by Mike Ratliff
There is a push in the United States to make it illegal to preach the truth from God’s Word where it pertains to the sin of homosexuality. Of course the emphasis of those laws or initiatives is to protect the rights of certain people based on their sexual preference, which is also called gay rights. They say that to preach what the Bible says about homosexuality is to foment hate; therefore, the laws are placed under the umbrella of hate crimes.
On the other hand, some who preach against certain sins are also guilty of trying to force morality upon the unregenerate. How can an unregenerate person stop sinning? When Christians focus on sins that are abhorrent to God that should be just as abhorrent to believers, the focus should be on cleansing those sins from the Church itself. At the same time, we must never shut our doors to the lost, no matter what sins are consuming them. God saves sinners.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11 ESV)
Carefully read the passage above from 1 Corinthians 6. No one who is unrighteous will inherit the kingdom of God. Who is that? It is those who are sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers. There are more, such as liars, etc., however, what I want to focus on here is the statement by Paul in which he states that the Corinthians were guilty of all those sins, but they had been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. It didn’t matter what they used to be, now they were new creations, behold all things were new.
We were all damaged goods. All of us were sinners whom God saved by His grace through faith as His gift to us. We did not earn nor deserve it and it was not by any work we did. It was all of God by His grace. (Ephesians 2:8,9) Therefore, no matter what sins consumed us before our salvation, God is able to quicken what was dead in trespasses and sins, putting life where death reigned and light where darkness ruled.
Prior to our salvation, all of us were guilty of viewing God and His ways as less valuable than whatever we really worshiped in our hearts in our idolatry. In fact, our view of our idols was that they were far superior to God.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:21-32 ESV)
Please carefully read this passage from Romans 1. What is the emphasis here? Why do men reject God and pursue their own way? Of course, when we do this, God does give us over to our reprobate minds, but why is it that we do this in the first place? What is it that we are really doing? Let’s look at one verse here.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:28 ESV)
The phrase “did not see fit to” is one Greek word (Dokimazo). It means to try, prove discern, distinguish, or approve. It has the notion of proving a thing whether it is worthy to be received or not. The KJV reads as:
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;” (Romans 1:28 KJV)
In this translation the word “like” represents Dokimazo. In other words, what men, women, and children actually do is make a preference to worship or idolize someone or something other than God. In fact, if you go back and reread Romans 1:21-32 it should be plain that the one who is being worshiped is self. We worship self over God. We do not hold Him in our thoughts and concerns and focus. Instead, we put ourselves on the throne and all we do revolves around the god self. Prior to salvation, we are all just like this. However, after salvation things are different.
Prior to salvation we really had no choice. We are all created to worship someone or something and we are desperate for fulfillment. We seek those things that we believe will feed that hunger. However, nothing works. After salvation, things are different. We now have the ability to be fulfilled in Christ, to have joy and peace that lasts and satisfies like no fleshly pursuit ever could. You may be asking yourself what is wrong with you because that really doesn’t describe your walk. Please read and mediate on the following passage.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)
If this is missing from your walk then you are not where you need to be. Lets unpack this wonderful passage. Paul tells us that everything he has shared from Romans 1-11 should be taken and considered and in light of all of those wonderful truths, we need to present our bodies as living sacrifices, by God’s mercy and grace, to Him. This means that our lives should be walked before the face of God as living sacrifices. We are to die to self and live for Him. This is our spiritual worship. This is not just on Sunday mornings. This is all the time. All that we do, all day long, everyday must be lived out like this. How do we do this?
We cannot do this in our own abilities. In v1 Paul told us that we must do this by God’s mercy. It is through His grace that we can do good things. Jesus said that we cannot do anything good without Him. (John 15) How do we place ourselves in position to live this way? In v2 we have the answer. We must not be conformed to this world. Instead, we must be transformed by the renewal of our minds. The Greek grammar of the words “conformed” and “transformed” is Present, Imperative, Active. This means that these are commands that involve continuous, repeated action. This is something we do as we live and it never stops until we go home to be with the Lord.
The word “transformed” is the Greek word from which we get our word metamorphosis. It describes a process by which a tadpole becomes a frog or a caterpillar becomes a butterfly. For a believer it describes maturing from a flesh bound person to one who is spirit-filled. How does this take place? It takes place in continual mind renewal. What is this? This is what we do when we pursue God and stop pursuing what our flesh wants. We worship God with our lives. We read and study the Bible instead of feeding our flesh. Instead of watching TV or movies, we devote that time to prayer and reading godly books. Instead of listening to secular music, we listen to music that edifies us and glorifies God.
What happens to us when we do this? Remember that Greek word we looked at in Romans 1:28, Dokimazo? Here it is again in Romans 12:2. In the ESV it is the word “discern.” In the KJV it is the word “prove.” If we become transformed by continual mind renewal then our minds are changed. God opens them up so that we now hold Him in there as our most valuable treasure. We possess this treasure, our God, in our Hearts and know that there is nothing higher or more wonderful, or more desirable than knowing and loving Him as well as being His child whom He loves.
We were all once damaged goods. We were lost in our trespasses and sins and were guilty of some of the most heinous sins imaginable. However, none of that is a barrier to God’s saving grace. When God washes us clean through our regeneration, we are no longer damaged goods, but are new creations that are spiritually complete in Him. We will always have sins to deal with because our flesh is still with us, but we now have the ability to say no to what it wants and draw closer to God. When we fail, and we will all fail, we must come boldly to the throne of grace for cleansing and forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Then we must get back into the race with our eyes firmly fixed on our Saviour, as we once again become living sacrifices whom God transforms from damaged goods to the fulfillment of who we are in Him.
We are complete in Christ, but we are all relatively immature. When we are saved, we are spiritual babies. We are complete in that we are completely saved and will always be so, but we must grow and become mature believers by learning to be living sacrifices. When we do this we grow into the mature believers who live up to their completeness. In light of all of this we must ask ourselves if we are still damaged goods or, if not, if we are becoming living sacrifices who are growing into those who possess God as their most valuable treasure.