Home > Christianity, Exposition, Living, Questions, Theology > Question: Assurance for a Believer; Hope in Habitual Sin?

Question: Assurance for a Believer; Hope in Habitual Sin?

I recently received a question from a friend of mine. My response is as follows.

Hey, I have a question after watching the video you just posted…I’ve often asked that exact question myself, and that is the most clear answer I have gotten so far. However, I’m still confused because I don’t understand where the line is drawn in salvation. I have a very dear friend who is gay, and he has asked me multiple times if he’s going to go to hell…I never know how to answer him. His dad is a Presbyterian Pastor and he professes to be a Christian. I don’t know what to say to him 😦

The most important thing is, if God has chosen anybody for salvation, that person will be saved (cf. Ephesians 1:4; Philippians 1:6, 2:13). He effectively and sovereignly chooses those whom he will save before the world was formed. So, before even one of his children was formed, he knew and preordained that this person would be saved. Those two Philippians references point to the fact that it is God who causes salvation to occur in a very literal sense. He did not just make the means (i.e. Christ, Calvary, and the empty tomb), he also created and began the good work in his children, in addition to working in us both to will (i.e. desire) and to work (i.e. act) for God’s pleasure, rather than our own (but his pleasure becomes our pleasure as sanctification progresses; isn’t that cool!).

That ought to firmly establish the general Biblical principles of election as far as we are concerned. If not, I’ll gladly answer more questions or point you towards resources who can better help you. Let’s continue to the specific situation at hand, though.

We must remove the irrelevant sections from the above testimony. It does not matter what our parents’ faith-lineage is. God looks at individuals in the current covenant for their own faith; the faith of the father does not redeem the non-faith of the son

It also does not matter if the individual professes faith in Christ. Profession means next to nothing unless it is evidenced, for the evidence points to the root of the profession. Jesus says that there will be some who cry out “Lord! Lord!” but who never knew him; their ‘faith’ was not saving, effective, or from God (Matthew 7:21-23; John 1:12, 13). The people who cry out in this passage Jesus dismisses as “workers of lawlessness.” To one to whom God gives saving faith in Jesus as the Christ, as the Messiah, as Savior, and as Son of God will be saved because that person will progressively seek Christ with increasing fervor and affection, forsaking sin and their own life for the sake of the glory of God.

Now, we as outsiders can only make a guess about the spiritual state of another person. However, that guess is guided by the fruit and the doctrine of a believer (John 15:4-11; 2 John 9-11). There are certain things that every Christian must believe, such as the nature of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the means of salvation (if not the specific details), etc. as are plainly revealed in Scripture. In addition, every believer will bear fruit that is lasting and righteous and Christ-like, such fruit comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit, who also testifies in our own spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16).

Romans 8 may be the definitive chapter on these sorts of questions about assurance.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. [Emphasis mine and mine throughout]. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  … If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:1-8, 11)

So much there. But, anybody who has the Spirit of God dwelling in them in the current covenant will be saved, they will progressively see sin as it is—an affront to a holy God, and they will progressively flee from sin to righteousness.

The problem with your friend could come any number of things:

  • Quite simply, he isn’t saved. In which case, all you need to do is continually give him the gospel, enlist the help of other believers, and rely on God to cause that seed to grow.
  • He is ignorant of the commands in Scripture that forbid homosexuality. In which case, you (or another believer) need to show him the commands in love and point him to the righteousness of Christ. A true believer will stumble but will progressively grow in holiness upon revelation from God. Further, it would be wise to point out that there is little difference between heterosexual lust and homosexual lust:  both are sin in the sight of God and both are perversions of the design that God instituted, which is one man and one woman in a covenantal marriage relationship with eyes for each other and each other only (cf. Proverbs 5).
  • Or, he is striving to battle the sin in his own power. In which case, he needs to be taught and made aware that it is only through the power of the Spirit that anyone overcomes sin.

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. Ephesians 6:24

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  1. Dave M
    April 6, 2012 at 11:36 am

    The commands in scripture do not forbid homosexuality but rather the behavior. This ‘friend’ will come with a many more notions about what is ‘homosexual/gay’ that really have nothing to do with sex.

    What about physical affection, strong friendships, and strong emotions toward the same-sex? In public? Opinions about homosexuality here hold no scriptural weight or censure. Many christians are hung up on these things or would judge the gay person on them by a double standard. Singles are discouraged from having close opposite sex friends. Likewise, gays may be discouraged from having close same sex friends in the church. (Then who should they relate with? Just family? No one?) This is before the element of homophobia is introduced.

    You are right that lust is lust though. Yet, the modern construct of ‘homosexuality’ is more than sex.

    • April 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm

      Actually, in light of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, more than behavior implicated as sin: the thoughts, attitudes, and intentions of the heart are as telling as or more telling than behavior itself.

