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A Biblical Catechism on Sex and Marriage: God's Good Creation, Our Sinful Passions, and God's Salvation

[This post continues a series of posts entitled 'A Biblical Catechism on Sex and Marriage'.  The intention is to provide basic material for further instruction by a trusted teacher of God's Word in a church that is committed to Biblical authority.  The Church’s mission is to invite all people to live under God’s righteous rule.]

Question 4. What hope is there for us, since we find reasons to declare that our sins are good, are attracted to the delights of sin, identify ourselves with disordered desires, and often pursue the sinful passions of our hearts?

Answer: Because of Jesus’ triumph over sin on the cross, we may now live righteous lives through the power of the Holy Spirit given to us.

Scripture distinguishes between (1) the good way in which God made the world, (2) the evil and sin in the world that have resulted from humanity turning away from God, and (3) the power of God that forgives and transforms repentant sinners who put their faith in Him to save them through the cross of Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence in our lives.

Comment 1:

The world that God created was good.  Evil was given its place in the world through human sinfulness—turning away from God’s rule to follow our own desires in our own wisdom.  We now all live in a sinful world.  Without God’s work in our lives, our passions are controlled by the power of sin.  Outside of Jesus Christ, we are all sinners.  Without God’s Spirit in us, we remain subject to sinful desires and misguided morality.

Genesis 1-2 tells the story of the good way in which God created the world.  Genesis 3 tells the story of the fall from grace of Adam and Eve due to their sin.

Genesis 1:31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. [The story of Eve and Adam eating forbidden fruit is a story of choosing against God’s commandment and following their own understanding of what is good, delightful to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise.  The forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the fruit of determining for oneself what is good apart from God—a self-rule, like God Himself, instead of obedience to God.]

Genesis 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.  [The problem of sin is universal.]

Matthew 15:19-20  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.  20 These are what defile a person.

Romans 3:10-18, 23 10 as it is written: "There is no one who is righteous, not even one;  11 there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God.  12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one."  13 "Their throats are opened graves; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of vipers is under their lips."  14 "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."  15 "Their feet are swift to shed blood;  16 ruin and misery are in their paths,  17 and the way of peace they have not known."  18 "There is no fear of God before their eyes." 23 … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God….

Romans 5:12, 19 sin came into the world through one man [Adam—cf. Genesis 3], and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned.... 19 For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

Ephesians 2:1-3 You were dead through the trespasses and sins  2 in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.  3 All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

Titus 3:3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.

James 1:14-15 But one is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it;  15 then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.

Comment 2: Before the work of Christ in the life of those who put their trust in His salvation, it was not possible not to sin (Latin: non posse non peccare): we could not help but sin.  Since the work of Christ, it is now possible not to sin (Latin: posse non peccare).

Romans 6:16-18 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?  17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,  18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 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.

Ephesians 2:1-10 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins  2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-  3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved-  6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,  9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Comment 3: God’s grace is both a forgiving grace—forgiving us of our sins—and a transforming grace—changing us from one degree of glory to another.  The Holy Spirit empowers Christians to live righteous lives.

Isaiah 59:20-21 "And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression," declares the LORD.  21 "And as for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit that is upon you, and my words that I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your offspring, or out of the mouth of your children's offspring," says the LORD, "from this time forth and forevermore." [God’s promise of a new covenant involves not only revealing His commandments (word) for living a righteous life but also making this possible through redemption in Jesus Christ and the empowering and transforming work of the Holy Spirit.  See Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:25-27.  This new covenant is given by Jesus through his shed blood, which redeems us from our sins (Romans 3:21-26) and by giving believers the Holy Spirit (e.g., John 1:33; Romans 15:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22; 5:5; Ephesians 3:16; 1 John 3:24; 4:13).  The Church is God’s people on whom the Old Testament promise of the Holy Spirit has been poured out.]

Matthew 6:12-13 ‘… and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ [The Lord’s Prayer.]

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Romans 6:6-14 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  7 For one who has died has been set free from sin.  8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.  10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.  11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.  12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions.  13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.  14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Romans 7:5-6 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death.  6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.

Romans 8:13-15 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"  [Note: Romans 8:1-17 shows the triumph a person has over sin, not by works but by the work of Christ and the leading of the Holy Spirit.]

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Galatians 2:19-20 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ.  20 It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Comment 4: Believers are to help other believers to live godly lives and restore sinners from their besetting (persistent) sins.  Sin is still possible after coming to Christ, and Christian community is one way in which to find help.

Matthew 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Hebrews 10:23-27 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.  26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,  27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

Comment 5: Other spiritual disciplines are given to help God’s people to live righteous lives, such as Godly conversation, good friendships, reading and meditating on God’s law (Scripture in general), prayer (for oneself and others), and taking care to avoid temptation.

Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.  3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

Matthew 18:7-9 "Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!  8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.  9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Luke 22:46 and he [Jesus] said to them [the disciples], "Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation."