It’s quite providential that Alysa was asking me these questions this morning and then I proceeded to work on my Sunday school lesson: Of Repentance Unto Life.
Part of her question was simply: Can homosexuals be saved and still be homosexuals? I know that many say the answer is “yes,” and I would agree with a qualification. As I explained to Alysa, all Christians struggle with indwelling sin. As believers, we are not liberated from our sinful flesh until the LORD takes us home to glory. But this should never leave us with the impression that we can normalize our sin in order to make it OK. Sin, is sin, even if it is just idle talk. Remember what Jesus said about sin:
Matthew 12:36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
The point is that we need to repent from all our sins, not just the ones we deem sinful. This is why the Bible is so vital to our understanding of what sin is. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of the Law of God, meaning God’s word from cover to cover (see here). Anywhere that we fall short of what it declares for us, is sinful and we need to repent of every sin.
Repentance of sin is not just feeling sorry for your sin, but completely turning away from that sin, the lifestyle of sin and turning toward God. If we do not repent from all our sin, we will likewise perish (Luke 13:5). This is what those who are advocating the normalcy of the homosexual lifestyle are missing. While faith is a requirement for salvation, so too is repentance. Again, not the shallow feelings that many feel about being a “bad” person, but a complete turning away from the sinful lifestyle, no matter what the sins are, and turning toward God. True repentance is a complete rejection of the sinful lifestyle. Given that we know of no verses in the Bible that speak of homosexuality in a positive light, we can safely say it is sinful, since the Bible is the only place we can turn to know and understand what true sin is.
Ezekiel 18:30-31 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?”
Given this, I don’t see how someone who is a homosexual can trust in Christ and then want to remain a homosexual. The very thought of that should cause the true believer to wretch. Why? Because the true believer has been freed from the dominance of sin at the moment of belief. They have been given new hearts and the power of the indwelling Spirit of God in them. This means true faith, which is always accompanied with true repentance leads a person to want to cast off his former life completely and wholly.
Isaiah 30:22 You will also defile the covering of your images of silver, And the ornament of your molded images of gold. You will throw them away as an unclean thing; You will say to them, “Get away!”
The problem we are seeing in part of the “church” (and I use that term loosely) is that many in Christianity want us to believe that they can have sanctified relationships as homosexuals and be Christians. Yet this is contrary to the doctrine of true and saving faith, along with repentance that leads to life. They want us to believe that somehow, these gay people have been given a special amount of grace, not only to be saved, but to sanctify and hallow something that God calls abominable and detests (Leviticus 18:22).
As I said before, a gay person can come to Christ and still struggle with homosexuality. But a true believer would never try to normalize that sin for a true believer would be ashamed of it, and rightfully so. In my discussion with Alysa, I admitted that there are times when I struggle with lust as a straight man. But because I struggle with that sin, doesn’t mean that I want to normalize it and say that it is OK. It is not OK. It is sin, even though 99.9999 percent of ALL men struggle with lust. We are not to rejoice in this reality, but repent of it, and come back to the cross, confessing our sin to the Father for forgiveness (1 John 1- 2:3).
This is the point: if a gay man is truly a believer, he will repent of it, repent of those feeling and will not try to normalize it. The Holy Spirit and God’s word should lead him to shame for the sin in his heart. As the Spirit does for all of us, He leads us back to the cross and the forgiveness we find there. The Holy Spirit doesn’t lead us to making arguments for the normalization and acceptance of sin. He leads us to repentance and forgiveness.
Here is the Westminster Confession of Faith’s chapter on Repentance Unto Life. I underlined areas to focus upon. Study it for a few minutes and examine your own life.
I. Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.
II. By it a sinner, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments.
III. Although repentance be not to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet is it of such necessity to all sinners, that none may expect pardon without it.
IV. As there is no sin so small but it deserves damnation; so there is no sin so great that it can bring damnation upon those who truly repent.
V. Men ought not to content themselves with a general repentance, but it is every man’s duty to endeavor to repent of his particular sins, particularly.
VI. As every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof, upon which, and the forsaking of them, he shall find mercy: so he that scandalizeth his brother, or the Church of Christ, ought to be willing, by a private or public confession and sorrow for his sin, to declare his repentance to those that are offended; who are thereupon to be reconciled to him, and in love to receive him.