Preface to the Study of Genesis 19
by Don Costello 3/07/2009 / Bible Studies
Preface to the study of Genesis 19
In teaching this subject there is a list of things desired to be accomplished; the first is to present the truth. Nowhere on the list of purposes is the desire to present my self as self righteous, that I have everything together. No, I am still 'under construction' so to speak and have a long way to go. Neither do I know everything; I am fully persuaded that when those who are going to heaven arrive, God is going to straighten us out in many matters that are clearly revealed in His word. Though no one has a corner on God's Word, His Word promises that those who "study to shew themselves approved unto God," can be less ashamed and more accurate in knowing and living the Word (2 Timothy 2:15).
Just like everyone else I am desperately in need of God's salvation, and everything that includes; healing, deliverance, safety, preservation, soundness, forgiveness, mercy, justification and love. Just as any born again believer, I have the supreme advantage of Christ living in me and I have a way of escape from every temptation. When I don't take that escape route I sin against God and have to repent and ask God to forgive me.
To those who want a way out of homosexuality I declare in the authority of the name of Jesus, that Jesus loves you desperately and HE IS your way out! The gospel of Jesus Christ "is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth". Jesus said in Luke 4:18, 19 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
Jesus desires to give everyone deliverance from captivity; to set all at liberty and to heal all the brokenhearted. Homosexuality is a captivity from which Jesus wants to deliver you, just as any other sin; it is a life of broken heartedness of which Jesus wants to heal you. He loves you and desires you to be blessed and whole in this life and live eternally with Him after you die. But you must be born again.
Unless you have committed the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, no one reading this book is beyond redemption, no matter if you believe this destructive heresy or teach it, but you need to be born again. When Jesus says to us "repent" and "believe the gospel", in Mark 1:15, it isn't a suggestion. We are commanded to "believe the gospel." When we decide to repent and "believe the gospel", we make a decision to begin believing what the Bible is saying as Truth and the final authority in our lives regardless of our own ideas. We BELIEVE the gospel and we "unbelieve" our thoughts that go against it. The "fight of faith" begins at that moment. It was the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 5:8-10, who warned us under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost that resisting our enemy was no picnic.
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you."
What Peter is saying here is resisting the devil in faith at the beginning of the battle is an affliction and has suffering, but the suffering will only be for "a while". As we continue to resist the devil in faith, and grow in our relationship to Jesus, we will be perfected, established, strengthened and settled. We will be absolutely victorious over that sin, whatever it was and it is no longer an affliction to resist it nor does it involve suffering. Halleluiah! Then we move on. During the course of the fight, if we sin, we repent, ask God to forgive us and we pick up where we left off, knowing that the sin is gone, forgiven and forgotten, God's righteousness is our righteousness, and we stand in his presence as if we never sinned.
I received Christ as my Savior on November 10th of 1976. I developed my present view of what the Bible says about homosexuality the same way I do toward any issue, by studying the Bible. If my natural opinion is different from what the Scriptures say, I make a quality decision to reject my natural opinion and accept God's word as the final authority about that issue. I do that because Jesus is my life, my Lord and Master, and I am in Covenant relationship with Him.
Right around the time I got saved, I began to notice articles beginning to appear in the local paper reporting how the old mainline denominations starting in Europe and followed in the United States were struggling over the issue of homosexuality. Article after article would report how they were compromising more and more. I would wonder, "What is going on? Don't they know what the Bible says?" Well knowing what the Bible says and believing what the Bible says are two different things, and the over riding factor in these denominations struggle over homosexuality is they as a denomination and as individuals do not have a Biblical view of Scripture. What I mean by that is they do not believe what the Bible says about itself. The Bible declares itself to be the word of Almighty God and the final authority in a Christians life, but because these people do not believe that, they fall prey to many other traps of the devil. They open the door to the devil to plague them in these areas because they do not take advantage of the one weapon, the one gift that God has given his people to protect themselves against the erroneous philosophy of man, His Word. An erroneous philosophy tied to this sin will be discussed tonight.
I have studied extensively about homosexuality, at least as much as I have about abortion. The reason for my extensive studies in these behaviors is because infiltration of these behaviors into our culture is a prophetic landmark in our nation's history. They are prophetic in the sense that Jesus said they would happen before he returns, and they are landmarks in the sense that behavior boundaries are being removed. They also are both Canaanite practices that began to fill the void in our culture created when judicial decry forced God and his acknowledgement out of our culture. These aren't the only Cannanite practices that have become common in our culture. America is slipping into barbarianism, because as God is forced out of our culture , the void is being filled with Canaanite behaviors.
The Word of God and the Born-again Believer
One of the foundational basics in Covenant relationship with Christ is our attitude toward God's word. It must be a vital part in that relationship. In a vibrant healthy relationship with God we must consider His view of things in our life as most important. We need to develop our opinion of topics and subjects by finding out what the Bible says about them. It is the same with sin, we study to find out what God's word says about it and we believe it. If our opinion is different from what the Bible says, we need make a quality decision to reject any natural opinion and accept God's word as the final authority about that issue in life. We are to do that because Jesus is our life, our Master, and we are in Covenant relationship with Him. Whatever He says is right. This process may sound to some like brainwashing, and in one sense they are correct; it is brainwashing. As Christians we need to have our brains cleansed from the way the natural man thinks. Scripturally, it is a process called "renewing" the mind, in Romans 12:2.
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind"
The bottom line is God doesn't think like us and we, as natural human beings, don't think like Him. Isaiah 55:8, 9 reveals that quite clearly.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."
In order for us to find out what God thinks about something, we need to look in His Word, and then change our thoughts to match His.
The Scriptural reasons for this are abundant. Psalm 119:128 says, "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right;" Most people don't see what that verse is saying. Most will look at that verse and say, "What ever God's word says about anything is right." Although that is true, that is not what this verse is saying. What the writer is saying is, "I ESTEEM all thy precepts concerning all things to be right." The writer is telling us his GODLY, SUBMISSIVE, and COVENANTAL ATTITUDE toward God's word. Folks, as Christians, in Covenant relationship with God, we need to accept God's word as, "Foreversettled in heaven", Psalm 119:89. It's true whether we believe it or not. One of the foundational elements in faith is that it will produce a confidence in the reliability of God's word. In light of that, a true Bible believer will believe God's precepts concerning homosexuality are right, because that believer is being covenentally submissive.
Another verse that applies in this line of thought is Isaiah 8:20. "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word it is because they have no light in them." Comparing the wisdom in Isaiah to the present argument, if someone says something different about homosexuality than what God's word says it is because they have no light in them. God's word has to be first place in our thinking and living. A New Testament witness of this principle is Romans 3:3, 4, "For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged." Translation: when someone judges that what God's word says is not true I am to let that man be a liar.
There are denominations within the Body of Christ that have that view of Scripture, i.e., God's word is the final authority. For example, when the Southern Baptist Convention or the Assemblies of God get together to have their meetings they don't have debates about homosexuality. Why? Because in their denominations' view of Scripture, they know God has already spoken on the matter in His word so there is no need to debate. God said it, that settles it and they believe it!
There are other denominations within the Body of Christ that do not have a godly view of Scripture, and because of the lack of a godly attitude towards the Word of God, they are plagued with problems from which they seemingly have no solution to. Therefore, they have long and very contentious debates about homosexuality when they get together in their conventions. Why? Because the official view of Scripture within that particular denomination is not the same. In their view, occasionally the authority of Scripture is trumped by such things as personal experience, science, or culture. Sometimes, though, it's just a "more knowledgeable than thou" attitude towards the inspired writers of Scripture, and because of that view they have endless debates about whether homosexuality is sin or not. Some of them have queers in their pulpits.
