And They Approve Those Who Practice Such Things

Sheep 2

Can you be an unrepentant, practicing homosexual and a follower of Jesus Christ?   I want to answer this question and then follow it up with a second, perhaps more pertinent question, what if a person doesn’t practice sodomy, but approves of those who do? Just to be clear I am discussing how to deal with those who claim to be Christians yet either practice homosexuality or approve of those who do. I am not talking about how to interact with non-Christians on the subject.

Sexual Immorality Keeps You Out of the Kingdom

You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.
(Lev 18:22)

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. (Ephesians 5:5)

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1Cor. 6:9-10)

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood (Rev 22:14-15)

An unrepentant sinner of any kind is bound for Hell. This includes thieves, liars, drunkards, and the sexually immoral, such as practicing homosexuals, adulterers, porn addicts, and lesbians. Just to cut off “but what about,” I am not talking about a man struggling with his sin, fighting it, sometimes winning and sometimes losing. Nor am I talking about a new Christian or immature Christian who does not understand what the Scriptures teach nor has learned how to wage war on sin. I remember hearing of a Christian couple, new to the faith, who were living together unmarried. They had no idea it was wrong, until a pastor told them. That is not the situation I am talking about. Continue reading

Shepherds, Wolves, and the Internet


If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. II John 1:10-11

What the ESV translates as “take part in” is the Greek work koineneo. It means to be in communion with someone. We are not to allow a heretical false teacher into our churches or into homes. We are not to greet them. We are not show them hospitality.  We are not to support them in any way financially or otherwise. They are to be rejected. If we do support them we participate in their wicked deeds by helping them to spread their deceit.

As I studied this passage, I reflected on how to apply these verses in our internet age. Should I link to a book by a Christian saying homosexuality is fine? Should I link to Rachel Held Evans, who lies almost every time she hits the keyboard? Should a Christian university allow a Mormon to speak when he uses the term “Jesus” but means something heretical by it? Should a  Oneness Pentecostal be invited to a Christian conference? Are these things violations of John’s commands? 

I have not sorted this all out, but I did come to a couple of conclusions based on reading John’s command in II John 1:10-11.  Continue reading

Evolution and Beauty

Biological beauty is challenging to explain in evolutionary theory. Organisms usually generate their beauty at some cost to the organism. Either complex chemical pigments are required or cleaver mechanisms are employed for the diffraction of light. Either way, energy is invariably expended by the organism to create and maintain its beauty. In evolutionary theory, anything that requires an investment of energy on the part of the organism should have come about only because it was necessary for the organism’s survival. But the beauty of organisms-even that which is utilized by the organism for mate choice, defense, and so on-does not seem to be necessary for organismal survival. It seems to fulfill a function beyond survival: to show the abundance and glory of God. (Kurt Wise, Faith, Form, and Time, p. 128-129)

Interacting with Professing Christians on Homosexuality

With all the focus on abortion, it is easy to forget that just a few weeks ago the highest court in the land ruled that every state must approve of same sex marriage. This issue may prove to more divisive in churches over the next few years than abortion. How do we approach professing Christians who disagree with us on sodomy/same sex marriage? I want to give some guidelines for how to navigate these disagreements.

Shepherd or Sheep? 
The Bible teaches that those in authority will be held to a higher standard than those who are being taught by them. James 3:1 is the classic statement on this point.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

In the Bible shepherds are rebuked for their failures to care for the sheep by teaching them truth. Israel was in danger because her shepherds were hirelings (John 10:13). The New Testament writers warned their readers over and over again about false teachers. The first question to ask when a person is soft on sodomy or is gently gliding towards “God approves of same sex marriage” is are they shepherd or sheep? We should treat shepherds and sheep differently. A false teacher must be rebuked and often with strong admonitions.  These rebukes should involve solid arguments and proof from Scripture of their errors. But eventually a true shepherd will warn the sheep to avoid these men and women (I Timothy 1:20, II Timothy 2:17-18, Titus 3:10, II John 1:10-11).
In our culture, it is not easy to separate shepherd from sheep. In the old days, it was difficult to get any traction if you did not have some type of official authority. You had to be ordained or work at a seminary or something like that. But now all you need is a keyboard and wi-fi and you too can become a teacher. It is possible for a lay person through the power of the internet to actually have more power over people than a pastor. Some examples of teachers in our culture are: pastors, elders, professors at colleges and seminaries, bloggers, writers of books, magazine articles, etc. 
Many times these people will claim to not be teachers. “I am just a blogger thinking out loud.” Or “I am just a professor doing some research. I am not making any dogmatic claims.” Or “I am not ordained. I am just a Christian trying to help other Christians.” That is a smokescreen, a ruse to avoid real accountability. You can’t write or speak exerting influence over people and trying to persuade them and then claim not to be a teacher.

