Sin? What sin?
I Corinthians 6.8 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.
Sin "gets better"
The modern church seems to be struggling with it’s relevance to society more than it’s faithfulness to it’s Head, Jesus Christ. Some mainline churches have these creepy old graybeards with vestments and backward collars declaring what Paul said here is natural and not sin. On the other side, the evangelical movement often either de-emphasizes sin or sees it as an obstacle to achieving “Your Best Life Now”. (Narcissistic spiritual pragmatism). But sin does matter and Paul is concerned about it’s effect within this very modern church at Corinth and how it affects their witness.
His first point is that sin has soured their relationships. Sin is first selfish and causes us to take advantage of others. Their behavior shows a clear pattern of unrepentant sin and he makes it clear that “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” He actually calls into question their very salvation. He asks that question again in his second letter when he says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” (I Cor 13.5). From experience I know that unrepentant sin destroys my sense of
security in Jesus as my savior. He explains why in Romans 6 when he says, ” How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” It is Satanic deception to practice the things on this list and think we are in the kingdom of God. And now the list: I’m calling my interpretation of it “Bad News for Modern Man.” :
neither fornicators,-People who worship their own sensual desires. We are encouraged today to obey our feelings.
nor idolaters,-People who worship things or other people. For us this includes materialism, Love of money, worshiping people in the entertainment world, politics,and sports.
nor adulterers, People who tear other’s mates from them.
nor effeminate,-Those obsessed with female sexuality-both men and women nor homosexuals,-Those obsessed with male sexuality-both men and women. We are constantly being told all sex is good as long as there is mutual consent and protection. Very little consideration is given to the spiritual and emotional effects of loose sex.
nor thieves, Those obsessed with getting other people’s things or money
nor the covetous, Those who secretly even want other people’s things or money
nor drunkards, Those who abandon self-control to liquor and drugs
nor revilers, Blasphemous people with foul mouths
nor swindlers,Those who get their kicks from deceiving others
will inherit the kingdom of God.
So we can see here that unrepentant sin has consequences. It harms us and our relationships-especially within the church. It raises valid questions which must be answered; It raises questions from outsiders about God’s existence, His nature, and what kind of children He has. And it should raise questions from fellow believers and even within us as to whether we are even in the faith.
How NOT to deal with sin in the church
God allows us to continue to struggle with sin after regeneration. This keeps us dependent on Christ as our righteousness and not deceiving ourselves. I think religion is the universal understanding of the reality of sin, God’s law and how to deal with it. In our post-modern society it is convenient to use the concept of Karma for this purpose. In the modern church it is dealt with in two ways. Condemnation and Bastardization. In the more traditional and conservative churches the therapy goes something like, “You need to try harder.” “You keep that up and you’ll lose your salvation.” “You don’t have to
sin anymore.” This is condemnation. In some mainline and evangelical churches the assumption has become sin doesn’t matter (because Jesus took care of it at the cross.) This I would call bastardization. I get this from my background reading the King James Bible: Hebrews 12.5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him. 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
What is a bastard? in a practical sense It is a child who has been abandoned by his father to raise himself-no correction, no provision, no love. Is this really the kind of god we want? A rich old geezer hardly aware of what his kids are doing; A drunken sailor who goes around having kids and then iresponsibably leaving them to fester; A sugar-daddy who blows into town occasionaly and buys off their love? I can see all three views in society today and in the modern church that has been influenced by it. No, our God cares about us enough to stay activly involved in our lives at many levels:
Hebrews 12:6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
God is in the process of making us just like Him. That’s why we continue to struggle with sin and it’s consequences. It is extremely useful in keeping us dependant and connected with Him and His true means of dealing with it, His perfect sacrifice of His Son.
Dealing With Sin Properly
Honest people recognize the reality of sin. Even the most righteous person is
acutely aware of his sin-nature and the guilt that comes from it. So then, how
does Paul deal with sin?
I Corinthians 6.11 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.
He doesn’t deny sin but he puts these sinful identities in the past-(“such WERE some of you”). We should be very careful about classifying other people or
ourselves. The world tells people if they have certain perverse temptations or thoughts (such as homosexual or alchoholic) that they are to accept them and make them their identity. If we are willing to agree with God that they are sin and put them in our past it is the first step in breaking the bondage. He then reminds them of their new identity based on the three things which
make us children of God.
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.
1. You were washed: Paul is talking about baptism which signifies new birth.
Baptism is the natural or spiritual means of getting from one world to the next. Every person goes through at least two natural baptisms in life. The first is physical birth. The last is death. Jesus talks about a third, spiritual baptism in John 3 when He says you must be born of water (coming from that watery world of the womb) and of the Spirit. Baptism involves 3 stages:
1. Death-running out of options to continue in the world we are in. 2. The painful process of leaving a world we were once comfortable with. 3.Resurection-New life in a new world.
At first, a baby in it’s mother’s womb is quite comfortable. It is warm and
comfortable in there. He has food water and air. All needs are completely
provided for. All the harshness of the next world are toned-down. Even
gravity is less. In a few months things start to get uncomfortable. One day the bottom drops out. Suddenly this perfect world becomes a death chamber. The pressure is too great. She must get out of there soon. He is horribly squeezed from that once-comfortable world into a new one where there is plenty of room to grow and develop.
My father died from a bad kind of cancer. I sat with him in his last few hours.
Though he was in a coma the patterns of his breathing and writhing reminded
me of the contractions my wife went through when she was giving birth to our
children. It occured to me he was in that same process of dying to this world
but passing into a better one. For all of us, some day we will realize that our
old bodies and our old life were really ment to be a womb to prepare us for
It’s the same with the Spiritual new-birth. A person is comfortable in this
present evil cosmos but eventually he realizes he has run out of options for
meaning or life in it. Death must come in order for Spiritual life to begin:
John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him
who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has
passed out of death into life.”
“You were justified”:
Baptism affects in at two levels. At the spiritual level, before the creation God decides we will be one of His children. Then at some point He “kills” us, bringing us to an end of ourselves as we realize we are a mess and can never measure up to what we should be. It starts to dawn on us we are truly sinful, hopelessly lost, and unable to do anything about it. When there is nothing left but a dead body He re-animates it by baptizing, flooding, immersing it with His Spirit. This spiritual, eternal reality is symbolized by the baptisms that are done in the church. The bible teaches that at this point the Spirit is a down payment on full redemption of all of our being as our body and old nature can still wreak havoc with what we want at the spiritual level. Paul reminds us here that we stand fully justified before God. Knowing we are justified we can now relate to God as our loving father. We can’t let sin stand between us. But how do we deal with a sinful body living in a sinful world?
“You were sanctified”
At a sanctification level a similar thing happens repeatedly throughout our
lives. The believer realizes he belongs to God and wants to obey His law. He
sees Jesus’ example and longs to be like Him. The Spirit in me even concurs with all this. My next step is to fall, to not do the very thing I want because of my unredeemed nature. I might even rebel or blame God or get angry at Him at this point. I feel the condemnation of everything that is right and I might even say, “what’s the use” and give up. When I finally become repentant like a little child I am finally “killed”. This is crucifixion. I am now ready for resurection and can come to God with a broken heart empty, and realize my life is in the risen Christ.. I can let His Spirit in me take over and reach out to my loving Father once again. This is re-animation. This is why a pastor should continually be reminding people of their baptism. It truly was a one-time thing but it has to continually be re-played in our minds because our old sinful nature somehow wants to take over. That’s why Paul uses baptism here; to remind us we are no longer part of that old world and identity.