We came to believe that God
had already broken the power of homosexuality
and that He could therefore restore our true personhood.
Step 1 shows us our helplessness. Steps 2 through 4 show us how to find our help in God.
Step 2 teaches us to reach out to God as our loving Father who loves, forgives, and accepts us in spite of all that we are and have done. Step 3 teaches us to see Him as our sovereign Lord who so controls our failed lives that there is purpose in our suffering and good can come from all our trouble. Step 4 encourages us to see God as our mighty Savior who "breaks the power of reigning sin and sets the captives free."
It is wonderful to know that God forgives our past and transforms its failures into blessing. But what about the present? Are we forever doomed to failure? Will sin always lord it over us? God forbid!
The Bible teaches that God not only takes care of our past, He transforms our present and assures our future. Scripture says that at the cross God smashed the iron doors which Satan had used to imprison us. God Himself has entered our dark cell and holds out His hand to us, encouraging us to walk with Him into the glorious light of freedom and change!
1. Who brought all sin and misery into the world?
II Corinthians 11:3
"You all know the father of sin, that is, the devil.... The devil is the father, lust the mother, consent the midwife, and custom the nurse; if consent bring it forth, custom will bring it up." [Thomas Adams, A Commentary on the Second Epistle General of St. Peter, p. 50]
"Satan and his legions are out to disable the body, deceive the mind, and discourage the spirit.... He attacks through morals, through the mind, through moods." [Vance Havner, Day By Day, p. 79]
I John 3:8
"We were samples of the devil's dirty work, but we are now trophies of God's handiwork." [Stanley C. Baldwin, What Makes You So Special?, p. 59]
"So human nature can be changed!--praise God!" [J. I, Packer, "The New Man," Understand- ing Bible Teaching, p. 6]
I Peter 5:8
"Do not let the Evil One persuade you that you can have any secrets from him." [Franz Kafka in Leadership, p. 119]
"John Calvin reminds us that though Satan may rage about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, yet he has a bit in his mouth and it is God who holds the reins." [B. B. Warfield, Faith and Life, p. 27]
While the devil is popularly depicted as a man with horns, tail, and pitchfork, masking the dreadful reality of evil, the Bible plainly exposes him. It uses many names to describe Satan because he is terribly complex and appears in many forms in real life.
"DEVIL = (Gr.) the accuser or slanderer (Job i.6-11, ii.1-7; Rev. xii.10). Heb. Satan means adversary....
"There is but one Devil, many 'demons'.... Peter when tempting Jesus to shun the cross did Satan's work, and therefore received Satan's name (Matt. xvi.23); so Judas is called a 'Devil' when acting the Devil's part (John vi.70). Satan's characteristic sins are lying (John viii.44; Gen. iii.4,5); malice and murder (I John iii.12; Gen. iv); pride, 'the condemnation of the Devil,' by which he 'lost his first estate' (I Tim. iii.6; Job xxxviii.15; Isa xiv. 12-15; John xii.31; xvi.11; 2 Pet. ii.4; Jude 6).
"He slanders God to man, and man to God (Gen. iii; Zech. iii). His misrepresentation of God as one arbitrary, selfish, and envious of His creature's happiness, a God to be slavishly feared lest He should hurt, rather than filially loved,....is refuted by God's not sparing His only begotten Son to save us. His slander of good men, as if serving God only for self's sake, is refuted by the case of 'those who lose (in will or deed) their life for Christ's sake.'
"Demons...are spirits who tremble before, but love not, God (Jas. ii.19), incite men to rebellion against Him (Rev. xvi.14). 'Evil spirits' (Acts xix.13,15) recognize Christ the Son of God (Matt. viii.29; Luke iv.41) as absolute Lord over them, and their future Judge; and even flee before exorcism in His name (Mark ix.38). As 'unclean' they can tempt man with unclean thoughts....
