Paul has pointed out that their immaturity has reared its ugly head in several forms: Quarrels. Division. Jealousy. Immorality. Pride. Now he addresses another issue that has come about by their immaturity and carnality: lawsuits between Christians.
The United States of America is infamous for its lawsuits. There is a lawsuit filed in this country every 15 seconds. And unfortunately, many of those are Christians suing other Christians. This is a terrible thing when it happens. There's the Christians out there fighting for the whole world to see. But Jesus said,
John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Do you realize that when you have a public dispute with another Christian, you bring the name of Christ down to the mud?
2Sam. 12:14 ...by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme...
It's already a defeat for you! You might win in court, but Jesus loses! You might have witnesses to prove your case, but your witness to the world has just gone out the window!
Why not rather be wronged? What rights do you have that you're willing to fight for at the expense of the name of Jesus? Oh, you might win the settlement. You might get that $500 that you were owed. You might prove that your side was the right side. But at what expense? The name of God being blasphemed because of you sticking up for yourself and getting what's yours. Dear saints, this should not be! Jesus said,
Luke 6:27-30 "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
Is it really worth getting the money back? Is it really worth it to get what's yours? Are your rights more important than your witness? Why not rather be wronged?
6:9-11 The Unrighteous
Paul tells us that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. And just so we don't misunderstand who "unrighteous" are, he gives us a list.
The word here is "POR-nos," which should sound familiar. It means any sexual activity outside of marriage. In this age, people "test drive" each other, just like they were buying a car. God forbid! Others say, "Well, we have this agreement with God. We held hands under the moonlight, and so we're really married in our hearts." Nonsense! Teenage boys telling girls, "If you love me, then you'll do this." Garbage! Sex outside of marriage, no matter how old you are, no matter your circumstances, no matter your excuses, is fornication, it is unrighteousness. Fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God.
An idol is anything that is put in place above God in your life. It can be your car or your career. It can be the television or the telephone. It can be drugs or it can be someone you're dating. Whatever you've elevated above God in your life is an idol. Oh, it might not be a carved wooden image, but you're exalting and worshipping it nonetheless. Consider today, "What do I put above God in my life? When I know I should be in the Word, what am I doing instead? When I know I should be in prayer, what am I pursuing in its place?"That's your idol. And idolaters will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Adultery is any sexual activity when one or both people involved is married to another. This was actually a capital crime in the Jewish law:
Lev. 20:10 If there is a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with his friend's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
This word means for a man to be as a woman in dress or behavior. God's law in Deuteronomy states,
Deut. 22:5 "A woman shall not wear man's clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman's clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.
For a man to dress like a woman or to behave like a woman is unrighteousness. The effeminate will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Homosexuality is any sexual activity with someone of the same sex. The book of Leviticus declares,
Lev. 20:13 'If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them.
People today are trying to convince you that homosexuality is not a sin. That it is merely an "alternative lifestyle." But God's opinion doesn't change with society's opinion. And He declares it to be an abomination. Homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God.
This word in the Greek is "kleptes," where we get our word "kleptomania." It is to take what is not yours. Stealing. Notice that there's no dollar amount put on that. We read of business executives siphoning off thousands of dollars from their companies and think, "Of course THAT'S a sin!" But that box of staples that you took from work a few weeks ago it's the same thing. You can try to justify it all you want, "They have hundreds of boxes of staples! I didn't have time to run to the store! They're a big company, and they owe me something, 'cause they pay me so little." Sorry. Thieves will not inherit the kingdom of God.
One of the Ten Commandments states,
Exod. 20:17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
And the book of Ephesians says,
Eph. 5:5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
To be covetous is to be eager to have more. Desiring what belongs to others. Greedy of gain. Are you content with what you have? Are you satisfied with your lot in life? Are you wanting bigger, faster, better, more? Ephesians says that covetousness is idolatry. And the covetous will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Lord said in Isaiah,
Isa. 5:11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink; Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!
Luke 21:34 "Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap;
And Paul the Apostle told the Ephesians,
Eph. 5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
Drunkenness is a sin, and drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God.
