Come out from among them and be separate...2 Cor. 6:16

    I had a “friend” come out of the closet yesterday. I say friend in quotes because somehow we are friends on Facebook (where he announced his coming out), although I didn’t remember friending him.

    I remember “coming out” of a different closet so many years ago. Like my Facebook friend, many people said they were so proud of me for my announcement. For me, however, I did not come out to embrace my lifestyle but to admit that it was something I struggled with and want to stop behaving in that way.

    As humans, we all have closets in which we no longer need to hide. Closets are for clothes and shoes and for me, it is for things I do in private, including prayer. I am not ashamed of getting dressed in my closet but I would be ashamed if I did so in public. Both in dressing and addressing God in prayer, my closet provides me a place to privately deal with things that I would not like to do in public.

    There is a second part of coming out that my friend unfortunately did not do. And to be honest, I still struggle with it too. It is repentance. Now my Facebook friend is only 18 and yet he has already given up the struggle and rather than fight against his natural desires, he decided what he was coming out of is not wrong nor sin. After years of struggle, I have realized we all will return to our closets of sin again and again, hiding or trying to hide from the public view.

     If I could tell my friend something I’ve learned, it would be this. Be neither embarrassed nor embracing of your closet of sin. If the Bible states that your desires are wrong, they are sin and you should repent of them. The Bible calls it flesh and we all have to deal with our fleshly or sinful nature. If you have flesh, its nature “lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal.5:17-21).

     We all sin by our very sin nature. But just because one sin or another seems “natural” to us, that does not mean it is okay. The Bible lists other things that will not inherit the kingdom of God. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor “the ‘soft’ men nor those men who have sex with those ‘soft’ men”, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11, NKJV, bold faced, my translation).

     The first sermon of Jesus was the same as that of his predecessor, John the Baptist, which was “repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Jesus would say to all of us sinners, “Go and sin no more” (John 5:14, John 8:11).

     Did you know that John 3:16 doesn’t just stop there at “everlasting life”? Jesus went on to say in verses 19 through 21, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

     That sounds a lot like coming out of our closets of sin, not to continue in them secretly, but to admit openly that we have done wrong things, we repent of them. We believe God will forgive us through Christ and like His death, burial and resurrection, we pledge ourselves by His strength to die to ourselves and live to walk in newness of life.

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