The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? You were justified
1 Corinthians 6 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? 2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life? 4 So if you have law courts dealing with matters of this life, do you appoint them as judges who are of no account in the church? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren, 6 but brother goes to law with brother, and that before unbelievers?
7 Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? 8 On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 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.
12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.
Paul has another tough message for the church. He says: Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. What is important to remember is that this is Paul’s instruction to the church. This is not a sermon preached to the world. Paul is speaking this message, this warning to believers. Those who are not believers will not inherit the kingdom because of their unbelief. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” Jesus Himself also says: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6) So the unbeliever will not inherit the kingdom because of his unbelief. Paul’s message about unrighteous living is to the church, to believers. Regarding these unrighteous lifestyles, Paul 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. To be justified in the name of the Lord is to immediately be viewed by God through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross rather than by our own actions and sin. To be sanctified in Christ is a daily, moment by moment, lifelong process. It is the process by which we choose to become more Christ like. Although we are seen as righteous in Christ, the moment we believe, we all continue to struggle with our old sin nature; to live and walk in the righteousness we have been given.
Paul says: “The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body... do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Keep in mind Paul included many other sinful lifestyles in the list of things which will keep believers from inheriting the kingdom. The list includes: idolaters, thieves, the covetous, drunkards, revilers and swindlers. There is a difference though in matters of immorality, perversions in the body, the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God resides within us as believers. Jesus says: "Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven.” (Matthew 12:31) Jesus spoke that in reference to the Pharisees saying He had an evil spirit, not regarding unrighteous behavior. But if it is blasphemy to speak against the Holy Spirit, how much more is it sin to cause the Holy Spirit to participate in acts of immorality?
Again there will be many who will say that these are Paul’s words, his warning to the church. Jesus never specifically spoke against these things Himself. In Matthew 7:13-23 Jesus says: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
We all struggle with our old sin nature. We all, as long as we live here on earth, are walking and working through the process of sanctification. As Jesus says earlier in Matthew 7:1-2: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”, it is not our place to judge the sin and the lifestyle of others, yet Jesus does say: “you will know them by their fruits” We are then to be fruit inspectors, judging the fruit of those who claim to speak for the Lord, those who say they are prophets, declaring what God says. There is a key to what Jesus says, to the warning He speaks against lawlessness. He says: “depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” Paul says: the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. It is those who practice lawlessness that Jesus warns, those who choose to continue in sin rather than sanctification.
In Galatians 5:16-25 Paul says: I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for the finished work of the cross by which I am justified, judged as righteous in Christ. Thank You for Your patience as I walk through the process of sanctification, becoming more like Jesus. Holy Spirit I choose to yield to You, not to take You where my flesh would lead us, but rather to live and walk in You, in the Spirit. I choose to practice crucifying my flesh rather than practicing lawlessness. Amen