"Satan as Beelzebub (Matt. xii.24-30) is at the head of an organized kingdom of darkness, with its 'principalities and powers' to be 'wrestled' against by the children of light....
"Possession with or by a demon or demons is distinctly asserted by Luke (vi.17,18), who as a 'physician' was able to distinguish between the phenomena of disease and those of demonical possession.... In Matt. iv.24, 'those possessed with demons' are distinguished from 'those lunatic'....
"At our Lord's advent as Prince of Light, Satan as prince of darkness, whose ordinary opera- tion is on men's minds by invisible temptation, rushed into open conflict with His kingdom and took possession of men's bodies also. The possessed man lost the power of individual will and reason, his personal consciousness becoming strangely confused with that of the demon in him..." [A. R. Faussett, Bible Cyclopaedia, p. 169-170] "In the gospels, demon-possession is known not just by disintegration of personhood, but also by recognition of Jesus' identity and authority as Son of God, and hostility towards him. Only when this factor appears can demon-possession ever be diagnosed with confidence." [J. I. Packer, God's Words, p. 84]
"...The assumption that demon-possession today might be as common a problem as in Jesus' day is doubtful. From Acts and the epistles it does not look as if it was a common problem even in the apostolic age. The natural way to read the evidence is to suppose that the coming to earth of the Son of God stirred up a great deal of demonic activity which subsided after his ascension. It is to be feared that the preoccupation of some with finding demons everywhere is really an obsessional ego-trip, which Satan can use as a smoke-screen for his real work of spiritual corruption no less effectively than he can use disbelief in his existence to that end." [idem.]
This is not to say that demon possession no longer occurs. It is to say that great discernment must be exercised before ascribing homosexuality to evil spirits. "One should not assume that all homosexuals need deliverance from spirits of homosexuality any more than one would assume that all thieves need deliverance from spirits of robbery.... Those who assume that all problems with homosexuality are demonic in origin only confuse their counselee and leave them in a hope- less state. The counselee will be confused because he will overlook the psychological aspect of his problem, thinking that demons are always to blame. He will feel hopeless because he is always at the whim of other beings, never gaining control of his own choices. Thus, it is a great disservice to any counselee to teach or even imply that all of his problems are demonic.
"If, in the course of counseling, however, the need for deliverance becomes apparent, the Christian counselor should not hesitate to...proceed with the only solution--deliverance." [Michael R. Saia, Counseling the Homosexual, p. 167]
Even with deliverance, there will still be much to do. "Deliverance does not solve relationship problems, it does not bring about any character development, it does not renew the person's mind, and it cannot take the place of a good relationship with God. Deliverance performs one necessary function: it removes a negative influence from the person's life, aiding the person to continue, unhindered, with the normal processes of Christian growth." [ibid., p. 170]
"Satan shall head the last conspiracy against Christ...and shall finally be cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev. xx.7-10). As the destroyer he is represented as the 'roaring lion seeking whom he may devour' (I Pet. v.8). As the deceiver he is the 'serpent.' Though judicially 'cast down to hell' with his sinning angels, 'and delivered into chains of darkness to be reserved unto judgment' (2 Pet. ii.4), he is yet free on earth to the length of his chain, like a chained dog, but no further. He cannot hurt God's elect; his freedom of range in the air and on the earth is that of a chained prisoner under sentence." [A. R. Faussett, Bible Cyclopedia, p. 170]