To revile is to be verbally abusive. Revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The word swindlers here actually means, "one who lives on prey." Like a wolf who devours sheep, or a con man who preys on the elderly. Preying on people's weaknesses, on their trust. Swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If you weren't horrified to see yourself in at least one or two of those categories, you'd better go back and read them again with a right heart. Anyone who reads that list with an honest heart will see themselves in there somewhere. But then Paul makes the wonderful statement,
1Cor. 6:11 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 Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
You see, before we were saved by the blood of Jesus, we were unrighteous. We were enemies of God, we were on our way to hell. Isaiah wrote
Isa. 64:6 For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
In other words,
Rom. 3:23 ...All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Every single one of us was unrighteous, and had no hope of inheriting the kingdom of God. But then we were born again we accepted by faith the fact that Jesus took the punishment for those sins. And look at what Paul says has happened to us. We were washed, we were sanctified, we were justified. Picture Moses trying to remind the Israelites of what God had done for them: "God brought you to this promised land! He led you through the desert all that time! He saved you from that slavery in Egypt!" That is what Paul is doing. He lists these three things in reverse order of their work, building a crescendo. So let's go back and look at them in the order they happen:
Justified. It means, "just as if I'd" never sinned. The penalty has been paid, the guilt is totally removed! In God's eyes, it is just as if I'd never sinned!
Rom. 3:24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
Rom. 5:1 Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
As soon as you have faith in Jesus Christ, you are justified. The very second you come to the conclusion, "Jesus died to forgive my sins," you are justified. All of your sins past, present, and future are paid for. You cannot be eternally punished for them. It is just as if I'd never sinned at all.
Once that guilt has been removed, we begin the process of sanctification. To be sanctified means to be set apart, to be separated. We are set apart to God. We are separated from evil things of the world. We are removed from the wicked ways of our flesh.
1Ths. 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification...
1Ths. 4:7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.
2Tim. 2:21 Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
Vine's Expository Dictionary states, "it cannot be transferred or imputed, it is an individual possession, built up, little by little, as the result of obedience to the Word of God, and of following the example of Christ."
The word used here means "you washed yourselves clean." You see, once we've been justified (made just as if I'd never sinned), and in the process of being sanctified (being set apart for God and being separated from evil), we are then washed. It's just like taking a bath. All the guck and grime is being scrubbed away. The stench of sin that permeated us goes down the drain.
Once we've become clean then, why do we want to go roll in the mud again? And yet we do! Why do we go back to our old sins? The Corinthians were doing this. Are you?
Because we've been justified, because we've had the guilt of all our sins taken away, we can do anything and still be saved. All things are lawful for me. But not all things will help me. They won't profit me. They won't benefit me. There are many things that, though lawful, will surely kill me, or devastate my life beyond repair. Even though all things are lawful for me,
Rom. 6:1-4 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
You see, all things might be lawful, but sin is still sin. And Jesus said,
John 8:34 ..."Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin."
The book of Romans says,
Rom. 6:15-16 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
All things might be lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. As a Christian this morning, have you been mastered by sin? Do you have an addiction that has taken control of you? Tobacco? Alcohol? Pornography? Television? Food? Lying? Violence? "I will not be mastered by anything."
How can you escape? How can you be delivered from this master? By making Jesus Christ your true master. For Jesus said,
Matt. 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other.
We have all heard the question, "Jesus may be your Savior, but is He your Lord?" As a Christian today, if you have been mastered by something, you need to turn the Lordship of your life over to Him. Galatians 5 says,
Gal. 5:16 ...Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
When you allow Jesus to truly become the Lord of your life, you will not have any other master.
Glorify God in your body. As a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you. You take Him along for the ride every time you feed your addiction, every time you decide to fall into sin again.
I am no longer my own I have been bought with a price. The price was the blood of Jesus. He bought me. The book of Acts calls us,
Acts 20:28 ...the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
And in Revelation 5 it is sung,
Rev. 5:9 ...Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.
If Jesus Christ has purchased you with His blood, and today you find yourself torn between two masters, it's time to make a decision. A decision either for death or for deliverance. A decision either for sanctification or rebellion.