Acts 15:10-11 “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”
The first major conflict in the Church was over whether Gentiles could be saved in the first place, (Acts 11) and here it’s between grace and legalism. Peter came down firmly on the side of grace, just as Paul did in Ephesians 2:8-9, and the council ended up agreeing, to our lasting benefit. However, today the conflict is between grace and libertinism. Grace doesn’t mean anything goes! Even in this Jerusalem Council it was agreed and stressed that sexual immorality is out of bounds. Even cursory research shows that the Roman empire was in no way behind our current society in terms of LGBTQ activity, not to mention prostitution and human trafficking. (After all, slavery was legal.) The Jewish believers were understandably concerned that such things might pollute the Church, and today they have indeed done so. Today we have churches that would be essentially unrecognizable to those early believers, to our great shame. Homosexuality is hardly the only issue. Marriage in general has been degraded to the point of being ignored almost in much of society, and sadly, the statistics are no better for the Church. After expounding at length on the wonders of grace, in Romans 6:1-2 Paul destroys the whole “hyper-grace” movement: “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Today many are saying that sexual immorality isn’t sin, and that lie is straight from the pit of hell.
This is extremely close to home for me, not only from my own history but also in the lives of people close to me. I cannot control their actions, but I can speak the truth in love. I cannot give permission, but I can forgive. So many are trying to make immorality normative, touting “tolerance” and “acceptance.” I cannot and must not accept that which God has made abundantly clear is bad for us and against His will. However, I likewise must not descend into judgmental legalism, but express love in all purity, even when that has to be very strong.
Father, I don’t have sufficient wisdom for this. You know those I’ve already run into on this trip, and those I will be seeing after this. I ask that Your Spirit through me would convict of sin, righteousness and judgment, (John 16:8-11) bringing repentance and release to those in bondage, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!