Be Perfect

Christ commands us to be perfect (Mt_5:48); the Greek is teleios: complete, mature, flawless, morally perfect. This is an impossible standard, clearly, but it’s not surprising: God doesn’t tolerate imperfection, and He shouldn’t. (De 18:13) He requires perfection of us because it’s right for Him to do so (Re 3:2); our lack of ability is irrelevant. (Pr 20:9)

So, how should we respond to this demand for moral perfection? There are dangers here we do well to avoid.

Firstly, don’t complain about God being unfair: fair is giving us all what we deserve – eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. We’re all desperately wicked (Je 17:9), unbelievably sinful, even on our best day. (Is 64:6) There’s no requirement for God to lower the righteous standard simply because we’ve chosen to sin and corrupt our will. Borrowing more than we can ever repay, and gambling it all away, doesn’t mean we owe any less. Admit we’re guilty as charged, helpless: we need mercy. (Lk 18:13)

Secondly, don’t lower the standard (Mt 18:26); aiming for anything less than perfection is willful sin (He 10:26); it’s choosing a life pattern which is insolent, arrogant, disrespectful to God: it’s inexcusable. (vs 27) We must try our best, our very best, to be as perfect as possible (2Pe 1:5-17), as poor as that might be. (Php 3:12)

Thirdly, ground yourself in the unconditional love of God (Ep 3:19): God loves each of us because He made each of us uniquely in His image, with His own hands. (Ps 119:73) Real love isn’t conditioned on behavior (Mt 5:44-45): God loves the righteous and the sinner equivalently.

But don’t think for a minute that God’s love gives us liberty to sin: God hates all who break His laws on purpose. (Ps 5:5) Hate is not the opposite of love, but its twin. Apathy is the opposite of both hate and love, and we won’t find a trace of it in God; He cares about everything intensely. (Lk 12:7)

We must be grounded in the goodness and love of God in order to remain sane before Him while we’re stained in our sin. (He 11:6) Our sin makes Him indignant (Mi 7:9), so while there’s any doubt about our standing before Him, we remain in peril. Yet even in His anger He is good – there isn’t a malicious bone in God’s body.

The only sane response to God’s demand for perfection is to find refuge in Christ through the gospel. The terror of God moves us to seek Him (2Co 5:11), to pursue salvation from our sin until we know we’re safe in Christ, absolutely sure. (1Jn 5:13) We can not afford to stand before God all on our own, and be judged according to our own works.

Strive to enter the kingdom (Lk 13:24), and labor to entered into His rest (He 4:11); diligently make your election sure. (2Pe 1:10) Work this out, your own salvation from both the penalty and power of sin in your life, with fear and trembling. (Php 2:12) If Christ Himself isn’t our own personal advocate, dying in our place for us, giving us His perfect righteousness (1Jn 2:1) and working righteousness in us (Ep 2:10), we don’t stand a chance.

In the safety of eternal rest, pursue perfection, not to be saved, but because this is right, aligned with your new nature to love and obey God. And as you pursue God, don’t let anyone deceive you by defining good and evil for you, telling you what holiness looks like – go back to God’s law for yourself and check every requirement against it. One of Satan’s devices is to impose such unhealthy, burdensome regulations on us that we either rebel or become hateful, proud and judgmental. (Mt 23:4) Religion invariably gets this wrong, both adding to the Word and taking away from it. (De 4:2) Don’t take anyone else’s word for it (Ac 17:11); search out the truth for yourself. (Ps 119:99)

Finally, and this is key, don’t focus overly much on yourself, on your own behavior and how you’re failing; stop trying in your own strength to be perfect. We grow in holiness through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit as we behold Jesus Christ. (2Co 3:18) Behold Him and rejoice in Him. (Php 4:4) Faith gives us access to grace, the power to live for God. (Ro 5:2)

Behold Christ through His Law, Torah, (Ps 119:18), which shows us where we need cleansing. (Ps 119:9) Grow in holiness by asking for help to obey (vs 10), hiding His Word in your heart so you won’t sin against Him. (vs 11)

As we receive with meekness the engrafted Word, beholding Him in it, the lies we believe, which keep us in bondage, are exposed and corrected through God’s gift of repentance. (2Ti 2:25-26) This is how Christ transforms us and delivers us from sin. (Ja 1:21) He Himself is the Word, giving us His life (Ps 119:50) through the scriptures (Jn 6:63), enabling us to live uprightly.

