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Definition: “Emotional foreboding or dread of impending distress or misfortune. Often spoken of as the source of religion. Yet fear alone can never account for true religion, since men are impelled to draw near unto God, the object of their worship. One does not desire to come close to the being he fears” (Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1988), 781).

(Sorry about the number formatting: wordpress does some strange stuff to my word docs when I copy them over)
  1. God is Sovereign

 

  1. Creation
  2. Genesis 1 & 2
  3. Heb. 1:3, 11:3
  4. John 1:3
  5. In short, all created things – all existing things – are because of God’s determination. Without God’s action to create & to sustain, no thing would continue to exist. See, Rev. 4:11 (note that the result of such a recognition is to praise God).

 

  1. Providence : No single word in biblical Hebrew or Greek expresses the idea of God’s providence. pronoia is used for God’s purposive foresight by Plato, Stoic writers, Philo, who wrote a book On Providence (Peri pronoias), Josephus, and the authors of Wisdom (cf. 14:3; 17:2) and 3, 4 Macc.; but in the NT pronoia occurs only twice (Acts 24:2; Rom. 13:14), both times denoting, not God’s care and forethought, but man’s. The cognate verb pronoeo, too, is used only of man (Rom. 12:17; 2 Cor. 8:21; 1 Tim. 5:8).

Providence is normally defined in Christian theology as the unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill (Ps. 145:9 cf. Mt. 5:45–48), he upholds his creatures in ordered existence (Acts 17:28; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3), guides and governs all events, circumstances and free acts of angels and men (cf. Ps. 107; Jb. 1:12; 2:6; Gn. 45:5–8), and directs everything to its appointed goal, for his own glory (cf. Eph. 1:9–12). This view of God’s relation to the world must be distinguished from: (a) pantheism, which absorbs the world into God; (b) deism, which cuts it off from him; (c) dualism, which divides control of it between God and another power; (d)indeterminism, which holds that it is under no control at all; (e) determinism, which posits a control of a kind that destroys man’s moral responsibility; (f) the doctrine of chance, which denies the controlling power to be rational; and (g) the doctrine of fate, which denies it to be benevolent.

 

Providence is presented in Scripture as a function of divine sovereignty. God is King over all, doing just what he wills (Pss. 103:19; 135:6; Dn. 4:35; cf. Eph. 1:11). This conviction, robustly held, pervades the whole Bible. The main strands in it may be analysed as follows (D. R. W. Wood and I. Howard Marshall, New Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 979).

 

  1. General:

 

  1. Trusting God contains much useful instruction & homework.

 

  1. SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD Biblical teaching that God possesses all power and is the ruler of all things (Ps. 135:6; Dan. 4:34–35). God rules and works according to His eternal purpose, even through events that seem to contradict or oppose His rule.

 

Biblical Teaching Scripture emphasizes God’s rule in three areas: creation, human history, and redemption. Scripture testifies clearly to God’s rule over His creation (Gen. 1; Mark 4:35–41; Rom. 8:20–21), including Christ’s sustaining and governing of all things (Heb. 1:3, Col. 1:15–17). The Bible affirms also that God rules human history according to His purpose, from ordinary events in the lives of individuals (Judg. 14:1–4; Prov. 16:9, 33) to the rise, affairs, and fall of nations (Ps. 22:28; Hab. 1:6; Acts 17:26). Scripture depicts redemption as the work of God alone. God, according to His eternal purpose, takes the initiative in the provision and application of salvation and in enabling man’s willing acceptance (John 17:2; Rom. 8:29–30; Eph. 1:3–14; 2 Thess. 2:13–14; 2 Tim. 1:9–10) (Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1523).

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  1. Fear derives from the Curse/fear of punishment

 

  1. 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love” (ESV, throughout).

 

  1. The things which we could fear all derive from the Curse: Genesis 3:16–19: “To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

 

  1. The fact of/potential for punishment derives from the fact of the Fall and Curse.

 

  1. “3:19 Here we come to the last word of judgment. Adam’s toil will be without relief until his final destiny of death….Adam’s death is portrayed by the dreadful wordplay on his creation and essential physical constitution as the “dust” (?apar) of the “ground” (?adamâ) (2:7; Eccl 3:20; Ps 103:14). His “return” will be from whence he came: ?adam will become once again ?adamâ (“ground”). Death is exactly what God had forewarned (2:17) and what the serpent had denied (3:4). Death comes by the reversal (“returns”) of the man’s God-given state, that is, a “living being” (2:7). This reversal is the deterioration of the body that will “return” to the dust from which it was made (cf. Job 10:9; Ps 104:29)” (K. A. Mathews, vol. 1A, Genesis 1-11:26, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 253).

 

  1. A review of the elements of the curse: relational problems, physical pain, toiling work, environmental problems, death form the basic stuff of fear. Lesser fears can easily be categorized within these forms.