      “What about physical affection, strong friendships, and strong emotions toward the same-sex?” What about them? Scripture does not forbid those sorts of relationships, insofar as they are pure in intention. David and Jonathan had a strong friendship that was pure and glorified the Lord. Once the affections cross over to anything that should be exclusively shared between husband and wife, it does not matter whether the two are male or male and female or female. It violates the principle of marital intimacy. At that point, it is wisest to cut the relationship or reexamine it, lest one enable the other to live in sin.

      That is a fallacious slippery slope argument, in regard to the outright exclusion of homosexuals from any relationship but familial. There is no double standard; the standard is this: stay away from and set boundaries that prevent entering into or remaining in relationships that promote sin, lust, idolatry, or a glorification of anything other than God. The standard applies equally to singles and couples, heterosexuals and bisexuals and homosexuals and anything else. The standard may be effected differently for various people, but that does not imply a double standard. One who struggles with lust of the opposite sex is encouraged to keep those relationships as acquaintances. One who struggles with lust of the same sex is encouraged to keep those relationships as acquaintances as well.

      The homophobia comment is a red herring and does not influence or have bearing on this discussion. There is no element of fear or hatred of homosexuals but of homosexuality to the same degree as sinful heterosexuality or thievery or deceit or murder or idolatry.

      The problem, it seems, in modern society is that people seem to consider that we have some sort of right to happiness or right to marital intimacy or right to “love whomever I want to love.” those may be true for American society. It is not the case for a Christian; we have no right to anything except that which Christ secured: life and life abundant with the Father, the power of the Spirit, and the same sufferings that accompanied Christ. Those, succinctly, are our rights. There is no right to marriage or romantic love, homosexual or heterosexual.

      Thank you for your comment.

      • Dave M
        April 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm

        We do have a rights problem. A few issues elsewhere.

        You did not address how our modern views do not reflect the ancient views of the subject. Thus, thoughts and attitudes we hold as gay were not considered that in the ancient world.

        Is marital intimacy biblical? Since that seems a ground of one argument. 2 Samuel 1:26 “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.” Modern ideas of marriage interject themselves here. Greeks/Romans thought women weren’t good for much more than sex and children. This view continued into christiandom. It is a low low view no one holds now but… This other extreme shows that the topic is extrabiblical.

        “One who struggles with lust of the opposite sex is encouraged to keep those relationships as acquaintances. One who struggles with lust of the same sex is encouraged to keep those relationships as acquaintances as well.” And likewise, the bisexual should be acquaintances with all. The bible actually commands a lot of semi-intimate relations with other believers. Kiss on the cheek? Brotherly affection is considered admirable and a virtue in 2 Peter 1:7-8.

        I did not counter “Actually, in light of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, more than behavior implicated as sin: the thoughts, attitudes, and intentions of the heart are as telling as or more telling than behavior itself.” If you apply the same standard to heterosexual things, attraction is bad! very bad! You wonder how relationships even start. This is a false dilemma that is easy to fall into.

        Attraction is not desire. Attraction is something God created. If you believe they are the same it will creates problems in marriage. The mismatch with modern and ancient views on homosexuality means… only the lustful double look, the wanting to possess, and the resulting desire for sexual activity are outlawed. Jesus intended to address the desire to have what one cannot in the sermon. When you do this, it doesn’t make you less of an idolater.

        • April 15, 2012 at 9:59 pm

          Dave, must you be so smart? Haha. I’d love to meet up with you in the coming weeks and walk through some of this with you.

          Hope you’ve been well lately.

          Thank you for your comments. Until next time, I’ll be looking at these things.

          Josh

  2. Dave M
    April 17, 2012 at 1:12 am

    I hold increasingly divergent views in relations/love, gender roles, and LGBT. My views are much more in line with greek/roman thought in some areas or carefree/lawless/spirit-only in others. Yet, it makes for a strange mix.

    I rejected my ‘western’ upbringing when it comes to gay friendships/relationships because it caused tonnes of problems. I simply would not interact with people because I carried the suggestion/lie that it was somehow gay. I was/am very conscientious but also at times vain. I was very internally homophobic in grade school but also worried about what people thought… as I continued to be teased/bullied on gender/sexuality stuff without due cause from others. I hugged nobody and unintentially formed no emotional bonds … no friendships because of the anxiety and hurt could cause. I pursued popularity over friendship and got neither. It took 4 years after the bullying stopped to start forming friendships. 2more for them to be healthy.

    I have been forced to the other extreme in the emotions and learned… What is love… Swimming as far out as you can in faith and not saving the energy to swim back. God is for the return and/or His CPR. Hope in Him. Shooting the moon in the game of Hearts. I tend to have too much faith here perhaps and ignore the ginormous pain possible. (Which I have felt.)

    One adaption of mine is simply to think differently about the subjects now. It makes much of the word ‘gay/homosexual’ meaningless and powerless. Yet, this also puts me in an odd relation with LGBT. They should be supported relationally not hurt. They aught find other connections fulfilling enough. I end up against ‘western’ church currents about what ‘human’ relations aught to be. I am against so-called ‘gay’ marriage though. It has no precedent.

    Dmac

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