For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11·14.
Do Christians have the easy road? Some seem to think that because they believe in God, life will be smooth sailing. Actually, those choosing to live according to God’s perfect plan will face many trials and perplexities here on earth. The Christian way will not be popular or free from challenges.
However, we have not known a time in earth’s recent history that is at all reminiscent of the centuries of persecution endured by the Waldenses as they preserved God’s Word. As true believers we should count all adversity in preserving God’s perfect plan a privilege and joy, sharing all that is possible through Jesus Christ because of the cross.
Christians once suffered great physical abuse, ridicule, and even death in their quest to preserve God’s plan for us. Then it seems that the privilege to worship God and follow His ways became commonplace. Personal deviations from God’s Word to us infiltrated life with more and more elements of error—so much so that Christians have settled quite nicely into a world mixed with nonbelievers, failing to appear much different from the world other than a weekly appearance in church.
That is, until recently. In the last couple hundred years we’ve enjoyed prosperity and luxuries never known to man. We turn the TV on and off as we please and disconnect with lives around the world that are in life-threatening peril. We crawl into our comfortable beds and well-heated or air-conditioned homes and just sleep away any troubling condition. We distance ourselves from uncomfortable feelings and live by the ones that pacify our adulterated desires.
Once a week some of us grace the doorway of a local sanctuary. But even churches are undergoing contemporary changes that seem more fashionable or trendy as opposed to standing out as a preservation of God’s original plan for His children to thrive in a world that is not meant to be their home.
Puzzled? Or are you numb to the quandary we seem to be caught up in?
Dear soul, wake up!
Satan can present a counterfeit so closely resembling the truth that it deceives those who are willing to be deceived, who desire to shun the self-denial and sacrifice demanded by the truth; but it is impossible for him to hold under his power one soul who honestly desires, at whatever cost, to know the truth. The Great Controversy, p. 528.
We’re drunk with desire and an insatiable appetite for the unbridled pleasures of the flesh. Lack of self-discipline and adherence to Satan’s deceptions brought on through our “feelings” are robbing us of eternal life with our Creator, who went to great lengths to help us recognize our dire need of Him.
When was the last time you encountered a Christian who confessed to you their deep need of the life-sustaining power offered by our Savior?
What visible public decision have you expressed recently that set you apart from those in your presence, causing you to appear “peculiar” and uncompromising, declaring your faith in the Author of life itself? What sets you apart from this world, which is heavily shadowed by the Prince of Darkness?
You should keep off from Satan’s enchanted ground and not allow your minds to be swayed from allegiance to God. Through Christ you may and should be happy and should acquire habits of self-control. Even your thoughts must be brought into subjection to the will of God and your feelings under the control of reason and religion. Your imagination was not given you to be allowed to run riot and have its own way without any effort at restraint or discipline.
If the thoughts are wrong, the feelings will be wrong, and the thoughts and feelings combined make up the moral character. When you decide that as Christians you are not required to restrain your thoughts and feelings, you are brought under the influence of evil angels and invite their presence and their control. Mind, Character, and Personality, p. 660.
David confessed, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). You may have struggled with many a sin issue from your youngest years. My struggle began while shaped in the womb by a birth mother who only gave consideration and allowance to having a precious little baby girl. Rage, anguish, turmoil, and abuse resulted upon my arrival as an unwanted bellowing baby boy. Imagine what Satan began to do with that. Imagine how he began to whisper lies and sought to control my “feelings” of desire for another male since a female was refusing and confusing me.
Some of you might say you are sick of the discussion of homosexuality. But by contrast, we have only begun to explore the pent-up dark secrets of deception. As Christians in the Adventist faith, we have ignored this vital conversation for nearly 150 years. With the exposition of truth, hope, and forgiveness, eternal life is made possible by our merciful Father.
Now that we are finally giving light to the discussion of “feelings,” we can begin to see how the enemy has deceived us, using our “feelings” to bring on a host of temptations. We can no longer afford not to become God’s “peculiar” people. We must discover and claim the truth He has lovingly provided us for the salvation of our lives. Please don’t turn a blind eye or cave in to the worldview of “acceptance just the way you are.”
There isn’t a day I didn’t know same-sex attraction. But there was a day that I decided to cave in to my “feelings,” which were out of alignment with God’s Word. Temptation won out, and I gave up the battle and heeded the call of the enemy.
The Lord permits His people to be subjected to the fiery ordeal of temptation, not because He takes pleasure in their distress and affliction, but because this process is essential to their final victory. He could not, consistently with His own glory, shield them from temptation, for the very object of the trial is to prepare them to resist all the allurements of evil. The Great Controversy, p. 528.
For 55 years I listened to the whisperings that confirmed my same-sex attraction, and I allowed the enemy to direct my paths. God would not force me to adhere to His perfect plan. He never said I had to marry or engage in erotic relations with a woman. However, ever present were His explanations about the cost of sin and its influences on humanity today. He promised that I can still choose Him even in my fallen nature.
How? Christ also walked this earth tempted by the evil one, and He offers me the same strength to claim the rich victory He won for me. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Today there are campaigns dealing with homosexuality that instruct you to live by your “feelings.” “Be who you are,” they say. Even a film on this topic whose participants and producers claim to be Adventists never asks, “What does Jesus ask of me?” “What is possible through Him?” “What pleases and honors Him?”
Has He forsaken us? Has He left us helpless? Are we without a Redeemer? Or are we put off by the involvement of “human effort”?
Human effort avails nothing without divine power; and without human endeavor, divine effort is with many of no avail. To make God’s grace our own, we must act our part. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. . . . Those who walk in the path of obedience will encounter many hindrances. Strong, subtle influences may bind them to the world; but the Lord is able to render futile every agency that works for the defeat of His chosen ones; in His strength they may overcome every temptation, conquer every difficulty. God’s Amazing Grace, p. 252.
Dear reader, you are being fought over. You have been purchased with the precious blood of Jesus, who left a perfect heavenly home and came to your aid. Yet, as in the Garden of Eden where the lies were first believed, He will not force you to live in agreement with Him. Humility and self-denial are necessary components to accepting the gift He purchased for you and me.
God allowed me to experience life-severing choices. I pursued self-gratification. I justified my sin. I had suffered rejection from my birth mother and from countless people thereafter, as I certainly didn’t fit the norm of society. Wasn’t I due whatever made me “feel” better? My focus was self-absorbed.
The whole time Jesus offered me a focus on Him. I resisted. I refused. But Romans 8:1 tells me that He continued to love me even as a sinner—but not without hope that I would one day turn an ear toward Him and listen to His promises and allow Him to instill remorse and sorrow for the sin I indulged in. He’s done that for you, too. He never gives up.
I believe that He will not leave behind any heart that would be softened to His call. He alone knows who will respond. He preserves those who will answer.
His mercy and grace are incomparable with anything offered on this tired old earth. You want to know how He won me? He let me know that I had been blaming Him for all that needs to be put on Satan. Satan caused my confusion. Jesus revealed to me that I didn’t know Him. I hadn’t lived to please and agree with Him. I had reveled in bitterness and sought to fix what only Jesus can heal. He is the Great Physician. After contemplating all that He offers, I finally surrendered and submitted my life to Him, choosing all that is possible through Him, not in me. Continued, powerful intercessory prayer by my loved ones aided in this process.
At my baptism just over five years ago, I asked the pastor to read a beautiful passage found in Isaiah 44:22: “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
There are many churches you can attend today that will affirm you for who you are. They will provide you with pablum. They’ll keep you on a “feel-good” diet and never challenge your relationship with your Creator. Is that what you desire? What will be your statement of defense on the coming Day of Judgment? Can you not see God’s once-in-a-lifetime offer? The breath you receive each day is a precious gift from God and can be snuffed out instantly without notice. Can we afford the idea of living to satisfy our desires, or will we humbly consider His? He knows you—He desires you for all eternity.
Eternal life comes with a price. Jesus suffered for you and is asking if you would suffer for Him so that you might understand in some degree the cost of heaven. Rebellion will not be repeated. It had too high a cost. God is just and fair and rewards our faith. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Today I am blessed to testify for Him in a ministry of His, Coming Out Ministries (www.comingoutministries.org). My colleagues and I live to share all that is possible through Jesus. We now dispel ignorance by educating those who are seeking to reach out with God’s redeeming love. We have chosen to become a “peculiar” people, and it is in this that we overcome the enemy. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11).