And Such Were Some Of You
Topic: Biblical Sexuality Passage: 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, 2 Timothy 1:14
A couple of weeks ago, the Canadian parliament passed a bill called C4 that outlaws conversion therapy. It passed with a unanimous vote and went into effect on January 8. Conversion therapy is purposely defined very broadly in the bill, but essentially forbids counseling people caught in homosexuality, transgenderism, cross-dressing, and so forth to submit themselves to God’s design for sexuality. The penalty carries up to five years in prison. Listen to this portion of the preamble of the bill:
To say heterosexuality, cisgender gender identity and gender expression that conforms to the sex assigned to a person at birth are to be preferred over other sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions is a “myth.
According to Canadian law, as of January 8, 2022, the belief in God’s design for marriage and sexuality will now be seen as a myth. What is interesting is the previous version of the bill (C6) allowed for consenting adults to get help. If an adult wanted help, they could seek it out lawfully. Bill C4 (the law of the land) forbids even consenting adults from seeking help. So many of our Canadian brothers are devoting this Lord’s Day to preaching on God’s design for human sexuality. And they are calling on US churches to do the same. And many are, and I have felt eager for us to join in.
Why? Why can’t we just keep our head down? Why the urgency to join with them? A few reasons. One, solidarity with our Canadian brothers. To stand with them. Two, it is coming here unless the Lord grants mercy. Today, it’s relatively easy for us in the middle of the US today to speak about this. But there may be a time when the law of our nation is similar (Equality Act). So a similar law could be coming here. Another reason is for the sake of our families and kids. The family is under assault. But, there is also the issue of being faithful soldiers where the battle is actually taking place. We should uphold and fight for all truth. But if a particular truth is being assaulted with great violence, then we should be there taking up arms. And when it comes to God’s design for the family, his design and definition of marriage (one man, one woman - two men or two women can never constitute a marriage), God’s design for his image bearers as male and female, the battle is raging. And we need to be clear-headed soldiers on this front. This quote from Martin Luther is awesome and challenging:
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at the moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved. And to be steady on all the battlefields besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.
Our society is telling us that something God emphatically calls sin is a positive good, and if you say otherwise you are an evil, a bigot, backwards, etc. and (in Canada) can be put in prison for up to five years. Let’s look at our texts. 2 Timothy 1:14 is the charge for today.
Guard The Good Deposit (2 Timothy 1:14)
By the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
Timothy was a pastor and so this is a charge emphatically to pastors. But then from there it is a charge to all of God’s people who handle his word - which should be all of them - to guard the treasure of God’s word.
“Guard the good deposit…”
This is the charge. The idea here is that there is a serious entrustment of being given another person’s possession with the responsibility of returning it to the owner in the same condition in which it was received. At the very end of 1 Timothy, Paul exhorts Timothy, “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you.”
Now I think it’s clear that the good deposit, the treasure (NASB) to be guarded is God's word. The surrounding context makes this clear:
“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (v. 13)
Share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God… (v. 8)
The good deposit is the sound words of scripture. It’s the gospel. Not merely a truncated, narrow gospel presentation, but the revelation God has given us in the scriptures. This is what needs to be guarded. It is God’s word. It is the scriptures. God has given us the treasure of his word and it is on loan from the Lord to be returned to him unchanged when he appears. The world will always want us to change what the bible says. What did the god of this world, the serpent ask Eve: “Did God actually say?”
And sadly there are plenty of people who are more than willing to accommodate in order to be on friendly terms with the world. But it is not our responsibility to earn friendship with the world. In fact James 4 says whoever wants to be friends with the world makes himself an enemy of God. And you will never be able to go far enough. A little compromise here will lead to another one and another one in order to stay on friendly terms with the world. If you stand for the truth, if you see it as a sacred trust to guard the good deposit, you will find yourself at odds with the world, uneasy in the world, contra-mundum (against the world). And that’s okay. You shouldn’t think it strange.
We are called to speak a word from heaven to a sinful world so that they might hear Maker and Redeemer, and repent and turn to him. And so this is where we must stand and be vigilant to guard the deposit God has entrusted to us. Think about that. If you are a Christian, he has entrusted it to you. There is glorious privilege and serious responsibility. Christian, take this to heart! You have been given the glorious privilege of holding the words of the living God. And with that privilege, you have been given an entrustment - a sacred, serious responsibility to protect it from all enemies - foreign and domestic.