2. Has Satan's power and that of all his hosts been broken at the cross?
"The monumental importance of this verse has been recognized by commentators from ancient times. Its gospel character is so marked that for centuries it has been known as the 'proto- evangel," i.e., 'first gospel,' for it is the first hint of the good news." [Frank E. Gaebelein, Exploring the Bible, p. 116] "Here, at the very beginning of Scripture, compressed in twenty-eight simple words, is the central teaching of God's Word.... In the words of the great Luther, 'Here rises the sun of consolation.'" [ibid., p. 158]
Here we have "the one great central truth of all prophecy--the coming of One, Who, though He should suffer, would in the end crush the head of the old serpent, the Devil." ["Appendixes," The Companion Bible, p. 15] "The bruising of Christ's heel is the most eloquent and impressive way of foretelling the most solemn events; and to point out that the effort made by Satan to evade his doom...would become the very means of insuring its accomplishment; for it was through the death of Christ that he who had the power of death would be destroyed; and all Satan's power and policy brought to an end, and all his works destroyed (Heb. 2:14; I John 3:8; Rev. 20:1-3,10)." [ibid., p. 25]
"Jesus here answers the slander of the Pharisees who had said that he cast out devils by Beel- zebub, the prince of the devils. He shows the absurdity of the accusation by comparing the power of the devil with that of a kingdom or a town or a house... If one devil should cast out another, the kingdom of the devils would not stand but would fall asunder. But this does not happen. That is why there is only one explanation for Jesus' power over the demons, viz., that by the Spirit (or the finger of God) he was able to cast them out." [Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, p. 61]
"There were Jewish exorcists, and the Pharisees did not accuse them of employing diabolical agency. Why then did they accuse Christ of this?... The charge of diabolical agency having been proved to be both absurd and unjust, the alternative of Divine agency is adopted.... The Kingdom of God is come near them, and yet they are far from the Kingdom.... The Messiah had taken prey from Satan by freeing demoniacs from his power; which is evidence that, so far from being the ally of Satan, He has begun to conquer him." [Alfred Plummer, An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, p. 177]
"...Jesus' superior power over Satan....is already proved at the start by the temptation in the wilderness.... Jesus' rejection of the temptation is already the beginning of his victory and of the coming of the kingdom, although this victory will have to be renewed again and again during his life on earth...." [Herman Ridderbos, The Coming of the Kingdom, p. 62-63]
The powers of hell were finally smashed at the cross and this victory will be fully consummated when Christ returns.
"Superficial views of the work of Christ produce superficial Christian lives." [D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, The Cross, p. viii]
Some may ask, "If the power of Satan and his hosts was broken at the cross, why do I have such difficulty finding freedom from homosexuality? Why are my struggles so painful? Why do I sometimes fail?"
Our situation is like that of the Allies in World War II. Hitler's power was effectively smashed when the Normandy Beachhead was established. After D Day, it was only a matter of time until VE Day. There were some bloody battles to be fought, but the Nazis were finished!
In like manner, Satan's power was demolished at Calvary. His doom is certain. Our victory is secure. There are still battles to be fought, but victory is ours in Christ! The power of homosexuality has already been broken at the cross!
3. What kind of battle am I fighting?
II Corinthians 10:3-5
"Never cope with a temptation alone, but strive to bring God into the combat." [The Complete Works of Thomas Manton IV, p. 364]
I Timothy 6:12
"The individual who is not anchored in God can offer no resistance on his own resources to the physical and moral blandishments of the world." [Carl C. Jung, The Undiscovered Self, p. 34]
The weapons of our warfare are spiritual, not carnal. They have been supplied by the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior. As we learn to use the weapons He has provided, we overcome the evil one.
We are not fighting for future victory but from Christ's accomplished victory already won at the cross. For us, the issue is no longer sin, but faith! We must ask ourselves, "Will I continue to pray desperately, 'Please help me overcome my homosexuality,' or will I say boldly by faith, 'Thank you, Lord, that you have already smashed the power of homosexuality at the cross'?"
Satan is the master of illusion. When we fall, it is because we fall for his lies instead of believing God's truth. In this warfare he uses four big guns: condemnation, sin, law, and death. These can only be spiked by faith--fighting faith!
4. Was the power of homosexuality to condemn the believer broken at the cross?
"You may pile up your sins till they rise like a dark mountain, and then multiply them by ten thousand for those you cannot think of; and after you have tried to enumerate all the sins you have ever committed, just let me bring one verse in and that mountain will melt away: 'The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from ALL sin.'" [D. L. Moody, Select Sermons, p. 45]
The great missionary William Carey had these lines written on his tomb:
"A guilty, weak and helpless worm,
On Thy kind arms I fall;
Be Thou my strength and righteousness,
My Jesus and my all."
[C. H. Spurgeon, My Sermon Notes,, p. 618]
"Question 60. How art thou righteous before God? Answer. Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me that I have grossly transgressed all the commands of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satis- faction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin; yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ hath accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart." [The Heidelberg Catechism]
"...Righteousness comes by faith and not by hustle." [Stephen Brown, No More Mr. Nice Guy!, p. 118]
"The fact is, that believers are in a state of conflict, but not in a state of condemnation; and that at the very time when the conflict is the hottest, the believer is still justified." [C. H. Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit XXXIII, (1887), p. 469]
"That living now goes singing down the centuries: in life, in death, in time, in eternity, there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." [ibid., p. 479]
When strong homosexual feelings come, we may feel God is pulling away, abandoning us. If we surrender to this feeling, we will inevitably begin to say, "Why resist? Since God is abandoning me in my hour of need, all is lost. Why not abandon myself?" Faith, however, fights back, using "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17), and says:
"Father, I know these homosexual feelings are wrong and I want to be free of them. But I won't be free if I let myself think you walk away from me just when I need you most. Jesus was forsaken in my place (see Matthew 27:46). You have therefore promised never to forsake me (see Hebrews 13:5). I am not abandoned! Jesus' blood cleanses me from all sin (see I John 1:7). I am not filthy in your sight! You are not disgusted with me! Jesus is my propitiation (see Romans 3:25)--my wrath-removing sacrifice. You are not angry with me any more. Jesus is my righteousness (see II Corinthians 5:21). Therefore you do not condemn me. You accept me completely in spite of all that I am or have done. You will not impute sin to me (see Romans 4:8). You will not charge my sinful nature or my sinful deeds against me. I renounce these feelings of abandonment. I receive the truth of Scripture. I am now believing that you are walking through this struggle with me so that it loses its power."
5. Was the power of homosexuality to enslave the believer broken at the cross?
"He who supposes that Jesus Christ only lived and died and rose again in order to provide... forgiveness of sins for His people....is...making Him only half a Savior. The Lord Jesus has undertaken everything that His people's souls require: not only to deliver them from the guilt of their sins by His atoning death, but from the dominion of their sins by placing in their hearts the Holy Spirit..." [J. C. Ryle, Holiness, p. 16]
"...The death, which delivers from the bondage of sin, is followed by a new life of liberty (vv. 8-11), which is not under sin's dominion, but is to be devoted to the service of a new master (vv. 12-14)." [E. H. Gifford, "Romans," The Bible Commentary IX, p. 129]
If a wealthy relative leaves you a fortune, you are rich. It will profit you little, however, if you know nothing of your inheritance or do not believe those who tell you of it. You will not benefit from a generous gift you do not know or believe you have. Thus Paul urges us to know and believe the truth--that we are dead to sin and alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. "...This is the first exhortation in the epistle... The present tense points to a continuing process; this goes on throughout the Christian life." [Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 256] "Faith means seeing things as Christ sees them and then acting on the vision." [idem.]
