~by Randy Bushey: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).
Sort of sounds like the old joke about oxymoronic word couplings: postal service, jumbo shrimp, living dead, clearly confused, seriously funny, deafening silence…you get the idea.
But holy sexuality? Do those two words even belong together in a serious biblical discussion?
We’re often surprised to find that the Scripture, written under inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, is less prudish than we! (When did you last read Song of Solomon?)
But our discomfort with placing sex in the context of that which is holy also suggests that the drifting morals of our day have distorted cogent perceptions of sexuality for all of us.
In our Messy Grace series, we’ve been asking this question: how do I achieve biblical, balanced grace-truth tension when faced with the 21st century gamut of sexual orientation, of agenda-driven social engineering by politicians and the courts, and the sometimes militant demands for support –and approval – for and from those along that spectrum?
One thing is certain: grace and truth in balance begins with biblically-informed, Spirit-empowered, Christ-like humility.
Pastor Sam Allberry is a thoughtful, articulate Christ-follower who although celibate, admits to experiencing same-sex attraction. His observation of sexual ethics among believers is simple, and yet profound: “none of us is really ‘straight’” because we are all attracted to what would be sinful to embrace.
He encourages other same-sex attracted Christians to not set as the goal of their lives to be more heterosexual, but rather to focus on being more like Jesus.
Good advice for us all.
As I surrender to the relentless work of the Spirit of God in my life as He ministers to make me more holy, then my sexuality, my finances, my use of time, and my relationships will all move closer to a Christ-honouring, holy balance.
That’s sanctification: incrementally, yet progressively, becoming more holy.
However, that process is encumbered when believers have an unbiblical view of who they were before coming to Christ. And who they would now be if they hadn’t been transformed by the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul was not so afflicted. He recognized that he was utterly undeserving of God’s love and salvation, and therefore Paul saw something of his former self in every sin he encountered, no matter how repellent.
The same applies to us.
In his exposition of this issue in Ephesians 2, Paul asserts, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath (v.1-3).
However, the apostolic caveat shines the sunshine of the gospel on this otherwise gloomy summation: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved (v.4,5).
Do you really believe that you are utterly, completely undeserving of God’s grace? Of Christ’s salvation?
Paul continues: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (v.8,9).
Those 2 verses define the status of every follower of Christ in 3 facts:
- I have been saved
- through grace and faith
- both of which come from God as gifts to me.
I am incapable of attaining salvation any other way. As followers of Christ we share together the gift of repentance.
Takeaway: Rather than being seen as distantly disapproving and judgemental, may we be characterized by humility as we live out grace and truth –biblically-informed, Spirit-empowered, and evermore like Christ.
graphic from freeimages.com