Sin, temptation, sanctification
Sin, temptation, and sanctification. What is their relationship to each other? Everyone can fall, but the great danger is hardness and acceptance of sin
The subject of this writing arose when I read about a well-known preacher of the gospel. He was a man who was married to a woman but then drifted into a homosexual relationship. He later spoke very openly in the media about how he had struggled for years with his sexuality (he had also reported on school bullying in the past). He had visited e.g. ns. in integration therapy and tried to let go of his tendency but failed to do so. He was also weighed down by guilt and shame for his own homosexual tendency that bothered him.
So what finally happened? This man ended up accepting the idea that a man cannot change his sexuality. Today, he thinks that the realization of homosexual desires is not sin and against the will of God, even though he used to think and teach differently.
What to say about this difficult topic? At least we can’t stand above anyone and raise a blaming finger against anyone. Everyone should first look for the beam in their own lives, only then can they take a possible mote out of the brother’s eye. Jesus said:
- (Matt 7:1-5) Judge not, that you be not judged.
2 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why behold you the mote that is in your brother's eye, but consider not the beam that is in your own eye?
4 Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull out the mote out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?
5 You hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of your own eye; and then shall you see clearly to cast out the mote out of your brother's eye.
However, there is another side to this. If we are beings of eternity, it is worth looking at things from that side. Therefore, we become more familiar with this important topic. First, we look at sin and its prevalence.
Sin lives in every human being. First, it is good to pay attention to the prevalence of sin. When Jesus met the Pharisees in his day, who brought before him a woman taken from adultery, Jesus said to them (John 8: 7), "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
This is still true today. None of us is sinless, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That is, there may be large and small sinners, but still all are themselves sinners before God. There is no man who is completely free from sin. According to the Bible, only Jesus, the Son of God, was completely holy and sinless when He was on earth, but the rest of us have sinned and are deficient in ourselves. Among other things, the following verses show our shortcomings:
- (Matt 5:27,28) You have heard that it was said by them of old time, You shall not commit adultery:
28 But I say to you, That whoever looks on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.
- (1 John 3:15) Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
- (James 4:17) 17 Therefore to him that knows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin.
Where, then, is the practice of homosexuality in this area? About this issue there is both world's opinion and God's opinion that Christians understand to come from the Bible.
According to world opinion, homosexuality is a congenital matter and has nothing to do with sin. For in the world it is not generally acknowledged that we are accountable to God - if He exists at all - and that the practice of homosexuality is wrong. Many may still admit that murder and theft are wrong and sin, but this matter is no longer considered wrong or sin. Similarly, the world thinks about ordinary heterosexual sex relationships outside of marriage or before it; formerly they were considered wrong, but no longer. In this respect, there has been a change in attitudes in society.
What about a biblical teaching? If that is true, then it says the practice of homosexuality is one of the many sins that separate us from God and eternal life. It is not the only sin that takes people away from God, and not necessarily even the worst sin, but if one does not want to give it up, he will not inherit the kingdom of God. This is, of course, the case with all sins that man commits and does not want to give up them:
- (1 Cor 6:9,10) Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortionists, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
What if a person starts to think that practicing homosexuality or e.g. one of the things on the previous list is not a sin? What if he thinks God accepts his way of life, where he constantly and without remorse engages in these things?
All that can be said about this is that such a person has a god of imagination. It is not a God who has revealed himself in the Bible and the person of Jesus, but a god who is the product of human imagination.
One can ask such a person what God are you talking about? Are you talking about an imaginary god and Do you believe in this imaginary god or the real God who became human through Jesus? These are pertinent questions because human imaginations may have nothing to do with facts. Indeed, Paul wrote in previous verses, “Be not Deceived,” so you should be careful about what you believe. Faith should be based on facts and not imagination.
Is the true God, then, merciful to sinners who turn to Him? Once we have all done wrong and are guilty of e.g. to things on the previous list, what hope do we have?