"The exhortation now advances from faith to practice..." [E. H. Gifford, "Romans," The Bible Commentary IX, p. 130] "Sin fights for the mastery; it calls out an army of the lusts of the body, and seeks to use the members, hand, eye, or tongue as weapons wherewith the lusts may re-establish the rule of unrighteousness." [idem.] "This of course assumes that sin is still there; believers do not have a serene existence from which sin has been blissfully excluded. They are still 'in the flesh' as well as 'in Christ'. Sin is still a force, but Paul's point is that it is not supreme." [Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans, p. 257]
II Corinthians 5:14,15
"God has provided the solution... The question is...: Will we accept Christ's death as the pay- ment for our sins and discover the powerful implications of our salvation, or will we continue to follow Satan's lies..." [Robert McGee, The Search for Significance, p. 19]
I Peter 2:24
When strong homosexual temptation attacks the mind, anxiety begins to build. We may think God is condemning us for the temptation we sense in our sinful nature. Feeling rejected, we struggle to resist, but feel driven and helpless. If we surrender to these feelings, we will inevitably begin to say, "Why fight it? Sin is too powerful for me. God is against me. There is no way I can overcome. Why not yield? Why not spare myself the frustration of another fruitless struggle?" Faith, however, fights back, using the Word of God, and says:
"Father, I know these homosexual feelings are wrong and that my sinful nature is corrupt. But I thank you that no matter what I feel, you have no condemnation for me (see Romans 8:1), nothing can separate me from your love (see Romans 8:31-39), and you have smashed the power of sin in Christ (see Galatians 2:20). The victory has already been won and I claim it by faith. Sin may tempt me, trouble me, torture me, even trip me up, if I let it, but it is no longer my master. I reckon myself dead to it. Christ is my Lord. I count myself alive to Him. Thank you, Father, for ending the cruel reign of sin at Calvary and for standing with me in my struggle."
6. Was the power of homosexuality to shame the believer broken at the cross?
Some might say, "I can see how Satan could use the guns of condemnation and sin to trouble God's children, but how can he use God's law as a weapon? Isn't the law 'holy, and just, and good' (see Romans 7:12)?" It is, but the law must be used lawfully (I Timothy 1:8)!
The law can tell us what is right or wrong, but it is "weak through the flesh" (Romans 8:3). It cannot forgive the offender or empower the helpless, and the Bible teaches that we are all ungodly and without strength (Romans 5:6).
The law was not given as the way of deliverance, but in order "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.... By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:19,20). The law works wrath (Romans 4:15) and makes the offence abound (Romans 5:20). It never justifies people (Galatians 2:16; 3:11); it was given to lead people to Christ (Galatians 3:24). Those who are under the law need redemption, and Christ came to be under the law to redeem those who were under the law (Galatians 4:4,5).
Far from empowering us to overcome sin, "the strength of sin is the law" (I Corinthians 15:56). Sin was dead without the law (Romans 7:8), but when the commandment came, sin revived (Romans 7:9), deceived Paul, and slew him (Romans 7:11). Because of our corrupt nature, our sinful passions are actually "aroused by the law" (Romans 7:5 NIV). The law either makes us so discouraged that we say, "What's the use? I'm no good. I'll never measure up!" and surrender to sin, or we become religiously neurotic, trying harder and harder--even by the Holy Spirit--to straighten things out so we can feel presentable before the law while constantly condemning ourselves for never quite making it. As the stress increases, so does our frustration and longing for love and comfort. This makes us even more vulnerable to temptation. Shame at our failure leads us to draw back from God and His people leaving us without the support we need to fight back. And so we succumb.
Therefore, while we should look to the law to teach us right from wrong, we must not look to the law for righteousness or strength. The law is not our Savior! We must look only to Christ for the removal of our guilt and for all our righteousness (see John 1:29 and Philippians 3:8,9). We must look only to the Holy Spirit for power (see Acts 1:8).
"This does not mean that the law of Moses justified from some things, but Jesus from more. Rather, the meaning is 'forgiveness for everything--which the Law never offered'..." [Leon Morris, The Cross in the New Testament, p. 138] "...Justification is basically a legal term and...it means more than pardon. It indicates that the person concerned is treated as innocent, as having been acquitted at the bar of God's justice. Christ's death is the means of conferring on us the status of being righteous in God's sight." [idem.]
