By John Henderson
One of my greatest peeves is the way people who want to promote error play with words. They distort meanings and place words in a context where they have no business being. But that is what the devil does in his grand program of delusions. Orientation is one of those words. Not only does the world use it wrongly, but so-called evangelistic ministers and church leaders misuse it in a context of homosexuality with the purpose of befriending the world at the expense of alienation from God.
Keep in mind that the attitude of the society at large is in direct parallel with the compromises in the church. They run alongside one another with very little shift in vernacular.
It is more common these days, for example, for “evangelicals” to boldly stand up before spiritually-dwarfed teens and young adults and openly declare that somehow being oriented to homosexuality is okay and that God doesn’t mind. The problem all along, they say, has been the narrow-mindedness of intolerant Christians over the centuries who dare to say that not only is something like homosexuality a sin but even being oriented that way is a sin. How dare they be so mean and insensitive as to make gay people feel guilty and unsaved because they are even oriented to being homosexual!
We may be using homosexuality as an example here but it is far more reaching than just that. It is being used as a springboard to making all sorts of deviancies appear to be normal.
It reminds me of the time when I served at an evacuation hospital in Vietnam and they brought in a load of casualties one evening, an occurrence throughout every day. We were all busy—very busy—but I noticed a young Army lieutenant lying over against a wall, just off of a medical helicopter, as doctors and nurses worked feverishly to save his life. He was somewhat lucid and spewing out profanities in his pain. I didn’t see any lacerations or blood but knew they were working with his legs. They were trying to prep him as quickly as possible for emergency surgery and were trying to stabilize him in some way.
He died before they could do enough. I walked over and asked one of the doctors what had happened. He told me that the lieutenant had bled to death. He saw my puzzled expression and explained that the soldier had suffered what is called internal amputation to both legs from a blast and the injuries were so massive that he was hemorrhaging profusely inside his legs and they had been trying to get into his legs as quickly as possible to stop the bleeding.
The lieutenant appeared normal on the outside but he died on the inside without ever spilling a drop of blood or having so much as a scratch. His hope of living was drastically reduced because they could not see where the severed arteries and blood vessels were without surgery.
The Bible says that the heart is desperately wicked and that we cannot know it. Our own hearts deceive us unless we are living close to the Lord, and even then we have to keep alert. It becomes an even greater calamity when a deceived heart becomes a deceiving heart. It is no longer safe to assume that because someone is “one of us” that the person is even born again just on that alone. It is impossible to cling to error in the face of truth and be born again. That statement still holds true regardless of one’s position of Christian security. God is the final judge but when the fruit stinks the root is rotten.
Those false teachers who appeal to those still in their sins by excusing their orientations to sinfulness are either ignorant of the Scriptures or else do not believe the Scriptures. The basic truth of the Bible is that all sin comes from wicked orientation: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
There is no committing sin without some sort of orientation to it in the first place. I have no trouble with tobacco, alcohol, gambling, and many worldly practices because I have never been oriented to them in the first place. There are some areas where I can be (and am) severely tempted because of past experiences. In one case with me it was violent anger. Only His grace and presence keeps me steady even now. It is just as James says: “But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15, NET).
Sin does not jump out at us and overpower us. It lures through depraved desires where carelessness has emerged. Those desires (“conceived” orientations) are the catalysts for sin. It is no sin to be tempted but it is a sin to pay attention to the temptation because that is the very first step of the act itself. The words of that Methodist evangelist of my youth are still true: “It isn’t the first look that is sin. It is the second look.”
Someone once said that when we are saved, all of our sins are forgiven and washed away. However, we still retain the fallen condition of humanity and sin leaves scars. Those scars are tender and it is there where the devil tries to get to us. The former homosexual, for instance, who is gloriously saved and sanctified, may often be tempted more so than others concerning homosexuality but that is not sin until he (or she) begins to dwell on it, excuse it, and nurture it. When he does that, he has already entered into the sin. An act is only the predictable culmination of the “orientation”. That, of course, leads to death.
We who are Christians and ministers of the gospel of Jesus must realize that we shall be held accountable—horribly accountable—for the souls we lead astray in these matters. We must be clear and uncompromising if the lost are to hear God’s clarion call to salvation and holiness. When Paul wrote about the warring in his members in Romans 7, he wasn’t trying to find a way to deal with it in fellowship with Christ and believers so that it was embraced as an orientation. He was moving towards the important question of deliverance from it:
“For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me. So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God in my inner being. But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:19-25, NET)
After stating the hopelessness of such a condition, he opens in chapter 8 with the solution to this awful dilemma by saying in essence why he thanks God through Jesus Christ our Lord:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:1-8, NET).
Being “oriented” to sin is not the last word. Being delivered out of sin and away from its control over us is the last word. Holiness preachers (those who actually preached scriptural holiness) knew and clearly proclaimed the truth of this. They talked of the carnal nature or the “old man” being crucified and the fullness of—the infilling of—the Holy Spirit taking over and cleansing us from ALL sin—not partial cleansing from some sin. They preached about walking in newness of grace and changed, that is, transformed, lives where sin no longer holds dominion over us.
Anyone who tries to say that any orientation to things of sin is natural and amoral is not preaching scriptural truth. They are not even telling realistic truth that is based in any biological facts. They are clearly preaching a lie and lies originate only in the devil. If some are unwilling to take God at His word, perhaps they should just create a religion of their own and leave the Christian one alone. Maybe their final judgment will not be as severe that way, if it really matters all that much.
Galatians 6:7-8, NET – “Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”
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