Doubts of Salvation and the Struggle of the Flesh

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hands on headBefore I got saved, there was initially a strong struggle of right versus wrong, but this later diminished. I was left wondering if I was going in the right direction. Later, feelings of being used, and eventually the void in my heart, led me to leave homosexuality and come to Christ. However, after receiving Christ a new struggle rose with a vengeance! My flesh was accustomed to illicit stimuli and sexual relations, which I was now denying.  I fell many times in many different ways, but each time I KNEW that I had done wrong. The Holy Spirit kept drawing me away from that identity and behavior.

When we trust Christ for our salvation, God changes our hearts but our flesh continues to struggle. Paul said in Romans 7, “Who will save me from this body of death?”….”Why do I do the things I do not want to do?” I don’t think anyone would question Paul’s salvation in midst of his struggle. In fact, the struggle may be a sign of our salvation.

Over the years of ministry, I’ve been perplexed by this question of salvation versus acting out sinfully. Many people believe you can be gay (acting out sexually) and follow Christ as Lord. I believe that this is an incorrect interpretation of Scripture.

Because I openly talk about my struggle, someone recently compared me to an unrepentant homosexual. They had said that my story confirms their belief that people can be gay Christians – unrepentant and actively involved in sexual behavior. To believe this, one must turn from God’s word and draw conclusions from their own rationalization rather than from what God says about our salvation and our behaviors.

A struggle points to a change! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

I would encourage you to also read verses 11 through 21. Verse 15, states, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”

The question of salvation is one of the heart. Has the heart changed?  When I accepted Christ, my heart changed – instantly and forever. I am not the same person that I used to be. Christ’s love for me filled me up completely and I want to love Him back.

However, my flesh really enjoyed acting out sexually and was addicted to illicit images and behaviors. I had to learn restraint. I had to learn what “dying to self” meant.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25 NIV)

The person whose flesh wants the old ways of acting out but his spirit says, “NO! I want to live for God,” then, this person is clearly saved. Salvation does not mean that the struggle goes away. For me, this was when the struggle began.

This does get confusing when this struggling person gives up, returns to their past, and now celebrates his or her homosexuality (or whatever sin) and says that they’re happier now than ever before. Only God can (or should) judge this person.

Some will say that they lost their salvation or they walked away from their salvation. I don’t believe that to be the case. I would personally question if they were ever saved, however that is not my call or job. I would definitely say that they had unrealistic expectations of a life without struggle and that feeding the flesh has consequences. If our salvation is based on anything other than Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, and a repentant relationship in Him, then they’re right. Anything else won’t work – ever.

The struggle between the flesh and the spirit is a real and difficult one for sure, and if we feed the flesh more than the spirit, then the odds get stacked against us. Trying to balance the two, or going back and forth between the flesh and the spirit, is tiring. We must surrender our whole lives in an act of worship in order to find joy and peace. There is no other way, and this way does work – and always will.

Let’s not doubt our salvation if we still struggle, but celebrate that The Lord loves us more than we can even imagine. He does not judge us for this struggle but wants to bring us hope and relief, if we come to Him.

If you are alone in your struggle, I used to be there, too. This article could be God’s way of reaching out to you. There are others in this struggle with you. Reach out to us and to those around you. Being isolated will be your downfall. Despite any odds or isolation—Christ IS ALWAYS THERE. Cry out to Him.

 

 

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