The good news is we do not do this by ourselves, with our own finite resources, but rather “by the Spirit who dwells within us”. By the indwelling Spirit. If you have been born again, God the Holy Spirit dwells within, and he is as much God as the Father and the Son. In other words, he is almighty! And it is with his strength and wisdom that we guard the treasure of God’s word. But the strength and might of the Spirit to do this flows to those who take responsibility and flees those who do not. And so again, Christian take this to heart: “By the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
In our day, one of the truths that must be guarded by affirming, believing, obeying, and speaking with clarity is what the bible says about homosexuality, transgenderism, and the whole range of sexual perversion and decadence so prevalent in our day. And even more we need to be vigilant about the positive message in the scriptures about God’s design for marriage, men and women, and human sexuality. So let’s turn to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Just think with me, this text, taught faithfully in Canada this Sunday could result in Christians going to jail for 5 years. Our vigilance matters on this issue, and this text gives us three reasons: 1) Because there is much deception, 2) because there is coming judgment, and 3) because of the power of the gospel.
Because there is much deception
Do not be deceived…
And what is it we need to not be deceived about? Those who practice the sins listed here, including men who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul understood the deception of his time, and deception is rampant in our time as well. Love is love! Ever heard that or seen those signs? It is just two people loving each other. What harm is there in that? There is much harm. Let’s just think about one aspect. It harms children to grow up in a home with two men or two women pretending to be married.
People have been deceived into believing the label “gay Christian” is acceptable. I certainly believe someone can be a born again Christian and struggle with homosexual temptations. But nowhere are we to take on as our identity either a past sin struggle or present temptation. We would never dream of accepting a man referring to himself as a lustful or adulterate Christian or an idolatrous Christian. We would say “No.” you may be tempted in certain ways, but if you are in Christ, you are a new creation. You are fundamentally defined by Christ now, not your temptations. And actually understanding the power of the new birth is the first step of freedom from the temptation and sn.
Then there is the deception that God actually permits and even celebrates homosexuality. That what is forbidden by God is abusive relations - like that of an adult with a child. Some would say that this is what Paul was addressing in Romans 1, 1 Timothy 2, and here in 1 Corinthians 6. Paul’s clobber passages. Don’t be deceived. Paul understood God’s law and that the law forbids a man lying with a man as with a woman (Leviticus 18:22). Paul understood that God referred to that as an abomination. Don’t be deceived.
And then some say “Jesus never said a word about this.” Well, of course this is a fundamental misunderstanding of the scriptures. They are all the words of God. But yes Jesus did address this. When answering a question about marriage and divorce, he appealed to God’s creation account and said,
"Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate." (Matthew 19:4-6)
Jesus too understood God’s law which forbids such activity. Of course, it’s his law. So we need to be vigilant about this truth because there is much deception. But also because there is coming judgment.
Because there is coming judgment.
So not be deceived: [those who practice such things] will not inherit the kingdom of God.
“Will not inherit the kingdom of God…” Paul uses this language to describe those who will be shut out of the kingdom of God and exposed to his eternal judgment. Galatians 5:19-21 says,
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who [make a practice of doing] such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Also in Ephesians 5:5-6, Paul uses the same language and adds a finer point to it:
5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
Individuals caught in such sins, the false teachers who speak “peace, peace” to those caught in this sin, and governments, nations will experience the judgment of God. In fact, part of what we are seeing and experiencing in western civilization is the judgment of God. Here’s what I mean. It is not just that certain sins will result in judgment, they are the result of judgment as well. Romans 1 says “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven…” and then three times it describes his wrath as him “giving people over to their sin”, one of which in Romans 1 is unnatural, homosexual desires. So I believe we are seeing this now. And apart from repentance it will lead to more judgment, and of course in the end eternal judgment for the unrepentant. So we must be vigilant on this truth because 1) there is much deception, 2) there is coming judgment, AND…
Because of the power of the gospel
And such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (v. 11)
What is at stake is nothing less than the gospel. This is a gospel issue. That is why I said earlier that when Paul urges Timothy to suffer for the gospel by the power of God, gospel should not be taken to mean the most narrow definition of “Jesus loves me and died for my sins.” What we are talking about today is a gospel issue. What makes the bill in Canada so egregious and wicked is that it is not merely an anti conversion therapy bill, but an anti conversion to Christ bill. The converting power of the gospel is the only hope for sinners - homosexual or heterosexual. So Paul says, “Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God”,
And such were some of you…
And such were some of you. Such “WERE”, not are. In the church at Corinth, there were people who once fit the description of “men who practice homosexuality”, but not anymore. They didn’t know anything about being a “Gay Christian”. They knew what they once were. And they knew the power and reality of the gospel and that they were made new.
This is power! Such were some of you. But you were “washed”, “sanctified”, “justified” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. And some here… if you are in Christ, you are NOT defined by your sins and temptations. You are defined by Christ. You are defined by God who is your Father. You are defined by the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is power! Do you know this power?
And how is this explosive, converting power unleashed? But it (the gospel) being proclaimed. Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37:1-14). “Son of man, say to the bones, LIVE.” We need to guard the good deposit. We need to resist the propaganda, name calling, and perhaps some day punitive action, and be faithful! The gospel is at stake. Let’s pray.