by Stephen Black
Apostle Peter warned us that scoffers and mockers would come on the scene with louder and louder voices in the last days. Ruled by their own fleshly desires, appetites and seduced by demonic powers, Peter warned that the scoffers and mockers would raise a ruckus against those who desire to live godly, leaving behind their true devotion to God’s word for lifestyles of sin and pleasure. “Where is the promise of Jesus’ deliverance and freedom?” they will mock. “HE made us this way!” “Where is the promise of His coming?” they will say, “It has always been this way! You can’t change!” (2 Peter 3:3-4, 1 Tim. 4:12, 2 Tim. 3:1-7, 2 Tim. 4:14, Matt. 5:11-12, Mark 13:9-13, Matt. 24:9-13).
I am very burdened for those who go back to homosexuality. I long for everyone to love God, know His truth and experience His amazing grace that changed my life 28 years ago. My greater burden is for His Church to be holy and ready to answer the questions raised by scoffers and those who proclaim “gay Christianity”. Why DO some who start with a repentant life to leave homosexuality behind, and then return to their former lifestyles? Is it not making for themselves a god in their own image as “gay” Christians? We need to know some answers.
Those of us who leave homosexuality and stay repentant share a vision and a goal that differs from those who embrace a “Christian” gay identity. Our Fundamental belief – the foundation that drives lasting change – is not the same as those who relapse. The consistent “ex-gay” – former-homosexual and repentant believer – embraces a process. This new way of living enables overcoming through a mature understanding of sanctification. This process requires a lifelong conformity to live like Christ. Our heart must long for a spiritual intimacy in a love relationship with God based upon belief in God’s word. We are, in effect, in love with Jesus Christ as our God. We have faith in the Word of God, even as we “struggle,” committed unto death to embrace a lifetime process of conformity that comes from a love relationship with God and a true Biblical world-view. As we understand and embrace grace (the power of God) in weakness and temptation, we know that homosexuality is not compatible with our faith in God. The result? A victor-mentality which fuels the ability to live in repentance (2 Cor. 12:7-10).
The mockers - the “beyond ex-gay” or “gay-Christians” - initially communicate a desire to change. Exasperated, they cry out, “CHANGE ME! Oh God, I want to be CHANGED!” They look at their desires and truly wish to be “fixed.” They demand that a local ministry or God Himself change their at tractions. Not keeping their eyes totally fixed on Jesus Christ, they become fixated on the problem, their attractions. “Jesus Christ alone is not enough,” they proclaim. “We need more. We want to be delivered from the ‘sufferings’ of being tempted with homosexuality.” Delivered from suffering? Christ never promised we would not suffer in the flesh. In fact, He promised us we would suffer and need to deny ourselves. Unfortunately, this resonates as victimization. In the face of suffering, some rebel against the Biblical world-view and celebrate and embrace a gay identity. Many who are mockers become completely intolerant of those who desire, by faith in God’s word, to leave homosexuality. Ironically, the very people who scream for tolerance are extremely intolerant of those who turn away from homosexual behavior and live by faith. Let’s look at the Biblical foundations for freedom, which enable us to separate ourselves from the world’s values and our own appetites.
Foundations for Freedom ~
How do we receive anything from God? How are we saved, delivered or freed? It is by grace through FAITH! The secular human mind struggles to grasp the truth of faith, which is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Still, it is impossible to please God without living by faith, which comes by hearing, listening and believing the Word of God. We must obey His Word and hear God in prayer. We can’t “see” faith! The “ex-gay” former-homosexual lives by this consistent faith. The “beyond ex-gay” lives by his or her appetites and attractions. It’s a startling difference. Jesus, reflecting on His second coming, asks, “Will I find faith on Earth?” (Luke 18:8). Living by faith transforms our lives. “Beyond ex-gay” or “gay-Christians” do not believe a faith with suffering.
~Living by Faith
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus clearly knew the statistics of those who live by faith. In the parable of the sower of the seed in Mark 4, Jesus tells us that 75% of those who hear the word of God will not experience lasting transformation by the planting of the Truth in their hearts. They will not conform to His image of self-denial. When gay activists mock ministries like First Stone for a less than 60% success rate, and claim programs like Exodus have a 30%1 success rate, I am reminded of Jesus’ statistics of the parable of the sower of the seed. Only 25% choose the narrow way. Gay “theology” ignores this foundational teaching. When Jesus explained Mark 4:1-20, He was telling us that it was important to understand this parable in order to understand all the other parables. According to this parable, only 25% really learned and desired to overcome and bear good fruit. In light of that truth as expressed by Christ, I am very grateful that many more than 50% of the people at First Stone Ministries actually embrace discipleship and find lasting freedom, yet I continue to have sorrow in my heart for those who teach another gospel (Rom. 9:2, Gal. 1:6-9).