The Lying Vanity of Sexual Orientation
The first time I heard about the term "sexual orientation", I was at a library in the early 80's doing research on homosexuality. I remember reading that homosexuals were trying to say that they were born homosexual, and to try to be heterosexual was impossible because they were homosexual, they were wired up that way, it was their "sexual orientation". I remember laughing out loud, and thinking, "Who in the world would believe this garbage?" Well, I'm no longer laughing, because this garbage, this myth, this lying vanity has been swallowed by a lot of people.
The American Psychological Association gives this definition: "an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional [sic] attraction to another person" . A political definition was given in H.R. 4636, from the House of Representatives, 103rd Congress on June 23, 1994: "The term sexual orientation means lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual orientation, real or perceived as manifested by identity, acts, statements or associations." A legal definition is given by Judge Arthur S. Spiegel, in his August 9, 1994 ruling granting a permanent injunction prohibiting Cincinnati's Issue Three from becoming effective. "Sexual orientation is a deeply rooted complex combination of factors including a predisposition towards affiliation, affection or bonding with members of the opposite and or same gender." The American Psychological Association gives this definition: "an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional [sic] attraction to another person" . A religious definition but certainly not Biblical is given by the Episcopal Church in a Study called, Continuing the Dialogue A Pastoral Study Document of the House of Bishops to the Church as the Church Considers Issues of Human Sexuality. Their definition says, "the homosexually oriented person is one who is consistently attracted affectionately, romantically, and erotically to persons of the same sex. Persistent patterns of homosexual attraction, enduring experience of intimacy, and continuing manifestations of devoted love are the most trustworthy signs of sexual orientation, not simply genital activity."
Now I would say that all the people who came up with those definitions are in some ways very intelligent and very worldly wise, but what they are saying about homosexual desire and conduct is in direct opposition to the Bible, God's word. It was Isaiah who said in Isaiah 8:20 "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." What the previously mentioned groups and individuals are saying reveals they have no light in them, on this matter, because what they are saying is darkness. For the so called Christians in this group, it is far more serious, because they are calling God a liar, they know what God's word says and they choose to say differently.
Make no mistake about it, Biblically, man and woman were created heterosexual. This is established in Matthew 19:4-6. "And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
The sexual behaviors of men with men and women with women are not sexual orientations; they are, according to Romans 1:26, "vile affections". And they "defile the flesh" according to Jude 8. The Apostle Paul described their feelings this way in Romans 1:27, these men "burned in their lust one toward another". The Greek word for "burned" is ekkaio and according to Zodhiates Word Study Dictionary it means "to burn, light, set fire to, to cause to burn or flame up, to kindle". In the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament it is used of an actual fire in Exodus 22:6 and Judges 15:5. It is also used metaphorically for the anger of the LORD in Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalm 2:12 and Jeremiah 4:4. The Greek word for "lust" is orexis and according to Zodhiates, it means, "to desireappetite, lust or concupiscence. It is always the reaching out after an object with the purpose of drawing it to oneself and appropriating it." Paul goes on to say in Romans 1:27, "men with men working that which is unseemly." The Greek word for "working" according to Zodhiates is katergazomai and it means "to work, to bring about, to carry out a task until it's finished". The phrase, "that which is unseemly" is the Greek word aschemosune and it means "indecently, obscenity, nakedness". In the Septuagint it is used in Exodus 20:26 and Leviticus 18:6, 7 to mean the sexual private parts of male and female. The complete phrase, "men with men working that which is unseemly" is a discreet way of saying, "men engaging in actions with the sexual private parts of another man." When all the grammar and definitions of Romans 1:27 are put together this is the sum, "the enflamed desire and appetite and lust of a man to appropriate or seize upon and engage in actions with the private sexual parts of other men." What a reprobate calls 'homosexual orientation', Paul calls a "vile affection".
