Paul's Passing Thoughts

A Romans Life Application Interlude: What Next for Those Who Don’t Want to be Gay?

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 25, 2013

Potters h. 2We are still in Romans chapter nine and are still laying the foundation for that chapter. The events that occurred surrounding the lineage of Christ and successive heirs and what they represent is critical to understanding election and covenants. Paul alludes to this importance in verses 8-13, so we are going to take the time to look at those events in more depth to gain a better understanding of God’s election and covenants.

Prefacing these considerations are the ideas that election is a great accessory to assurance, demands a separation of justification and sanctification, separates law from justification, but makes law essential to sanctification.

But I would like to resume this endeavor next week while taking opportunity to bring some real life application to our study in Romans. Let me begin by saying that I am not a “homophobe” and have no problem getting along with the gay community whatsoever. Also, in all my associations with those who identify with that life there has never been any doubt on their part regarding where I stand on the matter. Christians have to live in the world, and those attracted to the same sex will be our bosses, employees, family members, and service providers. And frankly, as a former Christian business owner, I assure you those naming the name of Christ have nothing on gay employees.

With that said, I am a shameless Biblicist, and consider myself free from the opinions of others and even my own. And don’t give me that load about interpretation being a matter of private opinion—we will all stand before Christ and give an account of our own interpretation. True, it is your own, and you will answer for it. We are commanded to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, and if you think I have an opinion about what that obedience is—you would be correct.

Let me bypass a lot of quibbling and cut to the chase: not everyone who is gay wants to be, and they seek help accordingly. If a Christian comes to me for counsel because he is gay and wants out, I am going to show him what the Bible teaches about that path.

Where to Begin

Helping anybody with any kind of problem starts with a biblical understanding of salvation and sanctification.  There is all kinds of confusion in our day regarding the new birth and whether or not we are positionally righteous only or also truly righteous in life application. Anybody we help needs to decide where they stand on that issue.

We will begin with the new birth. When we are saved, a radical spiritual transformation takes place. By the way, Reformation theology denies this radical, once and for all new creaturehood and reinterprets it as a series of grace rebirth experiences within the totally depraved. I submit this because the vast majority of formal biblical counseling in our day is based on Reformed theology. According to Luther:

Now you ask: What then shall we do? Shall we go our way with indifference because we can do nothing but sin? I would reply: By no means. But, having heard this, fall down and pray for grace and place your hope in Christ in whom is our salvation, life, and resurrection. For this reason we are so instructed-for this reason the law makes us aware of sin so that, having recognized our sin, we may seek and receive grace. Thus God »gives grace to the humble« (1 Pet. 5:5), and »whoever humbles himself will be exalted« (Matt. 23:12). The law humbles, grace exalts. The law effects fear and wrath, grace effects hope and mercy. Through the law comes knowledge of sin (Rom. 3:20), through knowledge of sin, however, comes humility, and through humility grace is acquired. Thus an action which is alien to God’s nature (opus alienum dei) results in a deed belonging to his very nature (opus proprium): he makes a person a sinner so that he may make him righteous (Heidelberg Confession: theses 16).

Nor does speaking in this manner give cause for despair, but for arousing the desire to humble oneself and seek the grace of Christ.

This is clear from what has been said, for, according to the gospel, the kingdom of heaven is given to children and the humble (Mark 10:14,16), and Christ loves them. They cannot be humble who do not recognize that they are damnable whose sin smells to high heaven. Sin is recognized only through the law. It is apparent that not despair, but rather hope, is preached when we are told that we are sinners. Such preaching concerning sin is a preparation for grace, or it is rather the recognition of sin and faith in such preaching. Yearning for grace wells up when recognition of sin has arisen. A sick person seeks the physician when he recognizes the seriousness of his illness. Therefore one does not give cause for despair or death by telling a sick person about the danger of his illness, but, in effect, one urges him to seek a medical cure. To say that we are nothing and constantly sin when we do the best we can does not mean that we cause people to despair (unless we are fools); rather, we make them concerned about the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (Heidelberg Confession: theses 17).

It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.

The law wills that man despair of his own ability, for it »leads him into hell« and »makes him a poor man« and shows him that he is a sinner in all his works, as the Apostle does in Rom. 2 and 3:9, where he says, »I have already charged that all men are under the power of sin.« However, he who acts simply in accordance with his ability and believes that he is thereby doing something good does not seem worthless to himself, nor does he despair of his own strength. Indeed, he is so presumptuous that he strives for grace in reliance on his own strength (Heidelberg Confession: theses 18).

Therefore the friends of the cross say that the cross is good and works are evil, for through the cross works are dethroned and the »old Adam«, who is especially edified by works, is crucified. It is impossible for a person not to be puffed up by his »good works« unless he has first been deflated and destroyed by suffering and evil until he knows that he is worthless and that his works are not his but God’s (Heidelberg Confession: theses 21).

For this reason, whether God does works or not, it is all the same to him. He neither boasts if he does good works, nor is he disturbed if God does not do good works through him. He knows that it is sufficient if he suffers and is brought low by the cross in order to be annihilated all the more. It is this that Christ says in John 3:7, »You must be born anew.« To be born anew, one must consequently first die and then be raised up with the Son of Man. To die, I say, means to feel death at hand (Heidelberg Confession: theses 24).

This is a denial of what the Bible states about the new birth. When we were saved, the old us died with Christ:

Romans 6:1 – What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

We died with Christ, and became new creatures in the truest sense:

2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Again, I only state all of this to make an initial point. Those who want to be free from gay tendencies are going to get contrasting counsel in our day concerning who we are in Christ. Are we still totally depraved people who experience Christ manifestations, or are we new creatures who are armed with the right information and enabled to change?  Are we reconciled to Christ and given the ministry of reconciliation to take to the world, or are we to continually seek reconciliation with God until we stand at a future judgment to determine final reconciliation? Perpetual reconciliation? Or is our reconciliation a settled matter? In our day, these are two distinct ways.

Why Do the Righteous Struggle with Sin?

Of course, the big question is: if we are now declared righteous and made righteous, why do we still sin? Answer: we are still in mortal bodies. We will discuss the dynamics shortly, but we are now truly righteous because of two primary truths: we have God’s seed within us, and we have the same desires as the indwelling Holy Spirit:

1John 31 – See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

4 Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. 7 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. 8 Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

Law and Desires

As we have learned in Romans the new birth changes who we are and our relationship to the law. Also, it changes our relationship to desire. Let’s start with desire because this is key. The catalyst for sin is desire. The catalyst for righteousness is desire. Desire was a key element prior to the fall. We will look at this in simple form and avoid speculation. Before the serpent came along Eve did not desire the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There was another tree in the midst of the garden that was the tree of life. Eve thought the tree of knowledge would bring death so she probably had no desire for it. We can safely assume that the serpent sought to change her desires.

First, he sought to convince her that eating from the tree would not bring death. Once doubt was created in that regard and replaced with the possibility of wisdom, she started looking at the tree. This is when three different desires kick in: it looked good for food, was desirous to the eyes, and desirable for wisdom. That’s three desires.  The desires preceded the sin. We also see in Genesis 4:7 that sin desires to rule over us:

Genesis 4:6 – The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

Now let’s look at James 1:13ff.:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Sin makes its plea through desires. It will not do the modern Christian any harm to recognize that the world seeks to change our desires. By positing a concept in certain ways, desires can be created. Now we need to move on as we continue to build on this and recognize that there are two primary desires in the world: the desires of the flesh and the desires of the Holy Spirit:

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want [new desire that is the same as the Spirit] to do.

Obviously, we may conclude that lost people don’t possess the desires of the Spirit.

That’s the key: believers have a desire not possessed by their old selves. However, the desires of the old self still reside in what the apostle Paul called the “flesh.” These desires still tempt us, and because they are of sin, they desire to control us; i.e., Genesis 4:6. It is interesting that in that first documented gospel presentation by God Himself we see a call to fight sin as part of the presentation. The fact that the old desires can still tempt us is clear:

Romans 6:11 – So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions [epithymia]. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.

Let’s now look at the fruits associated with each:

Galatians 5:19 – Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

The flesh and the Spirit have separate desires and separate fruits. “sexual immorality” is the word porneia:

g4202. πορνεια porneia; from 4203; harlotry (including adultery and incest); figuratively, idolatry:— fornication. AV (26)- fornication 26; illicit sexual intercourse adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18….