 

  1. Fear of punishment – the greatest being death – create slavery in the one fears. Heb. 2:14. Hope in the midst of fear is possible because Jesus has destroyed the one who has the power death, that is the devil. Heb. 2:14-15.

 

  1. We do not need to fear punishment resulting from the Fall & Curse, because we have been loved by God. 1 John 4:18-19. Therefore, any difficulty which I suffer is for my good. Rom. 8:28-29. All chastisement comes from a loving Father – not a punishing God. Heb. 12:5-11.

 

  1. Fear derives from the false belief that God cannot or will not act.

 

  1. E.g., The disciples in the boat during the storm: Mark 4:35-41. They saw the storm and feared that they were not safe. Jesus awakes, calms the storms and then rebukes them for having “little faith”. They were unwilling/unable to see God’s ability to/willingness to act.

 

  1. Jesus walking on the water: the disciples are again frightened by Jesus’ power. Mark notes, Mark 6:51–52: “And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.”

 

  1. The mariners in Jonah 1 who are frightened by the storm, and then call onto the various gods and to God hoping that someone will save them. Their fear derives from their concern that no god will act.

 

  1. Psalm 13: Fear derives from the false belief that God has “forgotten”. Restoration from the fear and despair comes prayer & trust in God (vs. 3-6).

 

  1. The one who does not know God must do many things – such as babbling – because he hopes to be heard by his god (Matt. 6:7). This creates additional fear because one worries whether God has heard at all. The believer is certain that he calls God will hear: See, e.g., Psalms 3-5. Note how the believer can rest & sleep & wait for an answer from God.

 

  1. There is no need to fear anything. Matt. 6:25-34: God knows that we have need of things within creation. By fearing, we are effectively making a declaration that we do not trust God to do good. We are also fearing about what will happen in the future, not what has taken at this time.

 

  1. We know that if we ask, God will answer and will give us good. Matt. 7:7-11.

 

  1. Irrational fear: “Distinguishing Objects of Fear: Another way for counselors to look at fear is to distinguish whether its objects is proper or improper. Does the fear stem from a truly fearful object that it is biblically legitimate to fear (e.g., a tiger), or was it generated from within in the presence of an object that it is not biblically legitimate to fear (e.g., a congregation feared by a preacher because he is not adequately prepared to preach. Take another similar example: Sally fears Martha. Why? Because of guilt. She does not wish to see her, talk to her, or be in her presence because she has wronged her. It may be legitimate to fear a tiger and hide and run under the proper circumstances. There is good reason to fear Martha, but neither running nor hiding from her is Christian. The proper action in this instance is the confession of sin and reconciliation. Avoidance only multiplies and enlarges the sin)” (Jay Edward Adams, The Christian Counselor’s Manual (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1973), 424).

 

  1. Solution

 

  1. See situation correctly:

 

  1. All things work together for good. Rom. 8:28-29. This thing which is occurring is for my good (as defined in the context).

 

  1. Trials and tribulations are specifically for my good. Rom. 5:3-6; James 1:2-4.

 

  1. All trials are momentary, “a little while”. 1 Pet. 5:10, 2 Cor. 4:17.

 

  1. Trials are working us good. Rom. 8:18.

 

  1. Due to the sovereignty of God, none of the things I fear have the ability to strike me without God’s willingness that this should occur. See Job 1 & 2.

 

  1. See God correctly: The solution given by Jesus to fear and anxiety is to rightly see God’s goodness, willingness and ability to act on our behalf as it best for us. Matt. 6:24-35. In Mark 6:51-52, we learn that the fear of the disciples came because they had not properly learned about God’s ability in the preceding miracle of the loaves. Fear derives from a “hardened” an insensible heart.

 

  1. Trust God’s ability and goodness to act properly: “God will help: Do not fear, rejoice and be glad for the Lord has done great things (Joel 2:21); my Spirit abides among you, do not fear (Hag. 2:5); do not fear because God will undertake (Gen. 15:1; Gen. 21:17; Gen. 46:3; Exod. 14:13; Judg. 6:23; 2 Kgs. 6:16; 2 Chr. 32:7; Prov. 3:25–6; Acts 27:24); do not be afraid for I am with you (Gen. 26:24; Isa. 41:10; Isa. 43:5; Jer. 42:11; Jer. 46:28; Acts 18:9–10); do not fear for I will help you (Isa. 41:13; Isa. 41:14); do not fear for I have redeemed you (Isa. 43:1); do not fear for your God will come (Isa. 35:4); do not fear for I will save you (Jer. 46:27); it is I, do not be afraid (Matt. 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20); do not be afraid, only believe (Mark 5:36; Luke 8:50)” (references taken from Colin A. Day, Collins Thesaurus of the Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009))

 

  1. Fear God: An appropriate fear of the Lord, fear of God, supersedes all other fears and results in godly conduct. Example: Daniel 3 and the furnace. When threatened with the execution, the godly ones responded, Daniel 3:16–18: “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

 

  1. Love Casts Out Fear: See, above.

 

 

Homework

 

  1. See circumstance correctly

 

  1. Journal temptations to fear: circumstances, content, particular fears

 

  1. Rationality of the fear: consuming, sinful fears often have no rational relationship to the existing circumstances. For example, being afraid that someone who hurt me as a child and is now dead might still be able to hurt me. This is not mere cognitive-behavioral modification. The purpose here is to demonstrate the supernatural power one is attributing to the thing feared – the fear, the thing feared have taken on godlike qualities: idol identification.

