Transformation By Faith

The main purpose of my previous post was that all understand, the goal for every believer is to be made more and more into the image of Jesus.   Therefore, a born again believer coming out of homosexuality must understand this is God’s will and goal for them as well; the goal is not heterosexuality/marriage.  If this is your focus, it can and most likely will derail your faith.  So how did the proper goal for change affect me, as I sought to come out of homosexuality and be transformed into the person God wanted me to be.

I am blessed to have a glorious day I can recall where I gave my heart, my mind, and my soul to Jesus and became a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).  When I prayed that day to receive Christ as my Savior and Lord, I asked Him to take control of my life and make me the person He wanted me to be.  And I meant it!  And God knew my heart.  With me in control of my life, I had only made a mess of it.  When I prayed that morning, I was filled with a deep inner peace I had never known before, and while I cried tears of joy, I also experienced a tremendous weight lift off of my shoulders.

sin-300x300 I had the life of Christ inside of me, in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and was experiencing His joy and peace. And the burden of my sin had been lifted.  I knew God was real and God was personal!

Now, lest some of you have alarm bells going off concerning “emotional experiences”, I took to heart an important reminder/warning given in the tract I was reading.  Now that I had received Christ, do not depend on feelings.  But depend on God’s Word.  The promises of His Word, not our feelings, are our authority.  The Christian is to live by faith in the trustworthiness of God and His Word.  This understanding was so important on so many levels coming out of homosexuality.

The same-sex attractions/feelings did not go away the day I was saved.  Would they?  It was my hope from the very beginning that God would heal me so that I would become a person with true heterosexual desires, etc.  Very soon after I was saved, I agreed with God that not only was I a sinner, but that the homosexual lifestyle was sinful (Rom 1: 26-27; 1 Cor. 6: 9-10). By faith, 1 Corinthians 6:11 gave me great hope:  “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 God.”

I remember thinking, “wow, the Bible says the homosexual can change”.  I believed it would be part of the sanctification process where God was making me more and more like Jesus.  So I didn’t make it a continual focus or goal for my life.  When the same-sex attractions would surface, and they would for several years, I had a clear choice to make.  Would I obey God’s Word, or seek to reinterpret it in order to fulfill my sexual attractions/feelings.  Would I let these same-sex attractions derail my faith?  Or would I walk by faith, choosing to take God at His word and not walk by my feelings.

Here is the main point I am trying to make.  Very soon after I was saved, I gained a very important biblical understanding of what faith is and what it is not. It was so important that in my book, Love Flowed Down, I have given a whole chapter to the importance of faith.

548805_127191927421624_757325883_n-1

The Bible tells us we are saved by faith and that we are to walk by faith (Eph. 2:8; 2 Cor. 5:7).   All true believers in Jesus Christ are to live by faith.  Faith is not just something we know; faith is something we do.  James tells us we are to be doers of His word and not hearers only (James 1:22).  Consequently, we practice living, active faith when we are obedient to the Word of God.  But here is a very important question:  What gets in the way of our obedience to what God is speaking to us through His Word?  Our feelings and our circumstances get in the way and cause unbelief.  Faith is choosing to take God at His word no matter what our feelings or circumstances are telling us.  This is the reality of walking by faith.

For me and for others coming out of homosexuality, a biblical understanding of what faith is and what it is not is essential for us to walk in a manner worthy of our God.  Living active faith operates quite simply.  Let’s look at it one more time.  God speaks through His Word; we trust Him and His Word, and we will ourselves to take Him at His Word, no matter what the circumstances are around us, or what the consequences may be.  We obey God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.  Our feelings may tell us the circumstances are impossible and the consequences may look frightening, but by real faith, we can obey God and His Word in every situation.   In other words, faith is choosing to take God at His Word, not walking by our feelings that are influenced by circumstances and by fiery darts Satan might be shooing at our minds, which cause wrong thinking (Eph. 6:16; 1 Peter 5:8-9).

So, when I’d struggle with same-sex attractions/feelings (that I didn’t want), I’d pray, “Lord, You know it is not my desire to act upon them.  So, I’m going to walk by faith, choosing to take You at Your Word and not walk according to these feelings!  I believe in Your time, You will take them away… You will heal me.”  I knew God was conforming me to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29) and I believed He would complete the work He had started in me.  Faith gave me victory over these times of temptation, and I trusted Him to continue to change me more and more into the image of Christ.  Next time, I’ll take this discussion to an even more personal level by sharing a couple excerpts from my journal, when I was only a year and a half old in the Lord.  You will see how this understanding of faith affected my walk with Jesus.

In closing out this post, if you dear reader, are a young believer and the same-sex attractions are still there… hang in there, and walk by faith, not by feelings.  Be encouraged by the wonderful promise found in Philippians 1:6:  “being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (NKJV italics added… notice it is a transformation process).  Do you believe this promise (and so many other promises) in His Word that can encourage and give you hope?  Why do I ask?  Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).  If you are a brother or sister in Christ, this post (and all the others on the BOHM Blog) is written to help you better minister to the one in your life struggling with same-sex attractions.

In closing, we all must allow Jesus to be the Lord of our lives.  Stay yielded to His will for your life and let Him work.  He will make us into the man or woman He wants us to be, so that when we see Him face to face, we shall be like Him.  Praise the Lord!  Until that day, He has a storehouse of blessings He wants to open up for use in our lives, that cancels the past, equips you for the present and secures the future.  It’s called grace… and it is sufficient!  Do you believe?

 

The Goal of Change

The issue of “change” is as complex as every other question concerning homosexuality.  Many say that one cannot “change” their sexuality (sexual attractions); so therefore, “change” is pointless to consider.  And furthermore, they say, it is harmful to try and change their sexuality.  There are others who insist that presenting the idea of “change” to a gay or lesbian suggests that one is trying to push heterosexuality and therefore, suggesting that heterosexuality is superior to homosexuality.  The third camp, on the other side of this argument, says that since some have changed, anyone and everyone can “change”.  Are you in one of these three camps?  All three of these are really misconceptions about change.  The thinking behind these statements is not correct.

We must define change… biblical change.  The people that surround this debate, for the most part, misunderstand the idea of “change”.  Here in lies the problem:  both sides falsely assume that “change” means a person being restored to full-heterosexuality.  This was my thinking for a time.  This means that a person never struggles with or is tempted by same-sex attractions again, and they eventually get married.  Both sides state that if these things do not occur then the person is not “changed”.

Well, this assumption fails on so many levels and keeps many people from experiencing the abundant life that God offers us through Jesus Christ (John 10:10b).

I have read or heard the testimonies of “ex-gay” men and women who were born again, but did not think they were experiencing biblical change because they were still experiencing and/or struggling with same-sex attractions.  Some were convinced they will never experience “change” and even concluded it was because God was punishing them… and at times they thought He even hated them.  Some of the thoughts they would entertain were the following:  If He really loved me, He would take these feelings away.  Why doesn’t He make me straight like my friends?  Why couldn’t I struggle with the lust for the opposite-sex, instead of the same-sex?

Here’s the problem.   When we make the goal of “change” heterosexuality and/or marriage, our thinking is faulty.  The end result of one’s journey out of homosexuality is not marriage, nor is it to become “straight thinking”.  Think about it.  Is it really biblical to trade one lust for another?  All lust is bad.

So, if this isn’t the goal of change, what should it beWell, all true believers in Jesus Christ experience change.  This change is not about making all believers heterosexual, is it?  No, the true change is about being made new in the image of Christ.  (2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 5:1)

Think with me for a minute.  Believers often quote Romans 8:28… “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose”then we stop.  But our question should be, what is the good that God promises to bring about in our lives?  The answer:  Christ-likeness.  The next verse declares,  “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren”  (Romans 8:29).  God predestined, or marked out before, that we (believers) be conformed to the image of His Son.  That’s the goal of change.  God not only saves us; He also begins to transform us into the His image.

How is this accomplished in you and me, all sinners saved by grace?  It begins at salvation with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and it continues to be achieved through three things:  our proper relationship to God, our response to the Word of God, and the suffering that attends the life of every child of God.  And for the one coming out of homosexuality, suffering or trial may be dealing with same-sex attractions, not allowing them to derail your new life in Christ, while God continues His work in your life to make you more like Jesus.  “Change” happens for everyone, but how much or how little, depends on the person.  Many who make these three things a priority in their lives, are able to leave their same-sex attractions behind,, 100%, and marry.  Others are able to deal with their attractions, and not succumb to them, and either get married or live a life of celibacy.  It’s about changing how one lives their life.

Yes, marriage is a wonderful thing; and I hope many people who deal with same-sex attractions can experience it (with the opposite sex).  But marriage does not make you a “man” or “woman”.  We, the church of Jesus Christ, must take this expectation and burden off of our brothers and sisters who deal with same-sex attractions-especially those who truly have no desire to date, or marry the opposite sex.

The “change” process involves cleansing one’s heart of the past (we all had one, not just the homosexual), and seeing and doing things God’s way (1John 1:8-10, 1Cor. 6:11).  We must view life as God views it.  True “change” involves embracing the Father’s unconditional love; and loving Him right back, by taking hold of His promises and claiming them as our own (Rom. 5:5, 8; John 14:21).  It’s about walking in the truth of God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:16-18), and living life from God’s perspective, focused on Him and His perfect will for our lives!

If you can only get one thing from this post, may it be the following:  For the born again believer coming out of homosexuality, the goal for change is not heterosexuality and/or marriage.  It is to be made more and more into the image of Jesus.  Every true Christian undergoes this transformation process (sanctification).  The Christian faith is about making disciples who live in their identity as God’s child, and who walk in His power and for His glory.  It’s about people who have been captured by God’s incredible love and abounding grace, desiring above all else to live for Him.  And may we all be “confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it…”  (Phil 1:6).  So be it!

Next time, I’ll share how having the proper goal for change played out in my life and how it helped me deal with the same-sex attractions that did not go away as soon as I was born again.  To God be the glory!