Don’t dwell on your own sin, focusing on it constantly; there’s a specific season for this, in which we’re to afflict ourselves. (Ja 4:9) As a rule, meditate on Christ through His word (Php 4:8); He will point out things that are amiss, where we’re off the mark, imperfect (He 4:12), as He is pleased to work in us.

As He does reveal sin to you, immediately confess and agree with Him, asking Him to quicken and enable you to obey Him (Ps 119:35), and to reveal specific scriptures which shed light on the darkness and lies. (Ps 119:130) Meditate on these texts until they become part of you, prayerfully quoting them whenever you feel tempted in that sin. (Mt 4:4) This is how we fight the good fight of faith (1Ti 6:12), abiding in Him, so we won’t be ashamed before Him when He comes. (1Jn 2:28)

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That Which Is Behind

God is infinitely self-sufficient; He doesn’t need our worship or our service. He is perfectly complete and content in Himself.

Even so, there is something God lacks, which He may only obtain through us: affliction. (Col 1:24) God would not afflict Himself, or cause Himself grief or suffering: this only comes to Him through sin.

This suffering in God is not at all for God; it is for us; it is the vehicle through which God chooses to reveal His infinite nature and character to the universe (Ro 9:22-23), and the elect are the primary beneficiaries of this.

And it may very well be that the primary way God suffers is by allowing His children to suffer innocently at the hands of the wicked. When believers are persecuted, Jesus Christ takes it personally, as if He Himself were being persecuted. (Ac 9:4) This is a gift He gives Himself through us and for us, and also a deep privilege he bestows upon us. (Php 1:29)

Perhaps it is only in this mindset that we fully rejoice in difficulty (Ja 1:2) and tribulation (Ro 5:3): suffering not only works patience and holiness in us (He 12:10-11), but will eventually serve to glorify God immensely. (1Pe 1:6-7) If God is allowing others to afflict Himself through us, for a glorious eternal purpose, we can glory in this as well for His sake. (Php 3:10)

There’s something about God’s suffering that will vindicate and glorify Him one day. The nature of His enemies will be open to the universe, impossible to hide, since He’s given them liberty to pursue their own free will. Most all of what they have done will have been perpetrated against His own, whom the world hates because it hates Him. (Jn 15:19) In that day, in the context of the suffering of God, there will be no just complaints, no excuse for the wicked. (Ro 1:20)

Let’s be ready and willing to suffer for God as He wills (Ga 6:14), to let Him suffer in and through us. (Ga 2:20) This light affliction, for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2Co 4:17)

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Her Husband With Her

When the serpent was enticing Eve to eat the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, where was Adam? Was he standing silently beside her, passively watching as his wife was being tempted? Or was he off somewhere else in the garden, busy about his work? What are the implications of each scenario, and what might we learn from considering them?

Since the text says Eve “gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat,” (Ge 3:6), some claim Adam must have been right next to her the entire time.

Yet we’d use the same kind of language if Adam wasn’t standing right next to Eve, if he were anywhere in the Garden; it’s a matter of perspective. If I’m texting a friend, my wife’s with me at home even if she’s in another room. But to a child in my lap, mom’s not with me in the same sense. Since we’re told about the Fall from a distance, there’s no requirement for Adam to be within earshot of the serpent; this could go either way. What else might we consider?

Firstly, our understanding of the tactics of the serpent differ dramatically depending on our view. There’s no obvious wisdom, cunning or subtlety in attempting to deceive Eve with Adam present. (Ge 3:1) Wisdom tells us that temptation is typically discretely private, not in public before like-minded community who might offer support. Thinking Adam was present misses a key typological example of Satan’s tactical pattern. (2Co 2:11) 

And how are we to understand the unfathomable passivity of a newly-married groom who stands by silently while his bride is threatened? Danger is apparent and Adam is charged with cleaving to his wife and considering her needs as his own. (Ge 2:24) An intruder is engaging the weaker vessel on purpose (1Pe 3:7); what reasonably sane husband tolerates such threats without engaging? Passivity here implies Adam is grossly negligent, unconcerned for his wife’s welfare, for no apparent reason. Such failure is sin, if anything is, and precedes the Fall. This is problematic on multiple levels.

