Introduction: Hello, and welcome to this message from Pastor Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque. We pray that God uses these teachings to restore lives with his unconditional love. If this message inspires you to follow him, we'd like to know. Email us at email@example.com. And if you'd like to support this ministry financially, you can give online securely at calvaryabq.org/giving. Jesus loves everyone and is compassionate toward all people. Unfortunately, the church has historically been unkind to certain groups of people, and in this series we want to make the statement that Jesus Loves People. In this message "Jesus Loves Homosexuals - Part Two," Skip shows us that everyone can be freed from sin. Let's turn to First Corinthians, chapter 6, as he begins.
Skip Heitzig: A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege on the way back from Iraq to stop in Jordan. And in Jordan a friend of ours, who's a part of this fellowship, is the chief archaeologist of the dig of historical Sodom in the Bible. And I have read about it, and I have seen articles about it, and even documentaries on his dig, but I've never gotten to see it. So you just have to imagine the kind of excitement as he would bend down and point to a layer of ash that that dig, along with soil samples of the area, give evidence to an event that happened, an air-burst event of incredibly high heat at an incredible velocity that they have tracked that decimated the city in an instant. It was so exciting to see that with your own eyes something the Bible says happened.
At the same time, it was incredibly sad to see exactly what the Bible said happened. It was a very sobering moment. And I was standing there thinking of a lot of the text that are familiar to most of us about Sodom and Gomorrah. Even Jesus spoke about those two cities. But one that came to mind is out of the book of Jude. It says, "Don't forget the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and neighboring towns, which were filled with sexual immorality and every kind of sexual perversion. Those cities were destroyed by fire and are a warning of the eternal fire that will punish all those who are evil." Very, very sobering moment to see that in the ground. We have been and are dealing with a very, very controversial subject of our time, and we have decided to put it in the positive---"Jesus Loves Homosexuals."
But it was Ruth Graham, before she died and went to heaven, who used to say to her husband, Billy Graham, "If God does not judge the United States of America, he's going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." Why did we choose the list that we have chosen, the people that are on the list that you see week by week on the little runners that play on the video? People have asked that. "Are you suggesting that homosexuality and terrorism are the same?" Or, "Are you saying that those who are divorced or have addictive behaviors are equivalent to murderers?" No. The reason we have picked the list that we have picked is simply because we've discovered that the church historically has been very good at alienating those groups of people and not really great at showing compassion to them.
One church, for example, puts out signs like this: "God hates fags," "Fags die, God laughs." That's a smidgen what they put out. We thought this is a better message to get out, that Jesus loves homosexuals. Last week we had such an overwhelming amount of positive feedback at how helpful it was, and we want to reinforce today some of what we looked at last week. But we're aware of something that has been happening in our culture for some time. We know that homosexuality as a topic is the cause du jour. It's the cause of the day in our culture, from elementary school curriculum to films and movies, to talking points of politicians in every political cycle. There is a massive effort to redefine and reclassify what is traditionally been viewed in homosexuality or as homosexuality.
And the redefinition is, "It's not a sin, it's a very, very acceptable and normal lifestyle; in fact, even a noble lifestyle. Because, after all, the person who is discovering this about himself or herself is simply living in a more honest way and living as God has made him or her. And just like you would never tell a left-handed person to become a right-handed writer, you would never tell somebody who has a leaning toward something sexually to prefer anything but that." And so the message of that community and politicians and curriculums and movies, etcetera is, "We will not change our behavior, so you must change your classification of our behavior. You are free to see what we do as an alternate lifestyle. You are free to see it as a sexual orientation. You are free to see it as a genetic predisposition or as personal preference. But one thing you cannot---you must not see it as is sin. Don't bring God into this."
And you see, that's the problem I've had with any lifestyle chosen by anyone is usually God is the very last person anyone thinks of. And so I'd like to look at First Corinthians, chapter 6, with you today and share with you three truths. These are true about all people from all walks of life who have come to Christ: everyone is on a list, everyone has a past, everyone can have the best. Let's look at our text together in First Corinthians, the sixth chapter. There are only three verses. Verse 9, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites"---before you nod too much, look at the next verse---"nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."
