In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he offers a lot of tough but encouraging words of instruction regarding how to live life. Within these few chapters, he defines the very nature of God (chapter 13), he reflects on Israel’s history (chapter 10), and he addresses some cancerous disunity in the church (chapter 3). It’s a wide range of topics.
In the midst of such an obscure topic (lawsuits, actually), he points out that each one of us came from a background that precluded us from the kingdom, were it not for God’s grace. He does this by listing some of the labels we’d earned in our BC days, and this verse (or rather, pair of verses) is often quoted to support the idea that sinners like these can’t get into heaven.
Paul’s point is that sinners don’t get into heaven. Not this kind of sinner or that kind, but all sinners.
1 Corinthians 6:9 starts off the list with some pretty well-themed words: fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, the effeminate, and homosexuals. In verse 10, the list goes on to include thieves, coveters, drunks, slanderers, and swindlers in the next verse, but one can’t help but notice the sexual motif of the verse 9 segment.
Now, it’s worth pointing out that Paul’s point does not appear to be a blacklist of salvation-breakers. Read in context, this verse isn’t saying that homosexuals can’t get into heaven, though that’s how it’s often quoted (and often by those guilty of the other sins listed).
Rather, Paul’s point is that sinners don’t get into heaven. Not this kind of sinner or that kind, but all sinners. And, as he so astutely points out in his letter to the Romans, we’ve all sinned. Quite possibly we’ve earned one of these vary labels. Only God can save us.
That’s his point taken in context. Look at verse 11 after Paul has listed those who cannot inherit God’s kingdom. “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” (NASB).
Now, this isn’t some random tangent condemning some of God’s pet peeves. Remember the context of the lawsuits?
What Paul is saying is this: “That fellow brother in Christ you’re suing? You were just as jacked up as him. We all needed the same blood of Christ to get our salvation, so maybe you should cut him some slack. Have mercy and let the love of God show rather than the wrath of your attorneys.”
Ironically, this verse is usually taken out of this context and used to communicate the exact opposite message: “These people don’t deserve God, so show them no mercy or love. Give them a cold shoulder, your wrath, or anything in between.”
How God must mourn anytime this verse is used to drive people away from Him or His Son’s bride.
Sin is Still Bad
God doesn’t like the sin either. The ninth verse is well-packed with words that deserve our attention because they quantify activities that are distasteful, even abhorrent, to the Lord.
For others’ sakes, we should always use this verse in the intended context of love and acceptance of sinners.
For our own sakes, we should learn from the details of its claims against unacceptable behavior.
So, I’m going to dig a little deeper into these themed words found in verse 9. Hopefully someone will find this useful.
First, we’ll look at pornos, the fornicators.
Originally posted 2016-04-08 08:00:41.