August 7, 2005

Such Were Some of You!

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: 1 Corinthians Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:9–11


Such Were Some of You!

1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Sunday, August 7, 2005
Pastor Randy Smith

At work one day a woman was asked the following question by her co-worker, "What is it like to be a Christian?" She thought to herself for a moment and replied, "It is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, and greed, and then he carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

This little story can be summarized by saying the new birth in Christ involves godly change.

If you are a child of God, there is no doubt that God loves you just as you are. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more or God love you less. We could say His love is infinite and unconditional. God loves you as you are, but we could also say that He loves you too much to keep you the way you are. There is too much at stake for both you and Him.

He has deposited His Spirit within you, the Holy Spirit who takes up permanent residence and begins an inward transformation according to His holy nature. God understands the evils of sin much more than we do, so He takes on the eternal project to conform us to the likeness of His Son for our good and also His glory. Common sense tells us that our indifference toward sin is contrary to His holy and loving agenda and a good indication that He does not really dwell within us.

It is like the pumpkin story. He puts His light within us to make us clean. And as the world sees us enjoy this holy transformation with a big smile on our face, He, our Creator, receives great glory.

The Corinthians needed some major work in understanding and practicing this concept. We learned last week that they took all their worldly tendencies into their Christian life and found nothing wrong with claiming Christ but living as an unbeliever. In chapter 5 Paul addressed the sin of sexual immorality. Chapter 6 begins by addressing the sin of lawsuits amongst the brethren. Now in verses 9-11 he gets much more general and lists many sins, far from exhaustive, but yet representing many different sin categories that are inappropriate for the one who has found new life in Jesus Christ.

With a very timely passage of Scripture as we prepare our hearts for the Lord's Table, I would like to identify and explain these ten transgressions. Then I would like to provide a few reasons why the Christian must not be identified by such unrighteous behavior.


Before we speak of their consequences, let's define the specific sins Scripture mentions in verse 9-10. Though written two thousand years ago, we will see that this list from the unchanging God is just as applicable today for our unchanging humanity.


The first sin mentioned in verse 9 is fornication. "Fornicators" translates the Greek word, pornos. It is where we derive our English word "pornography." The word pornos speaks of sexual immorality in general. However, often when we use the English word "fornication" we are speaking of sexual activity between two unmarried individuals. Though our society encourages and even applauds such behavior, the Bible could not be clearer how repulsive this sin is in the sight of God (1 Cor. 5:11; Eph. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:10; Rev. 21:8; 22:15).


Additionally on this list (and I will be moving rather rapidly and not necessarily considering the sins in sequence) is the sin of adultery. Adultery, as we all know is another sexual sin that occurs between two individuals when either one or both are currently married to another. "You shall not commit adultery," says the seventh commandment (Ex. 20:14; Dt. 5:18). In the Old Testament, offenders were subject to capital punishment (Lev. 20:10: Dt. 22:22). Though the punishment has changed in the New Testament, God's disgust with both fornication and adultery has not. Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge (emphasis added)."


Another sexual sin that clearly violates God's intention for marriage between one man and one woman is the sin of homosexuality. In the Greek (arsenokoites), the compound word literally means, "man bed." Uncovered sculptures, pottery and documents from the past reveal that this sin that was rampant in both the ancient Greek and Roman world. It has also made incredible inroads of acceptability into our society today. Even many in the church are divided on this issue. Yet are we going to listen to the world or are we going to listen to the Word? Make no mistake about it; the sin of homosexuality is repeatedly condemned in the Bible as "an abomination" (Lev. 18:22), a "detestable act" (Lev. 20:13) and a "degrading passion" (Rom. 1:26-27). "Sodomy," a term synonymous with homosexual behavior derives its origin from the ancient city of Sodom, a city mentioned in Genesis 18 that God judged and destroyed for committing this offense (Gen. 19:24).


Another sin mentioned once again showing how seriously God takes His design for marriage and gender is the effeminate (malakos). Twice the Greek word is used elsewhere in Scripture to mean "soft" (Mt. 11:8; Lk. 7:25). Based on the context, Paul is speaking about men who deliberately forsake their role of masculinity. We were created "male and female" (Gen. 1:27) and the Lord strictly forbids the two roles to be blurred, much less exchanged (MacArthur, 1 Corinthians, 142). This is not limited to homosexuals, but also transvestites and other forms of this behavior. Deuteronomy 22:5, "A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God."


