Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Were...


“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God. And don’t imagine that this is a complete list of the sinners who will be excluded. It is a representative sampling. You’re not off of the hook if your pet sin isn’t mentioned.

Galatians 5:19-21 adds to the roll-call of the non-inheriting. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry and witch-craft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 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.”

That phrase “and the like” means your habitual sin is covered. You are – or were – wicked. You are – or were – not saved from sin. The wicked – that’s you and me in our natural state – will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.

Now let’s read verse 11: “And that is what some of you were. 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.”

“And that is what some of you were.” What is Paul saying? To what does he refer in the past tense? He’s referencing the sinners mentioned in verses 9 and 10. He’s talking about those who had been sexually immoral those who had been idolaters, those who had committed adultery. He’s talking to the former male prostitutes in the church, to the former homosexual offenders and former thieves. He’s writing to believers whose hearts used to be filled with greed, who used to get drunk every weekend, who used to slander others and swindle their friends out of whatever they could.

To each of these people, and to every sinner reading or hearing his words, he says, “That’s the past! You were wicked. You were incapable of inheriting the kingdom of God.”

I don’t know about you, but hearing the word were in this context is more than encouraging to me. It says to me, “Your past sin does not define who you are today.”

Is that good news or what?! How can that not give you joy and peace and a sense of freedom?! How can that not stir up hope in your heart?! You can say with confidence, if you’re a believer, “I was a sinner! But that’s not me anymore. I’m no longer defined by my sin! Woohoo!”

Think of your past. Remember your sin. Gone! Done with. Behind you. Forgiven. Was, but no longer.

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