WHY DO I FEEL THIS WAY…STILL?
Today I want to take us down a road that I believe has been poorly taught, poorly understood and many aspects of it misconstrued. I want to take you down that road so that we can find the fork in the road and a new path to abundant living and transformation.
I want to talk about being “trained”. As always, I will speak from a same-sex attracted mindset with the understanding that this covers everything in anyone’s life. When it comes to being “trained” by God into things that we don’t think we can do, we must know we have Grace to take the time it takes to change; especially the very deep seeded seemingly unchangeable things with us…about us.
Let’s get right to the Scripture because Scripture is “profitable…for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16) and it’s going to lead us through this entire conversation. It is from Titus chapter 2 verse 11 through 15.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (ESV)
There’s a lot to say but if you follow me. I think you’ll enjoy this conversation.
I’m often confronted and challenged by what people have to say about homosexuality and what’s actually going on in a person who has come to know the Lord that deals with same-sex attraction or homosexuality.
You see, when one is saved, it does not mean that God has taken away or stopped you from doing the things you were doing or are doing. It means that we are saved by grace and our sins are washed away and we are a new creation in Christ. The rest of it, the change, comes in time through what God is doing in our lives individually and personally.
I believe there is an expectation by the family of faith (who has not dealt with this) to think that because someone says they were in the lifestyle and now have Christ, they are completely out of the lifestyle. They believe one would never go back, never look at it, never see it, smell it or feel it. That’s a great deal of pressure on the person who’s trying to be open about the fact that they now have Christ. It also causes the person who is in the situation to feel as if they must perform for the people around them. It’s often described as being put “back in the closet” because now you can’t be who you are and you can’t be open about what’s going on in your walk with Christ. People don’t want to know you’re struggling...still. And maybe it’s not so much the struggle, but just the fact that you still have these feelings. Friends will say, “Oh, I thought that was all gone because you found the Lord”. But the reality is God doesn’t just zap our brains and take things away (generally). We are in process; process of being transformed (Rom. 12:1-2; 2 Cor. 3:18). He uses them to make us an effective witness for his glory to the salvation of those who don’t know him. So, in the Scripture we studied above, we find some very important things about God and Christ our Savior.
Verse 11 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people”. Well, it’s not that grace was a “something” that showed up, Grace is a person. His name is Jesus Christ. Check out John 1:17a, “For the law was given through Moses, Grace and Truth came through one man Jesus Christ” Jesus came and appeared (he walked in human skin) to us, bringing salvation for all people. All…that’s a tough pill to swallow when we don’t see humanity through the eyes of Grace! So salvation is available to everyone no matter who they are what they are or how they live. It just doesn’t matter. God himself came as Christ Jesus to save us all. We all agree on that.
Verse 12 then says, “Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.”
This verse really opened my eyes to what God is doing in my own life. He says that he is training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, in other words, he’s showing us the way and teaching us how to do it.
Without being trained in a skill, how do you know what to do? After all, you’ve never learned and it doesn’t come to you naturally. We know that renouncing worldly passions and ungodliness is not something we do naturally. And it’s not a teaching or skill with which we were born. It is something that Christ alone (God alone) must give us. Think of it as a baby trying to walk. There’s a distance from you to the father. Your father is on the other side of the room, Jesus is standing behind you (encouraging you), Holy Spirit is next to you, holding you up. You start to wobble, stumble and fall. You skin your knees, start to cry and look around to see that you are not alone. The Angels pick you up and you keep heading for the open arms of your heavenly Father. Keeping your eyes on him, knowing that he’s got the best interest for you at hand (and at heart) he keeps saying, “Come, you can do it, I’m with you.” The Lord keeps wiping your tears away. He washes you clean of the muck you fall into when you trip. And the Angels…they never let you stay down. He is calling you and showing you how to walk, training you to do these things.
With this training, you begin to practice slowly and steadily how to renounce ungodliness, how to say no to the passions of the world, to walk away from your fleshly desires as your new desire (given by God) is to stay in a place of blessing and this takes time. Let me repeat this takes even a lifetime. Understand, it is one thing to say that we are always going to be learning and growing and it is yet another thing to say that one particular issue will take a lifetime. It doesn’t need to, but if it does God is gracious and loving. If we experience transformation in one area we can be sure that God will reveal another to work on after it. And at that point, you still won’t be done. And that’s okay because you given yourself to the Lord. You have submitted before him all that you are so you can receive his teaching, so you can go on and be the person he’s always called you to be. When you stand before Jehovah Gmolah (God who rewards) and you receive your rewards you’ll know how proud of you He has truly always been. We want you to know how proud of you He is just by your living for him. Let’s face it, that’s what it’s all about here on earth. If you receive this one thing, you’ve got the rest of your life to enjoy it.
