For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.—Colossians 2:5
Christians generally associate faith with when they received the Lord as their Savior and rightly so. By believing in Christ, we enter into a relationship with Him. But that’s not the end—after our initial decision comes a lifetime of walking with Him.
The word walk is used to describe behavior and conduct. We may mistakenly conclude that after salvation, the Christian life is all about doing things for the Lord. Colossians 2:5-7 clearly state that we walk with Christ in the same way we received Him—by faith. This means we place our trust in Him for every circumstance of life.
Remember, God does not grade our daily life and performance on a salvation scale. He looks at one thing, as I’ve said. He’s looking at our faith in Jesus Christ and our desire to walk with Him daily. Pull out all the stops and let faith be your guide.
Have you ever had any reason to doubt God’s goodness? Would you agree that His loving kindness has been marvelous? Has He at any time failed to justify your trust? Your answer should be a resounding, no! I think it safe to say your God has never left you at any time.
You may have had some dark nights, but the star of love has shone forth amid the blackness; you may have been in stern conflicts, but over your head He has held the shield of your defense. You may have gone through many trials, but never to your detriment, always to your advantage.
The conclusion from your past experience is, that he who has been with you in your troubles, will not forsake you when you experience more. What you have known of your faithful God, proves that he will protect you and keep you to the end.
Let us not, then, reason contrary to the evidence. Let us not be ungenerous as to doubting our God. Let the Lord, throw down the enemy of your unbelief, and let the dogs devour it.
Simply put, no, the Holy Spirit will never leave a true believer. This is revealed in many different passages in the New Testament. For example, Romans 8:9 tells us, “…if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” This verse very clearly states that if someone does not have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, then that person is not saved. Therefore, if the Holy Spirit were to leave a believer, that person would have lost the saving relationship with Christ. Yet this is contrary to what the Bible teaches about the eternal security of Christians. Another verse that speaks to the permanence of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence in the life of believers is John 14:16. Here Jesus states that the Father will give another Helper “to be with you forever.”
The fact that the Holy Spirit will never leave a believer is also seen in Ephesians 1:13-14 where believers are said to be “sealed” with the Holy Spirit, “who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” The picture of being sealed with the Spirit is one of ownership and possession. God has promised eternal life to all who believe in Christ, and as a guarantee that He will keep His promise, He has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell the believer until the day of redemption. Similar to making a down payment on a car or a house, God has provided all believers with a down payment on their future relationship with Him by sending the Holy Spirit to indwell them. The fact that all believers are sealed with the Spirit is also seen in 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 4:30.
Beginning on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit began permanently indwelling believers (Acts 2). The permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of God’s promise to always be with us and never forsake us.
While the Holy Spirit will never leave a believer, it is possible for our sin to “quench the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19) or “grieve the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 4:30). Sin always has consequences in our relationship with God. While our relationship with God is secure in Christ, unconfessed sin in our lives can hinder our fellowship with God and effectively quench the Holy Spirit’s working in our lives. That is why it is so important to confess our sins because God is “faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). So, while the Holy Spirit will never leave us, the benefits and joy of His presence can in fact depart from us.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when by his own evil desires he is lured away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.—James 1:13-15
The question of whether gay people go to heaven or hell is much discussed today, and there is confusion surrounding the issue. On one side are churches that teach that homosexuality is blessed by God. On the other side are churches that condemn all homosexual thoughts and actions as deserving of eternal judgment. Is being gay a ticket to heaven or hell?
First, a clarification. Our world labels people according to their weaknesses, sin tendencies, addictions, or sexual inclinations. When we do that, we create an adversarial, “us vs. them,” position. We begin to see people in categories, rather than as individuals, and this is dangerous. When we ask if gay people go to heaven or hell, we may be using the label gay rather than considering the individual who may be struggling with temptation or confused about his or her sexual identity. For the purposes of this article, we will define gay as “practicing a homosexual lifestyle.”
When God created human beings, He designed them male and female, in His own image (Genesis 1:27). Adam and Eve were created perfect, and God blessed their physical union in the first marriage (Genesis 1:28). Homosexuality was not part of God’s creation. When the first man and woman chose to disobey God’s command, sin entered the world (Romans 5:12). With that sin came brokenness of all kinds: thorns, tornadoes, drought, sickness, disease, cruelty, and sexual distortions.
Since that time, every human being has been born with a sin nature. Our natural selves demand the right to be our own gods. When we desire something contrary to the will of God, the desire itself becomes sinful (James 1:13–15). We may sin in different ways, but it is all sin. Some have an overwhelming desire to lie. Some are unfaithful to their spouse. Some may overcome outward sins—and are puffed up with arrogance. And some may be tempted to engage in sexual acts with their own gender. It’s all sin. It is all unacceptable to God. And we all need a Savior.
God, our Creator, could have wiped out the human race and started over. He owes us nothing. Because of our high treason against our Creator, we all deserve hell. Heaven is perfect, and we are not; we are disallowed from God’s presence. In His great love, God made a way that we sinners can be made righteous (Ephesians 2:4–5). Jesus, the Son of God, offered Himself as our substitute on the cross, thereby taking the punishment we deserve (John 10:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God poured out His wrath against sin upon His own Son so that those who trust in that sacrifice can have their sins transferred to His account (Colossians 2:14). In exchange, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. God then declared that whosoever trusts in Jesus as their Lord and Savior be granted eternal life in heaven (John 3:16–18).
That divine exchange—our old life for His new one—brings about a transformation from the inside out. Second Corinthians 5:17 says that, if anyone is in Christ, he or she becomes a new creature. All the sin, selfishness, pride, and perversion that were part of our lives before that moment are wiped clean, and we are pronounced righteous before God (Psalm 103:12). God then takes on the task of conforming us into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). We are not saved from hell to continue in the same sins Jesus died for. We are saved so that we can become all God designed us to be (Ephesians 2:10). That includes renouncing our past and our sinful tendencies and embracing the wholeness we were created to experience.
In answering the specific question about whether gay people go to heaven or hell, we can substitute the words gay people with other sin groups. Do adulterers go to heaven or hell? Do kleptomaniacs go to heaven or hell? Do prostitutes go to heaven or hell? Paul answers these questions clearly in 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. People who live in unrepentant sin have no place in God’s kingdom. Those who practice sexual sin, including homosexuality, are on that list. Paul, anticipating objections, says, “Do not be deceived” about this (verse 10).
But then Paul goes on: “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” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Notice the abrupt turnaround with the word but. The church Paul was addressing had members who in the past had practiced those very sins—BUT when trusted Jesus, everything changed. Their loyalty changed. Their nature changed. Their actions changed. No one is exempt from God’s righteous judgment on sin (Romans 6:23). But no one is exempt from His offer of forgiveness and transformation. When we surrender our lives to Christ, we must let go of all that defined us in our sinful state. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). We must die to our old sinful lifestyle. We must die to our right to be our own boss. And we must die to those desires in us that violate God’s righteous decrees.
Gay people go to either heaven or hell on the same basis that drunkards, liars, haters, and self-righteous church people go to either heaven or hell. Our final destination depends not on what we’ve done but on how we responded to Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. Unrepentant sinners will die in their sin and be judged accordingly. Repentant sinners are forgiven in Christ. When we receive Him as Lord, He becomes our final authority.
To be a Christian means that we now strive to model our lives after His perfect one. We want to please Him more than we want to please ourselves (Matthew 10:37–38). And there is no question that homosexual acts are displeasing to Him, just as heterosexual sin is displeasing to Him. If we insist on living a gay lifestyle, as if being gay was our identity, we are turning our backs on Christ’s sacrifice. We cannot expect God to simply overlook in us the very sins that put Jesus on the cross.
Many people who are same-sex attracted have come to faith in Christ and, in doing so, surrendered that particular temptation to Him. Some go on to marry and live in Christ-honoring, heterosexual marriages, and others choose celibacy, finding the fulfillment they need in intimacy with God.
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(Reprint with permission | GotQuestions.com |© 2018)
What do people do with feelings of anxiety or fear? Aside from those who are medically diagnosed with anxiety disorders, fearful people tend to fuss and worry over potential scenarios and outcomes. They might rehearse the possibilities in their mind and take worries to bed, which keeps them tossing and turning all night. Or maybe they try to numb themselves with distractions, drugs or alcohol.
God wants us to bring our worries to Him—then He can calm our anxious burdens with His peace, which surpasses all comprehension (Phil. 4:6-7). And today we have advantages that weren’t available in the days of the Old Testament. Instead of waiting for a prophet to deliver a message from the Lord, we have the completed Scriptures, which are God’s revelation of Himself, His works, and His ways. Through His Word, we learn to know and understand the Lord and His plans so we can pray more confidently.
As we spend time in the Scriptures, we can increasingly see from God’s perspective. Then our prayers will be focused on what He wills rather than on what we want. Through this kind of prayer, our spiritual needs are met, and we can set aside anxiety to live in complete trust in the Lord.
“I will meditate in thy precepts.”—Psalm 119:15
There are times when solitude is better than society, and silence is wiser than speech. We should be better Christians if we were more alone, waiting upon God, and gathering through meditation on his Word spiritual strength for labor in his service.
We ought to muse upon the things of God, because we thus get the real nutriment out of them. Truth is something like the cluster of the vine: if we would have wine from it, we must bruise it; we must press and squeeze it many times. The bruiser’s feet must come down joyfully upon the bunches, or else the juice will not flow; and they must well tread the grapes, or else much of the precious liquid will be wasted.
So we must, by meditation, tread the clusters of truth, if we would get the wine of consolation from them. Our bodies are not supported by merely taking food into the mouth, but the process which really supplies the muscle, and the nerve, and the sinew, and the bone, is the process of digestion. It is by digestion that the outward food becomes assimilated with the inner life.
Our souls are not nourished merely by listening awhile to this, and then to that, and then to the other part of divine truth. Hearing, reading, marking, and learning, all require inwardly digesting to complete their usefulness, and the inward digesting of the truth lies for the most part in meditating upon it.
Why is it that some Christians, although they hear many sermons, make but slow advances in the divine life? Because they neglect their prayer closets, and do not thoughtfully meditate on God’s Word. They love the wheat, but they do not grind it; they would have the corn, but they will not go forth into the fields to gather it; the fruit hangs upon the tree, but they will not pluck it; the water flows at their feet, but they will not stoop to drink it.
From such folly deliver us, O Lord, and be this our resolve this morning, “I will meditate in thy precepts.”