Saturday, 11 December 2004 17:29

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (14)

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Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (14)

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Broadcast: May 17, 1998; Message Number 1472

Sins of Immorality

The Church at Corinth was in many ways a sound church. Most believers held to orthodox doctrine. The problems Paul had to address in his letter to this church, therefore, had to do for the most part with moral issues.

We have seen how the apostle dealt with the issue of believers taking each other to court. Apparently some were dishonest in their business dealings, defrauding even their fellow Christians. Instead of bringing their grievances before their spiritual leaders and abiding by their counsel, their victims went to worldly judges for justice.

Such conduct is unbecoming Christians, Paul warned. Believers who cheat each other and take each other to court show that they are no different from the world. Therefore, if they do not repent and change their shameful behaviour, they will forfeit their salvation. Their condemnation will be the same or actually worse than that of their unbelieving neighbours whose help they are now seeking. "Do you not know," the apostle says, "that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" He then lists a number of sins which are typical of the unsaved, and a terrible list it is! "Do not be deceived;" he says, "neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexuals), not thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Fornicators: this word refers to sexual immorality in general and specifically to unchaste actions engaged in by single persons. Included here are pre-marital sex, prostitution and pornography. Fornication in all its forms is portrayed and promoted in books, magazines, movies and TV as a normal way of life. The sexual revolution of the sixties has done away with what many consider old-fashioned mores. The result is that everybody is now free to choose his or her own lifestyle. But God's laws never change and fornication is an abomination in His sight.

Idolators: this term refers to all who worship gods other than the only true God and is not restricted to those who actually bow down to images. Most idolatry takes place in the mind and consists of false mental images of God, wrong ideas about His character and attributes, etc. Included are al who are involved with false religions, sects and cults.

Adulterers: these are married persons who indulge in sexual acts outside the marriage relationship. Because the marriage bond is sacred, God views any violation of this bond as a great sin.

Effeminate and abusers of themselves with mankind: Here the apostle is thinking of those who exchange and corrupt normal male-female sexual roles and relations. Included in this category are such perversions as transvestism, homosexuality, both in its passive and active form, and sex changes. When God created man in His own image, He created them male and female and He strictly forbids the two genders to be blurred, much less exchanged.

God's creation order has to be observed. We need to recognize the divinely ordained distinctions between the sexes and the roles the Creator has assigned to each. How we do this may vary from culture to culture and from generation to generation, but great care must be taken not to blur the distinction between male and female. Transvestism may seem to be a harmless deviation, but it strikes at very root of the creation order. It is almost always associated with homosexuality and in the ancient world it was often part of pagan worship as well, which explains why it was such an abomination to the Lord.

Homosexuality in all is forms is strongly condemned in Scripture., that is, the practice of it. It is possible to have a tendency in that direction and yet to fight it and live a chaste life just as hetero-sexual singles do who take God's law seriously. In Paul's day homosexuality was rampant and today, after two thousand years of Christianity, it is rampant again.

Next, Paul mentions thieves and covetous. Their problem is greed. The covetous person desires something that belong to others; the thief actually takes it. Greed is a manifestation of selfishness and, like all selfishness, is never satisfied. It is difficult to find a person who is satisfied with his income and possessions. Apparently, it was a problem in the Corinthian church too. It was greed that led some to defraud their fellow believers and that prompted their victims to seek court action.

Drunkards is the next sin listed. Today we prefer to call it alcoholism and it is no longer considered to be a sin, but a disease. I'm not saying it is not a disease, but I stress that it is also a sin. Alcoholism, like homosexuality, may have some genetic aspects to it, but it is not primarily a genetic problem, as many claim. Rather, is part of a sinful life-style.

Revilers are people who destroy with their tongues and wound with words. God does not think lightly of this sin, as we tend to do, because it comes from hearts full of hate and causes misery, pain and grief in the lives of those it attacks.

Extortioners or swindlers are thieves who steal indirectly. They take unfair advantage of others to promote their own financial gain. Embezzlers, con-men, false advertisers and many other types of swindlers are as common today as in New Testament times.