On two separate occasions the Apostle Paul warned us not to be deceived about homosexual behavior. In 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10, of which I will comment on more in a later chapter, Paul writes, "Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God" (NASV). And again in Ephesians 5:5, 6 "For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous manhas any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience" (KJV). The Greek word for "whoremonger" is 'pornos'. It is #4205 in the Strong's numbering system. I consulted 4 different Greek dictionaries and found the following: Strong's: male prostitute; Thayer: male prostitute; Zodiates: male prostitute; Bullinger: sodomite. So there is no doubt that this is referring to homosexual behavior.
According to Paul's God breathed warning, all the arguments defending homosexuality are nothing but "vain words" we are not to be deceived by, including all the deception of sexual orientation. Concerning the phrase vain words, there is an interesting verse in Jonah 2:8 that I believe can be applied here. "They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy". By clinging to the lying vanity of sexual orientation many are forsaking the mercy in Jesus Christ that could not only forgive them but also set them free.
In spite of this, the proponents of same sex lustology believe they have a trump card, i.e., the ignorance of the writers of Scripture. In one accord they declare that the writers of Scripture were ignorant of the science of human sexuality and the many sexual orientations which comprise it. So because we are more knowledgeable than they were, we can ignore what they wrote about homosexuality. Some go so far as to say all the verses prohibiting homosexuality should be removed from the canon of Scripture.
The lying vanity of sexual orientation blinds the minds of those who believe it from the Gospel truth of freedom and forgiveness in Christ, whether they are in bondage to same sex lust, or a friend or family member of those in bondage. The lies supporting sexual orientation say to those in bondage to homosexuality, "You do not need freedom, you are not doing anything wrong and it is impossible to change." It also calls God a liar.
103rd Congress, House Of Representatives, June 23, 1994, H.R. 4636.
Continuing the Dialogue, Definition of homosexual orientation, p.39, Lines 266-271.
Spiros Zodhiates Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, # 1572.
Ibid. # 3715.
Joseph H. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. #4205.
Spiros Zodhiates Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, # 4205.
The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #4205.
Ethelbert W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon & Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament.
It is fitting that a Biblical teaching about homosexuality should begin with the Biblical record of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Such a teaching should focus on what the whole Bible says, not just Genesis 19. I believe "the cities of the plain" were destroyed by God because they were "wicked sinners before the LORD exceedingly", Gen.13:13. Though underneath that fact is a list of sins and characteristics that are not mentioned by Moses in Genesis, but are mentioned by other Biblical writers such as Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Peter, Jude and others. The whole counsel of God must be taken into account to get the whole picture that God wants to show us.
The first time Sodom is mentioned in Scripture is Genesis 3:10-13.
"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly."
Luke writes in Luke 17:28 that Jesus said, "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;" The descriptions from Genesis 13:10 and Luke 17:28 show that the area before its destruction was a thriving area, a stark contrast to what it is now, the Dead Sea, surrounded by a very barren and dry wilderness. Verse 13 describes the moral character of the inhabitants of Sodom in not so glowing terms. "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly." It is significant that the Bible includes this in its first mention of Sodom.
The second time Sodom is mentioned is Genesis 14 and the plundering of all 5 cities of the plain by the kings of Mesopotamia. After Abram returned from a successful rescue of Lot, there is an interesting dialogue between Abram and the King of Sodom in Genesis 14:21-23.
"And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up my hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:"
There is a hint of contempt in Abram's response that is unmistakable and can be explained by the knowledge that the cities of the plain already had a reputation of being "wicked".
The third time Sodom is mentioned is Genesis 18:20, 21, where the LORD God himself says, "Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know." This third time that Sodom is mentioned is extremely important because it gives us a definite mile marker in the timeline of when the destruction of the cities of the plain occurred. During this visit of Abraham by the Lord and two angels, it is promised that Isaac would be born a year later and this was the day previous to the destruction of the cities.
All of these passages lead up to the famous verses in Genesis 19 where the Biblical record of the destruction of Sodom is located.
My name is Don Costello. Ever since I received Christ in November of 1976 I have had a passion to study and know God's word.My wife Melissa and I have 5 children.