"Dedicated to strengthening and encouraging the Body of Christ."

Praying For Those In Sin

By Rich Carmicheal

    This is a pivotal time for the United States as the issue of homosexuality comes more into public view. While it is encouraging to note that many Americans believe that homosexuality is morally wrong, it is disconcerting to note that too many others are willing to allow homosexuality to become part of the fabric of this nation. In light of the seriousness of this issue, I ask you to consider 1) what God’s Word teaches about homosexuality and 2) how God’s people can help this nation at this significant time.

    God’s Word makes it clear that the sin of homosexuality brings about the wrath of God. Consider the Apostle Paul’s words in the first chapter of Romans: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them…. For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened…. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion" (Rom. 1:18-27).

    Consider these additional passages that show that the Word of God consistently and clearly denounces homosexuality:

    "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable" (Lev. 20:13).

    "Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodomboth young and oldsurrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’ Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, ‘No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing’" (Gen. 19:4-7).

    "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9-10).

    "In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 7).

    These verses refer to homosexuality in such terms as "detestable," "wicked," "shameful," "unnatural," "indecent," "sexual immorality" and "perversion." They also remind us that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Instead, such activity brings punishment and the wrath of God.

    Of course, homosexuality is just one of many sexual sins listed in God’s Word. Any sexual activity outside of the boundaries of a husband and wife is considered sinful in God’s sight. He created man in His own image, "male and female He created them" (Gen. 1:27), and He ordained that "a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24; Mark 10:6-8). By His design, sexual relations are limited to the marriage relationship between a man and a woman. To this end, "Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral" (Heb. 13:4).

    Because of the importance of sexual purity in God’s sight, and in light of the consequences for any nation that embraces homosexuality, it is essential that God’s people intercede in these matters. At the time of Ezekiel, in the midst of great sin, the Lord declared, "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out My wrath on them and consume them with My fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD" (Ezek. 22:30-31). The Lord is looking for those today who will stand before Him in the gap on behalf of the land. The intercession of His people is vital.

    The only hope for any nation is the Lord. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord" (Psalm 33:12). As God’s people, we can call on Him to turn our land away from sin and toward salvation and righteousness. In 1 Timothy 2:1-4, the Apostle Paul urges "that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyonefor kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." Likewise, the Lord calls His people to prayer with these words, "…if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chr. 7:14). Whereas the Lord is the hope for any nation, His blessing flows primarily through the prayers and actions of His people.

    Our responsibility is not to stand in judgment of the world. As the Apostle Paul states, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside…" (1 Cor. 5:12-13). Instead of judgment, we are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation: "All this is from God who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us…" (2 Cor. 5:18-20).

    Our Savior’s encounter with the woman caught in adultery gives us a good example of how to deal with those in the world who are living in sin. He intervened on her behalf and did not condemn her, but did call her to "Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11). Like our Savior, we are not to stand in condemnation of those in sin, but we are to intercede and share God’s love and Word, hoping that those around us will receive salvation and leave their life of sin. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (John 3:17).

    We must keep in mind that many around us are living in spiritual darkness. "They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more" (Eph. 4:18-19). "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God" (2 Cor. 4:4). However, "God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6). It is only by God’s grace that we have received salvation from our sins. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Christ died for us even while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). We now have the responsibility and privilege of praying for others and sharing the Lord’s Word and love with others so that they too might receive salvation and deliverance from their sins.

    Although we are not to judge the world, we are called to judge ourselves as well as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must begin with ourselves because it is great hypocrisy to "say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye" (Matt. 7:4). Once we take the plank out of our own eye, then we can see clearly to remove the speck from our brother’s eye (Matt. 7:5).

    The call to judge others in the Church is clearly illustrated in this instruction by the Apostle Paul: "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral peoplenot at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. ‘Expel the wicked man from among you.’" (1 Cor. 5:9-13). Such judgment is necessary because the Church must be holy or else her witness will be compromised. We are "to become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…" (Phil. 2:15-16). Unfortunately, much of the Church has become all too worldly and, therefore, is not shining forth as a light in the midst of spiritual darkness. To the Church’s disgrace, even the sin of homosexuality has been embraced by some denominations.

    Friend, it is time to seek the Lord. Whether or not you live in the United States, would you humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him to extend His mercy and grace toward this nation? Pray that He will move by His Spirit "to convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment…" (John 16:8). Pray that He will open blinded eyes and soften hardened hearts. Pray that He will save many others from their sins, even as He has saved us from our sins. Pray that truth and light will shine forth in the midst of the spiritual darkness that encompasses many. Pray that He will purify the Church so that she will be able to serve as a source of light, life, hope, compassion, truth and reconciliation. Pray that He will turn this nation away from the sin of homosexuality. Pray that godly leaders will arise and call this nation and the Church to sexual purity.

    Much is at stake. May the Lord bless this nation through the compassion and prayers of His people.