"Those who are under law look, though they look in vain, for justification and sanctification by its means. They hope to enter into life by keeping the commandments... The law is their hope and dependence. ...To be...married to Christ is...to place our dependence for all we need on Him; to expect to be justified by His righteousness, sanctified by His Spirit, saved in, by, Him 'with an everlasting salvation.' It is obvious...that we must be completely free from the law in order to our being...married to Christ.... If we are under the law, we are seeking...salvation by our own doings; if we are in Christ, we are saying, 'Surely in the Lord have we righteous- ness and strength.' We cannot be doing both. We must be dead to--free from the law in order to our being united to Christ." [John Brown, Analytical Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans, p. 123-124]
"The purpose of this 'spiritual marriage...betwixt Christ and His Church'...is 'that we should bring forth fruit unto God.' It is to God's honor, as our Creator, Redeemer, and Lord, that souls wedded to Christ should not remain barren, but be fruitful...in holiness and love." [E. H. Gifford, "Romans," The Bible Commentary IX, p. 136]
"The law can pursue a man to Calvary, but no further." [D. L. Moody, Notes From My Bible, p. 152]
"The law commands and makes us know
What duties to our God we owe;
But 'tis the gospel must reveal
Where lies our strength to do His will.
"The law discovers guilt and sin,
And shows how vile our hearts have been;
Only the gospel can express
Forgiving love and cleansing grace.
"What curses does the law denounce
Against the man that fails but once!
But in the gospel Christ appears,
Pardoning the guilt of numerous years.
"My soul, no more attempt to draw
Thy life and comfort from the law:
Fly to the hope the gospel gives:
The man that trusts the promise, lives."
[Isaac Watts in "Hymns," Psalms and Hymns Adapted To Social, Private, and Public Worship in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, p. 91]
When strong homosexual feelings come over us, we experience anxiety, confusion, and depres- sion. We wonder what we really want. We feel guilty and worthless and fear that we will never be what we ought to be. If we surrender to all this, we will inevitably begin to say, "It's no use! I'll never make it. I'm a failure. Why fight any longer?" Faith, however, fights back, using the Word of God, and says:
"Father, I am struggling with homosexual temptation again. I feel divided. I want to love you, but I feel my corruption. I both hate homosexuality and want it. Sometimes I don't know who I really am. I feel I can never be what you want me to be. But Father, I will not let my corruption frighten me. Christ has received all the condemnation it deserves. In Him, I am righteous before you. In Him, I am complete (see Colossians 2:10). In Him, I measure up. I'm going to stop cutting myself down. In myself I have a long way to go, but that's all right with you. You see me in Christ and are satisfied, so I'm going to stop seeing myself as trying to measure up, and seeing you as never pleased with the outcome. I am going to see myself in Christ--righteous, whole, complete, acceptable, heterosexual--and see you accepting me completely, just where I am, and walking with me, day by day, to teach me by your Word and Spirit to live more like the complete person I am in Christ (see Philippians 1:6). I thank you that as I continue to walk with you, the completeness I now have in Christ, and will experience more and more in my life, will be fully mine in glory (see I John 3:2). Thank you, Father, for freeing me from the frustrating struggle to measure up, by imputing the righteousness of Christ to me. Thank you that I am free to simply get better instead of constantly struggling to make it. And thank you that, as I walk with you, I will one day be fully conformed to the image of your Son."
7. Was the power of homosexuality to enervate the believer broken at the cross?
"The fourth power Christ smashed at the cross is the power of Death....that spiritual, dark force which seems to break down all life energy, chipping away at your goals and eternal longings, leaving you feeling hopeless and stunned by a quiet fear that...the touch of death has rested upon all you have tried to reach for. And you feel, 'My life has been one long struggle of disappoint- ment. Why bother anymore?...'