And what should we make of God insistence, in light of Eve’s participation in the Fall, that women abstain from public debate in spiritual assemblies? (1Ti 2:11-14) How could this be punishment for being the gender that sinned first … when being deceived is less criminal than sinning deliberately, presumptuously, with our eyes wide open? (He 10:26-27) Adam chose the fruit intentionally, in open defiance of God; sin entered the world through Adam, not Eve. (Ro 5:12)

If the Fall doesn’t teach us that women are, as a rule, more easily mislead than men when it comes to discerning spiritual danger, and that this is a matter of God’s intrinsic, perfect design, one which ought to be benevolently recognized by men (1Pe 3:7), then what essential, spiritual principle are we to discern here, given God’s prescription for church order?

And if this assessment of woman is correct, then Satan’s tactic is much more intuitive and obvious: he would very likely have isolated Eve to exploit her vulnerability and maximize his probability of success.

And what shall we make of God’s observation that Adam listened to his wife’s voice in the context of the Fall? (Ge 3:17) Evidently, Eve spoke to Adam to entice him, a detail omitted from the initial narrative. If Adam were present all along, hearing and considering all the serpent said, the fact of dialogue between Adam and Eve seems incidental, insignificant, yet God mentions this as a key aspect in Adam’s sin. Evidently, it was Eve’s persuasion that moved him, not the serpent’s lies. This doesn’t square with Adam being present all along: Adam was a perfect man, a genius; if he had heard everything the serpent said, it seems unlikely that Eve would have been more persuasive than the serpent.

The above difficulties suggest (to me) that Satan approached Eve strategically, when she was alone, crafting a lie perfectly suited to her unique disposition as a helper; she was more emotionally oriented and intuitive than Adam, more aware of and connected with her environment, and focused on pleasing him, making her a suitable counterpart, yet more vulnerable to deception. Tempting Adam with recovering intimacy and alignment with Eve, in addition to the prospect of being like God, was likely the enemy’s plan. It worked: Adam deliberately chose to sin, pursuing fellowship and union with his lover over his Maker. It was the greater sin, for sure.

The Fall of Man is a foundation of our faith, containing key life lessons for us all. (1Co 10:11) If I am rightly dividing the text, it reveal Satan as a master strategist, with an intimate knowledge of his victims; he divides and isolates with precision and malice (Ja 5:16), leveraging the goodness of our design to take us down. (Mt 10:36) Let’s be sober and vigilant. (1Pe 5:8-9)

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The Judgment of God

God commands us to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate us, and to pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. (Mt_5:44) This is so unnatural for most of us it’s almost scary; we deeply struggle to seek the best for those who’re harming us. Is this because we’re afraid justice won’t be honored? Let’s see.

Think of such a person, someone who’s done you much evil (2Ti 4:14), someone you have a difficult time loving, helping and serving. Are you wishing them the best, and acting accordingly? Does the thought of them being blessed and doing well threaten you and make you uneasy?

Now, imagine they have a new form of cancer, and they’re clueless about it. In a few days the disease will begin attacking their central nervous system, compromising all voluntary movement and causing intense pain. The pain will continually increase while their ability to move and respond diminishes. Conscious, yet completely immobilized, they’ll spend the rest of their lives in the most extreme suffering imaginable.

If it’s any easier now to serve and bless and pray for them sincerely, the cause is unbelief. If we don’t believe justice will prevail, in the perfect time and in the perfect way, we don’t trust in the ultimate goodness of God, and it will be difficult for us to love as He has commanded.

Our intrinsic desire for justice is good; we’re all made in God’s image. God is just, and we instinctively align with Him in calling for wrongs to be made right. But God forbids us to retaliate: vengeance belongs to Him (He 10:30) since all sin is primarily against Him. (Ps 51:4)

If we think we know better than God how and when to apply justice, that we’re somehow thwarting justice in loving the wicked, it’s because we don’t know the end of the story, how God’s going to right all wrongs perfectly, in the perfect way at the perfect time, in spite of the fact that we’re blessing our enemies. (Pr 16:4)

Neglecting to love our enemies, to seek their welfare as appropriate (Pr 25:21), is actually being passive aggressive (Pr 24:17-18); it’s withholding proper good from them to try to force God to judge them (Pr 3:27), according to our own purpose and timing rather than His. It’s seeking a sort of back-handed vengeance, denying God what’s rightfully His.

