Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Dwelling with God
Pastor Steve Schell
Romans 1:18-32
People often run away from God because we want to be free, but instead of freedom we find ourselves captured by our own passions. Appetites, fears, temper, envy, ambition, greed, lust, etc. rise up and take control. Every area of our personality is effected, but one of the deepest and most obvious areas is our sexuality. Over time our lusts cause us to do things with our bodies that have nothing to do with God’s original purpose for giving us sexuality, which is reproduction (Ge 1:28; “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth…”) and bonding by mutual desire and pleasure (Ge 24:67; 2Sa 12:24; Song of Solomon).

The main subject of this passage is not sex. Paul is showing us the internal process which takes place when we walk away from God, in order to lead us toward a conclusion which he will state in chapter three (Ro 3:10-20). Humans aren’t innocent victims. We’re victims alright, but not innocent ones. Our sin comes from the rebellion which took place deep in our hearts. We make deliberate choices to be free from God’s control. Paul doesn’t tell us this to condemn us but to show us the path we must take when we’re ready to come back. We must submit to the One who created us. Returning begins with submission because our problem began with rebellion. And though the main topic of this passage is not sex, no one could read it honestly and miss the point that God would certainly expect our submission to include bringing our sexuality back into His created purpose.

Creator and creature (Ro 1:25)
Paul begins his explanation of the gospel by reminding us that God is our Creator, and as our Creator deserves to be worshipped and obeyed. Isaiah expresses this truth this way: “…Shall the potter be considered equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, ‘He did not make me’; or what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘He has no understanding.’” (Isa 29:16)

The message of Leviticus
This foundational truth is expressed throughout the Bible, but it is especially clear in the Book of Leviticus. The basic message of Leviticus is this: “I am the Creator and I have the right to set limits on My creation, and I am holy and if I am to dwell with you, here is how you are to behave.”
1) Here’s how you are to worship Me (Lev 1-10)
2) Here’s what you may eat and not eat (Lev 11)
3) Here’s how you are to deal with disease (Lev 13, 14)
4) Here is the special way to treat blood (Lev 12, 15, 17)
5) Here are boundaries for your sexuality. You are not to follow the behaviors of Egypt or Canaan (Lev 18:3)

What is holiness?
Leviticus chapters 19 and 20 give us a broad practical list of what holiness looks like, and it isn’t about strange religious behavior. It comes down to one simple concept: real love, for God and for people. Listen: no idols (19:4); show respect for Me (God) in the way you treat My sacrifices (vs 5-8); provide for the poor (vs 9, 10); don’t steal (v 11); don’t lie (v 11); don’t use My name disrespectfully (v 12); don’t oppress those who work for you (v 13); don’t mock those with disabilities (v 14); don’t slander the reputation of others or bear false witness in court (v 16); don’t hate people (openly discuss issues) (v 17); don’t take revenge or bear a grudge but “you shall love your neighbor as yourself…” (v 18); don’t hybridize species, leave what I created alone (v 19); don’t eat anything with blood (v 26); don’t practice divination or talk to demons (vs 26, 31); don’t cut your hair or scar your skin or tattoo yourself like those who are superstitious or practice other religions (vs 27, 28); don’t sell your daughter into prostitution (v 29); honor the sabbath and the tabernacle (v 30); honor the elderly (v 32); respect the rights of foreigners (vs 33, 34); don’t use deceptive business practices (vs 35, 36); don’t murder your children by sacrificing them in demonic religious ceremonies (20:1-5); don’t curse your father or mother (20:9); don’t sleep with someone else’s spouse (20:10); don’t sleep with your mother or step-mother (v 11) …your daughter-in-law (v 12) …someone of the same sex (v 13) …a woman and her mother (v 14) …animals (v 15) …a sister or half-sister (v 17) …aunt (v 19) …or sister-in-law (vs 20, 21).

