God's Kind of Separation over the Gospel
The New Testament several times lists the people who will not enter into heaven (1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5; Rev 21:8, 27; 22:15) . Since these lists are all different, they are not each intended to be comprehensive, but representative. Whether someone makes it to heaven or not, lives forever in the New Jerusalem, enters through the gates of that eternal city, is a gospel issue. Many evangelicals and fundamentalists today say that they separate over the gospel. God excludes the people on these lists from salvation, so they are gospel related practices. People who practice them are not saved and will not be saved. You've got to repent from these sins, resulting in them not being your practice any more. That's what the lists say.
One of these exclusion passages is Revelation 21:8, which reads:
But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Later in Revelation 21:27, you read this:
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
Those are very serious sounding verses in the Bible. One is not more caring who does not take these types of verses seriously. I want to draw your attention to just one of the ones in the lists, and that is "the abominable." "The abominable . . . shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." Wow. I sure wouldn't want to be one of these "abominable" ones. I wonder who they are. I mean, who are they? Who are "the abominable"? And then in the next verse, v. 27, we see that those who work abomination will not enter into the gates of the eternal city. I should look at Scripture to see who these people are, that is, let the Bible define for me who they are. The abominable would be who the Bible says are abominable. This really isn't a matter of opinion. So a good thing to do would be to look this up in God's Word. These "abominable" ones, these people who work "abomination," are found right in these lists, excluding them from eternal life and heaven. The fact that they are included in these lists would say that these are practices that really have God's attention. He despises them.
Separation forever from God is the ultimate in separation. God will not have an abominable one, one committing abominations, in His presence for all eternity. This looks like God's kind of separation over the gospel. Someone could not be said to believe the gospel, but also to believe that abominations are permissible, could he?
I could start with the English word "abomination" to find what is uniquely an abomination, or what makes the people an abomination. I could also look at the Greek word translated "abomination" or "abominable" to find out who they are. The New Testament, that's right, the New Testament, says that those people who are an abomination will have their part in the lake of fire. Now where does the Bible say that a person is an abomination to God? What would a person do that is an abomination to God? We would need to look at the Bible to find out who that person is. OK, so let's look.
The Greek word for "abomination" is bdelugma . That Greek word, or forms of it, is found 6 times in the New Testament, two of which are in Revelation 21:8 and 27. The Hebrew word is to-ay-baw . That Hebrew word is found 117 times in the Old Testament in 112 verses. "Abomination" is mainly an Old Testament concept, but it is still in play as offensive to God as seen in the two verses in Revelation. We get our idea of what an abomination is from the Old Testament, however.
If you look at every single one of the verses where these words are used, only one verse says a practice that makes a person an abomination. Only one. People do abominations. They commit abominations. But only in one verse does the person himself or herself become an abomination to God. In certain verses, we see that someone can become an abomination to other people, but in only one does a person become an abomination to God. Which is that verse?
So I see this very serious verse that says that the abominable will go to the lake of fire and then I go to find out who the abominable is and I for sure see in the Bible that person in Deuteronomy 22:5. And what makes the person abominable, an abomination to God? Let's read the verse.
The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God.
"All that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God." Who is an abomination to God? Who is abominable? First, the woman who wears the item specifically designated for a man, that distinguishes him as a man. Second, the man who puts on a woman's garment.
Do you want to be an abomination to God? I wouldn't think so, especially in light of Revelation 21:8 and 27.
Is someone being an abomination a gospel issue according to Revelation 21:8 and 21:27? I see it as such. God separates himself from the abominable. Should we separate ourselves from the abominable?
What is the male garment? What is the female garment? What item of clothing distinguishes a man from a woman and woman from a man, honoring God's design? For many centuries, cultures that looked to the Bible in these matters distinguished pants as the male item and the skirt or dress as the female item. As feminism and unisex thinking took hold in a post-enlightenment, rationalistic, evolutionary United States, women began wearing pants in contradiction to the male role and male headship. In certain cases, women began to wear them out of sheer convenience with little thought about the symbolism of God's designed roles. God's people would not go along with pagan culture, but like in so many other areas, churches began to compromise with the world. Today in most evangelical and fundamentalist churches, women wearing pants is acceptable. Even further, in most instances, the women who continue to wear only female garments are ridiculed or looked upon as odd. The churches who take the historic Christian position are scorned and marginalized.