 

  1. Goodness of God:

 

  1. Read Psalms 103-106: Make a list of at least 20 examples of the goodness of God which apply to counselee’s particular circumstances.

 

  1. What out testimony, with particular emphasis on the good which God has shown to counselee.

 

  1. Have counselee memorize at least one verse from each of the four Psalms.

 

  1. Have counselee write out a prayer based upon each of the memorized verses.

 

  1. Alt: use the four verses selected with a DWT

 

  1. Sovereignty of God

 

  1. Read Psalms 103-16: Make a list of at least ten ways in which God is shown to be sovereign over humans and creation.

 

  1. Using that list of 20 aspects of God’s sovereignty, make a list of how conscious knowledge of such sovereignty removes the basis for counselee’s fears.

 

  1. Have counselee memorize at least one verse from each of the four Psalms.

 

  1. Have counselee write out a prayer based upon each of the memorized verses.

 

  1. Alt: use the four verses selected with a DWT

 

  1. Develop Faith: Philippians 4:1-10

 

  1. See what I have in God: 1-6

 

  1. Salvation

 

  1. The right to even speak to God.

 

  1. What out testimony: from sin to salvation

 

  1. Read Revelation 21-22

 

  1. Make a list of promises given for the New Heaven and the New Earth which will alleviate any thing feared now.

 

  1. What out a prayer of thanksgiving for salvation and for the promised world to come.

 

  1. Prayers for need & fears

 

  1. Memorize 4:4-6

 

  1. What out a prayer of rejoicing for what has been given in God in Christ.

 

  1. What out a prayer of supplication for what is needed.

 

  1. Write out a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s sovereignty and provision in this matter

 

  1. Control of thoughts
  2. Memorize 4:8-9

 

  1. Using the journal respecting the nature of the temptations (above), have counselee prepare for temptation by recalling previously memorized verses, reading over appropriate passages, praying the rejoicing-supplication–thankfulness prayer (above).

 

  1. Work through Trusting God, with workbook.

 

  1. Alternative exercises for God’s sovereignty:

 

  1. Read through Pink’s The Sovereignty of God                         http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Sovereignty/sovereignty.htm

 

  1. Confirm understanding of doctrine contained in chapter

 

  1. Have counselee journal examples where s/he feels fear and how a properly understanding of God’s sovereignty affects the relationship to the fear.

 

  1. Have counselee write a prayer requesting from God the thing needed/sought – as based upon an attribute of God – together with a praise for God’s attribute in the thing & rejoicing in God’s goodness and willingness to act as is best for the counselee.

 

  1. Do the same thing with attributes of God sermons on Psalm 145

 

  1. SEXUAL IMMORALITY

 

  1. A right understanding of sexuality

 

  1. Sexual desire and fulfillment is not per se a sin.

 

  1. The first command given to humanity was the command to be fruit and multiply. This command is also termed to be a blessing. Gen. 1:28

 

  1. God brought the man and woman together: “they were naked and they were not ashamed”. Gen. 2:25

 

  1. Sexual pleasure and desire are celebrated expressly in the Bible.

 

  1. The Song of Solomon

 

  1. Prov. 5:15-20
  2. When God describes his relationship to His own people, he routinely describes it in terms of a marriage relationship. E.g., Eph. 5:25-33.

 

  1. The obtaining of a bride for marriage is a cause to bless God. See., e.g, Gen. 24:47

 

  1. A bridegroom coming from his chamber is given as a picture of supreme happiness. Ps. 19:5.

 

  1. We are commanded not to withhold sexual relations from a spouse. 1 Cor. 7:2-5.

 

  1. Our sexuality is not a personal possession.

 

  1. A person’s sexual nature is the possession of the spouse. 1 Cor. 7:2-5. Thus, using it in any manner for something other than the pleasure of the spouse is forbidden.