Teachers who are soft on sodomy, talk in “nuance,” refuse to take a stand on the issue, refuse to call those involved to repentance, or actively promote homosexuality need to be called out publicly. And no, you don’t have to send them a private email first. They are teachers. They are destroying souls. They are wolves who need a true shepherd to drive them out. Shepherds, such as pastors, elders, and seminary professors are the primary ones responsible for rebuking these false teachers (Acts 20:29-30). 

Four Groups
Shepherds need to be called out and rebuked. But what about the sheep, the professing Christian sitting in the pew? Here are four different groups of professing Christians you might meet, their views/relationship to sodomy and how we should interact with them. 
First, is the apologist for sodomy. This is a professing Christian who thinks sodomy is a legitimate expression of the Christian faith and they promote this idea. This person does not have to be a homosexual nor do they have to be mean.  They are often gentle and kind. They are not always militant. But they are trying to persuade people that Jesus approves of same sex relationships. This person is a predator and should be dealt with quickly and decisively. You should not associate with this person, except to evangelize and/or rebuke them. In many ways this person is like the shepherd above. They are promoting a practice that sends people to Hell. They obviously should not be a part of your church. Bad company corrupts good morals (I Cor. 15:33). People who are proselytizing for sodomy are dangerous. 
Second, is a professing Christian who approves of sodomy but does not push the idea.  The difference between this person and the first one is the second does not promote homosexuality even though they think it is fine and may practice it. They will usually have a live and let live mentality. This person is probably not a threat to you or your family, but you still should be wary of the influence their lifestyle might have.  Many well meaning Christians have flipped on sodomy because they became friends with a homosexual and found out they were nice. You wouldn’t want this second person to be a close friend. This person should not be a member of your church either. A person who approves of sodomy, even if they do not practice it, is in danger of Hell. But as long they are not ramming things down your throat you can maintain a relationship and look for opportunities to encourage them to repent of their sodomy (if they are practicing homosexuals) or to correct their thinking.

These first two groups are not Christians in any meaningful sense of the word. Paul is clear that sodomites will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9). 

Third, is the Christian who is genuinely confused by the issue. They have some sympathy for homosexuals. They do not want to be thought of as mean or unloving. But they also have reservations. They are not sure what the Scriptures teach. They know that sodomy was considered a great sin throughout most of church history. This person needs careful, patient, and clear teaching on what the Scriptures say about homosexuality. The difference between this person and the second is the firmness of their convictions. The first and second person are convinced that sodomy is fine for Christians. This third person is wavering. 
Finally, you have Christians who are refugees from the homosexual world. These might be actual homosexuals/lesbians who have left the lifestyle or folks who had bought into the lie and now are trying to get back to what the Scriptures teach. This group will swell over the next couple of decades. Churches should be prepared for a steady influx of those who are disillusioned with or broken by sodomy and the lies surrounding it. Depending upon the situation these people will need a heavy dose of Jesus, particularly the forgiveness of sins, help in overcoming bad habits, otherwise known as sanctification, lots of love, and good solid teaching over a long period of time.

A person who belongs to any of these four groups should not be a teacher or leader in the church or the church community, including the online community. Obviously, the first and second person are disqualified from teaching God’s people because they believe something contrary to the Scriptures. They are false teachers. The third person is confused. There are some issues it is okay for a shepherd to say, “I am not sure about that.” This is not one of them. A person who is confused about sodomy should not be teaching God’s people. The fourth person could eventually become a teacher of God’s people, but they would need to grow in sanctification and their understanding of God’s Word before they would be qualified. It is possible they will never be qualified depending upon the circumstances.

The church needs protection from the first group.

The first and second group both need to be evangelized.

The third group needs patient teaching.

The final group need a loving church that preaches Jesus, models Jesus, and will help the person grow into Christ’s likeness.

Being able to distinguish between shepherd and sheep and between these four groups will help us to effectively minister to people involved in, approving of, practicing, or coming out of homosexuality. 

What is a False Teacher?