Porneia is the same word Christ used in Matthew 19:9 for the only exception for divorce. I have always been taught that Christ was referring to unrepentant adultery, but such is not the case. The word for adultery is:

g3429. μοιχαω moichao; from 3432; (middle voice) to commit adultery:— commit adultery. AV (6)- commit adultery 6; to have unlawful intercourse with another’s wife, to commit adultery with.

I am slipping this in to note that when a spouse submits themselves to homosexual desires, it is an exception to the normal anti-divorce stance posited in Scripture.

Law

Next, we want to look at the new birth’s relationship to the law. For this, we are going back to the book of Galatians:

Galatians 5:16 – But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

What does Paul mean that believers are not under law? Well, those who have been with us throughout our Romans study know. Being under the law means that one is provoked to sin by the law, enslaved to sin, and will be judged by the law in the end. Let’s go back to a Romans text to see this again:

Romans 6:12 – Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

But now, as Christians, we are not under the law, will not be provoked to sin by the law, and will not be judged by the law, but we are enslaved to the law:

Romans 6:15 – What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Now, let’s bring this back to our main point with this next text:

1Corintians 6:9 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

A professing Christian struggling with homosexuality must understand how this all works. Note this well: a non-Christian is predisposed to homosexuality if that happens to be the desire that is manifesting itself. He/she is enslaved to those passions. They will obey them. But a Christian has a choice. Those strong feelings they are feeling are from the flesh (the remnant of sin remaining in our mortality). They make a strong case, but the Christian is not in bondage to them. He/she is not gay, the passions of the old person desire to lead them back into slavery. One of the things that will be covered in helping such believers is the following: how to cut off provisions to the flesh which will strengthen those desires. The stronger the desires, the more likely we will be brought back into unnecessary slavery.

The manifestation of behavior will not be black and white between believers and non-believers because all born into the world have the works of God’s law written on their hearts (Romans 2:15,16) and are accused or excused by their consciences. Christians are also commanded to make use of this anthropomorphic reality to aid in righteous living that pleases God (Acts 24:16, 1TIM 1:5, 3:9, HEB 13:18, 1PET 3:16). Habit  should also be utilized for good purposes (HEB 10:25).

These are the basics, but if they aren’t understood, change cannot take place. In regard to additional applications, an article I wrote on overcoming pornography will apply to homosexuality as well. The article follows. Following that article, I have included a study that illustrates that the believer’s heart is the redeemed part of him/her and the flesh is the source of sinful desires. The believers heart is the source of  godly desires. As believers, our obedience comes from the heart (Romans 6:17).

Overcoming Pornography [edited with notes pertaining to above study].

Lake Pictures0001I’m not much for statistics, but unfortunately, all in all, it is probably true that 50% of men in church congregations are held in bondage by porn. As an aside, let me dismiss that it is primarily a male problem because men are visual beings and women are creatures of the heart. Ever heard of Playgirl Magazine? It’s in business for a reason, and it’s not funded by the government.

Unfortunately, the primary cure that will be propagated in our day is Reformed gospel contemplationism. NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) will also be applied, and though it has some credence, it is really just saying the same thing that the Bible states about habituation. Is NLP the biological explanation? Perhaps. But it’s neither here nor there in the biblical scheme apart from adding some confirming points of interest. Yes, I’m primarily a Biblicist at heart.

From a practical standpoint, porn is sanctified window peeping. It also reduces other human beings to mere objects of pleasure. It focuses on the TEMPERARY pleasure, and ignores unpleasant realities such as, post guilt, and that’s some other guy’s daughter. A man who has a daughter would be depriving himself of pleasure if he thought of that. By the way, all of these practical realities have a place in the process as we shall see later. But it is what it is: for the most part, men with young daughters wouldn’t want them to grow up and be porn stars, but yet they engage in porn. But if your daughter was a porn star, would want other men looking at her? In addition, would you want them masturbating to pictures of your daughter? Does this come under the realm of do to others as you want them to do (or not do) to you? It’s a rhetorical question [these realities make no sense until you consider the prior study that notes the following of sinful desires and being enslaved by them].

