all left." And then Jesus says to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
It's real important. First of all, Jesus says He's not going to condemn the woman to be stoned to death. I'm not going to have people kill you right now. But then what He says next is really, really important. He says go and sin no more. He came to save us from sin, not to give us a get out of jail free card. The grace of God and the love of God is not simply, I forgive you, you can continue to commit sin. It doesn't give us permission to do whatever we think will make us happy. Now this entire event took place in front of a crowd of people, okay? And after the accusers had retreated and Jesus told the woman, good, go and sin no more, He turned to the crowd, and this is what He told them, "I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." You see, responding to Jesus as the one sent to be the propitiation for the eternal consequences of our sins, your sins, my sins, all of our sins, requires us, we are absolutely required to humbly seek to be reconciled to God. We have to understand we're separated. And then we are to desperately seek His love and His grace and His help and His forgiveness. And then through His help, we begin to remove sin from our lives. Go and sin no more.
When you read the New Testament, you'll discover that the gospel proclaims the need for a fundamental change in human nature. And that includes all of us. That's important to remember. It's just not some people, it's all of us. LGBTQ+ behavior is not consistent with the biblical instructions and how to become disciple of Jesus. Now how should those who believe that, who want to follow the teachings of Jesus, how do you deal with people who come and say, no, Jesus taught we are to love. And Jesus wants us to love each other, so we must accept all behaviors. The accusation then comes that if you don't accept these behaviors, you hate them. Okay, how do we deal with that? Because we're not to hate people, Christians are not to hate anybody. But how do we deal with that accusation? Three things we could do.
First of all, and you've heard me say this before, sharing the gospel is one spiritually sick person sharing with another spiritually sick person how to get in contact with the doctor. Disciples of Jesus Christ don't hate, they share the wonderful truth that God is love. I mean, here's something that's... I want to read this, 'cause this is written to Christians, okay? This is actually from the apostle Paul, and he's writing to the Corinthian church, which has a lot of sins, including a lot of sexual sins. And he says to them, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" So he's going to explain here some behaviors that keep us separated from God. And he says, "Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators," which just means any kind of sexual sin, "Nor idolaters nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites," okay? Now I'm going to stop here because this verse is often quoted as it should be, to show that the early followers of Jesus taught that certain sexual behaviors are not acceptable to the goodness of God. But we stop there sometimes and we shouldn't. Paul goes on. He says, "Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." You know, the message of the kingdom of God includes that He's creating a family. Each one of us has value. Each one of us can be a child of God, and He's inviting you to become His children. And Jesus Christ is returning to establish God's kingdom on this earth, and the gospel is not only about that future time, but how you can experience God as your father and Jesus Christ as your brother right now. But unfortunately, what happens is that it seems like sometimes Christians read these verses and we say, well, yes, all these sexual sins are the worst sins you can do. Well, you know what? Read the New Testament. Jesus, Paul, His followers, Peter, all have left us with long lists of sinful behavior. Long lists. All based on the two great commandments, to love God and neighbor, and the 10 commandments.
Christians must be careful here. We can never excuse our dishonesty or our alcohol abuse or our greed or our hatred because we think someone else's sins are greater than our own sins. We approach people by saying, I'm a sick person who knows how to tell you where the doctor is, 'cause you're sick too. Paul puts the Christians here in Corinth right on track with his next statement. "And such were some of you," he says, you know, you all had these sins and we could just make a list to include everybody. You know, Paul could have just filled up the page and said every one of you is on this list. "But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God." And that right there, there's three words, washed and sanctified and justified. That's amazing information. The gospel is a message about God's love for us and how our sin has separated us from God. When we share that message with others, we need to let them know that we too need God's grace. Because of God's love, you know what's happening? We're overcoming sin, we're growing, we're not perfect, but we're headed there. Why? Because we've been washed and sanctified and justified and we want them through Jesus Christ to come to God and receive forgiveness and being reconciled to God because they're separate from God. That has to be the message, not, I hate you. I love you, and there's something better. Remember, you are a spiritually sick person sharing with another spiritually sick person where to find the doctor.