"And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God." Boy that is quite a list. When I was a kid they told me Santa Claus was "making a list and checking it twice." It's what I didn't like about him. [laughter] I was glad the day I found out he wasn't real. [laughter] What a list this is. This sounds like God's blacklist. This sounds like a roll call for the Hall of Shame. What's up with this list and those that are mentioned on it? Well, what you have here in these verses is a summation, a conclusion to the previous chapter of this book, chapter 5, and the beginning of chapter 6, where the apostle Paul addresses immoral behavior in the church at Corinth.
It's not an exhaustive list of sins, but it is a typical list for ancient Greco-Roman culture and especially the city of Corinth to whom Paul was writing. These things were rampant in that culture. Corinth was a very permissive society. It was a very sexually promiscuous society, very similar to our own. Years ago in the Victorian era when Charles Haddon Spurgeon addressed his congregation, he said on one account: "All sorts of hearers come to this place, and they will be the first to say, 'The preacher should not mention such a subject as fornication.' My answer to that remark is, 'Then you should not commit such iniquity and give me a reason to speak of it.' " Well, that's how Paul felt when he wrote this letter. This kind of behavior was so mainstream to Corinth that he highlights it in two chapters of his book.
And what he's really saying in these verses is, "This is what you guys were. This is what you used to practice. This is your life BC, 'before Christ.' But now you've come to Christ and now you're changed." And so he makes a list. And everybody's on some list: "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." But let's briefly look at it. First on this list is "fornicators." You'll be familiar with the term when I say it in Greek: pornos. It's a general term for sexual immorality. We get the term "pornography" from pórnoi or pornos or pernaō. And in this context it seems to refer more specifically to sexual relationships outside of marriage---people who shack up, live together, enjoy sex before they get married---which, by the way, is one of the characteristics of Western culture.
When was the last time you ever saw a film that didn't have this as the norm? It's just what everybody has done. Don't even blink an eye at it. Next on the list is "idolaters." That's the worship of any false god or any false religious system. It is essentially, at its root, putting anything before God. "Adulterers" is next. That specifically refers to those who are married engaging in sex outside of the covenant relationship of marriage. It's what we saw last week with the woman caught in adultery in John, chapter 8, who was brought before Jesus. But look at the next two words: "nor homosexuals, nor sodomites." Now this wasn't referring to people who lived in the city of Sodom at that time. This word had become a term synonymous with the lifestyle that was once prevalent in that city.
This is not how all translations render what we just read. The old King James Version puts it, "nor those who are effeminate, nor abusers." This English Standard Version says, "nor those men who practice homosexuality." Now these two words, interestingly enough, are actually technical terms for the passive and active roles in a homosexual relationship. Now why would Paul be so dramatic, you might say, or be so descriptive in mentioning these things? Well, here's why, it's very easy: that was what was prevalent in that ancient culture at Corinth. According to New Testament scholar William Barclay, Socrates was a homosexual and Plato was probably a homosexual. William McDonald, another scholar, says he definitely was, and his writing the Symposium of love was an essay glorifying homosexuality.
Fourteen of the first fifteen Roman emperors were homosexuals. Caesar Nero who was reigning in Rome at the time of Paul's life. And a lot of his writing had a boy named Sporus, whom he castrated, so that that young boy could become the emperor's wife. And when Nero died, that boy was passed on as a possession to one of his successors named Otho for the same exact purpose. So that is why Paul brings it up. This was rampant in Greek and Roman culture. But let me ask you this question: Why do these things top the list? And I think I have an answer for it. Because though there are other sins in life and in this list, these represent a moral divide when it comes to sin, a moral divide. You say, "Now wait a minute, Skip. Aren't all sins equal?"
Well, in one sense all sins are equal, but in another sense all sins are not equal. All sins are equal in that any sin will separate you from God. So, all sins are equal in their spiritual consequence. But not all sin is equal in its moral equivalence. None of you think that all sin is equal. None of you do. Lying to someone isn't the same as killing someone. There's a moral difference. They are not morally equivalent. And the Bible would indicate that there are degrees of reward in heaven and even degrees of punishment for those who don't receive Christ. In John 19 verse 11, Jesus said to Pontius Pilate, "The one who delivered me to you has the greater sin," as if held to a higher culpability. In Matthew 23 verse 23, Jesus said to the Pharisees, "You pay tithes of all of [these different plants], but you have neglected the weightier matters of the law."