"But God has intervened. 'As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.' I Corinthians 15:22, NEB.... Christ broke the power of death by embracing it.... He completely enveloped death and moved in upon its core to rise from within as the Bringer of Life.... Death does not now reign in the kingdom of grace that He governs. Life now reigns." [Colin Cook, Homosexuality: An Open Door?, p. 26]
"One of Faulkner's characters said: 'Between grief and nothing, I'll take grief.' But our choice is between grief and a full life." [Mildred Newman, Bernard Berkowitz, and Jean Owen, How To Be Your Own Best Friend, p. 42]
"...Without Him everything else is nothing; and none of it will continue long. Without Him the whole of life is a ridiculous cage where human squirrels keep chasing themselves about in circles, gnawing on a few moral precepts for sustenance while they stop and catch their breath!" [David MacLennan, A Preacher's Primer, p. 14]
"Christianity is not adding a burden to our life. It is adding a power, for it is adding Christ..." [Henrietta C. Mears, Thoughts For All Seasons, p. 64]
"If Christ be our Light, we shall not walk in darkness. If He be our Wisdom, we shall not err. If He be our Life, we shall never see death. If He is our Good, we shall fear no evil." [Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture III, p. 83]
"What is meant here by liberty you will first know when you ask not 'from what,' but--first-- 'for what'..." [Helmut Gollwitzer, "True Freedom," Sermons To Intellectuals From Three Continents, p. 81]
"Christians sin, but they are forgiven (1 John 1:9; 2:1). Christians sin, but they are restrained from habitual uninterrupted sinning by the work of the Spirit. In verses 22,23, we move from the multiple 'deeds' of the flesh to the singular Greek term 'fruit' of the Spirit." [John MacArthur, Jr., Liberated for Life: Galatians, p. 106-107] "The works of the flesh are many, the fruit of the Spirit is one, yet manifold. The works of the flesh are in a measure independent of each other. It cannot be said that every unregenerate man commits all of them. But he who has the Spirit of Christ has in him the root of all Christian graces." [E. H. Perowne, "The Epistle to the Galatians," The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, p. 68] "This is the pattern that ought to be seen in the believer. There will be times when we fail to walk in the Spirit, when we break the pattern, but Paul is emphasizing that the fruit must be a frequently visible reality in every true Christian." [John MacArthur, Jr., Liberated for Life: Galatians, p. 107]
"The true man trusts in a strength which is not his, and which he does not feel, does not even always desire." [George MacDonald: 365 Readings, p. 60]
"'But how can God bring this about in me?'--Let Him do it and perhaps you will know." [ibid., p. 99]
After a fall, or when facing temptation, we may find depression overwhelming us. We feel dead inside and find it difficult to pray. Nothing seems to work and we don't even want God any- more. Feeling condemned, we shut down the lines of communication and a sense of aloneness and hopelessness floods our soul. Despair engulfs us. If we surrender to these feelings, we will inevitably begin to say, "How can God have any interest in me when I have no desire for Him? What's the use? I give up!" Faith, however, fights back, using the Word of God, and says:
"Father, I bring these feelings to you. I don't feel like keeping the channels open, but I will. Father, I confess that I have no desire for you. The Bible seems stale, prayer use- less, and the church boring. I feel dead inside! But 'I thank you that this death has no power over my spirit which shares in the resurrection of Jesus. Death has no power over Him. This death-feeling is not the true me. The true me is resurrected with Christ.' [Colin Cook, Homosexuality: An Open Door?, p. 27-28] I refuse to come under the power of death. By faith I acknowledge that my spirit is alive with Christ. Thank you that as I reckon myself alive to God in Christ Jesus (see Romans 6:11), hope will revive and I will joy in you once more."
