I have confessed before that I sometimes use a random Bible verse generator to be sure that I work with verses from all over Scripture. Today, by what might be regarded as a providential controlling of the software, a la Pro 16.33, considering the SCOTUS ruling last Friday, the first verse to appear from the click was 1 Cor 6.9. So let’s get the whole thought by adding verses 10 and 11 as well.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6.9-11 NET
Here are a few notes on this text.
Context: Paul’s condemnation of Christian going to court against Christian. He apparently takes such actions as manifestations of unrighteousness which will cause litigants to miss heaven. Unrighteous is a general term and here refers to people who do unrighteousness. Unrighteous conduct makes one unrighteous. That applies to Christians, too.
There are things that one does that will cause one to miss or lose the kingdom of God. The kingdom here most certainly represents eternal, celestial life, “that realm into which the Christian dead enter after their resurrection” (IOVC). The phrase “will not inherit the kingdom of God” frames the list of ten sins, which reinforces his point.
Perhaps Paul’s focus, considering the context, are the thieves and the greedy (sins nos. 6 and 7). Resorting to the courts appears to be a manifestation of trying to take something from others. The greedy are those “who are dissatisfied with God’s goodness to them” (NBC21). If so, the mirrored sins (4 and 5) are the two references to homosexuals, who in their own way are also dissatisfied with God’s goodness.
The washing is a reference to baptism, indicating at what time the sanctification and justification occurred. It also indicates at what point the Corinthians should have put away these sins. See Rom 6. “Together these three terms express the fullness of the transformation that has taken place in the lives of believers” (NCBC).
Three beautiful truths stand out for me:
- “This good news of the gospel means that past sinful activity need not determine the ultimate destiny of men and women” (NBC21). Nothing in our past can keep us out of heaven.
- We can be sure that certain types of conduct will keep us out of heaven, and we can avoid them. We need not live in constant uncertainty.
- The transformation comes about through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the action of the Holy Spirit, v. 11. Its beginning, continuation, and completion are a work of God as man submits himself to his will.