What are some characteristics of false teachers? This is an older post that I am re-posting. There are more characteristics. I think false teachers are manipulative and power hungry as well.

1. False teachers enjoy arguing and speculating. ( I Timothy 1:4, 4:7, 6:20, II Timothy 2:14-18, Titus 1:14)

2. False teachers do not build up the flock. People who sit under false teachers are weak, gaunt, and unable to stand on their own, ( Ezekiel 34:1-6, I Timothy 1:4, II Timothy 2:14)

3. False teachers are concerned about their positions instead of the truth. (I Timothy 1:7, III John 1:9)

4. False teachers can very conservative. (I Timothy 4:1-5 and Colossians 2:20-23)

5. False teachers can be very liberal. (II Peter 2:18-22, II Timothy 3:6)

6. False teachers will rarely challenge God’s people and call upon them to turn from their sin. They will encourage people to improve, but not repent. (Jeremiah 8:11, 23:21-22, II Timothy 4:1-4)

7. False teachers take. They do not give. They take money, wives, and freedom. (Jeremiah 8:10, Ezekiel 34:1-6, Micah 3:1-3, 11, I Timothy 6:3-5, II Timothy 3:6)

8. False teachers flee when there is danger. They do not sacrifice for the sheep. (John 10:11-14)

9. False teachers abandon sound doctrine. (I Timothy 1:3, 1:10, 4:1-7 6:3, II Timothy 3:10, Titus 1:9-16)

False Teaching is Immoral

         In II John 1:7-11 John brings us to the primary reason for his letter.  The verse begins with Greek word “hoti.” This word often shows a connection between the verses that follow and the verses that come before.  The connection here is that a failure to guard against false teachers will lead this “elect lady” and her children to leave the Christian faith. The truth and love are of the utmost importance. But there are many deceivers, men who will lead you away from the truth. These verses are important because they show how doctrine and the Christian life interlock. 
a.       The issue here is not a moral false teaching, but rather a theological one. The problem is not that false teachers are sexually immoral. But rather they are teaching that Christ did not come in the flesh. This is important because we often put theology and action in two separate spheres. A pedophile is wicked.  A moral man who denies Christ came in the flesh is not usually put in the same category.  But for John, a theological failure, especially one so closely connected to Christ and his work, is a moral failure. 
b.      To attack Christ’s person and work is a sin of the first order.  It puts someone in the category of “antichrist.” So many of the moral failings we see in society today, pornography, abortion, sodomy, etc., began with theological heresy, especially heresy about Christ.  The person and work of Christ ought to be our highest possession. Those who tamper with Him and his work are to be cursed.
c.       Like I John, II John gives us a clue as to who the real Christians are. Anyone who does not abide in the doctrine of Christ is not regenerate. They do not have God.
d.      John is telling the church that he is writing to avoid false teachers.  Unlike Adam, John is protecting his bride from the serpent.  He tells them to not give any official recognition to these false teachers. If they do they are sharers in their evil. This is an important truth.  It is not okay to give a public forum to those who deny Jesus or teach some heresy about his person or work.  You do not dialogue with heretics. You kick them out.

Character Traits of False Teachers

1.      False teachers enjoy arguing and speculating.  ( I Timothy 1:4, 4:7, 6:20, II Timothy 2:14-18, Titus 1:14)
2.      False teachers do not build up the flock. ( Ezekiel 34:1-6, I Timothy 1:4, II Timothy 2:14)
3.      False teachers are concerned about their positions. (I Timothy 1:7, III John 1:9)
4.      False teachers can be very conservative. (I Timothy 4:1-5 and Colossians 2:20-23)
5.      False teachers can be very liberal.  (II Peter 2:18-22, II Timothy 3:6)
6.      False teachers will rarely challenge God’s people and call upon them to turn from their sin. (Jeremiah 8:11, 23:21-22, II Timothy 4:1-4)
a.       Focus on sins of other people.
b.      Preach forgiveness without repentance.  No doctrine of sanctification.
c.   Preach against sins that are not in the Bible.  
7.      False teachers take. They do not give. (Jeremiah 8:10, Ezekiel 34:1-6, Micah 3:1-3, 11, I Timothy 6:3-5, II Timothy 3:6)
8.      False teachers flee when there is danger. (John 10:11-14)
9.      False teachers abandon sound doctrine.  (I Timothy 1:3, 1:10, 4:1-7 6:3, II Timothy 3:10, Titus 1:9-16)