The second point, the purpose of Christianity isn't just to profess Jesus but to become a new person. We just read how Paul claimed that Christians had formally been pagans, dishonest, drunkards, and participants in all kinds of wrong sexual lifestyles. But because of the love and grace of God, they had become disciples of Jesus Christ. God was changing the inner person, and their behaviors were changing. We must help others fully accept the hopelessness of the natural human condition. I mean all of us have corrupted human nature and many of the behaviors and feelings we experience, they seem right to us. But remember, love is defined by God, not our feelings, 'cause this God is love. When we look at what Jesus said about how God made us male and female, the concept of love is love cheapens the reality that God is love. It cheapens it. You know, at the beginning of the program, we read from John chapter three. I'm going to go back there because we didn't finish all of it. So I'm going to read it again and then cover the next few verses. "For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." Now let's continue on. "He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the holy begotten Son of God." Now think about this, there is a condemnation Jesus talks about. Who does the condemning? Not you and me. God does the condemning. And why? Because they have rejected Jesus Christ and the teachings of Jesus Christ. "And this is the condemnation," Jesus says, "that the light is coming to the world and men love darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil." The basic reason why we don't want to come to Jesus Christ is we don't want to accept our behaviors are wrong. There it is. And that means all of us. We can't pick out one person and say, your behavior's wrong, mine's not. We're all in the same boat, that's why we have to share it. We're on the same boat. He says, "For everyone practicing evil hates the light does not come to the light lest his deeds be exposed. But he does the truth comes to the light that his deeds may be clearly seen that they have been done in God."
And then our third point. Be willing to make a stand that love is love and God is love. Those two things don't mean the same. Jesus said it was God's purpose to create two sexual identities in order to why? Create marriage and reproduce other children for the love of God. And let's face it, let's be really honest here. Much of human sexual activity has nothing to do with love, right? A one night stand with someone you can't remember his or her name the next day, that's not love. Actually, much of what we think is love, it's just an attempt to fill an emptiness that is inside every human being. An emptiness that can't be filled with drugs or alcohol or video games or entertainment or lots of fun, or the belief that sexual activity equals love. That emptiness can only be filled by God. And this is what Christians are to experience in our relationship with God, and then we have to share it with others.
Let's review the three things we just covered that we should do as Christians as we interact with people and these situations. One, we're just sick too, but we're being healed. We're being healed and you can be healed because God is love. We're not allowed to define love, He does. We also have to become a new person. This is a whole lot more than this, just accepting Jesus. We have to become a new person, and that is through the power of God. And then make a stand, God is love. To do that, you're going to have to know what Jesus taught and you're going to have to know what the New Testament teaches about all this. You have to know what is actually taught by the earliest followers of Jesus.
Now, we have a free study guide we're offering today and it is crucial in dealing with subjects like the one we're talking about. "What Does the Bible Teach About Grace?" What is the grace of God? How does His love actually draw us close to Him? Because we're separated. We have to first accept that we're separated. This study guide goes through many Bible stories like King David who sinned through adultery and was separated from God and God showed him grace. You're never, never without hope. God is love. This study guide can help you learn how God's grace gives you the help even to overcome sin. Not accept it, overcome it. And it will help you understand how grace and faith work together. Does grace mean that we can continue to sin simply by saying, God loves me? What does the Bible teach about grace? Go to beyondtoday.tv and download your free copy or call the number on your screen to have a study guide sent directly to your home. And as always on "Beyond Today," our study guides are without cost to you. Those who follow the authentic teachings of Jesus Christ, they're not haters, they're simply teaching what He taught. But you know what? Jesus did say that His followers would be hated by others. At the same time, our dedication to God as his children motivates us to live by His definition of love. A true follower of Jesus has a special identity. And it's not based on race or social status or wealth, it is based on being a child of God. Yes, living in a dysfunctional world by preparing to live in His kingdom by becoming disciples of Jesus Christ now. It is only when you submit to God and allow Him to define who you are, that you can actually begin to understand the phrase, God is love.
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