Such Were Some of You

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9–11

This was the scripture I read this morning for my devotions.

Who needs a cup of coffee after reading something this jolting.

Paul wrote this to a Church that was dysfunctional. There was fighting among Christians about which gift of the Holy Spirit was more important than the others; about which preacher was better than the others, all the while, turning a blind eye – even encouraging – sinful behavior to continue in the lives of members of the Church. Moreover, Christians were taking each other to civil court over their disputes, putting themselves under the authority of the unrighteous worldly judges. When Christians wrong and defraud each other, they are behaving like the ungodly, unrighteous world around them, and this is not who you are.

Paul makes his point abundantly clear, and we should not deceive ourselves:

  • Sexual immorality is a sin
  • Idolatry is a sin
  • Adultery is a sin
  • Homosexuality is a sin
  • Stealing is a sin
  • Greed is a sin
  • Drunkenness is a sin
  • Reviling (abusive, angry, critical language) is a sin
  • Swindling others is a sin

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. Paul has other such lists in Galatians 5:19-21 and Romans 1:18-32, but the point is clear: these are all sinful behaviors, and those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. I may lose my audience, get removed from the blogosphere and social media for saying this, but it must be said, these things are sinful, and those who make a practice of unrighteousness will never enter in the kingdom of the righteous God.

But here’s the point of Paul’s message: “such were some of you.” Paul is writing to the redeemed, to those who have been called out of sinful living and into the righteousness secured for us in the righteousness of Christ. Those who are in Christ have been washed of the sin, cleansed from the filthiness of it. Those who are in Christ have been sanctified, set apart as holy for God. Those who are in Christ have been justified, declared righteous because of the righteousness of our mediator, Jesus Christ.

You were once defined by your unrighteousness, but now you are defined by your new life in Christ. Once you were marked by the division and animosity between God and man, and man and man, that comes about because of sin. Now you are marked by the peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness of our gracious God, and that grace permeates all our relationships.

I think the reason this passage reaches out and grabs us by the collar is because it does the two things that any presentation of the gospel ought to do: 1) It hits us with the condemnation of sin, of which we are all guilty and liable to judgment, and 2) It declares the salvation and redemption that is found only in the Lord Jesus Christ through the working of the Holy Spirit.

There is great hope in this passage, for while it does not excuse any sin, it does offer forgiveness in Jesus Christ for every sin. As the Spirit leads you to see the sinfulness of your sins and your desperate need for a savior, may you turn from your life of sin and come to rest in this assurance, that by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, you have been washed, sanctified, and justified in Jesus.

SDG

Memento Mori

“O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Psalm 39:4

Thinking of one’s own death can often seem an unhealthy and morbid thing to do, when in reality, there is Biblical wisdom to be found in “remembering your mortality.” I was thinking about this while running this morning, having just read Psalm 39, and thinking about the genuine benefits from remembering that all will die (there are times when I’m running that I’m pretty sure I going to die). Here are some of the thoughts I came up with:

  1. Remembering your own mortality is a healthy reminder that this life will come to an end and one day all will stand before the throne of God to be judged according to His righteous decree. Some may achieve great things in this life, others may simply fade in obscurity, but all will die. Rich and poor, righteous and wicked, all will one day lay down this life. The natural course of events is to move from birth to death, and with each day there will be evidence of what is to come; fading ability and failing health. While we certainly shouldn’t live recklessly, tempting death and rushing to a quick end, neither should we become so obsessed with health and youth and vitality that we deny the reality of death.
  2. Remembering our own mortality also serves as a call to action. We’ve all played the game: IF YOU KNEW THE WORLD WOULD END TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TODAY? If this were my last post, what would I want you to know. If this Sunday were my last sermon, what would I want to say? If this were the last time you had to speak with your parents, your spouse, your children, what needs to be said? Often, so many live with regret over things they wanted to say but never had the opportunity.
    This is your chance. David prayed in the Psalm that God would help him to measure his days, so that he could live accordingly, making the best use of the time given. There is no time like the present to forgive and be forgiven, to love and be loved, to heal and be healed.
  3. Remembering our own mortality also points us to greater spirituals realities. “In Adam all die,” Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 15:22. The death that comes through Adam is both physical and spiritual. In sin, we are dead to God and unable to do that which would please Him or even bring us to life. More important that a reminder that we will one day lay down this mortal body is the knowledge that, even though we may live and breath, apart from Christ we are dead in our trespasses and sins. In our death, we need one who would come and give us life, breathing new life within us, and enabling us to live in righteousness before God.
    Praise God that He has given us this One, Jesus Christ, through whom we have died to sin and have been raised to new life by the power of His Holy Spirit. Because our sinless savior died, we who are hidden in Him by faith, may now live, and live for forever more. And though we may sleep at the end of this life, laying down this mortal body, we will be raised when the trumpet sounds, and we will take up that which is immortal, so that we may be with Him forever.

Memento Mori, remember you will die, remember that in sin you were dead, remember the One who died, remember that death has lost its victory and sting, remember that you have died to sin, and live in the light of Christ now forever more!

SDG