 

  1. Our bodies, particularly as to sexuality, must be used to give glory to God. 1 Cor. 6:19-20.

 

  1. For a Christian, sexual immorality after a manner is an attempt to join God to sin. 1 Cor. 6:15-16.

 

  1. Sexual monogamy within the context of marriage is required:

 

  1. Monogamous marriage is the original intention for humanity. Ge 2:22-24

 

  1. Failure to maintain a covenanted, monogamous relationship is condemned:

 

14 But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” Malachi 2:14–16

 

 

  1. Comment: “To say God hates divorce is to say that he hates everything that leads up to divorce, which means he also hates all our failures to work towards real companionship and oneness in marriage.We may be inclined to think that what goes on in our homes doesn’t have any bearing on the rest of life, but it does. Here in Malachi’s day we find men going to meet the Lord at the temple, and the Lord points them back to their homes. Family life colours and influences every other part of life” (Roger Ellsworth, Opening Up Malachi (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2007), 54-55)

 

2          Jesus affirms covenanted marriage was the original intent of God: Mt 19:4-6 Mk 10:6-9.

 

  1. Marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the Church: Eph 5:31. Similar imagery is used in the Old Testament: See also Isa 54:5-8; Jer 2:2-3; Eze 16:8; Hos 2:16-20; 3:1.

 

  1. Monogamy is implicit in teaching about divorce: Mt 19:9; Mk 10:11; Lk 16:18.

 

  1. An elder must be monogamous. 1 Tim. 3:2.

 

  1. Sexual Immorality is Strictly Forbidden

 

  1. Gen. 2:25 and 3:7 for a useful contrast to understand sexual immorality:

 

  1. Genesis 2:25: And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed

 

  1. Genesis 3:7: Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

 

  1. Sexual shame is a direct result of the Fall.

 

  1. Sexual immorality partakes of sexual shame. It is an unnatural event (in the sense that the post-Fall world is the result of something not originally created), like death.

 

  1. Sexual sin is a promise of some future delight, but it partakes of the loss of pleasure and delight inherent in the Fall.

 

  1. Commands to abstain from sexual immorality:

 

  1. Exodus 20:14: “You shall not commit adultery.” This text specifically prohibits sexual relations with another human being’s spouse. However, the commands against sexual immorality are broader than that. Moreover, even though this command is given in the context of the Mosaic Covenant, its application well proceeds the Covenant.

 

  1. The normative relationship is monogamous, heterosexual marriage. Gen. 2:24-25.

 

  1. Joseph knows that it is a sin. Gen. 39:9.

 

iii.        Marriage was normative during the Pre-Flood period. Matt. 24:38

 

  1. Marriage is presumed as a basis for sexual relations, even among pagans. Gen. 12:18-19; 26:10.

 

  1. Sexual relationship outside of heterosexual, monogamous marriage are forbidden: Incest Lev 18:6; Adultery 2Sa 11:4; Jer 23:14; 29:23; Hos 1:2; Jn 4:17-18; Prostitution 1Co 6:15-16 See also Jdg 16:1; 1Ki 3:16; Hos 4:13-15; Fornication Nu 25:1,6; 1Sa 2:22; Rape Ge 34:1-2; 2Sa 13:10-14; Homosexuality: Lev. 18:22; 1Co 6:9-10; 1Ti 1:9-11; 1Ki 14:24; 15:12; 2Ki 23:7.

 

  1. Specific commands considered:

 

  1. 1 Corinthians 5:9–13: I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

 

  1. Paul elsewhere writes that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Cor. 15:33. It seems that sexual immorality is of such a catching nature, that the Christian must keep themselves from even being exposed to sexual immorality. Note that it is not required to keep from all unbelievers and their sin, but rather that sin within the church could not be tolerated. The Christian who is engaging in sexual immorality must be aware that refusal to take this sin seriously must result in expulsion from the community of Christians through discipline.

 

iii.        1 Corinthians 6:9–11: 9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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. Those who persist in sexual immorality not only face expulsion from the congregation of the faithful, they also risk their eternity. Those who persist in such sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God. This is by no means a call to legalism or a denial of grace: (1) Refraining from outward acts of sexual immorality will not save a man. (2) Those who are truly transformed by the grace of God will turn from sexual immorality in repentance – even if they may struggle with the sin. Only the living man is capable of struggling. The one who has no heart for obedience to God has not been transformed.

 

  1. 1 Thessalonians 4:3: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality”. Although not phrased precisely as a command, knowledge of the will of God is the equivalent of a command. This is a useful verse, because perhaps the most common question among Christians is to know the “will of God”. Here, the will of God is plainly stated: avoiding sexual immorality. The importance of this topic is underscored by the unusual means of phrasing “this is the will of God”.

 

  1. 1 Thessalonians 4:7: “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” Again, it is not phrased precisely as a command, but it is implied that we if we have been called by God to some activity, surely that is something we are commanded to do. When coupled with Heb. 12:14 (strive for holiness without which no one will see the Lord), it is apparent that avoidance of sexual immorality is of critical importance.

 

vii.       In the short summary of the apostolic command to the Gentiles, avoidance of sexual immorality was commanded: Acts 15:28–29: “28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: 29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.” In the context of the discussion, the reference to an avoidance of sexual immorality arguably incorporates by implication the OT commands on sexual immorality. See, Acts 21:25.

