Letters to a Christian

Question 1

Sin,Forgiveness and Sanctification

Dear Sir/Maam,
I have fornicated, used drugs, cursed, and have had homosexual relations. I
fear God! I have asked him for forgiveness. I know that what I have done is
completely opposite what the Lord would have me do. Should I marry? Should I
leave my house and walk cross country teaching people about Jesus? I have so
many questions. Would someone please write to me.


BCBSR Response

Thanks for writing. First of all let me bring up 1Corinthians 6:9-11"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, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 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."

Notice he said, "such were some of you". But while such behavior may have been a lifestyle characteristic of some of the Corinthian Christians, it no longer was. The apostles tells them not to be deceived on this point. Even today many in the Christian community are deceived on this point. They think living a righteous life is optional. They think that a person can be a Christian and yet live a lifestyle of sin and still be qualified to inherit the kingdom of God. But the Bible teaches otherwise, and I presume you're aware of this, but I mention it because you may hear otherwise from other Christians.

I take it that the main issue you're dealing with is simply that having decided to follow Jesus what do you do now? I would recommend three specific things that you should do.
 

1. Read the Bible - study it with a view towards application. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." John 8:31

2. Join a Christian Fellowship - and I don't mean simply to attend a church, rather get involved with a group of Christians who are serious about living the Christian life. Jesus said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:34,35

3. Received  believer's baptism if you haven't already. And I mean believer's baptism and not infant baptism. I myself was baptized as an infant in the Catholic church but later received believer's baptism, so also there are some protestants who are baptized as infants. That is not believer's baptism! Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:16 and "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you."Mat 28:19,20 Thus faith, baptism, and discipleship are all part of the Christian's life.


WARNING: There are many who initially receive the Word of God with joy. They repent and follow Christ even joyfully, but only for a short time and then fall away. The Bible teaches that such people are worst off than they started. Peter writes in 2Peter 2:20-22 "If, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: 'A dog returns to his own vomit,' and, 'a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.'"

Thus endurance of faith is called for as the writer of Hebrews also warns:

Hebrews 10:
22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
23  Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
24  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
25  not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
26  For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27  but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
28  Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
29  Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
30  For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people."
31  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

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But as for your specific questions, I would say no for now concerning starting your own ministry. The Spirit leads me to the verses in Mark when Jesus healed the demon-possessed man which say, "And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, 'Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.'" Mark 5:18,19 So also even when He called Saul, who was a murderer, though He commissioned him to preach the gospel to all the nations and in fact Saul (later referred to as "Paul") wrote much of the New Testament, yet it was many years after his initial calling when Paul was serving in the church at Antioch that he started his main ministy - and that not on his own, but in cooperation and with the support and affirmation of the Christian community.

God may have given you a vision for your future preaching ministry. Your first step in that ministry is the same as Paul, who made a public declaration of his faith in Damascus, or of the formerly demon-possessed man to his family. Acts 9:19,20 "Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus. Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God." Notice that he not only preached, but also identified with the Christian community. But as for your preaching ministry, best to spend a few years being discipled and involved in the Christian community and then start it in cooperation with other Christians. In fact even then it's best to start by supporting someone else in their ministry as the Lord leads, just as Timothy to Paul, and the apostles to Jesus.

But it's not a passive thing. The temptation especially these days is to be passive. Going to church has become like going to a movie. You go, you sit down, you're entertained for a while, and then you go home. That's not what the Bible teaches of the Christian life. Living the Christian life is difficult even in the Christian community. You'll find much resistance among Christians towards doing things the way the Bible teaches. Christian leadership will at times appear to be your enemy. And yet we are called to live the Christian life in the Christian community. Jesus faced the same kind of resistance. Wasn't his greatest enemy the religious elite? Thus it's inevitable that conflicts in the Christian community will arise, but you just deal with them as the Bible instructs. Your inevitable struggle to endure in faith is not going to be simply a struggle to endure in believing God, but it will also be an endurance in the practice of the Christian life, primarily of which involves loving other Christians. Not long ago I met a man who claimed to be very zealous for the faith but found no church or fellowship group worthy of his zealousness, as he claimed. Last I heard he was considering abandoning all Christian fellowship to give his life to playing golf. You'll find that cynicism among the "zealous" is often just used as an excuse for abandoning responsibilities. Or as I say, don't look for the perfect church, you won't find it. And besides, if it's not perfect then you have yourself a ministry.

Next concerning marriage, you'll find my web page at http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/marry.html somewhat informative, such as whether fornication engenders a marriage (which, of course, it doesn't). Marriage is optional for those who have not been married or for those who spouse has died. It's a different issue with the divorced, but I assume you've not been married before. The primary section written to Christians concerning marriage is found in 1Corinthians chapter 7, where Paul speaks not only of the absolutes but also gives advice as to his opinion concerning the option of marriage, his main point being that there is a balance. On the one hand he says, "I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am (being single)" 1Cor 7:8 but goes on to say, "but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion."1Cor 7:9 Though he warns the married, "Nevertheless such will have trouble in the flesh, but I would spare you." 1Cor 7:28

In the Christian community today you will hear ministers prioritizing marriage over ministry. That is not Biblical. Even in this same chapter Paul teaches, "from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none." 1Cor 7:29 and goes on to say, "I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord——how he may please the Lord.  But he who is married cares about the things of the world——how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world——how she may please her husband. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but for what is proper, and that you may serve the Lord without distraction." So also Jesus taught, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life." Luke 18:29,30 And Paul himself forsook marriage for ministry. "Do we have no right to take along a believing wife, as do also the other apostles, the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas? ... Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ." 1Cor 9:5,12 And its common observation that wives and children hinder the ministry, especially these days when feminism prevails in the church along with rebelliousness among the young people. We live in the times much as Isaiah prophecied to, "Their children are rebellious and women rule over them.  O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path." Isaiah 3:12

But given that you had developed hedonistic tendencies, much as the Christians in Corinth had been, even as a Christian you're going to be struggling with carnal temptations. We're creatures of habit. The flesh will always seek its former pleasures. And the present society we live in is only going to help the flesh seeks its objectives. While in the past the American culture contained elements of virtue which promoted right behavior, presently few such elements remain and most have made the seeking of personal pleasure their primary objective in life. Thus regardless of the hinderances to ministry you'll need to consider seriously the statement, "if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion." Naturally of course if you do marry it must be to a Christian, which can also be implied from the statements, "A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord." 1Cor 7:39 and "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" 2Cor 6:14
 


 
 
 
 

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Jul 29,2015