“To live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age.” I love how he writes the “present age”. Meaning, no matter when this was written, no matter when somebody reads it, “present age” is where you’re at. It’s where you live right now, so there’s no getting out of it saying will that was “back then”, and not applicable for me today. God is very clear in his word and he shows how his word is a living, breathing life-giving word. It has lead man throughout time, so that man can follow it throughout time.
I want to come back to the word self-controlled in just a minute.
Verse 13 says, “Waiting for our blessed hope the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” And as we know, this is not hope like you aren’t sure if it’s going to happen, leaving something to chance. Such as, you’re hoping to get a raise. This is hope that gives us blessed deep assurance it is going to happen (1Ptr 1:3). We know he’s coming back. We know he’s real, we know there’s nothing that can change that and nothing can stop him because he is faithful and does not disappoint; that is why He is our hope. Isn’t it interesting that he says, “We wait for the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”, just like he started verse 11 as “he appeared”.
God is very impactful and very deliberate about appearing to us, his people. Salvation was through his appearance and glory, into life everlasting into the kingdom…by his appearance. Again, “He is our great God and Savior.” Paul wants us to know very clearly; first and foremost, He is our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Verse 14 says, “Who gave himself to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who were zealous for good works”. When we know he gave himself on the cross to redeem us from what we could not, to bring us out of the place of lawlessness to buy us back. He’s a jealous God. Before the foundations of the earth he knew what he was going to do for you. So wonderful and great is he that he would come for you and never forget you (Duet 31:8).
I love that he calls us his own possession. He said we are set aside, we are purified, brought out of lawlessness, redeemed (our value restored)! Why? Not only for our eternal lives but to show the rest of the world, the Angels and all of creation, “These, are my possession”. He sets us aside so we’re safe and protected from the ungodliness and lawlessness of the world, to purify us from all unrighteousness. Why? “We are a people zealous for good works”. Those who are zealous for good works, does not mean we have to prove ourselves worthy of him, but that we want to do for him because we are zealous for him and thankful for what he has done for us. We have a passion inside that burns. It says, “I want to be near Him, be molded by Him, and I want to tell people about Jesus”. We have something that causes us to want to live for him. Grace is what that’s called. Grace is what brings us to a place where we are zealous. We are excited! It’s revolutionary! It is empowering! It is the life force within those who live in these truths.
Grace! Grace is where we live, and that makes us his possession and zealous to do good works. Verse 15 says, “Declare these things take sort and rebuke with all authority let no one disregard you”. Feel the power in that he wants you to declare. Say it out loud and strong! Exhort (lifted up and respected) and know it is from God! Rebuke with all authority, meaning stand strong in Christ. The words, “Get behind me, Satan” (Luke 4:8) come to mind. Just as Jesus spoke those words, we have the power to stand in authority, worship and glorification of our mighty Father and Savior. We, through Christ, have authority to speak and rebuke (cast down) the powers that are around us. I’m also reminded of the verse, “Where sin abounds grace does super abound” (Rom 5:20). How exciting that God gives us the power, strength and desire to be zealous for good works because at his appearing he brought salvation.
Now with all of this said, I want to point out what self-controlled means. I believe it has nothing to do with you controlling yourself. Or certainly very little!
This has to do with letting yourself or submitting yourself to be controlled. How do we do that? How can someone submit and to whom?
When we submit it is to the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, guides us, leads us and directs us. He is the one who brings about the gifts of the spirit and fruits of the spirit. One of the fruits is self-control. It’s also a description of love. So when we submit to the Holy Spirit, we give ourselves over to him and say control me, control myself so that I do the things that are for you, so that I have a zeal for the good works of Christ. That’s when we know we have come to a place of self-control. Holy Spirit completely controls ourselves, our self is controlled by God to do the works of a special people who been set aside as his own possession.