~The Word of God
The foundation for freedom can never go any further than the bedrock of where our faith begins. The “gay-Christian” movement and those who discredit ministries like First Stone can only do so by discrediting Biblical truth and skewing Scripture. What does the Bible say is the greatest enemy of the Christian life? It’s unbelief. Hebrews 3:7-19 tells us that “unbelief” means we do not believe what God has clearly written within the pages of the Bible. Unable to believe the Scriptures from the heart, scoffers must explain away the verses that condemn homosexual behavior. This unbelief is based upon the oldest lie in the Bible, a questioning of God and His character. Just like Satan in the Garden of Eden, scoffers with their doubts ask, “has God really said?” (Genesis 3:1). According to James 1:21-22 and 1 Peter 1:22-25, we must receive the truth of God’s Word implanted into our hearts for our salvation.
~The Beginning of Wisdom
Wisdom from God is certainly the foundation of freedom to live a godly life. What is the beginning of walking in God’s wisdom? Where do we find the answer to the starting place of having wisdom from God? Rest assured that when the Scriptures repeat something only a couple of times it is because it is very important. How important is a subject if repeated over and over, dozens of times? I would say extremely important!
The beginning of wisdom is found in the understanding that God is holy and should be revered in intimate relationship, and feared with trembling if living in rebellion. Truly God is awesome and we should live in awe of Him. (Psalms 19:9; 25:14; 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 8:13; 9:10; 14:26-27; 15:33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4). The beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.
Unfortunately today’s Church sends conflicting messages. One message offers a Jesus who will make you happy and blessed, a better you. The other message tells us we should be grateful that a holy God frees us from destruction. A God who loved us enough to die for our sins even though we deserve hell. In a “gay-Christian” environment, hell is not preached accurately (Rev. 21:7-8). The beginning of wisdom is to teach how Christ died to deliver us from hell, but not necessarily suffering in our flesh in this life. The teaching of hell is mocked and certainly not appreciated in many circles of ministry in the Church, yet Christ mentioned hell more than heaven in His own teachings. These truths are not taught or believed by gay-affirming “Christian” unbelievers. Sincere love of God compels us to deliver souls from eternal destruction (James 5:20).
The core strength for a human being is strong abs. Our spiritual body must also have core strength - A.B.S. - as a foundation for freedom.
A – Accountability. Accountability is a core strength essential to lasting and consistent freedom. Accountability is found by living in community with other believers and enjoying life together, confessing our sins to each other and receiving healing prayer. If we confess and forsake our sin we find great mercy. Godly accountability is more than a confession session; it is living in community where accountability becomes natural in a safe environment of holy relating. Healthy accountability becomes a haven of safety, and not of condemnation. (James 5:16 and Proverbs 28:13).
B – Boundaries. We all need boundaries set in place to separate us from temptation. We must appropriately distance ourselves from people, places, things and activities that draw us into sin. If we view boundaries as “restrictions” rather than “protections” we enter into defeat; we allow “bad thinking.” If we truly want freedom, we must view boundaries as protection and embrace them. We all need boundaries on our computers and from all bad influences in order to walk in integrity, truly a foundation for freedom.
S – Spiritually-Devoted Life. We must practice spiritual warfare as a core principle for freedom. A spiritually-devoted life must be practiced in the full range of Christian disciplines to renew the mind, will and emotions. If we are spiritually-devoted, we will read God’s word daily, meditate on His truths daily, pray and fast, journal, maintain consistent fellowship, and daily worship the Creator of the Universe – Jesus Christ. We are then ready to tell others of our faith as witnesses of Christ’s great love to save. As believers, we also need to practice the sacramental institutions of communion and baptism. Those who do not succeed, but instead fall back and embrace a gay identity, do not have ABS. If you live openly, honestly and transparently, you will find freedom. If you cover up and live in darkness, unbelief and lies will find a lodging place in your soul. Secrecy empowers sin and corrupts.
Those who overcome homosexuality and find lasting freedom repair right relating with the same sex. Men and women who repair broken relationships with parents to the best of their ability, receive a blessing on their lives (Mal. 4:6, Ex. 20:12). Men and women who develop healthy relationships within the Church -men with men and women with women -embrace the restoration of Biblical gender identity and find freedom. This can be a difficult process, but is necessary for freedom.
