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God’s Plan—Off-Track?

God’s Plan—Off-Track?  

It's easy to wonder if God's plan is off-track and the problem is more than our own agenda and plan. After all, how does a God who's invisible and sitting high and mighty on a throne in heaven know anything about what's best for me? Romans 1 clearly explains how humans rejected God’s design when it comes to worshiping him and therefore God gave humanity over to their own sinful hearts. The result of not worshiping God is worshiping something created: self, others, animals. That worship looks like gossip - ruthless, murderous evil - not to mention sex outside of God's design. Homosexuality is clearly communicated here. It is also one of only seven passages that the Bible has on the topic of homosexuality.  Paul wrote, 

“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with lust for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.”

- Romans 1:26-27 

The gay community calls this one of the primary “the clobber passages,” because some Christians have used them to “clobber” people over the head with the Bible. Those Christians may have had good intentions, but they forgot that people without the Holy Spirit cannot live the Christian life. To be fair, the recognition of sin is a part of our salvation--and also just because you don’t agree that something is sin (anything you think, say or do that displeases God), doesn’t mean you get a pass.

You may have some questions here, like:  

Q: What’s the big deal with salvation? What am I being saved from?  

A: If I were going over a cliff in a raft, I would need salvation from gravity. In this passage, sin is the body slamming onto the rocks at the bottom.  You're being saved from your sin/imperfection. We all have sinned in our thoughts, words, & actions. Salvation is essential to have a relationship with God while on earth, and to have eternal life with God in heaven after death.  

Q: What does sin have to do with salvation? 

A: Sin wrecks hearts & severs relationships. Unfortunately, our sin doesn't just affect us, it has rippling consequences that we can't fix by our own will power. We're broken, terminal & need rescuing.

Q: Aren’t we talking about sex and gender? What does sin have to do with that?  

A: Our culture presents challenges to living God’s design for sex and gender,  which we’ll get into in the next several blogs. And at the heart of these (and many other issues), the real battle is the problem of sin. Anytime we live outside God’s design, we are sinning. And that isn’t just some prude with excessive moral standards controlling other people. Rather this is God’s best for us.  

We don’t like to face this fact, though. We prefer to change the truth and change what love means rather than change our behavior. This is where many have created their own god that understands them and gives them a pass. But gravity doesn’t give a pass to a person who took a wrong step. Fire doesn’t give a pass to a person who didn’t know that it burns. And God is Holy. You can’t tinker with God’s design and not reap the consequences. Gravity makes you fall. Fire makes you burn. Failing to recognize God’s holiness gets wrath.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” 

- Romans 1:18-19  

What does that mean? God’s wrath is coming against all ungodliness and all unrighteousness. Therefore, we all need salvation from our sin—no matter what or “how small” it is. And the “suppressing the truth by their unrighteousness” part? One of the first stories in God’s Word exemplifies how that works. The first humans to interact with God preferred to change the truth and change what love means rather than change their behavior.

In Genesis, God created Adam and Eve. Everything was great. They didn’t have to worry about clothes. They could sing, eat, and have sex.  

Then at some point, they were strolling through the garden when the serpent stopped by.  “Hey, Eve,” he said, “Did God really say you can’t eat from that tree?”  

He was talking, of course, about the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God had  told Adam that he and Eve should not eat fruit from that tree. It was the one rule that God gave  Adam.  

One rule.  

That’s it.  

Not hard to remember.  

But Satan attacked the one thing that humans were forbidden to do. He attacked the clarity of the boundary that was supposed to bring unity between God and man. As we discussed previously, every relationship needs a boundary for there to be unity. Adam was right there, but as far as we know, he never said a word.  

So the serpent managed to deceive Eve. She took the fruit, ate it, then passed it to Adam. He took a juicy bite, and the next thing you know, they were trying to hide from God and sew some fig leaves without the benefit of a YouTube tutorial.

Satan is still around. He still deceives people into suppressing the truth of God’s Word. Only now, after several thousand years, he’s gotten a lot better at it.  Let’s look at one of his most successful efforts in today’s culture.  

Do No Harm

One of my favorite Thomas Jefferson quotes comes from Notes on the State of Virginia, which he wrote as a defense of America to Europeans. In it he said, “What harm is it to my neighbor if I say there are twenty gods or none?”  

This is a benchmark that made America so much better than Europe. In Europe, the church and the state were one. In fact before the American Revolution every state had a national religion. Politicians had to belong to the national church, affirm its creeds, and attend services. That led to a lot of pseudo-Christians who would just do or say the right things to gain power. Jefferson did not want the church and state to taint each other. 

However, the narrative of his “do no injury” concept has changed over time. Now it means, “I can do whatever I want as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone.”  

You’ve said that phrase as a teenager, and now it has become the law of the land.  In reality, though, doing whatever you want does hurt people.  

  • It hurts you, especially if what you are doing goes against God’s design. 
  • It hurts the state because God’s design—living in a self-sacrificial way, your benefit at my expense—is what is best for the state.  

Culture says we can do what we want, so we must. But if we do, we dictate our worldview to God. We’re saying that we are wiser than He is. We are telling God, “Your instruction manual needs a rewrite.” Like Adam and Eve, we’ll exchange the truth for a lie.  

A little while back, a couple at my church, Paul and Rhianna, got engaged. Before that, they lived together for six years. SIX years. In their minds, they were married. But not only is that not true, it is harmful to deep meaningful intimacy. No matter how you slice it, living together in a sexual relationship makes the relationship transactional. You’d never say that of course, but if you’re a Christian and you know what the Bible says, you say things like, “it’s just easier financially.” That statement couldn’t be more transactional. I mean let’s walk this out. If the reason you are living with someone is because it “just makes financial sense,” you have compromised. I’m assuming you wouldn’t work for a corrupt corporation because it “just makes financial sense.” However, for some reason, we justify sexual intimacy outside of marriage for $570 a month in rent.

Still, Paul and Rhianna were willing to have some “faithful wounds” from their friends and accepted wise counsel. They decided, “Let’s move out.” 

Not an easy decision. It made finances harder. They were used to each other’s habits, and now they had to adjust to new roommates with different habits, people who didn’t “get” them. But instead of listening to culture, instead of elevating man’s opinions, they decided to obey God’s word. And now years later, they are reaping the benefit of that decision. There is deep trust that Rhianna doesn’t have to control Paul to make sure she doesn’t get hurt. Paul is leaning into God’s leading instead of just trying not to make Rhianna mad.

Now, non-Christians can’t do what only the Holy Spirit can empower. They are chasing the elusive god of this age, “Happiness.” Our responsibility is not to stop them but to bring them the good news! Christ has come as the true God to replace our made-up fickle gods with His love and righteousness.  

Sin –our own as well as Adam and Eve’s– separated us from God until Jesus revealed  Himself. Jesus died on the cross for all of our sins. Then He rose from the dead to show the world that He conquered death and the grave. That’s why we have great hope. And that’s why it matters what God we believe in.  

So let’s recap. Gravity makes us fall. Fire makes us burn. Sin makes us separated from God. You can’t change the nature of gravity or fire without being God, He designed it that way. You can’t change the nature of God’s holiness without being God either. He designed it on purpose for His glory and your good. The question is “Will you trust His Word?”

If you are wondering when we are going to get back to Romans 1 and homosexuality…stick around and keep reading this blog.

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