Here’s why: Leviticus 20:22-26

If you obey (26:1-13) you will have: provision (vs 4, 5); safety (vs 6-8); expansion (v 9); abundance (v 10); God’s presence dwelling among you (vs 11-13)

If you disobey: 26:14-39
If you repent: 26:40-42
Regardless, I’ll never forget My promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (26:42, 45)

Dwelling with God
To be with God we must become like Him. He is holy, and if He is to dwell in our midst, we too must be holy
• David tells us this: Psalm 15; 24:1-6
• So does John: 1 John 1:5-7; 3:4-10

Neither David nor John is saying that the standard of holiness is sinless perfection, but they are demanding integrity. They are pointing to the person whose heart has ceased to be rebellious, who loves God and wants to be close to Him. They’re saying that person will put away all practices that grieve the Spirit. They instinctively become repulsive. He or she will take whatever steps are necessary to clean up their lives… because they want to be close to Him and become like Him.

What about homosexuality?
Paul does talk about homosexuality in this passage. He says it illustrates how far passions can carry us away from God’s intended design. There are those today who argue that God actually creates certain people with homosexual tendencies and then they ask, If that’s so, how can He judge them for following their natural impulses? If that were the case it would seem cruel and unfair. But the Bible never says God created anyone to be homosexual. Instead it lists homosexuality as one of many forms of disobedience in which the object of our lust is not in God’s will.

God’s sexual standard is very narrow: a husband and a wife, and we are warned that sexual sin is very serious (1Co 6:15-20; Eph 5:5, 6; 1Ti 1:9, 10). Jesus Himself when discussing this standard goes back to God’s original plan as it was revealed at creation (Mt 19:3-12). Homosexual and heterosexual sins are both listed as sins which, if we continue to practice them, will disqualify us from going to heaven (1Co 6:9, 10).

What should a person do?
What should a person with homosexual temptations do? The same thing an unmarried heterosexual person should do… be celibate (Mt 19:12; 1Co 7:7, 27, 32, 33). In fact all of us must be vigilant to keep our minds pure, receive Christ’s forgiveness when we fail, get help when we need it and focus on actively living for God.
Q: Is it cruel and unfair for God to ask all of us to submit our lusts to His holy standards?
Q: How many could say God created you naturally monogamous so you don’t have to fight the tendency to sexually desire others beside your spouse?
Q: Is He wrong to ask us to curb this passion and bring it into submission to His standards?

Should a person who struggles with homosexuality pray to become heterosexual?
Yes, if they believe God wants them to be married or if they are already married. Like any Christian they should pray to be pure. Trying to refocus our lust simply trades one disobedience for another.

How should a church respond to homosexuals?
1) Love them and pray that they become born-again like anyone else.
2) Understand that we must give people a season of grace while they discover God’s will and decide whether or not they will obey it.
3) Keep the perspective that homosexuality is one of the sexual behaviors that must be stopped to be part of Jesus’ church (1Co 5:9-11; 6:9, 10)
4) If someone refuses to stop this or any of these behaviors a church must humbly warn them that they are jeopardizing their eternal life (Ga 6:1); offer to help them (Ga 6:2); ask them to leave if they refuse (1Co 5:9-13) but at the same time tell them we want them back when they repent; and pray that they will repent and return (2Co 2:6-11).

Our society
We live in a society that is being convinced that homosexuality is:
1) Something God created and planned (it’s genetically determined, not an addiction)
2) A civil right
3) An equal model for family life
4) Wrongly interpreted as being forbidden by the Bible
5) Resisted only by those with psychological fears or cultural bigotry

It is a matter our children and grandchildren may face increasingly in the future and a matter that may lead to social and legal persecution. So it’s a matter about which we can’t be ignorant. Who will we follow, our Creator and Savior, or our society?

1) Reread the summary of Leviticus chapters 19 and 20 in the section entitled “What is holiness?” Pick one and explain how it fulfills the command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 2) Describe an area of behavior in your own life that after being saved you instinctively realized was wrong (no one had to tell you to stop). 

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