But Revelation 21:8 and 21:27 are both still in the Bible. And Deuteronomy 22:5 is still the only verse that says a person becomes an abomination for a particular practice. And women in dresses or skirts and men in pants is the historic way that Christians have followed Deuteronomy 22:5.
Is an abomination a non-essential? Does God say that an abomination is a non-essential? Of course not. Who is anyone to say that an abomination is a non-essential? And yet today evangelicals and fundamentalists would say that an abomination is a non-essential.
Just because a fundamentalist says it is a non-essential doesn't mean that God is saying that it is a non-essential. You won't be able to say to God that you would have known, except that a fundamentalist told you that this wasn't essential and you believed him. You'll have to base what you believe and do on what God said. If fundamentalists don't say the same thing, that can't really matter.
Think about it.
As you are thinking about it, I want to make a preemptive strike. Someone is going to say, "So are you saying that women who wear pants are an abomination and so are going to hell?" That will be the most likely argument to come along to this. It is a jr. high type of argumentation that shouldn't get any respect. I'm asking you to think about the verses in the Bible. Be serious about them. They are very serious verses.
The other response will most likely be ridicule. Men will scoff at this position. They will not likely offer you an alternative for the practice of Deuteronomy 22:5. They might say that all that really matters is that women look like women and men look like men. That's not what the verse says, however. It says don't put on certain items or garments. Don't have them on. Just because fundamentalists say that there are no such items of clothing today does not make it true.
So again, think about it.
I just finished a series in Revelation and that is what got me thinking about this post. It is normal for me to ask, "Who is abominable? Who would that be?" And if you look it up, you get to Deuteronomy 22:5. But what also crossed my mind is a new attack, I believe, on the Lordship of Christ in which those claiming to elevate the gospel to its rightful place, say that by talking about something like "pants on women," men like myself are diminishing the gospel, which is, according to them, to be first in importance. By giving the gospel this so-called "back seat," men like myself, according to these "gospel first" guys, are doing damage to the gospel. This type of idea is being pushed in conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism. Revelation 21:8, 27, and 22:15 would indicate the opposite. If you love the gospel, you are going to warn about these types of practices in people's lives. When we left all to follow Christ, we certainly left abomination. So when we confront abomination, and connect that to the gospel, we are doing the right thing related to Christ as Lord. There would be no practicers of abomination, who also follow Him. Abomination isn't in that path of following Christ. The freedom that Christ gives us through the gospel is not freedom to be abominable, but freedom from abomination.
If someone who brings up an abomination in a gospel conversation is guilty of somehow dismissing the gospel, then the Apostle John was doing that when he mentioned abomination in Revelation 21. Jesus Himself brought up loving your neighbor in a gospel conversation in Luke 10 and covetousness in Matthew 19. What we have with these evangelicals and fundamentalists, I'm afraid, is something of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness that Jude wrote about, and using grace as an occasion to the flesh that the Apostle Paul mentioned in Galatians.
Another point. People want "abomination" to be non-New Testament. Since it's not New Testament, it doesn't matter. But it is New Testament. Not being an abomination continues to be an issue in the New Testament. But it obviously points back to practices in the Old Testament. This does great harm to that particular excuse in this.
One more point. Shouldn't being an abomination give us pause? Shouldn't we want to make sure we aren't one? Why mess around with whether we're being one or not? Especially in light of Revelation 21:8, 27?
Last point. I believe that people just block this one out. They just choose not to think about it. They put their head in the sand in so many ways. They aren't dealing seriously with the text itself. Until I preached a series through Deuteronomy several years ago, I wasn't either. Once I came face to face with what it said, I had to make a decision. The decision hasn't made me more popular. To be honest with the text, I had to take the position I take. When I looked at commentaries from before 1930, they were unanimous in what this text meant. The popularity of alternative positions came later. People hang on to those alternatives. I believe they spread abomination. That doesn't sound like a good thing to do. But it is what they are doing. They attempt to take comfort in the reality that most professing Christians don't follow this path any more. If so many other Christians go the way they go, then they must be safe. It couldn't be true that so many people, who are such good people, could all be doing wrong. You'll hear the same argumentation used by Charismatics.