And according to First Corinthians, chapter 6, the chapter we're studying, sexual immorality is one sin that you commit against your own body. Paul says this is a bit different. Look at verse 18 of chapter 6, "Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does outside---or is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body." So here's the deal: you and I may disagree over a lot of secondary issues---we might not agree about the mode of baptism. Some of you think that you should be dunked backwards. Some of you think you should be dunked forward. Some of you think you should be sprinkled. Some of you think you should be fire hosed. I don't know. [laughter] But we may disagree on that. We may disagree about the use of spiritual gifts in the church. A lot of churches disagree.
We may disagree about the timing of the rapture and end-time events. But this is one issue we cannot disagree on, and here's why: issues of sexual morality are not secondary issues. According to what we just read, those who practice these things will not---what?---will not inherit the kingdom of God. So now the apostle ties morality with entering the kingdom of God, as if to say those who practice that lifestyle are simply giving evidence that there's not a change in their life brought on by repentance. According to Sean McDowell, who wrote a terrific book called Same-Sex Marriage, he says there are five general biblical truths about homosexuality. Let me run through them quickly, five general biblical truths.
Number one: There is not a single passage in either the Old Testament or New Testament that will support homosexual behavior, not one. I mentioned there are seven texts last week: Genesis 19, Leviticus 18 and 20, Judges 19, Romans 1, First Corinthians 6, and First Timothy, chapter 1. Not one of those texts will support homosexual behavior. Here's the second general truth: Not until the mid-twentieth century did a single church leader or Jewish leader affirm homosexuality. That's how recent it is. Historically hadn't happened till mid-twentieth century. Number three: Every regulation in the Bible concerning marital relations assumes male-female sex. Number four: Every wise saying, like in the book of Proverbs, assumes male-female sexuality.
And, number five: The Ten Commandments assume heterosexuality. "Honor your Father and your mother"---it assumes that. "You shall not commit adultery"---it assumes that. "You shall not covet your neighbor's wife"---it assumes heterosexual behavior. So, God indeed has spoken on this issue. In fact, he spoke on this issue in the very beginning book of Genesis, chapter 1. When God said, "Let us make man in our image," it says, "God made them male and female." Why "male and female"? Why so unique and why highlight the uniqueness? Because he then stated his goal for humanity. He said, "Be fruitful and"---what?---"multiply." Now, I don't think anybody's going to argue that it takes a man and a woman to make more people. If you're going to be fruitful and multiply, it assumes a heterosexual relation.
And then the pattern is given in the very next chapter, chapter 2 of Genesis: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined unto his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." There's leaving, there's cleaving, and there's weaving. You leave one relationship of dependence, you are glued inseparably to another, and then you become one. You weave your lives together through the production of offspring. Now, in having said that, the critics will say about what I just said this. They will say, "Well, that example in Genesis is only an example, only one example of marriage. It doesn't tell us how we are to live today." Well, Jesus has a response for that, and I'm glad that he does.
Because a few thousand years after all of that took place in Genesis, Jesus comes along and he says, "Have you not read that he who made them in the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined unto his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? Therefore what God has joined, let not man separate.' " And he said, "So they are no longer two, but one flesh." I mean no disrespect in stating what I have just stated. I mean no lack of love. I love you. And if you are gay, I love you and God loves you. But I will say that when it comes to all love, all respect on a human level, even with wife and kids, even with other believers in church, I love God more and I must fear and respect God more. "[I] must," as it says in the book of Acts, "obey God rather than men."
So everyone has---is on a list of some kind. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Here's a second great truth I want you to notice: everyone has a past. Everyone has a past. All of us have baggage, junk in the trunk. [laughter] We have a past. I didn't even finish the list. Verse 10, ". . . nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." Okay, those aren't first on the list, but they're on the list. But notice what it says, "And such were some of you." "Thieves" and "covetous," that's the sin of greed. It's, "I want what you have." It's that that idea. "Thieves" and "covetous" are wrapped up in the sin of greed. When is the last time you met someone who is satisfied with his income? "Oh, I-I'm satisfied."