Here we come right to the basics of the Bible. God has love for all people, including those who have lived in homosexuality. He does not want, “that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3: 9). The only thing we have to admit is precisely that we have done wrong and that now we want to turn our whole heart to God. Jesus' parable of the prodigal son is a good parable of this. This boy had lived deeply in sin, but he turned with all his heart to his father, confessed his sins, and as a result, the father pardoned the boy and embraced him. So does Heavenly Father as we turn from our hearts to Him and confess our evil deeds to Him. Let this happen in your life:
- (Luke 15:11-20) And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me. And he divided to them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave to him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before you,
19 And am no more worthy to be called your son: make me as one of your hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
- (1 John 1:8,9) If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The temptations remain. In this writing we first spoke about a well-known preacher had struggled with his homosexual tendency and had not gotten rid of it completely. In the end, he came to the conclusion that a man cannot change his sexuality.
But how is this matter in the light of the Bible? It is important to emphasize the difference between two things, temptation and sin. According to the Bible, many things, such as homosexual sex, are sins, but there are temptations as well.
What does this mean? We should never intentionally sin, but after turning to God, we still have temptations left. They are strongest in precisely those areas where man has been weak before coming to faith. If someone has been caught in pornography, for example, they are probably still tempted in the same area. Or if someone has been prone to hatred, they are still bullied for the same sin. Or if someone has lived in homosexuality, they are still bullied for the same sin. These false tendencies and lusts usually do not cease even if one has turned to God. From time to time, a person may also fall into the same sin where he lived in the past. In the end, there has been only one person on earth, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who - when he was tempted - did not give up and never did wrong. The Hebrew Epistle states:
- (Hebr 4:15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
So what does this mean? It is possible that God can free a person completely from some lust and temptation in one moment, but usually this does not happen. The temptations still remain and this also applies to the proclaimer mentioned at the beginning of this writing. He is no exception but this is a normal situation. Everyone is tempted because we have a body of sin and a tendency to do wrong. Therefore, e.g. Paul wrote as follows, urging us to stay away from sin. Likewise, Jesus taught that unless we repent, we will perish:
- (Rom 6:12-14,23) Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof.
13 Neither yield you your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin: but yield yourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
- (Luke 13:3) I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
Essential in everything is the attitude of man: Does he seem to make a “covenant” with sin or does he oppose it? Is he constantly sympathetic to something that is clearly a sin in the light of the Bible, or does he want to get rid of it? He may fall when tempted and be sympathetic to sin at that moment, but what matters is the direction in which his will is directed.
So man moves in dangerous waters if he says God accepts his sinful way of life, from which he no longer feels remorse. He takes a big risk in his relationship with God. Therefore, we should move toward a more sacred life, even if we have not yet achieved it.
In this case, there are two ditches to where a person can drift and get out of the way. One is lawlessness, that is, the intentional commission of sin, and the other is being under the law, that is, the state in which man measures his walk through deeds. Both are wrong states. That is, on the other hand, we must repent of our sins and confess our sins to God. On the other hand, we need to understand that we are under grace all the time despite our shortcomings. We must not drift into lawlessness, but we must not lose our courage before God. We need to be careful about sin, but also understand to look all the time to the fulfilled work of Christ in our shortcomings. Only in this way can we remain in right proportion to God.
This can also be seen in the light of Paul’s letters. Paul specifically warned the Corinthians against drifting into sin because he wrote, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not Deceived… ”(1 Cor 6: 9). However, he wrote to the Galatians in a very different way because these had begun to think that their actions could affect their salvation. Paul warned them about this because through works one can never gain God’s approval. Everything is based on the grace of God that came through Jesus Christ. Therefore, Paul exhorted the Galatians to turn their eyes to Jesus Christ and not to their own actions:
- (Gal 3:1) O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
"But it's innate." This writing began with the story of a man who thought that he was unable to change his homosexual inclination. He appeared in the media and also received open support from them because he honestly told about his struggle and failure in it.
So why is there a positive attitude towards homosexuality in modern society? One reason is precisely that it is considered an innate trait. It is thought to be like a trait comparable to skin color that has come with birth. This view is believed, although the theory of innate feature has been repeatedly refuted in relevant conferences, twin studies, and even though many homosexuals themselves do not believe in this theory.
