Faith and Works

I read a question that a homosexual man raised while commenting on a biblical issue. He asked wouldn’t it be a denial of saving faith for him to forsake his homosexual lifestyle to marry a woman and begin a heterosexual life? Wouldn’t that be conceding that salvation is by works and not by faith?

His question raises a serious theological issue and two thoughts crossed my mind when I decided to answer his question. My first thought is the heightened emotional feelings that typically accompany any discussion of homosexual issues will overshadow the biblical answer. My second thought is that it is a significant matter and a timely issue in our current cultural climate, and my readers deserve an honest, scriptural response.

The fallacy in his question is the assumption that there is a difference between what we believe and what we do. It is the idea that faith is something we lock up in our own personal, private little box and should never be let out. It is a denial of the genuine transformative effect of saving faith.

The transformative effect of faith is seen repeatedly and clearly in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews where the actions of Old Testament saints are prefaced by the phrase, “By faith…” We read, “By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain…, By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death…, By faith Noah…prepared an ark…, By faith Abraham…went out not knowing where he was going.”

These are just a few mentioned in Hebrews chapter eleven, and the faith they possessed resulted in corresponding works of faith. Their faith changed the direction of their lives.

This is the point James made so well in his letter. “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” James 2:14. James is not saying our works save us; he is merely making the point that genuine saving faith will have a life-changing effect seen in the believer’s works.

The faith that inspires trust in Christ as our Savoir is the same faith we rely on to obey Him as Lord. The teachings of the apostles and testimony of believers throughout the Scriptures do no recognize a dichotomy between faith and practice. What they believed is what they lived even at the cost of their lives.

This is why John said, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” 1 John 2:4. Claiming to be a Christian while practicing immorality is a lie.

So the answer to the question is no, forsaking an immoral lifestyle for a moral one will not save anyone, it will not save the homosexual, the adulterer, the liar or the thief. Only a genuine life-transforming faith saves.

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