In my struggle with crossdressing, many Bible verses have been helpful to me. I’ve studied them, memorized some of them, and often read them after failures. I’ll periodically mention and comment on some of them and how they relate to our fight with sexual sin. For those of you who are still struggling, it would surely help you to write some of these down and read them daily, or in times of temptation, or after a failure when you need to be built back up by God’s Word.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Originally Paul here was talking about freedom in Christ as opposed to trying to earn salvation or trying to earn our own righteousness through obedience to the Law. We obey God’s commands (just the moral laws of the OT law and Jesus’s commands) out of faith and gratitude for the grace we have been given in Jesus, not in order to earn our own righteousness or salvation. But elsewhere Paul also talks about how giving in to sin makes us slaves of sin. This verse is a reminder that Jesus wants us to be free, not to be burdened and enslaved by sin. Don’t go back to crossdressing, becoming a slave again to it.
13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
So many Christians claim that since we are free in Christ, we just have to love God and others and that is it. But verses like this and others remind us that our freedom in Christ is not to be used for sin. We still have to live in a way that pleases God. We show our love for him by obeying his commands. This means not giving in to sexual immorality. My freedom in Christ does not mean I am free to do engage in sexual sin, it means I am free because the Holy Spirit has given me the power to resist it. Indulging the sinful nature actually takes us back into slavery. True freedom is living according to God’s commands. A fish out of water might feel free but he is trying to live beyond his proper constraints. He will die. He is only free in the water. We are only free when we live according to how God has called us to live. Doing so will give us a life of joy and freedom.
16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
This passage is a great explanation of the conflict between what we in our sinful nature desire to do and what the Holy Spirit desires us to do. Just because we feel like doing something it does not mean that doing so would be good. Following our heart is not always the best thing, contrary to what our culture says. Sometimes it is the worst thing. There is a war going on inside of us between our sinful nature and the Holy Spirit. We want to be led by the Holy Spirit, not our sinful nature.
Paul also lists a lot of sins, including sexual immorality that we should watch out for. I don’t believe that Paul meant that any person who has done one of these things ever is not inheriting God’s kingdom. We don’t have to doubt our salvation when we fail in crossdressing. I think he means people who “live like this,” meaning it is a regular part of their lifestyle. When the Bible talks about sin, it never says that we will be able to stop sinning completely on our own. The important thing is always that we are fighting against sin in our lives, trying not to sin, and repenting when we do sin and falling on God’s grace and mercy. So it’s not that if we fail once in a while in sexual immorality that we are doomed. But true Christians will not live in sexual immorality. True Christians, who have experienced God’s grace in Jesus, cannot help themselves but to fight sin and repent when they do sin. People “who live like this” are not true Christians. They have not experienced God’s grace, and are not trying to resist such sins, they are not asking for forgiveness for such sins.
The last paragraph is a helpful reminder too. Paul lists the fruits of the Spirit. Living in the Holy Spirit, in our freedom in Christ, means more than just ridding ourselves of crossdressing. That’s just a beginning step. We crucify our sinful nature including crossdressing. But we also cultivate love, joy, peace, etc. For those of us who have found some success in giving up crossdressing, that frees up our thoughts, energy, and time to try to grow in other spiritual areas of our life, like these fruits of the Holy Spirit. We haven’t done much if we give up crossdressing, but are unloving, judgmental, and full of anger. Let’s grow in these fruits and be people of love.
And note that one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control. If you are in Christ, you have self-control! You don’t have to keep crossdressing! You have the ability to stop. Note that the people in the Bible who had no control over their actions were those who were demon possessed. Receiving the Holy Spirit does not make us go crazy (contrary to how some charismatics seem to talk about the Holy Spirit), rather the Holy Spirit helps us to be people who are in control of our actions. We learn absolute control of self. It is a lie if people say you cannot stop crossdressing! That is simply not true. Cultivate this fruit of self-control with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, 5 for each one should carry his own load.
6 Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
I really like this passage. It’s a great passage about accountability. We should love brothers and sisters in Christ enough to point out to them when they are caught in a sin. We should draw them back to Christ. This kind of judging is a helpful good kind of judging. But we need to do it gently. It needs to be done in love, not harshly, not out of pride, and not to make someone feel bad. We remind them of God’s grace, and the need to live for God.
We also should hold others accountable in such a way that we won’t become tempted. We should do it in a way that won’t cause us to feel proud. We should not compare ourselves to others. And if I am holding someone accountable about crossdressing, for example, I should be careful that I’m not drawn into sin by talking about it with them. We are to carry each others’ burdens. God doesn’t want lone ranger Christians. The beauty of the church is that we grow in Christ together. We carry our burdens of grief, burdens of suffering in life, and burdens in our fights against sin.
The last paragraph illustrates a very common sense principle. We reap what we sow. Oh my, I sowed so much destruction with my crossdressing and it is only by God’s grace and mercy that I didn’t reap much worse. Stop in this sin now, before you lose your job, or your wife, or yourself – your identity. Your sin will be found out. It’s only a matter of time.
Let’s not be naive about crossdressing, expecting that it won’t hurt us as long as we are careful. And for those of us who are resisting crossdressing, struggling to battle the desires we sometimes want to give in to, let us not give up. Let us not grow weary in doing good. We have Jesus and Heaven to look forward too. We have treasures in Heaven and the New Creation to look forward to. Let’s keep our focus on that, not on the feeble pleasures that we are missing.