8. Can God restore what sin has marred?
"Through repentance all which had been lost by sin, is restored. In itself...sin is an irreparable evil.... God, through Christ, restores the sinner, blots out sin, and does away with its eternal consequences.... Writers of old say, 'It is pious to believe that the...grace of God which destroys a man's former evils, also reintegrates his good, and that God, when He hath destroyed in a man what is not His, loves the good which He implanted even in the sinner." [E. B. Pusey, The Minor Prophets, p. 192-193]
II Corinthians 5:17
"When Augustine, shortly after his conversion, was accosted on the street by a former mistress of his sinful and licentious days, he turned and walked in the opposite direction. Surprised, the woman cried out, 'Augustine, it is I!' But Augustine proceeded on his way as he cried back to her, 'Yes, but it is not I.'" [Clarence Edward Macartney, Great Interviews of Jesus, p. 18]
"Teach us, good Lord, to serve Thee as Thou deservest; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to ask for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward save knowing that we do Thy will." [Ignatius of Loyola in Eerdmans' Handbook to Christian Belief, p. 378]
MY EXPERIENCE WORKING STEP 4
Becoming a Christian does not mean that our faith is perfect or always strong. All too often we fail to take advantage of the treasures of grace available to us through the cross. This is especially true in times of strong temptation when our habitual emotional responses come into play and Satan uses the old feelings of guilt, shame, and fear to stampede us away from the victory Christ has already won for us at the cross.
This sometimes happens when things have been going well. Some time ago, just after working on Step 4, I invited a heterosexual man I had recently met to my apartment to get acquainted. For much of the time he was there, I had to struggle against repeated, unwanted thoughts of ways I might seduce him. While I did not yield, I had not experienced anything so powerful for over a year! I had erotic dreams about him that night. I could see no reason why I was having such feelings at that time.
While I did not fall into the old trap of hopelessness, I did have to struggle for two days to stay out of it. The old feelings that God despised me and that I'd never get free hammered away at me. I repeatedly had to drag myself into my heavenly Father's presence, asking His forgiveness for being one who could have such a struggle, claiming the cleansing power of Christ's blood, and trusting His righteousness to make me fully acceptable to God. I steadfastly refused to allow my feelings to give the lie to God's Word, but hung on for dear life to the truth that God was not angry with me and that He loved me not one whit less because of my struggles. Though I felt the power of homosexuality to tempt and torment, I refused to slip back into the belief that it still had the power to rule me--that it was the master and I was the slave. Instead, I thanked God that I was savingly joined to Christ so that when He died, I died in Him to sin; and that when He rose, I rose in Him to walk in newness of life.
The outcome? I had two days of intermittent and sometimes fierce struggle. But I did not fall, I did not masturbate, and I did not entertain fantasy, but rejected it. Homosexuality harassed me, but it could not lord it over me! "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 15:57)!
HOW YOU CAN WORK STEP 4
1) Write an account of your most recent, serious struggle with homosexual temptation in your journal. Which guns did Satan use against you--condemnation, sin, law, and/or death? How did he use them? How did you respond? How do you plan to respond when he strikes next?
2) Read aloud Psalm 27 every morning when you awake and every evening before you go to sleep, praising God that the power of homosexuality has already been broken at the cross and that He is even now restoring your true personhood.
3) Listen to the tape How To Spike the Devil's Guns under "STEP 4" on the "HA Book Ministry" list. Read Experience, Strength and Hope up to Step 5 while continuing to work in your workbook. Read Homosexuality: An Open Door? from the "HA Book Ministry" list under "FOR THOSE WANTING TO GIVE OR RECEIVE HELP WITH HOMOSEXUALITY". Continue reading the book your step coach recommended to help you with Steps 1-7. Journal what you learn from all this and share what you have written with your step coach.
4) Memorize one of the verses you found helpful in this chapter.
O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer's praise!
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!
Jesus! The name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
'Tis music in the sinner's ears,
'Tis life, and health, and peace.
On this glad day the glorious Sun
Of Righteousness arose;
On my benighted soul He shone,
And filled it with repose.
Then with my heart I first believed,
Believed with faith divine;
Power from the Holy Ghost received
To call the Savior mine.
I felt my Lord's atoning blood
Close to my soul applied;
Me, me He loved--the Son of God:
For me, for me He died.
He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.
He speaks--and listening to His voice
New life the dead receive;
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.
Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.
My gracious Master, and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of thy name.