Oh how powerful how mighty when you get into submission before the Lord instead of submission to your sin. No longer in submission to what hasn’t changed or what doesn’t feel like it’s changing, we submit to the power of Holy Spirit, to the power of our Jesus who loves us with such jealousy.
All of this to tell you, not to be afraid and don’t worry if you’re still having old thoughts, if you’re still having struggles with your sin. Don’t allow other people to tell you what you should be or where you should be in Christ. He will direct you!
Don’t let anybody convince you that if you still have same-sex attracted thoughts, if you still have lustful desires at times, there’s something wrong with your walk with Christ. I don’t believe (necessarily) that there is. It’s only when we stop, it’s only when we lay down in it we know by his grace we are off track. It’s only when we seek it and bring it to life in our own selves that we have a problem.
Don’t let anyone tell you that God would have taken it away if you were really free of it. That is an absolute outright outrageous lie from the pit of hell from Satan’s mouth through their tongue, spoken to you to destroy your faith in God.
I hope that sentence was really strong, really powerful and makes a difference in your mind. And if you don’t agree with it, you’re wrong and that’s the way it is!
Life takes an entire lifetime to live. The one person who has an entire lifetime with you, that won’t grow weary is God himself. Where others come and go he does not! He stays, he’s faithful and he has all the time in the world to take care of you and show you his love.
So don’t be discouraged if what you deal with takes a lifetime to deal with. God’s going to use it for your good. God’s going to be glorified and others blessed. If you will submit to Holy Spirit and allow yourself to be controlled by him, you’re going to be okay.
In the sense of the same-sex attracted or gay world, the trend now is powerfully to move into thinking God is going to bless you for your homosexual thoughts and sex with the same gender. He is not! This is as much a lie as the other way I described the family of faith’s lie. Do not let Satan convince you that God will bless sin. That’s just not going to happen!
What does this mean for the same-sex attracted or gay minded person? It means that we have to submit a lot (much) to God. It means that from the core of our being, we have to trust that God knows what he’s doing and that he’s not out to hurt us.
You need to know that it’s okay to be born again, to let Jesus into your life and not be afraid that he’s going to take from you what you so deeply want. He will give you the desires of your heart. He will give you the desire and put it in your heart so that you desire the right things which are him.
Let me get this clear. Right now, the desire in your heart feels like the desire for another person of the same gender. That’s not what God would have you to desire. The “desire” is set against you to usurp or conquer you. Check out Romans chapter six. You will find a great teaching by Paul and a clear path on which we can be confident that our desires will have no power over us through the death and resurrection of Jesus
So in the same way God will put a new desire in your heart gay person. He will put a desire for you to want to do good work. He will give you an anointing and a desire to want to go and grow with him.
You will, in your flesh and mind be able to look very logically at this and say, “Well I guess I’m not going to be able to have sex with my neighbor the way I wanted to because God doesn’t want it.” That’s so true, and so difficult, but God has many promises for those who submit to him. Your controlled self will be richly blessed. Remember it’s the faith that you have today that he rewards in the kingdom.
Everything you do today for God has something to do with the kingdom. Submitting in faith, trusting him in faith you will have something waiting for you in the kingdom to come.
So as Paul has taught throughout the New Testament, trust Jesus and don’t count on the things of this world. You could die at any time and it’ll all be lost. So count it all is loss.
Again, while you’re still alive, submit yourself to him so that he can control you. Know that he loves you know that your struggles will not necessarily go away, but they’ll be redesigned and redirected for your benefit through him. He receives glory you receive blessing, peace, joy, hope and others are then blessed by you.
Your pain and sorrow, your struggle, your story with God’s love makes your testimony. It makes you something very unique and someone very special, as he promised in the word set aside as his possession.
So give your control to Holy Spirit. Take a step towards faith. Take a step toward God and trust him to take care of you.
He will not fail you. He will not disappoint you. And even if it takes some time to get it done, just keep knowing everything you’re doing honors your father. He is going to honor you much more greatly.
After all, you can’t outdo God. So let’s not outthink ourselves, fall in our sin and forget to stand for him.
NOW GO CHANGE SOMEONE’S MIND ABOUT GOD!
John, who lived in the lifestyle for 30 years and returned to Christ full force, and Brandon, a 21 year old straight man also in love with the Lord Jesus. A team of two brought together by God to act as one. One gay one straight both in loving relationship with Christ.