To overcome this we must be convinced that the judgement of God is according to truth in dealing with every single sin that’s ever been committed by anyone. (Ro 2:2) All sin will be perfectly accounted for and dealt with, completely and ultimately and finally. (Ge 18:25) The truth is that God will be much more severe in His response to sin than we can possibly imagine. The worst tortures human beings can devise pale in comparison. (Mt 10:28) It’s only as we’re armed with this knowledge that we will be empowered to love our enemies as God has commanded us to.

But what if we perceive our enemies to be believers, justified by the death of Christ such that they’ll get a free pass, Christ becoming their sin and taking their due punishment, setting them free? The problem with this concern is that it’s unfounded: every believer in Jesus Christ both loves Him (1Co 16:22), and also loves all those that belong to Him. (1Jn 5:1) Deceived believers who willfuly harm us will be fully dealt with in this life – no exceptions. (1Pe 4:17) No one gets away with anything. (1Co 11:32)

When we’re struggling with loving our enemies, we must keep the end in mind, the goal, trusting in the ultimate love and justice of God. While keeping healthy boundaries and protecting ourselves, there’s no room for malice; we must benevolently pursue the ultimate welfare of those who hate us, and leave the outcome to God. He must let His enemies act like enemies in order to reveal Himself and them. (Ec 8:11) In the end, He will be glorified in every single event that has ever transpired. (Ro 11:36); For those of us who love Him, this is enough (Ro 8:36-37); He’s working it all out for our good according to His purpose. (Ro 8:28)

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Give Not Thy Strength

The first principle king Lemuel’s mother teaches him is: “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.” (Pr 31:3) A man devoting a disproportionate amount of strength to pursuing women is one thing; giving away his strength in the process is quite another, and seems to be the larger point in the instruction.

A strong, confident man is naturally attractive to women, and this is a good thing, encouraging men to be strong in body, soul and spirit. (1Co 16:13) God has designed men with this capability and tendency so they can protect and bless women, since women are the weaker gender. (1Pe 3:7) God commands men to pursue strength and develop it (1Co 16:13), so men ought not neglect, compromise or relinquish their strength. (Ps 84:7)

Men should bring their strength to any relationship, especially with a woman, rather than looking to women to strengthen them. Women want to draw strength from men, to sense their confidence and capability, to be able to depend on them, to be supported, defended and protected.

A weak, frail, incompetent man who refuses to strengthen himself as well as he can, sabotaging himself such that he depends on women for validation, does no one any favors in this; it is a perversion of God’s design. In looking for his strength, a woman may quickly sap what little he has, and find him unable to support and stabilize her in a crisis, or worse, find herself dominating and disrespecting him … causing the Word of God to be blasphemed (Tit 2:5) and frustrating them both. (Est 1:17-18)

When a man believes he’s weak without a woman’s affirmation, he buys into the lie that he’s not uniquely fashioned in the likeness of God, made directly in His image for a unique and significant purpose. This undermines his confidence, such that he becomes more fearful of women, more easily threatened and intimidated by them, and dependent on their acceptance in a way that defrauds them both of what God has designed him to be.

The truth is that Man is made in the image and glory of God differently than Woman, and this is good for both men and women. Man is made directly in the image of God (Ge 1:27); Woman is made in the image and glory of Man, in the image of God in Man: she is an image of an image of God. (1Co 11:7) This is intrinsic to God’s design, empowering a synergistic, interdependent one-flesh relationship between husband and wife which enables them to fulfill their mutual destiny together. (Ge 1:28) A man should respect this design, and guard his dignity here for both their sakes. (1Ti 2:11)

In pursuing strength, a wise man looks to God to strengthen him (Ps 18:32); he does not look to women. He is unashamed of involuntary weakness, and will routinely take stock of his particular aptitudes and capabilities, asking God to enable and quicken him (Ps 143:11), always growing stronger. (Pr 24:5) As he pursues God he finds dignity in God’s design, sufficiency in God’s grace (2Co 12:9), and power for his journey in Christ. (Php 4:13)

Though unafraid to face his own weaknesses, a man ought not to seek weakness, voluntarily weakening himself, either by speaking so as to make himself appear inappropriately vulnerable or deficient, or by neglecting to discipline and exercise himself physically, mentally and emotionally. He should always act in a manner that engenders respect (Ec 10:1), both for himself and for others. (1Pe 2:17)

God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2Ti 1:7) This is true for all of us, for both men and women, but in a day of role-reversal corruption and proliferating anti-male sentiment, this reminder is particularly needful for men.