The sin of idolatry also finds its way into this list. Sande's definition from this Thursday's Grace Quote is excellent: "Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone, or metal worshiped by pagan people. But the concept of idolatry is much broader and far more personal than that. An idol is anything apart from God that we depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. In biblical terms, it is something other than God that we set our heart on, that motivates us, that masters and rules us, or that we trust, fear, or serve. In short, it is something we love and pursue more than God" (Sande, The Peacemaker, p. 104). Sins can often be idols of our heart. Even good things can develop in to idols - a job, a house, a hobby, a child, a spouse. God expects to be preeminent in our affections and our actions should give evidence of that. We are bowing down to idols if anything takes precedence over the living God.

It is interesting how Paul sandwiches this sin amongst all the sexual sins in 1 Corinthians 6. He does this elsewhere in his writings making a connection between sexual sin and idolatry (Rom. 1:25-27; Gal. 5:20; Col. 3:5). The spiritual life in pagan Corinth was directly connected to immoral sexual behavior. I've read that their temple was adorned with 1,000 prostitutes that would ply their trade under the name of religion. And even today, sex in whatever form (whether it be a spouse, a lover, a prostitute, a video or a poster) has the power to demand our total allegiance whereby it becomes our god and religion.


The sixth sin mentioned is thievery. This obviously refers to taking that which belongs to another.


The next sin, covetousness, is very similar, only the physical displacement of the object is nonexistent. Coveting, the 10th Commandment (ex. 20:17; Dt. 5:21) involves desiring something that belongs to another. Such a person may not remove the object with his hands, but he has already removed the object with his heart. This sin is the origin of many of the sins we have already discussed and often one that is overlooked in the church today.

For example, we may not have an affair, but we can covet our friend's wife. We may not steal the car, but we can covet our neighbor's Corvette. We may not stoop to the idol of godless living, but we can covet all the apparent "fun" in the fleeting pleasures of sin. Covetousness leads to the sins mentioned in verses 9-10 and has its origin in greed and selfishness and discontentment.


"Swindlers," another sin included on this list falls in between both coveting and thievery. The swindler lusts for that which is not his, but may lack the opportunity or desire to take one's property directly due to the consequences. So such a person steals indirectly through extortion, embezzlement or false advertising. I believe Paul had in mind those who appear to help the vulnerable, but in the end rob the person blind through forms of flattery, deception and craftiness.


Drunkards are also included in Paul's list. Though alcohol in general is not condemned in the Bible, drunkenness definitely is (Pr. 20:1; Joel 1:5; Nah 1:10; Lk. 21:34; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18; 1 Thes. 5:7-8). And in this category we could place any substance that begins to control our reasoning and inhibitions.


Lastly, shifting to another category of sin, Paul mentions "revilers." Though he could have included countless sins of the tongue, reviling is attacking one in a verbal manner seeking to cause harm to an individual. Notice that these sins of the tongue are just as serious as sexual sins and idolatry. Reason being, as Jesus said, "The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" (Mt. 12:34b). Since all our speech originates in the heart, speech contaminated with hate reveals a heart contaminated with hate.


As we move to the second point, let's take this discussion a bit deeper. Nobody can deny the reality of these actions, but many may wish to debate as to whether or not they are improper on various fronts despite their clear presence in Scripture.

For example, some may believe that these transgressions were cultural and therefore no longer applicable to our day and age. Obviously such a belief fails to square with a God who is morally unchanging. We must understand that these sins were not arbitrarily assigned by a deity who had nothing better to do than make our lives miserable. Realize beloved, these guidelines are based on the holy character of an immutable God. Just as His character does not change, His moral law does not change either.

For example, why is it wrong to be a swindler? Because God is "truth" (Jn. 14:6) and Satan is the "father of lies" (Jn. 8:44). Integrity and honesty and fairness permeate God's character.

Why is it wrong to covet? Because when we covet we imply that God has not met our needs. We imply that He is withholding something good from us. We imply that His grace is not sufficient.

Why is it wrong to give ourselves to drunkenness? Because, as the temple of God we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:19).

Why is it wrong to be gay? Because it goes against not only God's holiness, but also His model as to what marriage is intended to depict. Ephesians 5 tells us that marriage is to picture Christ's relationship with His church (Eph. 5:32). Jesus Christ is our divine Husband and we are His bride (Rev. 21:2). This is why God intended marriage, as He stated all the way back in Genesis 2, to be between one man and one woman.

We could continue through this list with even more elaboration, but I think you understand my point. God's unchanging moral law is based on His unchanging moral character.

Others may believe that God is just some cosmic killjoy who wants to prevent us from having any fun. It's almost as if He took all the things we humans enjoy and barred them from our pleasure. Is that true?

