OBEY JESUS CHRIST AS SAVIOR AND LORD
When one turns to the Lord in sincere faith and repentance, their baptism into Christ is the source of great blessings. As the apostle Peter proclaimed in the first gospel message on the Day of Pentecost:
“…Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Ac 2:38)
Notice carefully that when one is baptized upon repentance that there is first the “remission of sins.” By the blood of Christ every sin is washed away in baptism. But there is also the “gift of the Holy Spirit” promised to those who repent and are baptized. As Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome:
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”
“Therefore, brethren, we are debtors–not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.”
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
“…to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ep 3:16)
With such “divine help” we are able to do whatever the will of God calls us to do. As Paul wrote in his epistle to the Philippians:
“…for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Ph 2:13)
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Ph 4:13)
When we obey Christ and submit our lives to Him, we are not alone in our struggle against sin and the temptations we often face in the flesh; By the Word of God we can receive the strength Christ provides!
But such ability does not come automatically. To receive the help God provides requires that we…
WALK IN THE SPIRIT
As written to the churches of Galatia:
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (Ga 5:16)
Whether the “lust of the flesh” we are fighting involves fornication, adultery, or homosexuality, we can only overcome it as we “walk in the Spirit”. How does a Christian do this? The answer is found in Paul’s epistle to the Romans:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.” (Ro 8:5)
We “live according to the Spirit” (or “walk in the Spirit”) as we “set our minds on the things of the Spirit!” Just as a person whose mind is “in the gutter” will soon live accordingly, those who “set” their mind on the things the Spirit has revealed will live in harmony with that revelation.
In other words, the Word of God, revealed to us by the Holy Spirit working through the apostles and prophets of Jesus Christ, contains those “things” upon which we must “set our minds” if we are going to “live according to the Spirit”. The Word of God is the instrument (or sword, Ep 6:17) the Holy Spirit uses to transform the minds and lives of those who will truly give themselves to it!
As the Psalmist understood and declared so long ago…
“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psa 119:11 )
Even Jesus, when tempted in the wilderness, appealed to the Word of God again and again in His fight against the lusts of the flesh (Ma 4:1-11)! So must one who is serious in overcoming homosexuality set his or her mind on the Word of God, that they might truly walk in the Spirit and receive the strength only the Spirit can provide!
But there is more that can be said…
RESTRICT WHAT GOES INTO YOUR MIND
Jesus pointed out in His sermon on the mount that the problem of adultery actually begins in the heart (mind):
“…whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Ma 5:28)
The same can be said for homosexuality. Therefore, a person who is serious in their efforts to overcome any sexual sin must be careful about what they allow their minds to dwell on. Again, Paul wrote:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh…” (Ro 8:5)
If a person is going to be truly “transformed” it will occur only when the mind is being “renewed”:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.”
“And do not be conformed to this world, BUT BE TRANSFORMED BY THE RENEWING OF YOUR MIND, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.” (Ph 4:8 )
Rather than dwelling on things that will weaken one’s resolve, a person committed to overcoming temptations of the flesh will devote their thoughts, their reading, their television and movie viewing, to such things described above!
AVOID HOMOSEXUAL FRIENDS AND HANGOUTS
One should be aware of the dangers of the wrong kind of companionship:
“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” (1 Co 15:33)
Friends can be a wonderful blessing, but the wrong kind of friends can be a disaster! Avoid like the plague those who would entice you back into sin. And avoid those environments where the opportunities for temptations are great, where homosexuals are known to frequent. In other words…
“…put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH, to fulfill its lusts.” (Ro 13:14)
Do not provide opportunities for the flesh to be tempted to give into unlawful desires!
BECOME ACTIVE IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
Those who have been converted from homosexuality especially need the encouragement of that which comes from Christian fellowship. The very purpose of our assemblies is to provide such:
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another…” (He 10:24-25)
Of course, it is essential that those struggling with trying to overcome homosexuality be fully accepted despite their past by their fellow Christians, or they will be terribly discouraged! It is the Lord’s desire that local congregations be a haven for ALL who seek to serve the Lord and overcome sin.
BECOME ACTIVE IN A WEEKLY BIBLE STUDY
The early Christians realized the value of home Bible studies with others…
“And daily in the temple, AND IN EVERY HOUSE, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.” (Ac 5:42)
“…I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE.” (Ac 20:20)
The value of such special studies should be especially apparent for those Christians overcoming difficult problems (such as drugs, alcohol, homosexuality) where meeting with the church during its regular assemblies is not enough. Again, this calls for understanding and committed Christians who are willing to spend such time in study with their brethren who may be weak.
BELIEVE IN GOD FOR AN “UNLIMITED” FUTURE!
It is important to remember that with God nothing is impossible! The scriptures tell us that God is able to do things beyond what we are able to imagine:
“…who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” (Ep 3:20 )
Notice the superlatives used by Paul (“exeedingly” “abundantly” “above all”), you soon get the impression that this “power” that works in us is really beyond description! But it is available to those who commit themselves to serving the Lord!
Not only that, but we have the promise that God will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to handle:
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Co 10:13 )
With the power of God working IN us to give us strength, and the providence of God working AROUND us to keep us out of temptations beyond our ability to overcome, we can change and be all that God wants us to be! (And remember, when we do fall because we do not take advantage of God’s power and providence, there is still the grace of God to provide forgiveness when we truly repent and come back to God.)
PRESENT YOUR BODY FORMALLY TO GOD
When one becomes a Christian, their body then belongs to the Lord:
“Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”
“For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.”
“And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteous- ness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”
Yes, pray! And “pray without ceasing” (1 Th 5:17) whenever the temptation is greatest. Why pray? The author of Hebrews gives us two good reasons:
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (He 4:16)
Through prayer we can receive from God both mercy and grace to help us in time of need. Mercy for the times when we do not take advantage of the help God provides, and grace to help in those times when we DO seek to take advantage of it.
Through prayer, the Word given by the Holy Spirit, the help of brethren, and God Himself, anyone (including the homosexual and lesbian) should be able to say with the apostle Paul: