In our look at Brennan Manning, we touched on the topic of homosexuality and the Christian. We have looked this topic in another study, but today I want to hone in on a passage which I believe quiets both the Anti-Grace Moralist and the Libertine.
The Denial of Christ By the Moralist
We've looked at 1 Corinthians 6 in a previous study. We saw that the warning in 1 Cor 6 was given to Christians
. Unfortunately, here is how Anti-Grace Moralist, David Cloud
, sums up the passage:
In this passage [1 Cor 6] we see that the members of the church at Corinth had been guilty of homosexuality as well as many other sins, but they had been converted. The homosexuality is spoken of in the past tense... The blood of Christ is sufficient, but God demands repentance from sin and faith in Christ’s cross work. Jesus twice warned, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13;3, 5).
First let's deal with the last part. Either the blood of Christ is sufficient or it is not. If it is sufficient, and we have a choice to walk in the new nature or the old nature (flesh), then we must conclude that a person can be both a Christian (saved by grace through faith alone) and walk in the flesh (something for which he will be judged, "the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality," etc.).
It is the first part of his quote which puzzles me as well. Yes, some "were" homosexuals and were cleansed. That is clear. So, if they were cleansed (read: saved, given new life in Christ), why would Paul have to warn them about the lifestyle if believers cannot be homosexuals? Of course it's possible just as it is possible for a Christian to be an adulterer, a thief, or one who lies with prostitutes (all in 1 Cor 6).
I can say to my child, "Don't make a mess in your room. Remember, we cleaned up your mess. It is the messy children you don't keep their rooms clean, so don't be like them." Now, would I have to make such a statement if it's impossible for my child to make a mess in her room? Is God wasting inspiration in 1 Cor 6? Men like Cloud understand neither grace nor the Christian life. The first is a free gift, the latter is a personal responsibility.
I use the phrase "Anti-Grace Moralist" not to degrade morality. For there is no uncertainty that a moral life is the goal. A mature Christian shuns the deeds of the old nature. Reward (including an inheritance) comes from a life of walking in the light. The Phrase refers to tagging morality as a necessary requirement for grace. Cloud is unwittingly teaching the Catholic doctrine of "grave [mortal] sin" which damn the soul after saving faith. It is a monstrous attack on the work of Christ.
David Cloud tries to modify the first part of his argument (recognizing its implication) by the inclusion of the second. But never the twain shall meet. Grace is sufficient and Christians can choose to walk in the flesh. I admit this is my interpretation of his words, but he seems to be trying to straddle the fence between a true and a false gospel of grace.
More Confusion from Anti-Grace Moralism
I turn now to John MacArthur's words from Part 1 of his message on homosexuality.
The kindest thing you could ever say to someone engaged in homosexual sin is it is a sin that will damn you and it will exclude you from the kingdom of God forever.
This is erroneous in a couple of ways. First, MacArthur conflates the kingdom of God with his version of heaven. He singles out
sin as that which excludes from the gift of life. Again, we are back to the Catholic doctrine of "grave [mortal] sins."
John's entire comment is tainted by his failure to rightly divide the word of truth and his subjection to Greek Mythology (the expanded story teaches a fiery hell for sinners and a place in heaven for all believers). And while that is at the root of John's error, let's look at our two points and see just how terrible they are.
Homosexuality doesn't damn anyone. Not believing leads to condemnation. We saw this in our look at the cause of atheism. Paul teaches in 2 Cor 5 that God is holding no sin against anyone. He has already been reconciled to humanity via the cross.
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
-2 Cor 5:19
And since 1 Cor 6 is a warning to believers not to RETURN to sin, it is very dangerous to say that someone engaged in this sin is therefore "condemned." Of course, he is "condemned," but not to death without hope. Here we must put the warning of Romans 8 to the believer with the warning of 1 Cor 6 to the believer. As Paul repeatedly teaches, the believer has a choice between walking in the new nature and walking in the old nature (flesh). This is why Paul implores the believer to walk in the light of the new nature.
And just as Romans warns the believer to walk in the new nature lest he find his life's works condemned, the book also is clear to say that nothing can sperate the believer from the love of God. God knows no "grave sin" for the true believer than can erase the work of Christ.
This is abundantly clear in Ephesians chapters 4-6 and Colossians chapters 2-4 as well as the abundantly clear passage in Galatians 5 in regard to the fruits of the new nature and the fruits of the old.
We've covered this in one way or another in a number of studies, including our series on Walking in the Spirit and Walking Worthy. (See links at the end of the post)
The Chapter in Regard to the Possibility of Christian Sin
1 Corinthians 5 clearly addresses Christians.
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles...
Believers guilty of sin that even the world may condemn.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Here, again, we must rightly divide the word "saved." Neither Cloud nor MacArthur would contend that the free gift of Life could be lost by sinning (lest we all lose it as we all sin), yet they imply it. This passage in 1 Cor 5 is a warning (as in 1 Cor 6) to believers looking for a place in the expected "kingdom of God" on earth which was " at hand." If you do not understand that distinction, you will be enslaved to fear or risk loss of reward via an immoral life (as we ill examine in a moment).
In light of the gross immorality in Corinth, Paul calls on BELIEVERS to act.
Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
More instruction on how to handle IMMORAL CHRISTIANS. Paul is abundantly clear the sexually immoral in this passage are BELIEVERS.
I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.
This is within the company of believers. This passage silences those who teach an anti-gospel of "Lordship Salvation" and puts to shame the gospel of Brennan Manning which teaches that we accept all sin and let God sort it out in some future day. We must judge within, for the sake of our witness and for the sake of the one ensnared in sin. This last thought is emphasized in Paul's closing statement of the chapter.
For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”
Here, an immoral believer is referred to an "evil person." We are called to "judge" immorality within the camp. We leave the judgment of those outside the camp with God, but within, we must maintain a standard.
Scripture silences both sets of false teachings. Neither the Anti-Grace Moralist nor the Libertine has any room to work in 1 Cor 5. That is, unless the Anti-Grace Moralist wants to deny that "the blood of Christ is sufficient."
The Wicked Doctrine of "Lordship Salvation"
The false gospel of Lordship Salvation (we can only briefly examine it) and the Libertine doctrine of no judgment are both dangerous. The first leads to a false faith in the works of one's hands as the focus of salvation, the latter to destroyed lives and buildings of shame at the Bema Seat of Christ.
David Cloud demands repentance (a word not found in the Book of John) and suggests from his application that biblical repentance is the cessation of certain sins of his choosing. He doesn't think the blood of Christ is sufficient.
"The blood of Christ is sufficient, but God demands repentance..."
Here is why John wrote his gospel:
And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Some people do not come to Christ because their "deeds are evil," as John also teaches (Jn 3). John argues that those who do not have life, do not have life because they failed to believe. Why? Because they love darkness more than Light. The two are related. We looked at this in our study on atheists. But nowhere is the act of forsaking all carnal appetites a requirement for the free gift of Life. Again, John never uses the word "repent."
We will love the light if we recognize our deeds are evil and seek remedy in Christ. This is how the two come together. It is in this faith alone, however, that the free gift of grace is imparted. If one loves his darkness, he will not come into the light of faith. John places them together, but faith is not "committing a life of discipleship" (which leaves open a gaping hole of interpretation); it is a desire to come into the Light.
If we want to interpret "repent" as a change of heart toward God in Christ by an act of placing all hope in his death, burial, and resurrection because we've recognized our deeds are evil, perhaps there is a place for repentance. But "Lordship Salvation" (a phrase not found in scripture) demands a strict discipleship and an understanding and hope beyond the cross; a doctrine that will lead many to a false hope in their own discipleship and perceived obedience rather than a reliance on the finished work. The repentance unto service has another application not connected to the free gift.
I'll close this section with a quote from the blog of David J. Stewart, a man who says he agrees with David Cloud on 95% of his teachings.
David Cloud is teaching “another gospel” that effectively adds works to faith. Cloud says if you're not ready to follow Christ, which is discipleship, then you're not ready to get saved. May I say, discipleship has nothing to do with sonship. David Cloud errantly associates repentance unto life for salvation with following Christ in obedience and surrender, which is a satanic lie. Cloud's false plan of salvation insults the imputed righteousness of God (Romans 4:5-6), and corrupts the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).
There is a tremendous lesson here. Even if Cloud (or Manning, or MacArthur, etc.) is right 95% of the time, it only takes a little leaven to infect the entire lump.
Again, we see why Evangelicalism is failing. Men get stuck in their interpretations, even when they prove inconsistent with the witness of God and context.
And overreaching all these things is the forgotten doctrine of the forgiveness of all the sins of man. God holds no sin against any man. Death is upon all men because (as John argues) they choose death (darkness). No sin stands in their way of reconciliation. No work is required. If you believe God holds sin against men, you deny the blood of Christ and the finished work. We call on men to be reconciled to God because God has already been reconciled to men. But all are free to choose darkness.
Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
-2 Cor 5:18-19
There is dispensational element in this passage in regard to the widening of the call to reconciliation from Israel to "the world," but the effect is the same.
Breaking Down the "Conversion" Argument
Lastly, we turn back to another quote from David Cloud. We opened with him referring to 1 Cor 6, and we see again in another article how he is stuck on his interpretation of this passage.
Those who hold this view do not believe in repentance and supernatural conversion, as taught so plainly in 1 Corinthians 6. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor EFFEMINATE, nor ABUSERS OF THEMSELVES WITH MANKIND, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Co. 6:9-11).
I cannot quote the entire article here (it is linked above), but in his flow of argument you will note that Cloud conflates an acceptance of homosexuality and the exalting of that lifestyle with the idea that the old nature (flesh) is capable of any and all kinds of sins (see the bulleted list below). This is very deceptive. I would go as far as calling it wicked if I didn't believe that Cloud is just guilty of his own conclusion-seeking.
He takes as an example an active homosexual "priest" who performs same-sex weddings and tries to argue that is exactly the same (for all intents and purposes) as saying that those who have homosexual feelings are having sinful feelings, but they are not to be excluded from congregations of believers. These positions are light years apart.
We can then discuss how one who is having such feelings in his old nature should handle them. But this is what we do with all tendencies of the old nature. You can place the finest Brandy in all the world before me and it means nothing. It meant nothing to me as an unsaved man. But that is because that sin has no allure for me. But that certainly does not mean that I am incapable of all sin nor does it mean the Christian who is tempted is in a worse state than I.
When we turn to sexual sin, we have seen that 1 Cor 6 (and certainly 1 Cor 5) teaches that Christians are fully capable of falling into sexual sin. And this reality is not just for "weak" Christians. Let's look ahead at 1 Cor 7:5-7 and see Paul's warning TO CHRISTIANS there.
Do not deprive one another [in martial sex] except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But I say this as a concession, not as a commandment. For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.
The Apostle here argues that if a spouse denies his/her spouse from sex, that CHRISTIAN may be tempted of Satan. The warning is to the spouse because Paul acknowledges we all still have an old nature. Does David Cloud deny this? I hope not. But that is what he seems to argue. If we do not have an old nature capable of absolute wickedness, the Apostles wasted a lot of time on warning Christians about our own lives and the restoration of those who do fall.
We looked at this in our study on evil in the Christian and elsewhere. We looked at some of the multiple warnings from Paul to Christians in regard to our walk. We are fully capable of walking in the flesh. Peter states that Christians are not only capable of being thieves, we can be murderers (Paul argues the same in Galatians 5).
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.
-1 Peter 4:15
In Cloud's opening sentence, after his attempt to put all positions not his in the same basket, he refers generically to some "view." To what view does he refer? The view that a Christian can suffer from same-sex attraction.
they believe the homosexual is destined to live as a “same-sex attracted” person, either celibately or not
The implication is that those having or recognizing this attraction, "do not believe in repentance and supernatural conversion." Well, David's' view on "repentance" is heretical and Christ-denying, but we've touched on that above and in our quote from David Stewart's blog
. For our purposes here, we want to look at what he could possible mean by "supernatural conversion."
Clearly by this phrase he believes that conversion means some sort of inability to sin. That's the only way his argument makes sense. Surely he would deny that, but he certainly applies it to sexual sin. From Cloud's article:
God’s Word says that wrong lusts are sin in themselves even when not acted on. Jesus taught that for a man to look upon a woman to lust after her is adultery (Mt. 5:28). The same would be true, then, a man to lust after a man or a woman to lust after a woman
Again, he conflates an attraction with "lusting after." First, we must ask if he believes this is possible for a believer. Of course it is. Just as all sexual sins are possible. But let's take a step back. Is it not possible to be attracted to someone who is not your spouse and then not "lust after
?" Of course it is!
We saw in 1 Cor 7 that Paul teaches that a spouse is not to withhold himself/herself lest the other spouse be TEMPTED. It is very possible to be tempted, but that is not carte blanche to "lust after." And in the case of same-sex attraction, we still say that there should be no "lusting after."
Do you see the chicanery and deceitfulness in Cloud's argument? He is arguing that feeling an attraction, any attraction, is akin to "lusting after." This is madness. He finds no other women, other than his wife, attractive? Would he argue he never found her (or any other woman) attractive until he was married to his wife? And if he did find her attractive before they married, was that fornication? If so, he's right back in the warning in 1 Cor 6 and we must conclude he had lost his salvation.
David makes his illogical and inconsistent interpretations knowing his eager reader will fall into the snare without question because it feeds the conclusion he wants.
In arguing against "lusting after" and the Lord equating it with adultery, Cloud adds this:
man’s desire toward women is natural, same-sex desire is unnatural
I am not going to argue his point that the first is natural and the second unnatural. However, the first being natural does not negate the sin of "lusting after." Follow me know as I follow Cloud. See what he is arguing as true prima facia? Men are attracted to women! Now, does it follow that all such attraction is adulterous? We ask again, is all such attraction sin? Of course not. I can't imagine Cloud would argue that, but he must if his logic is to hold.
One cannot argue that men are attracted to women, but only when he "lusts after" her does it become sin and simultaneously argue that just being attracted is sin. That would mean all heterosexual men are guilty of adultery and fornication, regularly, by simply finding women attractive. They all, thus, come under the condemnation of 1 Cor 6 in Cloud's theology.
The inclusion of homosexual attraction being "unnatural" is a way to avoid the logic. The same argument holds. One can be attracted, but refuse to "lust after." Sin dwells in the old nature. This is why Paul warns the Corinthians against many forms of sexual sin BECAUSE IT IS POSSIBLE. And why Paul warns spouses not to withhold themselves, BECAUSE THE OLD NATURE WILL BE TEMPTED TO SIN.
Surely, there are some who accept those who struggle with same-sex attraction without condoning these same people "lusting after" others or attempting to equate the attraction with the natural attraction of man and woman. These are all very different things.
David Cloud leaves room for nothing. He wants his simple-minded readers to believe that salvation and regeneration mean an end to the old nature (flesh) on the one hand ("supernatural conversion"), while arguing that lusting after a woman is akin to adultery for a believer on the other. You cannot have it both ways. If, as a heterosexual, I am capable of lusting after a woman, then "supernatural conversion" CANNOT mean I am incapable of that sin. Yet Cloud argues that "supernatural conversion" means a former homosexual is incapable of that sin.
You cannot teach the full assurance of eternal life because of the finished work AND that certain sins negate that work. The latter is a denial of the former. And then we have to start separating which sins are "grave [mortal] sins" and which are not. If 1 Cor 6 is our guide, then adulterers are in the same boat, and by extension, every heterosexual Christian man who ever looks lustily at a woman.
Unless we are gifted as Paul was (For I wish that all men were even as I myself), we are all capable of "lusting after" one who is not our spouse. But the epistles do not limit the sins CHRISTIANS are capable of committing. It is rather ugly list.
These are all said to be possible for BELIEVERS:
- Whore Mongering
- Lying with a Prostitute
- Outbursts of Wrath
- Selfish Ambitions
- Loving the World
- and the like
Yes, such WERE some of you (1 Cor 6)... so beware and do no fall back into these sins. Do not be like the Gentiles. Come out an be separate. Yes, this is what we teach. What we do not teach is that if you fall back into sin, you have lost your salvation or that it means you were never saved. We certainly would never teach that if you are tempted by any sin of the flesh, you were never saved.
That is a horrible, Christ-denying doctrine of demons.
Cloud's error is born out of his mythology of "heaven/hell" and "saved/lost.
" Since he has all believers going to heaven, he struggles with the concept of disobedient Christians. What of them? He doesn't recognize the "wicked servant." If all just go to heaven, what's the difference? The Christ-Denying, Anti-Grace Moralist has to conclude that the wicked servant was never truly a servant (or he adopts the Christ-denying doctrine of a lost salvation via some "grave sin.").
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles
-1 Cor 5:1a
Yes, Christ-denying Moralist, it is possible for Christians (even you) to fall into sexual immorality so awful, it is not even accepted by the world.
Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
-1 Thessalonians 4:3-6
We have a choice how we are going to live. The Grace-Denying, Christ-Denying Moralists want us to conclude the choice in how to live is what saves us. We must note a clear distinction between the condemnation of sin (all sin) for the sake of restoration and the future judgment of believers for deeds done in the flesh and the doctrine of the free gift of life by grace alone through faith alone.
We must reject both the Moralist and the Libertine. Both present faith-destroying paths. Both can lead to false gospels. Both fail to rightly divide the word of truth.
Help in Walking the Christian Walk
If you struggle with sin and are looking for a path to walk in the new nature (and not in the old nature), I have two series of related studies. One on the Christian walk and the other Walking worthy. I will link to Part 1 of each below.
And you can do neither fully properly unless you understand the present age. Listen to "Episode 18 - The Prize of the High Calling, It Must Be Understood and Pursued" on Spreaker.