Porn is in the realm of temporary pleasure which can be a very powerful realm. In many cases, random acts of murder are perpetrated by those who want to feel what it is like to murder someone [a sinful desire]. They are so curious about what the experience would be like that they are willing to throw their whole life away, and the life of someone else in order to experience it for a moment in time [enslavement to the desire]. The Bible has a simple and very general word for it: desire. In cases where people like the experience and are exhilarated by the power that it gives them; i.e., the power to give or take life, they continue and are at least in part known as serial killers [enslaved to the sinful desire of the flesh to kill. They cannot sleep until the lust is temporarily fulfilled (PROV 4:16)]. The Temporary Pleasure Club can be a sorted lot indeed. I insert these particular thoughts in regard to desire which we will plug in later on.

Furthermore, if you are married, it’s adultery. You are having sex in your heart with other women. If your wife finds out, the respect level in the marriage only drops 80% if you are lucky. Granted, something wrong in the marriage could have tempted you into porn, but that decision has just made the marriage worse than it was. Let me drop in the fact that specific struggles like porn are rarely a problem in and of themselves. Sometimes, men who are angry at God because of their marriage will masturbate as a temper tantrum before God and porn is just a facilitator. In other words, the problem goes way deeper than porn itself.

Moreover, porn violates the conscience for all of the aforementioned reasons and more, but the desire is often stronger than the guilty feelings. But the continual violation of your conscience leads to all kinds of mental health issues like paranoia, anxiety, and ultimately depression. Mark it: this is not always the case, but the possibility must be eliminated; that is, some sort of violation of the conscience is causing the former. Severe anxiety can be manifested in a husband who wants to confess to his wife, but fears the consequences. The New Testament is replete with calls to keep a clear conscience before God.

Porn can fit into these examples in a number of different ways. But in regard to marriage, we soon see how efficacious it is that husband and wife are joint heirs of the cross who work hard at protecting each other from sin. A marriage that wanders from this focus is on the brink of destruction. The most prevalent distraction seems to be child-centeredness.

Now, the cross-centered crowd would be offended because thus far I have not mentioned the most important thing of all: “God is offended!” “The sin is against God alone!” True, but we fight a powerful foe that we will discuss further along, and the fiery darts of desire drown those concerns to a muffle. Nurturing a healthy fear and love for God does not happen by itself. The fact that God is God and God alone in our hearts is the result of putting off the old man and putting on Christ. Pounding the pulpit with the fiery unction of God’s holiness will merely fall on a soul that can barely hear it. They know it far less than they ever have.

As you can see, the porn problem can be deep waters. This post will cover the fundamentals only. In order for someone to overcome porn, they must have a proper understanding of the gospel. They might understand enough about the gospel to be saved, but they may not understand all that they signed up for. The gospel is many-faceted, and there is a gospel that those entrapped by porn need to understand. I used to be an alarm technician which involved being in many different homes. I was in one home where there was only a narrow path throughout the whole house. Legs of the path would terminate at essential locations: stove; bed; toilet; etc. The rest of the space was taken up by porn magazines stacked neatly all the way up to the ceilings. This illustration should suffice: porn is addictive and holds one in serious bondage. But for the internet, many more homes like this would be visible.

When we understand that our sins were imputed to Christ, we should also understand that the old us died with Christ along with our bondage to sin. We were then resurrected with Christ to new life and new creaturehood. Part and parcel with new creaturehood is a mind enslaved to the law (Romans 7:5, 8:3-11). A Christian committed to Christ signed up to be enslaved to righteousness. They said “yes” to a desire to be enslaved to God’s righteous law. They said “yes” to the new birth.

They also recognize that this puts them under grace and they will never be judged by the law for salvation. While enslaved by sin, they were also under a future judgment according to the law. They now receive righteousness apart from the law and will never be judged by it, but the new birth compels them to be a vessel in which the law is upheld through us. It is a choice to be free from habitual sin and judged by the law versus being a slave to righteousness and not under the law’s judgment (Romans 6:11-14).

This is where you start with someone who has come to you for help in regard to porn. Right now, they are foolishly presenting their members to sin as if still enslaved by it. Many men who are enslaved to porn are unaware of this dynamic because theology is not taught in the churches. They are being enslaved unnecessarily, and to their own destruction. You have just taught them their true identity. They are either in or out. In most cases, they are in. Most men who seek help for porn aren’t looking for excuses, they really want out.