One example is a twin study in Canada with about 20,000 subjects. Identical twins have exactly the same genes and the maternal hormones are similar for both. Similarly, in non-identical twins, 50% of the genes and the growth environment in the uterus are the same. This Canadian study found that genotype has no effect. If one of the identical twins was gay or lesbian, the sibling had a 6.7 percent probability of similar orientation. For non-identical twins the figure was 7.2% and for ordinary siblings the figure was 5.5%, so the figures are clearly against the concept of innate feature.
Another good example is the study by Marcel T. Saghir and Eli Robins (1973). According to it, 27% of lesbians and 2% of heterosexuals had experienced maternal loss before the age of 10. Such a relationship speaks volumes about the impact of circumstances and emotional deficiency because the ratio is more than tenfold.
In fact, I am convinced that in homosexuality is usually a question of emotional deficiency, by man trying to fill. Many have a difficult relationship with their parents or peers, but sexual abuse has also been common. This has been observed in numerous interview studies conducted on homosexuals. (In this sense, the thousands who march in processions advocating a homosexual lifestyle indirectly give their approval to the sexual exploitation of children - isn’t that the case?).
Quite recent news are related to the topic. It reported on sex offenders guilty of child abuse. The news reported that a large proportion of sex offenders had themselves been victims of sexual offenses as children. This shows that homosexual behavior can often originate from the exploitation of adults against a child. The spiral continues when those exploited as children commit the same:
Even a hardened criminal cannot be forced into treatment
… On the bench of the accused in court sat on Thursday… a man who first pulled over the prison shirt to hide from the cameras.
Fifty year old man is accused of exploiting nearly thirty children, and this is not the first time. He has been convicted of exploiting dozens of boys at least three times before. Last in 2012.
… Lauerma does not comment on individual cases, nor on this. He says in general that one of the factors that predisposes to sexual offenses against children is becoming a victim of a sexual offense in childhood.
- Quite a large part have been victims of sexual crime in childhood. Estimates range from 30 percent to 80 percent, meaning it’s highly contagious behaviour. Therefore, influencing it would be important because the multiplier effects are intergenerational. (ESS, 12 October 2018)
But how is this matter in the light of the Bible? That is, even if it could be shown that homosexuality is innate or other traits innate, does it change the matter? Someone may be greedy, another may have heterosexual lusts, or someone is prone to anger. However, morality, a person’s worldview, and faith ultimately affect how he or she behaves.
Thus, a person prone to greed can try to suppress his false tendencies, and not, for example, steal from others. A person prone to heterosexual lust may decide whether he or she is having sex only with his or her spouse or whether he or she has other sexual relationships. Likewise, a person prone to hatred can choose which direction he goes. He may become more angry or he may learn to love others. That is why we cannot go very far with the innate argument. After all, then we could justify all injustices by the fact that we were born as such and we can do nothing about our behavior.
However, the Bible does not teach this, but we are told to give up injustice and wrong attitudes, whether it is a question of innate features or trait that is acquired later. Again, remember the words of Jesus on this subject:
- (Luke 13:3) I tell you, No: but, except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.
Sanctification is a process. It has already been pointed out above that man is seldom completely free from all his past when he turns to God. He may still be somewhat dependent on the lusts he has lived before. In this sense, we are not yet completely free from sin, and we must admit our shortcomings. However, it has the benefit of not us being so sensitive to judging other people when we notice shortcomings in our own lives. It also brings humility into our lives.
Nonetheless, God’s will is to sanctify every human being and become more and more like Jesus. This is a lifelong process, but we should also move in that direction ourselves. Jesus himself taught as follows. He also promised that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be finished:
- (Matt 5:48) Be you therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
- (Matt 5:6) Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Sometimes God can renew a person after this has been in faith for a long time. A good example is T.B. Barratt, known as the European Pentecostal apostle. He had been in faith for decades before he received Pentecost from above. This experience contributed to his profound renewal, and he got great joy, peace, and love both towards people and God. Surely he also reached a new degree of sanctification through his experience. However, just before this experience, he saw deeply his own shortcomings.