~Complete Inner Healing “The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD” (Luke 4:18-19). Unfortunately many merely start the process of allowing the Lord to heal their histories of brokenness. Our western mind-set of drive-by-Christianity gives us the expectation that change will happen quickly. However, for many people, inner-healing and transformation of the soul, the mind, the memories, the will and the emotions, can take years. Those who are open to the power of the Holy Spirit in His timing find this healing. This process brings us to the cross of Jesus Christ.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the POWER OF GOD” (1 Cor. 1:18). The crucifixion is a place of death. In His wisdom and sovereignty, the God of the Universe chose the space in time of Roman crucifixion to send His son to die a terrible death in our place and redeem mankind. God’s wisdom, to choose a horrible death through great suffering, transcends human understanding. But He understands suffering, and the power of God rests upon those who trust in God in their own suffering. Those who understand this foundational teaching will walk in freedom through the knowledge that God did not promise to deliver us from suffering, but to grace us, to empower us to rise above the suffering of our temptations and broken histories. We must come to the cross daily, bring our pain and our temptations, and by faith release our grief, our shame and sin into the Body of Jesus at the cross. There we must release our hopes, dreams, desires, and attractions. Suffering is God’s unexpected pathway to great joy if endured to the end. The cross is LIFE to those who believe and put their faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished there, enduring to the end as we deny ourselves and live for His glory.
I believe it was Leonard Ravenhill who said, “let me spend an hour with a man in prayer and I will tell you about his true spiritual condition.” I don’t advocate judging people based upon an hour of prayer, but a man’s prayer life will determine his level of spiritual maturity. Men and women who walk in consistent freedom are intent on knowing God in prayer. Experiencing God in prayer is a consistent and diligent discipline. Jesus asked his disciples, “Could you not tarry with me just one hour?” I believe the Lord is asking that same question today.One of several reasons people don’t succeed in exiting sexual brokenness: they do not have a diligent prayer life to support the need to practice victorious spiritual warfare. Worship in prayer with a very grateful heart, for gratefulness is the will of God for the believer in Christ (1 Thess. 5:18). Many use prayer to complain or present a laundry-list of needs. These things can be a start in prayer, but the prayer life must mature far beyond that. Our fight is not against flesh and blood.
“For we are not fighting (IT IS A FIGHT) against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies – the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world” (Eph. 6:12). People become weary in the battle because of prayerlessness and the spiritual battle we are in.
~Unforgiveness and Shame
Never be unaware of the deliberate schemes of Satan. He always comes with offense. When we are angry, we provide the opportunity for Satan to set up an offense and cause us to be critical and defiled (Eph. 4:26-27). He causes the heart to be divided with bitterness so the very strongholds of sexual sin will storm back like a flood. Satan then brings his condemnation and paralyzes the solider with shame to retreat into darkness (Matt. 6:12, Matt. 18, 2 Cor. 2:10-11, Rev. 12:10-11, Romans 8:1).
The foundation for freedom and healing for all of us is to long for heaven and hear the Father say, “Well done thy good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of heaven.” Those who overcome will be clothed in white raiment, given authority to rule with God and live eternally. The “beyond ex-gay” say “It doesn’t work” because they have not thoroughly given an entire life process in commitment to the Lord to deny self and live to God only. The truth is clear from the Bible. Life is but a vapor, and we must live by this faith in God, believing and trusting in Him: “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold of eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession” (1 Timothy 6:12, Colossians 1:23).
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:17-21).
God gives his power, His grace, to the humble (James 4:4-10, 1 Peter 5:5-10), yet many demand God do a work of freedom from suffering and temptation which He is not obligated to give.
GOD IS LOVE
God is love and His ways are so much higher than ours. His plan for us is to love in such a way that we would be like the Apostle Paul in Romans 9:1-3, with great sorrow to be perfected in love, and a deeper willingness to be accursed from Christ so others would have eternal life. This is godly and mature Christian living. The Church surrendered continues to grow in this extravagant love. Unfortunately, this kind of love is not demonstrated in much power in the Church at large yet. That’s why so many are without hope. May the Lord grant us His power to represent this manifestation of His love, give hope to those who are falling away, and see many restored who have gone back.
1 – URVASHI VAID on Good Morning America, August 5, 1998: “...what we have a problem with these advertising campaign is that it’s sending out the wrong message. Homosexuality is not an illness. And I think as -- the other problem we have is that as people pursue a healthy relationship with their own sexual lives and their own sexual selves, that they need to be aware of snake oil salesmen. I mean, the cure rate for this so-called therapy is about 30 percent, you know.”