*Adopted from a sermon on 1 John 1:5-10 preached at Riverside Christian Fellowship in Hernando, FL*
Forgiveness of sins is a work accomplished by Christ alone. God has been more than generous to us by sending His Son to shed His blood on the cross, where we find forgiveness and new life (Eph. 1:7). Because of that, Christians ought never to think, "I need to forgive myself." There is no power in that notion; there is no real forgiveness in "forgiving self." Self-forgiveness, as humble as it may look on the surface, is a form of self-idolatry. Let me explain. A Christian sees his forgiveness in Christ as all-saving and all-sufficient, but does he see it as all-satisfying? When you commit a sin, you feel bad about it, you confess it, and repent...but there is something that lingers in your mind. You've believed what God has declared in His Word, you ARE forgiven of your sins, but there remains an empty space in your heart that hasn't been satisfied; there is something else that you perceive NEEDS to take place. So you say, "I just need to forgive myself." In essence, we are saying, "I know God has forgiven me but I am not satisfied with that, so I also need to forgive myself. I need God's forgiveness AND my own forgiveness." We think to ourselves, “With God’s forgiveness, I KNOW I am forgiven, but with self-forgiveness, I FEEL I am forgiven.” This belief is completely foreign to the Word of God and it has no place in the life of a Christian. It is a sin that needs to be confessed and repented of. Self-forgiveness is what the world teaches and desires; we know that God says "the world is passing away along with its desires" (1 John 2:17). Self-forgiveness is what Satan wants you to believe; he knows he can't take away your actual forgiveness in Christ but he is going to do whatever he can to sap the satisfaction of that forgiveness by offering/adding a counterfeit that supposedly can tune in to feeling. Self-forgiveness is not of God and therefore it is not for you. We need to readily acknowledge and embrace that God's forgiveness found only in the blood of Christ is all-saving, all-sufficient, and all-satisfying. We can both KNOW and FEEL true forgiveness in Christ.
"If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?" - 1 Samuel 2:25
It is a kind of tragedy when those put in charge to lead God's people are but frauds and wolves. In this passage, the context reveals that Eli is both the high priest and judge in Israel while his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were brought into the priesthood by birth. Because Eli was advanced in years (1 Sam. 2:22), he likely left it up to his sons to inspect the service of the tabernacle and they took advantage of the absence of their father to profane the offerings of the LORD ( vv. 13-17). Nonetheless, his absence did not prevent him from hearing that his sons were having sexual relationships with the women who served at the tabernacle (v. 22). To top it off, verse 12 says that his sons were "worthless" or "corrupt" and did not know God; the Hebrew phrase literally means "sons of Belial", connoting vile persons. The phrase describes those who incite idolatry (Deut.13:13) or insurrection (10:27; 2 Sam. 16:7; 20:1); the sexually immoral (Judg. 19:22); and liars (1 Kin. 21:10, 13). The Apostle Paul uses the name "Belial" as a name for Satan (2 Cor. 6:15). Clearly, these two men were heaping up for themselves divine judgment (1 Sam. 2:34). Left to our own devices, however, are we any any better than the sons of Eli?
Sure, perhaps you have not committed some of the same sins as Hophni and Pinehas, but have you ever looked with lust upon another person, told a lie, or stolen anything? Have you ever blasphemed the name of the Lord by taking His name in vain? God says in His Word that even if you break just one of His laws, you are guilty of breaking all of the laws (Js. 2:10) and you will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
But God is merciful. In relation to the above passage, if you sin against God, God Himself can intercede for you because of the perfect and sinless life of Jesus, the Son of God and God the Son. To be forgiven of your sins, however, you MUST repent (turn away from) of your sinful life and believe on Jesus Christ (Mk. 1:15; Lk. 3:15; Acts 16:31) who lived in your stead the perfect and holy life required by God (Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:16). Paul says of Jesus in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Jesus lived the life that you and I can never live while in this fallen world, and He died the death on the cross that you and I deserve to die. The holy for the unholy; the just for the unjust. For all who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the debt has been paid in full! Through faith alone in Jesus Christ, you are saved by His grace (Eph. 2:8-10). Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart like the sons of Eli. Turn to Christ and live!
