One of the scariest verses in all of Scripture is one that I have heard some of my brothers and sisters in Christ throwing around quite a bit recently.
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, greedy people, or drunkards or are abusive or who cheat people– none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.” (I Cor. 6:9)
That’s some scary stuff right there. And not just for those who struggle with homosexuality– like the way many Christians like to think. That means that NO ONE who struggles sexually (ok, really, who doesn’t struggle? Married or not, teenager or single? Seriously, sexuality in and of itself can be a real struggle!). No one who is GREEDY…who doesn’t struggle with greed? We can decide never again to touch alcohol and perhaps avoid an addiction like that but idolatry is a lot more difficult to evade! This list used to scare so many is actually quite all inclusive, and it makes me tremble!
But so many who throw this verse around against those struggling with any one or various numbers of these sins listed above quite frequently forget to add the following verse…
“And such were some of you. BUT, you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
Washed means that all that dirt has been removed.
Sanctified is a fancy way to say set apart…you’re not like that anymore. You’ve been set apart by God from the rest of the world with your brothers and sisters in Christ and you are set apart for a Holy and high calling.
Justified. My favorite explanation of the word justified is “Just As If I Never Sinned.” Once we have been justified by Jesus, we have traded in our sinful selves to be cloaked in His perfection before God. Just as if we had never sinned in the eyes of our heavenly father. What incredible peace.
Paul goes on to remind those he was writing to that they USED TO BE steeped in sexual sins of all kinds. They used to struggle with addictions. And being washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus did not mean that instantly all of those challenges went away! It meant that they were now a new creation, with a new purpose, and a new IDENTITY, and so they should not be judgmental of those still struggling inside/outside the church, but empathetic and remembering from where they have come in their walk with Christ.
I’ve been a happily married woman for nearly 22 years now. But I still remember what it was like to be young and single, to struggle with desires and the challenges of youth. I can still feel that overwhelming excitement of prom and the butterflies of who to sit with at the lunch table. I can remember the times my gossiping mouth got me into trouble and I struggled with my identity. Paul wants us to see each person the same way. Remember where we came from and be able to honestly evaluate and continue to work through our remaining struggles. With empathy and understanding reach out to those around us as they come to know their new identity in Christ. Don’t throw stones at those just coming to know the freedom that Jesus bought them on the cross– reach out to love on them as they walk away from their past and become who Christ died for them to be.
Let’s all remember…such were some of us.
Photo by: JeanCarlo Ramirez (IndieHouseFilms)