And yet, those feelings remained, despite their best efforts to put them away from them.
This is a concern. God wants to us to have life and that more abundantly, does He not?
Why does He not take away these desires?
The fact is that every person in the world, on the earth, has been and will be born in sin, born dead in their trespasses (Ephesians 2:1)
When we are born again, we still have sin in the flesh. Paul the Apostle writes:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not." (Romans 7:18)
The more that Paul wants to do good, the more that bad, that sin manifests itself:
"19For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." (Romans 7:19-20)
Notice that Paul writes that this sin principle is in his flesh.
When we are born again, our spirit is brought back to life, and our minds are slowly renewed, but we still inhabit this body, which has sin in it.
When Jesus died on the Cross, our sins were all paid for, but also sin in the flesh was condemned!
"3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:" (Romans 8:3)
Now, sin has not be removed from us, for we are still in the flesh, that is in our earthen bodies.
Our bodies will be redeemed one day:
"20For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." (Philippians 3:20-21)
We are citizens of heaven, but we still reside in these earthen bodies. One day, there will be the full redemption of our bodies:
"53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." (1 Corinthians 15:53-54)
Now, let's look at this "pray the gay away" plea from those who still struggle.
Let's face it. If God were to "take the gay away", we would have to be taken off the earth, taken home. We would have to be fully liberated from our flesh, and that means "Dead."
Really, we should thank God that He does not answer our prayers when we pray "God, take away my temper problem", or "God, please remove these lustful feelings from me."
We have sin in our flesh, but it has been condemned. We are called to identify with Christ Jesus, for we have received His standing, His life!
"Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4:17)
He is our life! Why look at our flesh and ask God to remove the sin in our flesh?
Let's consider the full consequence of God answering this prayer: God woiuld have to remove us from this earth. Even if we would receive our newly-redeemed body later on, we would become literally no earthly good. God wants to minister to the world through us, by the power of His Holy Spirit. The light affliction of sin in our flesh is nothing compared with the glory of God's grace working in our lives, granting us power to reign in life and reign over sin, even in our flesh.
God wants to save more of His creation, and He chooses to do so through us! Imagine if God had answered our prayers, and we would be removed from the earth for good. How sad that would be.
The second response to this "Pray the Gay Away" problem.
When we face a problem, a challenge, a struggle, God's way is not to take something away, but to add something more, something better.
Consider the Israelites, when they prayed for help following the snakebites they suffered in the wildnerness, because the complained about God's manna from heaven:
"7Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us." (Numbers 21:7)
Notice that after they were bitten by the fiery serpents, the Israelites begged Moses to take away the snakes. But think about it--taking away the snakes would not have healed them from the poison running their bodies.
Taking away the problem would not have helped them, who would not have set them free.
Read what happened next:
"And Moses prayed for the people. 8And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived." (Numbers 21:7-9)
Consider this account during the ministry of Elisha the Prophet:
"38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.
39 And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not.
40 So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.
41 But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot." (2 Kings 4:38-41)
Notice that one of the prophets in training but a wild (literally, glittering) vine into the pot of food, which ruined it.
Elisha did not fix this problem by taking out the glittering vine, but by putting meal, or fine flour into the pot. The fine flour speaks of our Lord Jesus! Allow more of Jesus into your situation.
Consider also Jesus' High Priestly prayer before His death on the Cross:
"I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil." (John 17:15)
God wants us to rule in the midst of our enemies, whether internal or external (Psalm 110:2), and we reign in His Life! (Romans 5:17)
The answer our problems, our challenges, the sin in our flesh is not "Take away the problem."
The answer is "Show me more of the Cross. Explain to me further what Jesus has done and is doing for me and in me."
In other words, as Peter wrote to his fellow believers:
"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)
It's not about trying to remove something bad, but to keep receiving more of His favor, more of God's grace in our lives.
We don't need God to take away the sinful desires in our flesh. We need to see more of Jesus taking care of us, and recognize that the sins, the lustful feelings, the bankrupted thoughts have all been paid for and condemned. They are no longer part of us!
Consider what Paul writes to the Romans:
"11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:11)
"14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace." (Romans 6:14)
We are not striving in our efforts, but living by His grace, His favor, His love!
I told him plainly that if God answered that prayer, He would have to take him home. Then I told him that the sin in our flesh has been condemned, and that therefore there is no further reason to pray that prayer. Why identify with something that is not you?
That was one of the most moving times I had in ministering to a fellow brother in Christ. I thank God that He worked with me at great length through all those trying times. We are not separated from God when sin in our flesh flares up. Let's us rather recognize that those sins are condemned, they are no longer part of who we are.
We are now in Christ, and so let us grow in grace and reign with Him! Let's set our affections abovm at the Father's right hand -- for that is where we are now!