"My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel. Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you've learned. For the lips of an immoral woman are as sweet as honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edge sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. For she cares nothing about the path of life. She staggers down the crooked path and doesn't realize it." - Proverbs 5:1-6
As I am writing this, I am witnessing from my balcony several prostitutes soliciting themselves out on the streets with no regard of who might be around.. Unfortunately, in the part of the world where I currently am, the laws concerning this are not enforced and is therefore culturally acceptable and prevalent. With every seeking customer that comes by, I hope and pray that the individuals just part ways; sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. It is quite alarming how this kind of sin runs rampant here and police do not get involved.
Sexual sin, regardless of the kind, is a spiritual bondage. For the unbeliever, from a spiritual point of view, it doesn't make much difference since he/she is dead in their sins anyway. For the Christian, however, God gives us many warnings concerning this kind of sin. The Apostle Paul singles it out when he says,
"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." -1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Paul names sexual immorality as a work of the flesh (Gal. 5:19) and that the Christian must abstain from it, controlling his/her body in holiness and honor and not as those who are unbelievers (1 Thess. 4:3-5). Jesus warns us that one who practices sin is a slave to sin. The good news is that Jesus Christ came to save sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) and set them free from their sins (John 8:36).
1. Christian, if you are entangled in the sin of sexual immorality, I admonish you to turn to God, repent, and cry out for His mercy today.
2. Although you cannot "out sin" God's grace, He will not forever allow you to defile yourself and pollute His temple but will deal with the matter according to His own will (1 Cor. 6:19-20; Heb. 12:3-11; 1 John 5:16).
3. Although you cannot lose salvation because of this sin, you can certainly lose the joy of salvation and feel like you're not saved at all. Indeed, a persistent unrepentant heart may reveal that you were never saved to begin with.
4. Don't keep your sin a secret but rather ask a mature Christian to be your accountability partner whom God can use to help you overcome and steer clear of this sin.
5. With your own effort, it's impossible to overcome; with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26).
6. Nothing (not even your own sin) can separate you from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:38-39).
The LGBTQI+ community celebrates their pride with a rainbow flag. The Bible says that the rainbow is a symbol of God's promise that He will never destroy mankind again by flood (Gen. 9:12-17). Perhaps more significant, however, is that it indirectly points to a future promise that God will destroy mankind by fire (2 Pet. 3:7), just as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for their sexual immorality (Gen. 19:23-25).
The rainbow flag that the LGBTQI+ community waves above their heads is, in a way, them celebrating their own destruction. It reminds me of the passage in Revelation where the unrepentant cry out for the mountains and rocks to fall upon them, in an attempt to hide from the Holy One of God, Jesus Christ (Rev. 6:15-17); they would rather perish in their sins than repent.
The truth of the matter is this:
1. The LGBTQI+ community are sinners and haters of the one true God, just like every other sinner (Rom. 1:30; 3:10-11, 23). They hate God's truth, purity, and the gospel, just like every other sinner.
2. The matter is filled with spiritual warfare and the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone holds the power to save a sinner from God's wrath (Rom. 1:16) and give him/her a new heart.
3. The spiritual condition of the LGBTQI+ community is very disheartening and their overt desire to promote their sinful choices is a sign that God has given them over to a debased mind (Rom. 1:28, 32).
4. Christians must pray that God will grant them repentance (2 Tim. 2:25) and save them from themselves and His wrath. While God ordains the result, He also ordains the means (prayer and evangelism)!
5. Among those of the LGBTQI+ community who are of God's elect, they WILL be saved and He WILL be glorified (John 6:37, 44; 17; Eph. 1:4-11; 2 Thess. 2:13)!
6. If you are a Christian and you are not sharing the good news of Jesus Christ (evangelism) with unbelievers, then you are disobeying the God who saved you from your sins. Go out and evangelize; as you minister to others, God will also minister to you.