Well, you explain that to those who are battling a sexually transmitted disease or a teen pregnancy or the guilt of an abortion or the emotional pain of repeatedly giving your body to satisfy another's lust. You explain it to those who live with an alcoholic spouse or have lost a loved-one (as I have now lost four) to a drunk driver or are suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. If you think God's rules are unloving and unkind, you explain that to the young man serving time for robbery or the CEO convicted of embezzlement. You explain to the covetous that are filled with the discontent, the emptiness and the futility of chasing after the wind. You explain that to those who ignore the sins of the tongue and as a result find themselves disliked by the public, struggling with their marriage and without any close relationships.

Why do we think we will receive pleasure from that which a good and wise God tells us to avoid? He gives us these guidelines in love because they are in our best interest. But oh how Satan has such a way to make sin so appealing through his sugarcoated tactics. His schemes date back to the Garden and as in that case, are laden with hidden consequences.

I remember a time in my own life when stealing seemed like such a wonderful idea. It was before I knew the Lord and my high school job consisted of loading cars in a lumberyard. Throughout the month of December we sold Christmas trees. Quite often the customers would ask us if they were to pay us or pay inside the store. On a few occasions we accepted the money and it went right into our pockets. We were never caught and I used the money to scalp some terrific seats at a rock concert (The Who). No harm done right?

For years, even as an unbeliever, my conscience burned within. When I gave my life to Christ I sought the Lord's forgiveness, but also felt led by the Spirit to make restitution. So 10 years later I marched into that same hardware store, explained my testimony to the manager, laced $150 dollars in his hand and asked for his forgiveness too. The Lord that day back in 1992 gave me tremendous relief and taught me a valuable lesson. Sin, regardless of its attraction (which in reality is only a thin veneer) is never worth the pain and misery that follows.

In addition to the two reasons I just mentioned, the Apostle Paul gives us two more reasons in chapter 6 as to why we should avoid the sins on this list.

Such People Will Not Enter Heaven

First of all in verse 9 he says, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?" At the end of verse 10 he repeats himself that these individuals "will not inherit the kingdom of God."

You can see for yourself what the text says. I'll pause for a moment and allow the weight of those words to hit home. God is not fooling around. Verse 9 says "do not be deceived" as so many are today. For those who engage in this behavior, this unrighteousness will not go to heaven.

You say, pastor, I've committed many of those infractions. I'm sure all of us have, even after we have given our lives to Christ. However what Paul is getting at is not those who make a one-time mistake. Neither is He is speaking of those who once lived like this in the past but now have repented of this behavior. He is talking about individuals who are characterized or persistent in this behavior, individuals who "practice" (Gal. 5:21) this behavior with no intention to call the action sin and forsake the deed. These are people who have been made known of their unrighteousness and willingly continue in their sin in disregard for God's holy law. God's kingdom is one of righteousness and Scripture is making it clear that such unrighteous individuals will not be permitted to enter. For we are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves produces a desire for godly living. Such willingness is evidence we are indwelt and guided by the Holy Spirit and thus truly are children of a holy God.

Such Action is Contrary for the Christian

The second reason Paul gives as to why we should forsake an unrighteous way of living is found in verse 11. The Apostle says, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

In other words, at one time we in the church practiced these patterns of unrepentant sin just like the world. Our life also was characterized and identified by this behavior. But (a word of contrast he uses 3 times in this verse) we were "washed." We were made clean in and with the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:22) by the "washing of regeneration" (Tit. 3:5). At one time we were dirty, but now we have been made clean. We were "sanctified" (1:2). We were set apart for God's special use. At one time we served self, sin and Satan, but now we are to serve a holy God in righteousness. We were "justified." We have been declared righteous. At one time we were guilty of all our transgressions, but by grace through faith in Christ the righteous Judge has declared us innocent and imputed to us all His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). All this was done, as the verse concludes mentioning the whole Trinity "in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

Why should we forsake unrighteousness? Because unrighteousness marked our former way of living. "Such were some of you!" But thanks be to God it no longer identifies us that way in God's sight. And since we have been recreated to desire righteousness while at the same time have a position of righteousness and a declaration of righteousness, we should live lives conducive to that holy standing. We have been given new lives that should be characterized by a holy kind of living. What He has done for us should be seen in us. What we are, we now should be. Christ did not die so we can continue to live like the world. He died to forgive us and enable us to overcome the sins of the world.

One commentator said, "God's grace does not mean that God benignly accepts humans in all their fallenness, forgives them, and then leaves them in that fallenness. God is in the business not of whitewashing sins but of transforming sinners" (Garland, 1 Corinthians, 215).

Transforming sinners who now act differently than the world. Trophies of God's grace that reveal to all His incredible power to make one once in love with sin now joyfully increasing into His holy image.

other sermons in this series

Apr 22


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Apr 15


Everything Minus Love Equals Nothing

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:1–13 Series: 1 Corinthians

Mar 18


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