“This Sermon Changed My Life”
A few weeks ago, after we posted my talk, “Preaching Like Jesus to the LGBT Community,” we received the following encouraging note. Brian was gracious and allowed us to share it here—for which we’re thankful, because it’s a powerful testimony of God’s power.
Dear Pastor J.D.,
This sermon changed my life. This is no understatement either. When I first listened to this sermon a little more than a year ago, I was in a place of deep depression and much despair over continuing on with life. I am a man who’s grown up in the church all my life and have silently struggled with SSA (Same Sex Attraction).
About 18 years ago, I finally understood what homosexuality was (I lived a very sheltered life) and connected it with my personal internal turmoil. I knew I was a Christian and follower of Christ, but how could I experience such things? I investigated the Bible and only found the weight of condemnation for what it said regarding my temptations, my attraction to other men. So, with my resolve, good works, and countless “rededicating my life to Christ” prayers, I suffered in silence through my remaining years in high school and my entire college career (even at a Christian college). Even since graduating from college and committing my life to serving at a gospel-centered church in Hollywood, I believed that I was doing all the right things for Jesus, that He would finally take my temptations away, that He would fulfill my dreams, that He would give me a wife and kids.
I looked and acted like a Christian to the whole world. While I don’t doubt my resolve and commitment to the gospel of Christ, I see that my early upbringing in the church had influenced me to grow up and become a good legalist, not a faithful follower of Christ; I was being transformed from the Prodigal Son into the Older Brother. The more I committed my life to Jesus and living a “Christian life” obeying all the rules, the more I was becoming aware of my failures and temptations rather living a Spirit-filled life. I see that I was like Paul in all my self-righteous behavior. But I could never understand why God wasn’t hearing my prayers and pleas for victory and/or deliverance. I was on the verge of completely giving up on life.
But through the mercy and ministry of Christ, I was bestowed a sweet balm to heal my soul, and it came through this message. Despite my temptations and (poor) attempts to live the “Christian life,” I heard for the first time that I was loved and accepted by God through Christ. Pastor J.D. so poignantly pointed out that I was attempting to “Go and sin no more,” so that I might be loved and accepted by God, instead of hearing God’s tender voice speaking His great love over me when He said through Jesus, “Neither do I condemn you; now go and sin no more.”
This understanding has been a great revelation to me! This has been the “Expulsive Power of a New Affection” (i.e. Thomas Chalmers) in my life. It has given me the reason for the hope I have within the gospel, that I am so greatly loved, and that God has given me His Holy Spirit to live a life that honors Him. I don’t live my life abstaining from SSA (same-sex attraction) to earn God’s love, but it is out of His great love for me and the blessing of His Holy Spirit, I have the power to live my life, not obeying the temptations in my life.
This sermon has changed my view of what a victorious Christian life looks like. The true victorious life is not trusting in a prayer (or prayers in my case) of dedication to following Jesus, but it is seeing the great love of Christ demonstrated on the cross 2000 years ago and choosing to trust, rest, and flourish in this great eternal love every day, minute by minute and hour by hour, instead of choosing to indulge in the fleeting momentary lusts of my flesh.
This sermon has also given me great courage to proclaim the great work of redemption and sanctification the Spirit continues to do in my life. I am no longer confident in my good behavior and obedience to the Law, but I am confident solely in the Power of the death and resurrection of Christ and His Holy Spirit, who is “Christ in me the hope of glory.” I can now say with Paul:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”
(Philippians 3: 7-12)
Thank you, thank you, thank you! You have helped me—a man who is tempted by Same Sex Attractions, who has been hiding underneath years of great shame and feelings of disqualification by the church because of my temptations—find new life and hope in the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ. Thank you for preaching the gospel to my heart and for being my “Gospel Coach” in this past season of my life.
Thank you for being Spirit-led and preaching in both grace and truth. I am forever grateful to your ministry.