 

viii.      Romans 13:11–14: “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” It is interesting to note that when Paul seeks to summarize the totality of the sinful life it is sexual immorality and fighting with others. Both actions are extraordinarily self-centered and self-adoring. While sexuality was originally given as a means of connection to another, and indeed consists (often) in actual physical intimacy (or some proximity thereof), sexual immorality springs from shame and sin – which is both self-centered and isolating.

 

  1. 1 Corinthians 10:8: “We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.” Again, sexual immorality is expressly forbidden the Christian. Again, it is coupled to OT examples. It is important to note that sexual immorality is here tied directly to sound physical judgment by God against sin: the death of those who engaged in such sin. As is common with much of the teaching on this topic, it is also closely tied to idolatry and rebellion against God.

 

  1. Ephesians 5:3–6: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” Sexual immorality is again strictly forbidden. The absolute nature of this command is seen by the repetition of the command and the interesting locution: “not even be named”. Sexual immorality must not be something even to be named among believers. Sexual immorality is again joined to direct rebellion against God.

 

  1. Sexual Immoral Derives From a Desire to Rebel Against God

 

  1. Sexual immorality derives from a disorder in man’s relationship to God as Creator (which is inherent in the Genesis narrative of Creation):

 

  1. Romans 1:21–27: 21

 

  1. Note how each of the elements of sexual depravity are described as God delivering the human to his sinful desires. This catalog of desires to sin all arise from a rebellion against God as Creator. This parallels the Genesis account of rebellion against the ordering of God which resulted in self-worship (ye shall be as gods) and the following shame of sexual immorality.

 

  1. Calvin notes how this degradation is a sort of reversal of the creation ordering: “After having introduced as it were an intervening clause, he returns to what he had before stated respecting the judgment of God: and he brings, as the first example, the dreadful crime of unnatural lust; and it hence appears that they not only abandoned themselves to beastly lusts, but became degraded beyond the beasts, since they reversed the whole order of nature” (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries: Romans, electronic ed., Logos Library System; Calvin’s Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998), Ro 1:26).

 

  1. The points of this section when joined to the commands and condemnations scattered throughout the Bible (see the discussion of specific commands above, as well as the passages on spiritual adultery, such as Jer. 2), must be brought to bear upon the conscience. Our culture teaches that sexual conduct is a purely private action. The Bible makes plain that sexual immorality has a remarkable spiritual dimension and takes on enormous theological concerns.

 

  1. Sexual immorality springs from a corrupt heart: Gal 5:19; Mt 15:19- Mk 7:21-23; Eph 4:17-19.

 

  1. Sexual Immorality Causes Loss

 

  1. Sexual immorality causes temporal loss: Prov. 5:1-14.
  2. Sexual immorality causes eternal loss. Gal. 5:19-21; Eph 5:5; Col 3:5-6; 1Th 4:3-6; Heb. 13:4; Jude 7; Rev 21:8; 22:15.

 

  1. Obedience by Abstaining From Sexual Immorality

 

  1. 1 Corinthians 6:12–20:

 

  1. The ESV well titles this section, “Flee Sexual Immorality”

 

  1. This passage gives multiple rationales for refraining from sexual immorality:

 

  1. The body and its desires are (in this present state) temporary.

 

  1. The body is not intended for sexual immorality.

 

  1. The resurrection of this body is a reason to abstain from sexual immorality.

 

  1. Our bodies are members of Christ.

 

  1. To engage in sexual immorality with another human is to be joined to that person – in contradiction of the one flesh required of a spouse – and it also in a manner joins Christ to that sin (and all other Christians, as hinted in the chapter 5 command to remove the sexually immoral person).

 

  1. Sexual immorality is uniquely directed against the self and one’s own body.

 

  1. Our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.

 

  1. We no longer own ourselves, for we have been bought by Christ.

 

  1. We are commanded to glorify God in our body.

 

  1. It is important to note that sexual immorality is not dealt with by resisting. Here we are command to flee from sexual immorality.

 

Homeowork:

 

  1. Sanctification of sexual immorality must take on two basic elements: (1) a radical amputation of all things which make involvement in the sin possible; (2) a renewing of the heart and mind to desire the glory of God in our lives.
  2. Practical Steps:

 

  1. The most common form of sexual immorality is pornography, particularly over the Internet (there are some interesting studies which show that an increase in pornography has resulted in societal wide decreases in sexual activity with other human beings; this in some ways was unexpected, because increased pornographic usage also results in a decrease of what is considered sexually acceptable. While there is a greater tolerance for perversion, many – but certainly not all – of the people exposed to increasing degrees of pornography has been to become even more isolated and tied to masturbation and imagery.

 

  1. There are many practical means of making it difficult to access Internet pornography: (a) getting rid of computers and cellphones with Internet connections; (b) using passwords (for example the roommate is the only one who knows the password to the computer); (c) using accountability software which blocks and/or reports access to improper material.