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God Is Able

Life is suffering, and suffering is hard; apart from God’s restraining grace, pain and hardship often produce bitterness. (He 12:15) Fear that we’ll become resentful in our suffering is to doubt God will give us grace to overcome.

God is certainly able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jud 1:24); He’s able to make all grace abound toward us, so that we’ll glorify Him in every circumstance of life. (2Co 9:8)

This motivates us to pray for ourselves (Ps 119:25) and for each other (1Th 5:23), encouraging one another in the midst of suffering (He 12:12-13), that patience will have her perfect work in us (Ja 1:4), and that God will perfect us  — establishing, strengthening and settling us. (1Pe 5:10)

Believers are saved by hope (Ro 8:24), delivered from worry and despair by our confident expectation that, in the midst of suffering, God will strengthen us to the praise of His Glory (Ep 1:12): this is what He’s chosen us for, and predestinated us unto. (Ep 1:11) We’re His workmanship, created by Him in Christ unto good works, in which God has predetermined us to walk. (Ep 2:10)

Once we understand the purpose of suffering, that God’s design is to glorify Himself in us through it, we rejoice in tribulation (Ro 5:3), knowing that the trying of our faith works patience. (Ja 1:2-3) Patiently enduring trial enables us to experience God’s faithfulness, and such experience produces hope. (Ro 5:4) God is faithful to sanctify us, and He will do it. (1Th 5:24)

Look for His smile in and through suffering; it’s only in being willing to die for Christ that we may experience the power of His resurrection. (Php 3:10)

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Far Better

Strange as it may seem, I’ve been struggling with regret that I will die and go to Heaven. It’s irrational, of course, and it’s unrelated to anything temporal; it isn’t because I’ll miss some physical or relational aspect of my life here on Earth.

The dilemma is that I haven’t been able to imagine how I could possibly have more access to God than I already have. Now, I can be as close to Him as I like, closer than my own breath. I can talk to Him any time, commune with Him whenever I like, as much as I want. (2Co 13:14) No one else can separate me from Him (Ro 8:39), or have any claim on Him that might constrain my access to Him; nothing ever interferes or limits His availability to me.

Yet, as Christ was in an earthly body, bound by time and space, He could only personally converse with one person at a time; only one disciple at a time could lean on Jesus’ bosom (Jn 13:23); He could only hold one or two children in His arms at a time. There’s something about the physicality of Heaven that seems intrinsically to break down the omnipresence of God to me: once I see Him, I will then also see the millions of others who clamor for His attention, and I cannot understand how I could possibly have the same unfiltered, unbroken, unrestrained access to Him there that I have here and now.

This uncertainty has been causing me to hesitate about Heaven; my fellowship with Him is the most precious thing to me, and I cannot let the smallest particle of it go without feeling a sense of immense loss. As the disciples could not possibly understand why it was expedient for Christ to depart from this world so the Comforter would come (Jn 16:5-7), I’ve been feeling similarly. How could it possibly be good for me to die and go to Heaven, where both Father and Son will appear so very far away, surrounded by millions of saints, from whom I’m essentially indistinguishable?

How it could be better I cannot actually fathom yet, but God says it is not just better, but far better to depart this world to be with Christ. (Php 1:23) To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2Co 5:8), and it is, in fact, evidently the kind of presence that makes what I have now much more like absence (2Co 5:6), more like blindness than sight. (2Co 5:7)

If from the vantage of Heaven I will consider what I had on Earth an absence from Jesus Christ, a blindness compared to how I am finally seeing, then this heavenly state must indeed be infinitely and indescribably precious. Now, I can align with Paul, and know a passion to depart this life to be so much more with God than I am now!

