In the beginning of John chapter 8, Jesus is presented with a situation that was intended to get him into trouble. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. John 8:2-8(NIV)
At the time of this event, teachers of the law and the Pharisees were responsible for caring for the widows. This was a very important task. The women of this day were responsible for being their husband’s wife. They were not permitted to become secretaries, clerks, waiter, etc. There was no place for women to earn money. Consequently, if a woman lost her husband, she also lost all of her financial support. These widows had two choices: they could starve or they could become a prostitute. To prevent people from being put into this position, the leaders of the Law and Pharisees were responsible for caring for these women. When Jesus said that the person who had not sinned could throw the first stone, he knew that this group of people would feel the guilt for their actions. They fully understood what Jesus was telling them. They were negligent in caring for widows. Today, we have a very similar situation that is taking place in our society. There are Christians who are to failing to teach their children what the Bible says and what it does not say. Older women and older men are instructed to teach the young men and young women what is right and what is wrong. Our failure to teach the young men and women right from wrong has caused people to reject Jesus. Most of what is written in the Bible was written for Christians – people who have accepted Jesus Christ as the sacrificial lamb that died to our sins. When we read about how Christians should behave, we automatically apply it to people who are not Christians. We also make the mistake of telling non-Christians that they cannot go to heaven if they take part in certain behaviors. First, it is not up to Christians to determine who does, or does not go to heaven. It is God’s gift of grace, accepted by faith that will get us into heaven. We cannot earn our way to heaven by doing or not doing certain activities.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10(NIV)
There is nothing that we can do that will take that gift away from us or that will make it bigger or smaller. This gift is a gift that is given to those who believe in Jesus Christ. The gift is the same for all people regardless of their past. God will not force his gift on anyone, but he has made it available for everyone, regardless of his or her sexual orientation. Faith and grace are not the same! If we fail to do what God wants us to do, we do not lose our free gift of grace. We receive grace when God receives us just as we are. He knows that we cannot live sinless lives by ourselves. Our faith, on the other hand is something that grows as we learn to follow Jesus. Likewise, it diminishes (or dies) as we fail to follow Jesus. Included in our free gift of grace, is the Holy Spirit who dwells in our lives. The Holy Spirit guides the Christians actions. The Holy Spirit teaches us how to live. It even teaches us who we should choose for a marriage partner. God’s plan for marriage has not, nor will it ever change. Only the secular definition of marriage changes according to the wishes of the people. Faith does not force us to behave in a given manner. But rather, our actions are an indications of our faith. If a person does not have the Holy Spirit dwelling in his/her life they are incapable of living by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, your only choice is to follow your fleshly nature
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13(NIV)
Christians should not expect the non-Christians to behave like Christians. In fact, we are to love them ‘as Christ loved us’. Changing how people behave is the work of the Holy Spirit, not Christians, or anybody else. People are born in sin. Every one of us started with a fleshly nature. Included in that fleshly nature, is the potential of becoming a gay or lesbian person.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:21-32(NIV)
In this passage of scripture, the writer is telling about the behavior of people who have not accepted God’s gift of grace. The writer never says, however that these people can never accept God’s gift of grace. Our behavior is the result of who we are following. When we follow our fleshly desires, we do those things that help us feel better at the time. We do the things that our flesh desires to do. However, if we crucify our fleshly desires, and are led by the Holy Spirit as Christians are instructed to do, we do things like love our neighbor, live in peace, joy, and happiness.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:16-26(NIV)
A person’s behavior is determined by who they are following. As a Christian, it is our responsibility to demonstrate God’s love to those who are not following the Holy Spirit. It is our responsibility to love other people. Love never forces itself on anyone.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:6-16(NIV)
Are we like the Pharisees and teachers of the law mention at the beginning of this blog? Do we want to throw the first stone? Why would someone want to be a Christian if we fail to live like Christ? If you are a Christian, go love someone who is in need of God’s love. Do not condemn them because they are behaving the way God said they would behave. God gave them over to their fleshly desires. God, not man, let them have their own way. Note: All scripture used in this article were downloaded from: http:// biblegateway.com