 

  1. Repeated accountability with another Christian, who repeatedly draws one’s attention to Christ is necessary. Require the man to be involved in a men’s small group where there is discussion and prayer on a frequent basis.

 

  1. The on-line Bible Studies on Setting Captives Free are very useful (the counselee’s answers to the homework can be sent to the counselor, which provides a wealth of useful data).

 

  1. Joshua Harris’ book Love Isn’t the Problem, Lust Is (previously entitled, Not Even a Hint) together with the workbook can make a useful study.

 

  1. Have the counselee memorize 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 and draw out specific applications – in writing – with this own life.

 

 

 

  1. Have the counselee write out a temptation journal. Look for patterns which underlie temptation to sexual immorality. Oftentimes, sexual immorality is a go-to for some other desire, particularly (as John Street noted in his thesis) pained feelings of loneliness or hurt. Sexual immorality, being (in some ways) a substitute for a proper relationship promises to provide connection (and then creates greater isolation). Use the journal to (I) create a plain to avoid – flee – temptations to sexual immorality; (II) look for cravings which underlie sexual immorality.

 

  1. Have the counselee listen to the talks at Capital Hill Baptist Church, “Sexual Brokenness and the Gospel”, http://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/audio/series/sexual-brokenness-and-the-gospel/. Have the counselee take detailed notes and make specific application to his life.

 

  1. Teach through Proverbs 5.

 

  1. Memorize Prov. 5:1-6. Have the counselee learn to use these words whenever he begins to feel himself tempted

 

  1. Have counselee understand verses 6-17, then write out all of potential negative consequences which may flow from sexual immorality.

 

  1. If the counselee is married, work out a plan with the counselee to begin to develop a better and more intimate relationship with his wife. Verses 15-20.

 

  1. Have the counselee memorize 21-23.

 

III.       HOMOSEXUALITY

 

  1. Material Taught Above

 

  1. The material taught above can all, with occasional modification, be used for counseling the believer struggling with same sex attraction.

 

  1. Additions

 

  1. Homosexuality is Actually a Sin

 

  1. Be ready to respond to dodges raised to various texts. Such as the word “pais” in Matthew 8:5 when referring to the centurion’s servant shows that the centurion was in a homosexual relationship with the servant. The word “pais” being a common word for a servant of any age without any implication of sexual relationship (consult common lexicons).

 

  1. The love of David and Jonathan was sexual. “David’s very personal expression of emotion here should not be taken as evidence of a homosexual liaison with Jonathan;178 rather, it is a manifestation of the parameters of social relations that existed in ancient Israelite society. Marriages in ancient Israel took place primarily for the benefit of the tribe—to increase the size and strength of the social group through procreation (cf. Gen 1:28) and to increase its prosperity through the establishment of advantageous formal ties with other families (cf. Gen 34:21–23). A man’s wife was his partner in procreation and parenting, but not necessarily his best friend, confidant, or social peer. For David, Jonathan was the peer, friend, and confidant that no wife could ever have been in that society; and his untimely death left a gaping hole in David’s soul” (Robert D. Bergen, vol. 7, 1, 2 Samuel, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 293). There is an important point to be made here: The closeness of Jonathan and David’s relationship was made possible because of the absence of a sexual relationship. The taboo against homosexual conduct in ancient Israelite society made such an intense friendship possible (as other sexual taboos, such as incest make it possible for parents and children or other extended family members to have very close relationships).

 

  1. Examples of homosexuality:

 

  1. Gn. 19:1–25.

 

  1. Jdg. 19:13–20:48.

 

  1. Ezekiel 16:49 does not stand for the proposition that Sodom was judged in part for homosexuality, nor that homosexuality was not a sin in Sodom. “The sketch of Sodom’s (and Samaria’s) sins in v 45ba leads the reader to expect a denunciation on sexual lines, as in Gen 19:1–11. Certainly Yahweh’s getting rid of Sodom “when he saw” their behavior (v 50) appears to echo Gen 18:21. Moreover, Sodom’s shocking or abominable conduct in v 50 may well be a reflection of homosexuality (cf. Lev 18:22; 20:13; Greenberg 289). But the specification of Sodom’s sins highlights the city’s arrogance or pride in materialistic comfort and excess, coupled with a lack of concern for the poor” (Leslie C. Allen, vol. 28, Word Biblical Commentary : Ezekiel 1-19, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 244). “The prophet fixes on the point which made Sodom a luxurious and sensual city, the graver evil being just hinted at in the word abominations, and as the outcome of the evil tendencies. So in like manner the special sin of Samaria, the worship of the calves, is not named, but taken for granted. (For fulness of bread, see Prov. 30:9; Hos. 13:6; Deut. 8:12.)” (The Pulpit Commentary: Ezekiel Vol. I, ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2004), 276).

