The operative pattern for the Christian is to understand that corruption still exists but that we are now united to Christ. We have died with Christ and risen again in new life. The flesh still operates and entices us but we need to be on-guard and hate it. We need to be killing it. It is ever with us. The world, the flesh, and the devil. These are the enemies of God.
I forgot to share this a couple of weeks ago but the Nate Collins tweet reminded me of this podcast episode. https://www.premierchristianradio.com/…/Unbelievable-God-Ga…
IT’s a “Side A” vs “Side B” debate. What is consistent between them both is their status as “gay people”.
I really want to stress and underline this point. While I am happy to hear about people resisting the urge to sin by profaning marriage or engaging in unnatural activity, it is incredibly sad that the therapeutic has convinced us that our desires define us.
When Nate Collins or Greg Johnson (or this person) talk about their status they speak as if it is integral to who they are. Call it identity if you like but the point is that the desire itself has been elevated to an integral part of what defines them.
When the Apostle Paul (or even James) talks about our desires then the divide between flesh and Spirit is operative for the Christian. Before Christ, we were dead in sins and trespasses. Yes, we are all fallen (not “broken” but fallen) and outside of Christ we are enslaved to our flesh. It is a realm of sin and death and we are, by nature, children of wrath. Lust is parallel to idolatry in Paul’s thinking. Whatever lust it is, it is attributed to the fleshly ream of sin and death and we are in Adam and subject to the principalities and powers which enslave us.
The Gospel is the power of God for salvation. Christ not only propitiates the wrath of God in our justification but He has shattered the power of sin and death to enslave us. It is not utterly banished. We still have corruption (flesh) as we are united to Christ but we are no longer in the “realm” of the flesh but we are united to Christ by the Spirit. Even N.T. Wright gets this right whatever other problems he creates.
Thus, the operative pattern for the Christian is to understand that corruption still exists but that we are now united to Christ. We have died with Christ and risen again in new life. The flesh still operates and entices us but we need to be on-guard and hate it. We need to be killing it. It is ever with us. The world, the flesh, and the devil. These are the enemies of God.
Thus, please heed Brothers. Some of you keep missing this point when you praise Nate Collins for affirming marriage. I’m glad he does that but he’s essentially saying this: “The ‘flesh’ still so defines me. That which I desire repeatedly is so operative a part of me that I need to tell you that this is a central part of me.” Greg does the same thing. He repeatedly wants to keep underlining the idea that reparative therapies were 100% unsuccessful. What is he trying to say? I’m not sure but I keep reading this: “The flesh, from which my desires arise, is so defining that I’m not being ‘me’ unless I tell you that this attraction is fully operative within my life.”
What does the Apostle Paul say of his flesh? What does James say? They are consistent. They treat our flesh as an invasive power that we are to resist and flee. I’m a man who must mortify my flesh every day. I’m being a “real” Christian not by telling you that I’m a lustful, angry, judgmental Christian. At times all those fleshly desires would lead me to lust, lash out, hate, etc. Yet, they are flesh. They are my enemies. The “flesh” desires things that “I” do not desire. The “flesh” would have me do things that “I” do not want to do. “I” am a Christian. “I” am not my flesh. I used to live in the realm of the flesh but I owe that realm nothing more.
Brothers – for the sake of your sanctification and for the sake of your flock’s sanctification you have got to start *pitying* this impoverished view of sanctification and stop applauding it. Applaud celibacy for the unmarried but not because a Roman Catholic Priest has promised Mary that he’ll live that life for her. Applaud celibacy for the unmarried not because they are “incapable” of being married but because they are not married at the moment. Yes, be glad that people are upholding marriage. Atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Cults uphold marriage and marital fidelity. Praise God that this aspect of Creation is upheld. But, Brother, desire MUCH MORE for those who are in Christ. It should break your heart that a brother in Christ is still speaking of his flesh as if it is who he is.
The author is a Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).