Paul's purpose in mentioning these sins is to warn the Corinthians not to engage in any of them lest they forfeit their salvation. Don't you know, he says, what such conduct leads to? Evidently they needed to be reminded of the serious nature of these sins, and so do we, for the same sins that Paul mentions here are practised in our society, perhaps with even more abandon than in ancient times.

Paul says that those who engage in any of these sins shall not inherit the kingdom of God. He does not mean that these sins are unpardonable, so that anyone who has committed one or more of them cannot be saved. What he does mean, however, is that those who live in those sins and even defend them are lost. Such people cannot be true Christians, because they do not feel sorry for their sins. They do not repent.

Wherever and whenever sinners do repent of these sins, God will forgive them these sins. That had also happened to the Corinthians. Paul reminds them of this fact when he says: "And such were some of you." The Corinthian church, as many churches today, had ex-fornicators, ex- adulterers, ex-thieves, ex-drunkards, and even ex-homosexuals in her midst. This shows that those sins were indeed sins and not diseases, for God only forgives sins, not diseases. He forgives all your iniquities, the psalmist says, but He heals all your diseases.

Lifestyles due to genetics do not require pardon, but the lifestyles mentioned in our text are all sin-engendered. If we call sin a disease we are not really helping people, such as alcoholics and homosexuals. All we do is encourage sinners in their sin. But if we stay with the Bible and call sin by its true name, you will restore hope to those are being led astray by physicians of no value who call evil good and good evil.

Paul met the evils of his time head-on and called sinners to repentance, threatening those who did not with the wrath of God. The result was that many were saved and thus escaped that wrath. They became new creatures in Christ Jesus. "Such were some of you," the apostle says, "but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."

The sins in which these converts had lived held them in bondage. The power of Satan was tremendous and nothing could deliver them from sin's dominion--except the Gospel. The message that Paul preached contained saving power, or as the apostle describes it in Romans 1: "the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greeks." By that power these wretched slaves of sin had been set free. The Gospel of a crucified Saviour and risen Lord had delivered them from a sinful lifestyle that would otherwise have landed them in hell!

Such were some of you, but ye are washed. The reference is to the washing of regeneration or the new birth. You are sanctified. Sanctification speaks of the new lifestyle or conduct that follows the new birth. To be sanctified means to be made holy inwardly and to receive power to live a righteous life outwardly. Sin's dominion is broken and is replaced by a life of holiness.

But you are justified, the apostle continues. Justification refers to our new standing before God. In Christ we are clothed in His righteousness and God sees us in His Son's righteousness which He imputes to us the moment we believe. We are declared righteous by God who is the Justifier of all who believe in Jesus.

The Corinthians had experienced transformation in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God. God's name represents His being as well as His attributes, His justice as well as His mercy; His power as well as His will.

Such were some of you. These words spell hope, also for sinners today. If those Corinthians could be saved, so can we. Whatever we have been, or whatever we still are today, God is able to renew and sanctify us by His Spirit. But then we must ask the Lord to bring His life-changing power to bear upon our lives.

Some never ask for this power for they do not want to change. They love their sins too much. Is this true of you? Do you live in some of the sins mentioned in our text, openly or in the privacy of your home or heart? Then I must tell you that you will not inherit the kingdom of God and its blessings. Consider your guilt and your danger and repent. Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him and to our God for he will abundantly pardon.

You who have experienced the Lord's pardon and the sanctifying power of the Gospel, remember what you were before grace changed you. Your lifestyle may not have been so bad as that of the persons mentioned in this chapter, but this does not give you the right to throw stones at others. Remember that the seeds of all evils live in your heart and that nothing but the preventing grace of God has made you differ from others who have sunk lower into the mire of sin than you have. How you should magnify and adore the grace which has so distinguished you! Let your life show that you love much because so much has been forgiven you.

Additional Info

  • Audio: 110520639
  • Speaker: Rev. C. Pronk
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