 

  1. Those who persist in homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9. “He is not describing the qualifications required for an entrance examination; he is comparing habituated actions, which by definition can find no place in God’s reign for the welfare of all, with those qualities in accordance with which Christian believers need to be transformed if they belong authentically to God’s new creation in Christ. Everything which persistently opposes what it is to be Christlike must undergo change if those who practice such things wish to call themselves Christians and to look forward to resurrection with Christ” (Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians : A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 439).

 

  1. See, also, “Critique of Prohomosexual Interpretations of the Old Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha”, James B. De Young, vol. 147, Bibliotheca Sacra Volume 147, 588 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1990), 436. “Homosexuality And The Church”, Alex D. Montoya, Master’s Seminary Journal Volume 11, 2 (Sun Valley, CA: The Master’s Seminary, 2000), 153).

 

  1. Homosexuality is not the unforgivable sin. The counselee may be completely overwhelmed with shame. There may be repeated times of worry that perhaps he has sinned too greatly to be forgiven. In response to such problems emphasis two points:

 

  1. No where is homosexuality classed as a sin for which there is no forgiveness. When it is included within a list of other sins, get the counselee to confirm that such sins are forgivable and thus homosexuality is likewise.

 

  1. The greatness and extent of the atonement. Verses such as 1 John 1:9 are key to help here.

 

  1. Romans 6: This text is of great value in assisting the homosexual. The life-dominating nature of this sin is likely to result in a counselee who believes that he cannot be different. Verses 1-11 are of particular importance: The old man was crucified; therefore, reckon yourself to be dead to this sin. He must understand that he is no longer under obligation to persist in this sin.

 

  1. 2 Corinthians 5:17: emphasizing that he is a new creature and that his old self has passed away.

 

  1. 1 Cor. 6:11: “Such were some of you”. The counselee needs to understand that for the believer, such sins are a thing of the past. Irrespective of how difficult it may be to let go of the temptation, they are not irreversibly bound to this past.

 

Homework

 

  1. Use the homework stated above.

 

  1. Temptation journal: This may be of particular importance to help with restructuring his life. Oftentimes, homosexual sin has resulted in the construction of elaborate deceits to permit the sin to persist. Determining the nature and scope of temptation will be important. It will likely be necessary be necessary to block emails, cancel gym memberships, change commuting routes. With same sex attraction, physical sexual relations with another person are extremely easy to obtain. The need to create obstacles are nearly as great as that needed for avoiding Internet pornography.

 

  1. Making public declarations of Christianity at work, on social media, etc. In order to protect himself from temptation, it is very useful to have the counselee make various public announcements (using manners and means appropriate to the circumstance) that he is a Christian. If others believe that he (may be/is) a homosexual, well-meaning friends will likely assist in setting him up (this is especially likely where the counselee has taken a job in some area which is particularly “friendly” to homosexuality.

 

  1. Matthewhenry.org: This is a website which will provide daily elements from Matthew Henry’s A Method of Prayer. Making sure that each day is begun with a sound praying foundation is necessary for all Christians; and especially here.

 

  1. Work to create relationships with Christian men. The homosexual is often paradoxically lonely. By sexualizing (potentially) all male relationships, he has cut himself off from deep male friendships. Being willing to be friends with the counselee can be of pastoral help. Make sure he is in fellowship wigh Christian men.

 

  1. Setting Captives Free: The online daily Bible Study has a specific Bible study – the Door of Hope – for those with same sex attraction.

 

  1. Holiness by J.C. Ryle: This is a harder book than many men may be used to reading. However, the very act of difficulty might be a use. As noted above, the counselee likely constructed a life around sexual liaisons. Substantial, dedicated effort to holiness coudl be very useful.
  2. Bridges: books on Holiness and Godliness, together with their workbooks could be useful. The Christian with same-sex attraction will need substantial rethinking of his life. The substantial effort to work through all of this material will be useful.

 

  1. Don’t let the counselee call himself a “homosexual” – ever. He is a man, he is a Christian. He is tempted in a particular way.

 

  1. MARRIAGE PROBLEMS

 

  1. Section Above: Much of the teaching above on sexual immorality can be used here with profit.

 

  1. Marriage Generally:

 

  1. Gen. 1:26-27: Both men and women were created in the image of God. Thus, there is no intrinsic superiority of one sex over the other, even though there are differences between the sexes.

 

  1. Gen. 1:28: The blessing and command given to humanity were given to man and women collectively. Again, there is no basis for oppression and conflict between the sexes.

 

  1. Gen. 2:18: The woman was made for companionship for the man, thus, a fundamental basis of and purpose for marriage is companionship – not mere reproduction.

 

  1. The reference to being a “helper” does not imply a secondary capacity or value. God, Himself, is referred to as a “helper” of his people. See, e.g., Ps. 115:9-11.

 

  1. The basis of marriage is a profound covenant relationship. Gen. 2:24. As a covenant relationship, the bond transcends momentary feelings and desires. (For example, the obligation to pay my mortgage does not disappear merely because I don’t like my house any more.)