Meanwhile, it’s like I’m straining to see Him through darkly colored windows, but soon it will be face to face. (1Co 13:12) This hope I have as an anchor of my soul, both sure and steadfast, entering within the veil, the holiest place in the universe, where Jesus Christ abides (He 6:19-20), and I in Him.

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Be Strong

Weakness is something we all experience; it’s unavoidable. We’re born in weakness, and we’ll probably die in weakness. We get sick, injured, tired, eventually old. Weakness makes us feel vulnerable, unable to care for ourselves and others. Why would anyone deliberately choose weakness, choosing to be more vulnerable than necessary?

A couple possibilities are obvious. We might not love ourselves properly, abusing or neglecting ours minds, souls and bodies, thereby causing ourselves to deteriorate into weakness. Similarly, we might not love others, being resentful or envious, and might want to burden others with our physical, emotional or spiritual care. In any case, deliberately choosing weakness like this violates the 2nd Great Command, to love our neighbors as ourselves. (Mt 22:39) Love does not choose weakness, either for itself or others.

Yet, even if we love as we ought, we might confuse weakness with humility and find a little virtue in it, seeking to be inordinately dependent. Yet how could this be a virtue when God commands us to be strong? (1Co 16:13) Strength must be aligned with humility; we must strive to be strong and humble at the same time.

The Apostle Paul recognized that when he was weak in ways that were beyond his control, he found the strength he needed in God’s grace. (2Co 12:9-10) But though Paul gloried in scenarios that made him weak, he never deliberately weakened himself, or neglected to be as strong as he could possibly be. This is key.

Strength is the ability or power to act according to one’s potential; the closer we are to being able to live in our ultimate design, the stronger we are. This comprises the physical, emotional and spiritual dimensions of our being. To willfully neglect strength in any area of our lives is to despise our intrinsic design, our value, our Creator’s benevolent purposes for us. (Col 1:11)

God has designed us such that if we obey Him in exercising ourselves (1Ti 4:7), prayerfully and wisely pushing our current limits to try to improve  (2Pe 1:5-7), we will grow (1Ti 4:8) and He will gird us with strength. (Ps 18:32) Every part of our design is like this; we just have to be willing to discipline ourselves and honor Him, balancing our lives to care for ourselves so we can live according to His calling and election in us.

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To His Own Master

Scripture is perfectly precise; it isn’t overly specific, nor is it inappropriately vague. The detail God has provided is both necessary and sufficient for us; we must not add to it, nor take away from it. (De 4:2)

Yet there are a great variety of circumstances in which we might find ourselves, and a body of law which explicitly detailed how to act in every conceivable setting would be enormous, unthinkably vast, anticipating the impact of undeveloped technologies and innumerable cultural/familial complexities. Composing such a paint-by-the-numbers standard is evidently untenable as we consider the great variety of possible cultural and societal forms that might evolve across time.

Even so, all we need to be fully equipped to please God in every circumstance of life is provided us in the Tanakh, the Old Testament. (2Ti 3:16-17) We may derive from its precepts how God would have us act in every scenario we could ever encounter. It is miraculously precise in this regard, a living Sword, discerning every motive and intent of our hearts. (He 4:12)

So, in extra-biblical matters, which are by definition beyond the scope and obvious spirit of the text of Scripture, we are required and encouraged to use our own judgement and understanding as to how best to follow God, discerning His way for us through the precepts embedded in His Word (Ps 119:104), which He must help us understand (Ps 119:27) as we meditate on them (Ps 119:15) in the Spirit. (1Jn 2:27)

Each of us may, indeed, being at varying points in our journey after God, see things a bit differently from those around us; this is both expected and healthy. God does not want us to blindly defer to others in these kinds of things by failing to seek His wisdom and discernment for ourselves, but to maintain a sense of individual responsibility to walk and to please Him. He tells us to be fully persuaded in our own mind (Ro 14:5), and to be happy in the freedom to obey according to our own conscience. (Ro 14:22)

This kind of spiritual autonomy and individuality does not promote lawlessness, where everyone’s selfishly doing what’s right in their own eyes (De 12:8) in spite of what God says, justifying absolutely anything they like. (Pr 21:2) Such is the way of the world. (Pr 30:12) This kind of liberty only works well in communities of saints, who delight in God’s Law as He is writing it in their hearts.