Okay, so next time at work when they say, "We're going to give you a raise," you're going to say, "No. I-I'm-I'm good. [laughter] I don't need---I don't deserve it. I'm fine." I rarely find anybody like that. Next on the list, "drunkards"; that's pretty self-evident, self-explanatory. By the way, wherever you find sexual sin rampant, you're sure to find alcohol. "Revilers," these---now-now take note of this, because you might be going, "Whew! I'm glad I'm none of those people." "Revilers" are those who sin with their tongue. They're slanderers. They wound with their words. These are gossips. They're on the list. "Extortioners," those who steal indirectly. They want to beat the system. They want to embezzle. They want to cheat. So everyone is on a list and everyone has a past.
And you might look at verse 9 and say, "Can't relate," and then you get to verse 10, you go, "Heeww, a little too close for comfort." That's why if you read this passage, and you read verse 9 about adulterers and idolaters, and you go, "Whew! I'm not like those people," but do you get drunk? Because if you do, you have missed the whole point of this passage. Now, let me ask you a question: When is the last time or have you ever seen Christians marching in Washington, D.C., against gossip? Isn't that a thought? Ever see that kind of a march? Ever see that kind of an anti-sin parade? "We're going to march against gossipers." Ever seen church groups holding up signs that say, "God hates extortioners, revilers"?
That'd be kind of ironic, wouldn't it? One of the reasons Christians are more harsh and more judgmental on this particular sin is perhaps because we think we are more righteous and better than other people. Remember the passage in Luke 18? "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, one a tax collector. And the Pharisee said, 'God, I thank you that I'm not like other men---especially like that tax collector.' And the other guy beat his breast and just said, 'God, be merciful to me, I'm a sinner!' " Jesus said, "That man went away justified." There was a son who was dying of AIDS. I got a copy of his letter. It was given to me. This young man was writing a final letter to his father.
Listen to these words, just a portion: "Dad, I'm too weak to write, so I've asked Kevin," that's his brother, "to write this for me. Since you never phone me and you hang up the phone whenever I call you, there is no other way for me to say good-bye." That was the last communication attempt that son made to his father who had cut him off and shunned him completely. Now, look back at the passage. The central thought of this passage is simply this, Paul is saying this: Whatever is on this list that you did, it's what you did, it's not what you do. "And such were some of you," not "such are some of you." Listen, if you claim to be a Christian and you once practiced these things, that's understandable, but you can't be a Christian and still continue to practice any of these things.
That's his main point in that one verse. That is, by the way, why we should be merciful to people. Because when you see somebody committing a sin that you used to do, he's simply doing what you used to do. You don't do it anymore. God has saved you. So whenever you approach somebody caught unto sin, you gotta let the rocks out of your hand. You gotta drop those stones. Like Jesus said to the woman last week, there's only one person who qualifies to throw stones; and that is, anamartétos: "without sin," you've never sinned, you're incapable of sin. And it's interesting, is it not, the only person in that narrative who is qualified to throw stones didn't do it? Drop the rocks.
Galatians, chapter 6, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently, but watch yourself or you also may be tempted." Everyone's on a list. Everyone's has a past. Here is the best point of all, though: Everyone can have the best. And the best verse out of all of these, the good news in the bad news is verse 11. "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our Lord." Notice the way that's worded. You know, if I was writing this, I would have simply said, "But you were washed, and sanctified, and justified." Three times he says, "But you were . . .but you were . . . but you were," and that is because it is the strongest, adversative participle in Greek.
And he does it three times to show the demarcation line, the difference between past and present, to demonstrate the contrast. Now look at those three words: "But you were washed." When you came to Christ, and you were born again, out of that sprang new life, and that's what this is speaking about. A new life is a result of that new birth. I've said it so many times, that God loves you just the way you are, but he loves you too much to leave that way. He washes you. When you come to him the way you are, he then cleans you up. Notice the second: "but were sanctified." Now this is the new behavior that comes from the new life that is a result of the new birth. So once he washes you, he polishes you. And notice the third: "but you were justified." This is a new status before God.
And to follow my little analogy, he washes you, he polishes you, and then he puts you in a position of honor. R. T. Kendall, a theologian and pastor, said, "If I were looking for a motive to be sexually pure, it would be not only to be true to my wife and a good father to my children, but I want God to look down and say, 'Here is a man I can trust with my Holy Spirit in great measure.' " Ooh, to me that is the most compelling reason of all is when you bring God into any lifestyle early on, that's what you get. Yeah, there's plenty of reasons to stay pure---wife, children, job, friends---but more than that I want God to look down and say, "Here is a man that I can trust with my Holy Spirit in great measure."
