(1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
There are many scriptures in the bible that provide mankind with hope and this short piece is no exception.
We all have a past that we are not happy about or were ashamed about. Some did things that were worse than others, but we all came from a background of sin in one form or another.
This scripture both “tells it like it is” pointing to the fate of those who choose to persist in sin and it also tells us the benefits of repentance and the hope for a future when we do.
Who and What Were You?
This is a question that does not really need an answer. We were all sinners before we came to Christ Jesus.
But unfortunately there are many in Christ who still see their sins as if they were still in them. They suffer because they have not laid the past to rest.
What is even worse is that there are some in the church who, knowing who or what some other person was before conversion, continue to judge them as though they are still who they were rather than what they have become in Jesus Christ.
Look at the list of evils and sins that Paul rattles off in this section of scripture.
9 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, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. – (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
There are some terrible sins in this lot, and there are some sins that people make distinctions over as being worse than others.
If we just consider this list alone, some might think homosexuality or adultery as being worse than say being a drunkard or a reviler. And perhaps such thinking is based on the penalties meted out under God's law for those who practice homosexuality or adultery, which was a death penalty. God considers such things as abominations and in the law He gave the Israelites through Moses, those who did such things were condemned to death.
But when we look at the first few words of the section above, we see that all who continue to live in ANY of these evil ways, or any other form of unrighteousness for that matter, are doomed. They will not inherit the kingdom of God but will suffer the consequences of their disobedience and will be cast out of God's kingdom.
But as we continue to read this section of scripture we come across this small, almost insignificant verse that abounds with hope for all sinners. Within its few words are the promise of the salvation for all people regardless of who and what they were before they came to Christ.
And also they teach us as brother and sisters in the Lord not to make distinctions about what any other person may have been before coming to Christ. This hope is contained in the first six words of verse 11 which says,
“And such were some of you…” (1 Corinthians 6:11)
Stop and consider those words for just a moment. What Paul is saying to the people in the church at Corinth is that among their congregation they had people who may have previously practiced homosexuality and adultery as well as being swindlers, cheats, greedy, drunkards and so on.
This congregation was made up of people who had done many things in disobedience to the laws of God, some of which deserved the penalty of death under that law, but ALL of which would have prevented them inheriting the kingdom of God.
And perhaps you who are reading this may have done similar or even worse things in your life that would have excluded you from God's kingdom.
The Key Word
I have often said to people and written on this blog also that it is important to take note of ALL the words that are written, especially the little words that we tend to gloss over without taking much notice.
This is particularly true in this verse 11 above, because the key word in this verse is so incredibly powerful that it gives hope for the future to all of us.
That key word is…”were.”
The word “were” tells us that all of those sinful things that Paul speaks of to the Corinthian church and which plague people in the world today are past tense for those who have come to Christ Jesus. Anything and everything we did prior to coming to Jesus is in our past and has been forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
And this is how we should look at these things today with respect to who and what we WERE in the past. It is dead and gone because through Jesus Christ we have died to our past and it can no longer condemn us before God. As far as God is concerned, our personal history of sin is no more…it is as if that history belongs to someone else, and indeed it does belong to someone else because in Christ Jesus we are new creations being renewed every day.
Repentance and faith in the renewing power of Jesus Christ's sacrifice and His blood takes us away from who and what we WERE to who we now ARE. Through Him by repentance and faith we change our thinking and behaviours from children of darkness to children of light.
Now You Are Clean
The final section of verse 11 shows us why we have hope and how we have been brought into this place of being able to receive the inheritance of 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 6:11)
You have been washed through baptism into the death of Jesus Christ and his blood has washed away your sins. You were sanctified, that is, made holy just as Jesus Christ is holy, by taking on His resurrection and life which we receive through faith in the grace of God who lifts us up as new creations in Jesus Christ.
You have been justified, which is to be made righteous, by faith as the free gift of God received through faith in the working of what God has done in the sacrifice of His son. Just as Abraham believed God and was reckoned righteous by God, so too we are reckoned righteous by faith in Jesus Christ.
And if we are to receive these things we MUST believe that we have received these things because God said that if you believe, you will receive.
Don't doubt and think that you have not been set free from your past sins. Don't think that you are still an unrighteous sinner because of what you did in the past. Those days and those things have gone. You are set free from your past and it cannot hurt you or condemn you because the power of the blood and the resurrection of Christ Jesus has made you a new creation that is being renewed constantly until we all stand in the fullness of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, mature in Him.
And don't allow your mistakes that you will make now to take away this cleansing, justification, sanctification and righteousness. When you screw up today, thank the Lord that He took not only your past sins, but also He took away the law that condemns you in the present and future. If there is no law, there is no sin and there is no condemnation.
It does not matter who you WERE in the past, it only matters who you ARE today and that you stand firm in the faith holding fast to to the righteousness you have been given by grace as a free gift from God.
Perhaps you were an adulterer. Past tense. Perhaps you were a homosexual. Past tense. Perhaps you were a murderer. Past tense. Perhaps you were a thief, drunkard, reviler, drug addict, gambler, terrorist, liar, cheat, even a satanist. Past tense.
It does not matter who or what you were, because when you come to Jesus, He takes it all away. We must repent, and whoever has repented of any of these forms of evil above and turned to the Lord Jesus Christ to be renewed in Christ and made a new creation is no longer the person they were.
Likewise we must not judge someone for who they were but thank the Lord that as He saw fit to redeem us from our past, so too He has redeemed them from their past.
We are renewed in Christ Jesus and we have hope for the future. May all who are condemned under sin in this evil world find the faith in Jesus Christ and turn to Him for renewal that comes through the grace of God in Jesus Christ.
(Image sourced from freeimages.com provided by Christina Hawkins)
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