Now they have to understand how that’s done. Other causes are considered later. Unfortunately, the internal warfare between the flesh and our new creaturehood is denied in most churches today. Either the sanctification dynamic is ignored, or redefined as two realms in which righteousness is manifested through gospel contemplationism. This is why I believe the 50% statistic. Sin cannot be overcome with an erroneous sanctification construct. This will cause sin to be rampant in the church.

Though the power of sin to enslave us is broken, it makes a strong appeal through desires.

In other words, the sinful flesh tempts us through a specific anti-law lust. It may be a remnant of the lust that dominated the old us that is provoked by the law (Romans 7:8-11). The Christian is beckoned to obey desires on two fronts: that of the flesh and that of the new creature. The power of the former enslavement is broken and replaced with enslavement to the law (ROM 7:25). Hence, we are empowered to say no to the sinful desires:

Romans 6:11 – So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

When pornographic desires come calling, the Christian needs to say no. These desires come from the flesh, NOT THE HEART, and can be intensified by giving nourishment to the flesh:

Romans 13: 14 – But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Giving provisions to the flesh will intensify pornographic desires and make it more difficult to serve the law of our renewed mind. Walking in the Spirit is following the desires of the Spirit. Of course, all of this is informed by the law of God; i.e., the Bible. The brother who thinks he is enslaved to porn must start making new life investments. Jesus stated that where our treasure is, our heart will be there also. He must begin to treasure the desires of the Spirit and despise the desires of the flesh. He must starve the flesh.

This is where the love and hate of Romans 12:9 must be considered:

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

If you wanted to learn to hate your wife, what would you do? You would ignore her. You would focus on her negatives. You would forget everything good about her. You would simply stop investing. You would stop nourishing your love for her. You would make it more difficult for her to love you, etc. Men must learn to hate porn and learn to love their wives instead. They must use the energy they are investing in porn and invest it in their wives. This isn’t a placebo game. Whenever they think of porn, they need to think of the things mentioned at the beginning of this post and more. What’s good about porn? For a short time it’s the exhilaration of  porno-desire; evil dressed in excitement. It’s the proverbial beautiful vampiress. It’s the voluptuous prostitute leading the dumb ox to the slaughter. It’s the wolf lapping on the Eskimo blood lollipop with a sharp knife for the stick. Wisdom quickly shows the brother that porn is easy to hate.

This is what accountability does (2Timothy 2:22). It cuts off provisions until the sinful desire is on the ground gasping for breath and dying of starvation. When the desire is a weak, whimpering temptation. The discipler will educate the crippled brother in regard to how sin tempts as discussed here, and will set up accountability measures as well. He will also help the brother to plan a new strategy for life investment.

These are the basics. One must always remember that pornography affects all other areas of life as well. For instance, alcoholism can be the product of pornography as a way to medicate a guilty conscience. Your help will be a journey, and you both will be the better for it in all areas of life.

A Study on Heart/Flesh by Layman Brian Jonson. Edited by TANC Publishing.

conf-logoThere are hundreds of passages that use the term “heart” to describe the seat of human emotion, intelligence, morality, volition and religious life in general. However, most often, “heart” is used in Scripture as an idiom for the mind.

There is also present in scripture the heart of the unredeemed and the heart of the redeemed.  Oftentimes the characteristics of the unredeemed heart are applied to the redeemed.  I believe this is a critical error.  The chart below shows the context of the unredeemed versus the redeemed and how the term “heart” is applied.  It is by no means exhaustive, but certainly is representative of all passages.  Notice, the application of the description of the unredeemed heart is never applied to the redeemed.

Characteristics of the heart of the saved and lost:

Ge 6:5,6

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

Ge 8:21

The LORD smelled the soothing aroma ; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never  again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing , as I have done.

Ex 4:21

The LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.

De 5:29

Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever !

De 8:14

then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

1Sa 7:3

Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”

2Ch 12:14

He did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the LORD.

2Ch 25:2

He did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.

2Ch 26:16

But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God, for he entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.

Ps 73:1

Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart !

Ps 78:8

And not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

Jer 5:23

But this people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; They have turned aside and departed.

Jer 17:9

The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

Eze 14:4

Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet, I the LORD will be brought to give him an answer in the matter in view of the multitude of his idols,

Eze 20:16

because they rejected My ordinances, and as for My statutes, they did not walk in them; they even profaned My sabbaths, for their heart continually went after their idols.