Neither should we permit our individuality to make us unteachable, disinterested in the insights, wisdom and challenges of others. (He 10:25) It is our great privilege to edify one another, seeking the living Christ in each other as we help each other follow Him. (1Th 5:11) This is the very foundation of spiritual community. (1Co 14:26)

And, to be certain, there are clear guidelines for this kind of spiritual liberty; we must not allow it to become a stumbling block to our weaker brothers. (1Co 8:9) When a brother or sister doesn’t have a mature understanding of God’s Way, and would be tempted to violate their untrained conscience through our example, walking in such liberty violates the law of love and sins against Christ Himself. (1Co 8:12) Further, insisting that others follow our particular understanding when seeking practical consensus in community is likewise stubborn uncharitableness. In such cases, deferring to others, especially the elder and more experienced, is simply wisdom. (Ep 5:21)

The dangerous alternative to God’s design here is to impose universal compliance in matters which God has not clearly specified, effectively adding to His Word through man-made tradition, which subtly — yet inevitably — corrupts our worship (Mk_7:7) and turns us from the truth. (Tit 1:14) It elevates a select group of men above the brotherhood into a place of unhealthy spiritual authority over others, oppressing the saints into delegating their responsibility to discern the optimal application of God’s Word for themselves to these select few. This is entirely contrary to God’s design for our spiritual life.

To be healthy in God, we must each retain a sense of individual accountability to God as our own Master (Ro 14:7-8), and encourage others to do the same. (Rom 14:4). We’re each individually responsible for how we live before Him; if we’re in any kind of error (Ja 1:16), or are misapplying God’s Word in some way, it is no one’s fault but our own.

The head of every man is Jesus Christ (1Co 11:3); we are to be looking unto Him as our Example in every facet of our lives (He 12:2), delegating no step of this precious, eternal walk to anyone else. (1Pe 2:21)

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Against Nature

God intends for us to learn from His design (1Co 11:14); it’s good in every conceivable way. (Ge 1:31) So when we violate any aspect of natural order, we’re asking for trouble.

This is the fundamental problem with homosexuality: it violates natural design. God calls this out when He describes it as changing the natural use into that which is against nature (Ro 1:26), and leaving the natural use. (Ro 1:27)

This isn’t complicated: we’re perfectly designed as male and female to procreate though stable, heterosexual relationships. Homosexuality is a fundamental, flagrant violation of this design: such relationships can’t produce offspring because they’re unnatural; it’s using sexuality in unintended ways for unintended purposes, twisting it, perverting it.

God forbids such perversion in His Law (Le 20:13), along with many other kinds of sexual activity. Because God is good, His Law is also good (Ro 7:12) for us all, and it isn’t optional: those who refuse to obey God as a manner of life identify themselves as children of disobedience, alienated from God and subject to His wrath. (Ep 2:2-3)

Our desires and natural instincts are not the point; we’re all born with a sin nature, with an inclination to violate God’s law: in our natural state we won’t submit to God. (Ro 8:7) God didn’t make us this way; we’re fallen beings, corrupted through our own lusts (2Pe 1:4), with a will that’s free to depart from God, and does so with remarkable consistency.

It’s not easy for anyone to control and discipline themselves, consistently curbing their natural appetites for a greater good; this is the mark of maturity and wholesomeness; very few master themselves here. It’s a journey, and it takes time. To truly overcome our evil tendencies, we must start by getting a new nature from God (Ez 36:26); our old one won’t get us very far at all.  (Ga 6:15)

When we give ourselves over to unnatural desires they become part of us, taking root and establishing themselves, corrupting our souls and enslaving us (2Ti 2:25-26); this ultimately drives us to sin and separates us from God. (Ja 1:15) Normalizing perversion simply encourages more of us to do this, weakening our culture and destroying the fabric of society.

It’s wisdom to recognize God’s perfect design in us, and to concede that any inclinations contrary to it are rooted in lies designed to destroy us. When we align our minds with truth, our passions inevitably follow. It’s a spiritual war with a real, evil, spiritual enemy (Ep 6:12), seducing and tempting us. We ought not to give such an enemy place in us, receiving his appeals to seek satisfaction apart from God. (Ep 4:27) Rather, we should ask God to help us learn to be content (Php 4:11) in Him, trusting God to quicken us so that we can live for Him.

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