 

  1. Gen. 2:24: The covenant between the husband and the wife creates a new familial unit which is separate from the parents of both.

 

  1. Gen. 2:25: In its original state, marriage and sexual intimacy were matters for which there were no shame. Shame (which oddly acts as a catalyst for sexual immorality) derives from the Fall. Gen. 3:7.

 

  1. Gen. 3:16b: Conflict in marriage is a fault of the Fall and Curse. It is not inherent in the Creation Order. Therefore, since God in Jesus Christ set out to undo the effects of the Fall and Curse, one outworking is to be a restoration of the marriage relationship.

 

  1. Eph. 5:22-33: Marriage is to be a model and picture of the relationship between Christ and the Church. Therefore, when one undertakes marriage, on is bound to fulfill a role – again this exists irrespective of my immediate feelings.

 

  1. Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-7: The husband and the wife are assigned specific obligations within the context of marriage which exist independently of their personal preferences or desires. When counseling the marriage couple, look to see if the husband or the wife are failing in these roles. It will often be the case, that the husband is failing to love his wife, and/or the wife fails to respect her husband.

 

  1. Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-7: The marriage obligations are obligations owed to God as worship, although they are shown directly (but not solely) to the spouse. Therefore, the failure of one spouse to fulfill an obligation does nothing to relieve the other spouse of the obligation to worship God by giving some good to a spouse.

 

Homework: Fortunately, there are many good resources available for the marriage relationship. These resources may focus on the marriage as a whole and/or the roles of the husband and/or the wife. Since there are very specific commands as to how the Christian must live within the context of marriage, teaching these roles and then assisting the counselee(s) to actually perform these roles will be of great help in the counseling relationship. Should both of the counselees willingly submit themselves to the biblical commands respecting marriage, they will find that they will be quickly receiving that which they hoped to receive from their marriage.

 

  1. In order to begin to teach the couple to understand their marriage relationship as within the context of worship, have the couple set aside at least three times during the week to share prayer requests with one-another. They are then to pray for one another. It is also much more difficult to fight with someone for whom you have just prayed.

 

  1. Have the counselees journal the nature of their conflicts: Conflict tend to center on a few common elements. For example, there may be a failure to leave-and-cleave, in violation of Gen. 2:24. There may be a failure to love and/or to respect the other. Determine the precise nature of the conflict. This will first help uncover the idolatry which leading to the conflict (if marriage life is to be worship to God, then failure to live in a godly manner is necessarily worship of some false god). This will also help ascertain the proper element of teaching which must be emphasized.

 

  1. Often there are sets of problems in the marriage: First, there is the underlying problem which has been generating the difficulty throughout the marriage. Second, there is often a wealth of bitterness which has built up from the bad acts committed throughout the marriage. A lack of forgiveness can make it very difficult to move past the immediate problems. Therefore, teaching forgiveness: the scope, giving and receiving may be very necessary. It may be necessary to start the marriage counseling with The Peacemaker. Work through the book, using the questions at the end of each chapter to confirm information and then make direct application to the couple’s life.

 

  1. Sin often works in the space between expectation and reality: Have the couple separately make two lists: (1) My marriage would be right (good/perfect) if only …. (2) My marriage is troubled because ….. Require a minimum of ten entries. Use this information to demonstrate (1) pinning happiness on the Creation will also result in disappointment (Eccl. 2:1-11). (2) They are each sinning to make up the space between expectation and reality. Thus, they have made an idol out of what they are pursuing. There is a failure to trust God to be able to provide what is needed and best (cf., Piper, Future Grace). (3) Typically, it will be easy to demonstrate that should both spouses live in accordance with God’s dictates, not only will they receive good from God, they will receive it from their spouse who will be living in a manner which is delightful.

 

  1. For those whose communication has completely broken down, use the conference table homework together with the communications homework in Mack’s A Manual for Biblical Living, pp. 3-13. Use the recorded sessions from the conference table to discuss some underlying problem. This will permit some discussion on a substantive issue. Use the recording to gain insight into the marriage. Be careful in assigning too much homework at one time as Mack’s homework might overwhelm those who are already quite chaotic in their lives.

 

  1. Teach and have the counselee’s practice good communications skills during the counseling session. Demonstrate & explain the differences in male-female communication styles during session. Stop and make them speak properly to one-another. Have them memorize Eph. 4:29 and require it to be given word-perfect durign the counseling session should they fail to speak properly.

 

  1. Where there are problems with companionship, use the Mack homework (pp. 14-15) on companionship. Use appropriate sections from Mack homework for other specific problems.

 

  1. For a good theological background on marriage, work through Piper’s This Momentary Marriage. Have counselees read the book together, writing out any questions, points of applications or places where their concepts of marriage fall short.

 

  1. Use What Did You Expect? Have the counselees read each chapter together. Have each separately note seven sentences in each chapter which specifically apply to their circumstance. Have them explain why this in particular applies.