Mr 7:21

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,

Lu 6:45

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Ac 8:21

You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.

Ro 1:21

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Ro 2:5

But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

Eph 4:18

being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;

Ge 20:5

“Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister ‘? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”

Ge 20:6

Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her.”

2Ch 16:9

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.

Ps 7:10

My shield is with God, Who saves the upright in heart.

Ps 66:18

If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;

Ps 73:1

Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart !

Ps 86:12

I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever.

Jer 24:7

I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people , and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.

Jer 31:33

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people .

Jer 32:39

and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them.

Eze 11:19

And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,

Eze 36:26

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Mt 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Mt 12:34

You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good ? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.

Mt 15:18

But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.

Lu 6:45

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.

Ro 2:29

But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

Ro 6:17

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

Heb 10:22

let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

1Pe 1:22

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,

1Jo 3:21

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

As you look at the references above, you’ll easily see that the Bible never applies the ugly characteristics of an unregenerate heart to a redeemed person. Why then, should we?  God has renewed the heart of a believer and it is unbiblical to accuse the Body of Christ of having hearts that are unregenerated.

Where then, is the battle?  The Bible teaches that the battle against sin is in the flesh, NOT the heart. Notice, please:

Mt 26:41

Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Jesus is speaking to a redeemed person.  He shows them that the danger is in the flesh, not the heart (perhaps synonymous with spirit in this passage).

Ro 7:5

For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

Paul teaches here that our sinful passions are from the flesh.

Ro 7:18

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.

A critical passage! We know the Bible teaches that our flesh was not redeemed at salvation and, in fact, awaits the glorification described so clearly in 1 Corinthians 15.  Therefore, we have a “redeemed heart” incarcerated in “unredeemed flesh.”  This is exactly why we struggle.  Notice:

Ro 7:14

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.

Ro 7:25

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord ! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

Ro 8:3

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,

Ro 8:4

so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Ro 8:5

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Ro 8:6

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,

Ro 8:7

because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,

Ro 8:8

and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Ro 8:9

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

Ro 8:12

So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh –

Ro 8:13

for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

The heart is not mentioned anywhere in this key teaching.  Romans 6 through 8 contain the key teaching on our struggle against sin. And, it is clear; the struggle is centered on the flesh, not the heart.

Further evidence of this:

Ro 13:14

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

1Co 3:1

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.

How do we cleanse ourselves and appear holy before the Lord?

2Co 7:1

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

Ga 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

Ga 5:16

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.

Ga 5:17

For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.

Ga 5:19

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,

Ga 5:24

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Ga 6:8

For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

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8 Responses

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  1. paulspassingthoughts said, on March 25, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Reblogged this on Clearcreek Chapel Watch.

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  2. Andy said, on March 25, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    Just a point of clarification:
    The reason you see two different words for “desire” is not because the meaning is different for flesh vs. spirit. It is because epitheumia (strong’s 1939) is a noun (the desire itself, whether proper or improper), and epitheumeo (strong’s 1937) is a verb (the act of desiring, whether proper or improper).

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    • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 25, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      Andy,

      Right, nevertheless, the use is consistent between the two. Whenever desires of the flesh are referred to, one is used, and whenever desires of the Spirit are refereed to, the other is used. And I can’t find any exceptions. The Greek commentaries specifically mention that the noun form is primarily used in regard to evil desires (“especially for what is forbidden”). Can’t say that I know why, but I wanted to note the distinction.

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      • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 25, 2013 at 2:15 PM

        ….Zodhaites: “More frequently in a bad sense.”

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    • paulspassingthoughts said, on March 25, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      It’s probably a weak point nevertheless. The fact that Christians possess new desires that they previously did not have can be determined by how the English translations stand on their own.

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  3. paulspassingthoughts said, on March 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    Thanks for your help on this Andy, I replaced that argument with more straightforward texts.

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  4. Andy said, on March 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM

    You’re welcome. Just so we are clear. I am not disputing the point, that there IS a difference between desires of the flesh and desires of the spirit. I am in agreement with the point you are trying to make. But the point is made by the context of the passage and not because one word is a noun and another word is a verb.

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