Barratt: It took place yesterday, Sunday, October the 7th, between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and now I will tell you all how it happened. My soul is burning! I feel as if I was the happiest man in the world. Everything has become new. I am full of joy, peace, and love towards God and all people! Through the days he has led me, my heart continually shouting, “Forward! Forward!” Since my difficult illness over 20 years ago, there have always been forces, good forces, which have driven me forward. The question of sanctification has been my dearest subject; I have fought for it, even though I have not experienced it. (…)
But how wretched I felt in my own eyes before the purity and holiness of God! I saw my own ambition, selfishness, stubbornness, and carnality. Oh, my God, I saw so much, so much that would grieve the Holy Spirit! I was broken and bent to the ground over and over again. (1)
So-called integration treatments. At the beginning of this article, reference was made to the so-called integration treatments, a term that appears in the media but has nothing to do with the Bible. Rather, the Bible speaks of sanctification as well as sin and temptation, as stated above. So everyone has a tendency to sin and temptations remain, even if we have turned to God. This is a fact that cannot be denied.
However, the healing of the soul from heavy past experiences is possible. People living in homosexuality and other people may have these kinds of experiences. God's promise is that "He heals the broken in heart, and binds up their wounds." (Psalm 147: 3). We can count on this. Usually God does healing work through process and good relationships, but He can also work directly. The following quote shows how God can also act directly and quickly by touching the innermost part of man:
Those external phenomena are only the tip of the iceberg – in this revival, God renews and makes people whole deep inside, no matter how broken or wounded they are!
I had always believed that God can heal physical illnesses and even grow people new limbs. Honestly, I had not believed that a broken or sick psyche could be made whole in the same way. I thought that such healing would always require an extensive process of pastoral care.
Nevertheless, here it was: healing revival! (...) Inner healing and healing the wounds of the psyche in particular are precious miracles for the stressed people of our modern times. The different kinds of physical movements seem to be related to this process of liberation. Such reactions when inhibitions of the soul and locks in the mind are opened are familiar to any expert in psychology in therapy.
There is no denying that the Spirit of God can in a matter of minutes achieve results for which people would have to engage in long-term pastoral care. (2)
The integration treatment is thus primarily a term used by the media. A better name could be, for example, change therapy, where a person goes through with other people the reasons why he or she has drifted into homosexuality, alcoholism, gambling addiction, addiction to pornography, or some other behavior. Such therapies have also been offered for decades in secular circles, and there is nothing miraculous about it.
So why has only one form of therapy created a huge stir? One reason, unfortunately, is the actions of gay activists and their impact on the media. They don’t want to accept that someone leaves the homosexual lifestyle and wants a change in their life, even if it happens of one’s own will. Therefore, they label it as unscientific or an infringement of gay rights. A person, who himself has a homosexual background, recounts his experiences in his book:
It is clear that all homosexuals are not seeking for a way to change their sexual orientation, and these people should not be forced to do so. The problem is actually different now: prior to the 1970s, all homosexuals were offered change therapy but now it is not given even to those who want it. The worst antagonist towards change therapy and the largest oppressor of all homosexuals who want to become whole is the gay movement that systematically tries to prevent any discussion about change therapy in the academic and psychotherapeutic circles. The oppressed have become the oppressors.
Their tactics include sabotaging change therapy lectures and threatening change therapists with imposition from abroad. Free discussion is difficult because many people are afraid of becoming threatened and vilified by gay activists. (3)
However, you, who participate in the slandering, keep two things in mind. First, God loves you and second, you must repent of your slandering. Both things are important. Therefore, do not reject the love of God, but turn to Him and confess your sins to Him. Do not continue on the same path that will lead you to perdition and separation from God!
Prayer. If you have not yet turned to God, you should do so as soon as possible. Do not reject the love of God, but turn to Him with all your heart confessing your sins! Above all, let Jesus Christ be your Lord and Savior, and let God embark on the process of sanctification in you. You can pray, for example, as follows:
Lord, Jesus, I turn to You. I confess that I have sinned against You and have not lived according to Your will. However, I want to turn away from my sins and follow You with all my heart. I also believe that my sins have been forgiven through Your atonement and I have received eternal life through You. I thank You for the salvation that You have given me. Amen.
2. Veikko Pekki: Lisää, lisää!, p. 9,16
3. Ari Puonti: Homoseksuaalisuus – hämmennyksestä selkeyteen, p. 130
Jesus is the way, the truth and the life
Grap to eternal life!