Sin, temptation, and the Campuscrusadification of the Church...

When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”

And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:25-26).

Again, here's a response to a question asked by "Jay" under the post, "Must a gay man go straight?" I thought it best to put the response here on the main page as a post.

Jay asked: "I do know other men and women who struggle with homosexual temptation, who not only reject copulation but also gay identity and culture, but who do not have any heterosexual desires. Are they saved?"

Sorry for the lack of response. The post took all my time for the blog yesterday so I'm playing catch-up.

First, I'm doubtful these men and women you know who struggle with homosexual temptation actually reject gay identity and culture as clearly and with the finality you indicate. If we live in a culture that hates sexuality as God made it; if we pursue androgyny in the pulpit in the way we preach (see the category of Baylyblog titled "gelded discourse"), in our appearance--hair length and style, for instance; if our  men are physically vain (whether macho buff or femmie bling and piercings or a sweet combination of both); it's likely no Christian tempted by homosexuality has really turned away from androgyny to Biblical manhood and womanhood. Made an effort, sure, but today within the Church there are precious few heterosexuals who pursue Biblical manhood or womanhood.

So being "straight" in our sexuality as the Bible presents manhood and womanhood is exceedingly rare, today. Men are narcissists and refuse to man up, taking responsibility for themselves or others...

It's most unusual for anyone to pursue Biblical sexuality today--whether man or woman, homosexually-tempted or heterosexual. And to not live in the Village or Castro district or Bloomington and get our flame on is not to live as a man. Living as Scripture defines manhood and womanhood is a lifelong discipline that will only be finished when we die and are glorified, and this is true for all Christians whether our inclinations are same-sex or opposite-sex.

On to your question about desires. Christian faith is not validated by the absence of temptations or sin. Jesus said He came to save sinners--not the righteous--and near the end of his life, the Apostle Paul called himself the "chief of sinners." This is why we say the life of a Christian is a life of repentance. Day after day we repent because we have faith in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. So Christians sin in this life and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. We are saved by grace--not works or perfection or the absence of temptation.

So yes, every true believer (and there are many false ones) lives daily with temptations to horrible sin, sometimes falling to those temptations. If those tempted by fornication and adultery are to resist those temptations and live by faith in the grace and mercy of our precious Lord Jesus Christ, those tempted by sodomy are to resist those temptations and live by faith in the grace and mercy of our precious Lord Jesus Christ. If the man or woman tempted by adultery doesn't test his faith by the absence of that temptation; if the man or woman tempted by fornication doesn't test his faith by the absence of that temptation; if the man or woman tempted by greed doesn't test his faith by the absence of that temptation; why would the man or woman tempted by same-sex intercourse test his or her faith by the absence of that temptation?

Our Savior's rule is "by their fruit ye shall know them," so we test our faith by fruit. Yes, one kind of fruit is a decline in the strength of temptations to our besetting sins, but the more usual test is the fruit of resistance to the temptations of our besetting sins.

Whether greed or gossip or bitterness or lying or sodomy or fornication, true believers would like the Holy Spirit to take away our temptations once and for all, immediately. Rarely does the Holy Spirit work that way. Sanctification is a lifelong process that is very painful and humbling and only ends at death. That's the reason I love the old statement that Christians desire three things with regard to sin: justification that it might not condemn; sanctification that it might not reign; and glorification that it might not be.

Really, I think most of us need to read a good book on sanctification. We have unrealistic hopes of the absence of temptation in this life, and this is primarily because of the Campus Crusadification of doctrine (which really means the destruction of doctrine) that's taken over the Church in these United States the past seventy-five years or so. The Church has become the parachurch and she has no doctrine of sanctification--and therefore no doctrine of the Church. There are few pastors; men ordained today have no expectation of being shepherds because, again, we have no doctrine of sanctification and so we need no shepherds. We have no elders exhorting, rebuking, or disciplining the flock because, again, we have no doctrine of sanctification. We have no doctrine of the Sacraments--and specifically the Lord's Supper--because, again, we have no doctrine of sanctification.

If you respond, "what's sanctification got to do with it?" you've made my point and you need to read the Westminster Confession on assurance and sanctification, then Marshall's The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification. (For links to listen, read, or buy, please see the end of this post.)

One of the most destructive aspects of the Campus Crusadification of the Church today is their habitual conflation of justification and sanctification such that the man who mourns over his sin after confessing Jesus Christ is simply told he needs to cling to God's grace and that he's seated in the heavenlies. No exhortations to holiness. No admonitions to test himself to see if he's in the faith.

Only justification reigns and those who try to go beyond justification are rebuked for not trusting God's grace enough. It's my observation that most men who speak about being missional and Gospel-centrality are not simply uninvolved with, but actually opposed to giving themselves to the bloody work of sanctification within their flock. But of course, if holiness and purity and temptation and sin and daily repentance and all those other parts of sanctification are not a part of being missional and Gospel-centric, Houston, we have a problem. If any passage of Scripture defines being missional and evangelistic, it must be the Great Commission. But who is obeying the Great Commission if he refuses to speak about the grace of the Law and the necessity of holiness and the authority of the church's officers and the grace of the Lord's Supper and the entire range of bloody and dirty work enccompassed by our Lord's commands?

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).

Where's the making of disciples in the Church today? When do we teach obedience? Who is conscientious about leading the souls under his officership into everything Jesus commanded? And that bit about authority--which one of us is careful to point out to the world and the church that our Master possesses all authority in Heaven and earth, and that one day soon He will return in power and glory to judge all men by the standard of His Own perfect holiness? Why, we don't even demonstrate His authority in our own offices of father and husband and pastor and elder and deacons! We're petrified to mention authority for fear our children will be taken from us or our church will be called a cult. Which is to say we repudiate the authority of our Lord and Master both in our words and deeds.