Now, all three of these terms in verse 11---"washed," "sanctified," and "justified"---these are all three terms that tell us what God does to believers in relation to their sin. Please notice this: He washes you from your sin. He sanctifies you from the stain of your sin. He justifies you from the consequences of your sin. You see, folks, to label some behavior as "sin," even though that's so repulsive to our modern ears, is actually quite helpful. It's helpful for two reasons. Reason number one, like we said last week when Jesus called what the woman did "sin": it frames for us how God views our behavior that is wrong. He doesn't call it a hang-up. He says it's sin. And here's the second reason: because it's sin, that's precisely why it is forgivable. Get the drift? "That is such a sin!" Good, he qualifies to be saved.
He's met the qualification. You gotta be a sinner. And because it's sin, it's forgivable. And it also means that sinful people are redeemable. I know historically, traditionally many Christians have been sin sniffers, but God is a sin fixer. He's a sin fixer. So whatever you were, whatever list you were on, whatever past you have had, you can have the best. I go to a car wash and they have different options to choose when you take your car in, and one of them is called the "The Best." So I was in the other day, and my car was dirty and I pulled up. And they said, "Which service would you like?" And I said, "I want 'The Best.' " And the attendant turned and he said, " 'The Best' for the best." [laughter] And I thought about that, that's precisely what we're talking about.
God will give the best for the best. Do you know you are the crowning of God's creation, mankind in the image of God? You're the best. God gave his best, his Son to die for our sins, so that you and I can be washed and sanctified and justified. Think of it, you can go from the ash heap of sin and be welcomed into the kingdom of God. God's in the business of cleaning sinners and turning them into saints. Remember this as we close: God always has bigger plans for you than you have for yourself. Do you realize that? We too often settle for second best or third or fourth, or we go way down the line. God always has bigger and better plans for you than you have for yourself. And this, this is the best---to be washed, to be sanctified, to be justified.
Our Father, the apostle always had such a way, such a Spirit-inspired way of summing up these great truths. This is who we once all were. Every Christian is an ex-something. This is what we used to live like. All of us are on a list, all of us have a past, but all of us can experience the very best. Thank you for that. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for hope. And I pray for anyone who may be here today, Lord, who is feeling a bit hopeless, at the end of their rope. Or maybe they have tried things that haven't fulfilled them up to this point and they're-they're just tired of it. They're here, but inside they're chewed up, they're worn out.
Before we leave today, with our eyes closed, our heads bowed, we're thinking about maybe different parts of this message, but just sort of the-the sum of it all is you would love to know that you can be forgiven by God, washed from the past, whatever that past is, whatever list you maybe on. But all of us are part of some list, some past. But you would like to know there's more to life than what you've experienced, that all of the past sin can be washed away, and you can have a brand-new start before God. And if you are willing to give your life to Jesus Christ, you are willing to turn from whatever past that is---the Bible calls it repentance, to turn from sin and to turn to Christ. And he'll give you the power to do it. If you're willing to do that, I want to pray for you, but I'd like to know who I'm praying for.
So if that describes you, as our heads are bowed and eyes closed, I'll see your hand. Just raise your hand up in the air and just keep it up for a moment. God bless you and you and you, to my right, toward the back, in the middle toward the back, up front, in the middle, on the side---all around this auditorium. Anybody else? Raise that hand up---in the back. Father, I do pray---we do pray, we join prayers for all of these. You know the depth of their experience. You know their background. You know their thoughts. You know the actions they have committed. And you love them. You love them. And we love them for Christ's sake. I pray that in love, Lord, a new life would develop.
Wherever you are seated, you raised your hand up, would you just say right where you're at: I admit, God, that I'm a sinner and I'm sorry. Forgive me. I believe in Jesus Christ, that he died on a cross for my sin, that he bled for me, and that he rose from the dead for me. I believe that, and I turn from my sin, Lord. Help me to do that. I turn from my past, I leave it in the past, and I turn toward you, to you as my Savior and Lord. Help me to live a life pleasing to you. Show me how it's done, in Jesus' name, amen.
Closing: Everyone has some kind of past, but when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, he gives us new life. That's good news we shouldn't keep to ourselves. How will you tell others about the love of Jesus? Let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can give financially to this work at calvaryabq.org/giving. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Albuquerque.