Yet He Himself began His commission to us with the declaration that "all authority has been given to me in Heaven and on earth...."

So, dear brothers and sisters struggling with all forms of sexual temptation and other besetting sins, read the Westminster Confession (hard copy )(Kindle) (read online-free)(listen online-free)--especially the chapters on sanctification and assurance; read Marshall's The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification (hard copy)(Kindle) (pdf-free); John Owen's On Indwelling Sin in Believers (hard copy); On Temptation (hard copy)(Kindle)(read online-free) (listen online-free) On the Mortification of Sin (read online-free) (listen online-free); and Forgiveness of Sin (read online-free).

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. (James 1:13-17)

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)

(TB)

Comments

Great essay. Except it is going to make me go back into my Owen and that is serious work. Which thanks for too...

Here is a pdf of Marshall. Hope you don't mind me linking to it.

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/GospelMystery.pdf

Love,
Philip

How can you complain about "androgyny in the pulpit," when you play that dreadful music?

And how can you argue that "we have no doctrine of sanctification," yet defend Doug, whose views are obviously quackodox?

Randall,

I'm not particularly familiar with Doug Wilson and do not recall ever reading anything by him on the doctrine of sanctification. Nevertheless, the little bit I have read of Pastor Wilson's work leaves me surprised by your serious charge that he is "quackodox".

Would you please site a concrete example of Pastor Wilson teaching something about sanctification which you would label "quackadox"?

Thank you,

David

>>Here is a pdf of Marshall. Hope you don't mind me linking to it.

Dear Phil,

Thank you! I added it to the original post.

Love,

Tim, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through your blog (especially the past couple posts on sanctification). I would also recommend to the reader to read through the chapter in the Westminster Confession "On the Law of God" (I believe it is ch. XIX). I think part V goes well with your connection to the Great Commission.

V. The moral law does forever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it. Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.

Also, Owen is one of my favorite authors because he writes what I "need" to hear, rather than what I "want" to hear. One of my favorite quotes from "On the Mortification of Sin" is:

“Do you mortify?
Do you make it your daily work?
Be always at it whilst you live;
cease not a day from this work;
be killing sin or it will be killing you”

Grace,

Regarding "androgyny in the pulpit when you have that dreadful music," it's worth noting that music is not ordinarily part of the pulpit ministry. In short, nice non sequitur, but hardly an argument.

That said, unless the song lead has started to wear a slinky dress while leading worship, I'm at a loss to figure out how there is any androgyny there, either. (I'm not accusing, dear brother!) :^)

In which case we are left with a quibble over music styles. I tend to like a lot of what is done there, some may not. But either way, it doesn't mean that someone is doing something wrong from the pulpit ministry.

Mt 5:27 . Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast [it] from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not [that] thy whole body should be cast into hell.

Very good post in direct application to homosexuals and indirect to everyone else! We need to go beyond just not committing the outward, Law-proscribed act. All of us men are "dressing women's clothes" at times. In this sense, homosexuality is a temptation for all men.

An extra point, again, for all sins: often we like being tempted. We make a point of staring at the chocolate in the store window, even if we don't buy. Or, in matters of lust especially, we think that our temptations are part of our identity, and don't want to shut them down. This is perhaps even more true of normal desires than of unnatural ones: the macho man doesn't want to lose his temptation to fornication, considering it manly.

One possible aspect of the moving away from the gay lifestyle, that may or may not be relevant in this context (and my question may be a complete irrelevance).

The man who leads the men's ministry in a former church of mine, is someone with a wife and child. But he is also "as camp as a row of tents", and would fit the stereotypes you/we have of what gays are like, if you didn't know better.

So, and given comments about the need to move away from the gay culture, does that campiness indicate a lack of progress towards true Christian manhood? (as much as being 'butch' would for a woman show a lack of progress towards true Christian femininity).

I only read through half of this post the first time through, but its renaming led me to read the whole thing.

"Only justification reigns and those who try to go beyond justification are rebuked for not trusting God's grace enough."

I'm preaching on a subject similar to this in two days. The main text will be Matthew 25:31-46.

Herr Pastor Professor Dr. Von Hagen's sermon on that same text affected me greatly.

The most common direction for a same-sex attracted individual to go for answers is to end up in an ex-gay ministry, and these, like many [or most] parachurch organizations, have poor doctrine, poor psychology, egalitarian relationships between the sexes, women exerting authority over the men, and the list goes on. It would be easy for someone to go there and find celibacy, but not move beyond that. I am having a hard time articulating this, but I think that the opposite of this is the fully functioning church with leadership being intentional in the lives of SSA persons, including discipleship, teaching obedience, modeling true manhood, and all the other messy work, as our host writes. I can't help but think that the average seeker of truth finds himself in the land of Saddleback, where he has to be self taught in the things of manhood.

"We have unrealistic hopes of the absence of temptation in this life, and this is primarily because of the Campus Crusadification of doctrine (which really means the destruction of doctrine) that's taken over the Church in these United States the past seventy-five years or so. The Church has become the parachurch and she has no doctrine of sanctification--and therefore no doctrine of the Church."

Thank you for putting into words something that I've been trying to articulate for some time.

John Owen, vol. 6 of his "Works," best thing in print on sanctification.

Add new comment