Welcome to an eye-opening exploration of a crucial passage that uncovers a profound truth. In this enlightening article, we will delve into I Corinthians 6:9-11, which reveals who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. While Jesus sheds light on those who will receive the kingdom, the apostle Paul provides insight into those who will be excluded.
Contrary to popular belief, many individuals on this list are not destined for heaven. Some may find themselves on church membership rolls, but their names will be noticeably absent from the Book of Life. Greek scholar A. T. Robertson aptly describes this collection as “a roll call of the damned.”
Let’s take a closer look at the sins that have secured a place on Paul’s top ten list in I Corinthians 6. Are you on this list? We will examine each sin and glean some general observations from it. The ten sinful groups include sexually immoral individuals, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate individuals, homosexuals, thieves or robbers, the greedy or covetous, substance abusers, slanderers or verbal abusers, and swindlers or extortioners.
Table of Contents
Insights into Paul’s Sin List
- Categorical Sins
You’ll notice that many of these sins fall into different categories, primarily revolving around sexual or financial immorality. It’s important to understand that idolatry is a religious sin, encompassing worship of false gods or adherence to a false religion. Although these individuals may exhibit morality in other areas, their destiny leads them to the lake of fire, as indicated in Revelation 21:8. Additionally, the presence of “revilers” highlights the significance of verbal sins. Such individuals incessantly spew hateful words, insulting and ridiculing others. This behavior aligns with slander and should not be taken lightly. Jesus, even when reviled and insulted, did not retaliate (I Peter 2:23). In fact, associating with revilers contradicts the principles outlined in I Corinthians 5:11.
Moreover, Paul mentions drunkards, an allusion to substance abuse. It’s worth noting that while some argue that this includes gluttony, it overwhelmingly refers to excessive alcohol consumption. Wine, being a beverage and a drug, can be enjoyed responsibly, but its abuse, which leads to drunkenness, is regarded as a work of the flesh.
Four of the sins on this list are sexual in nature. Nearly half of them focus on sexual immorality, with two addressing heterosexual sins and the other two addressing homosexuality. It is important to acknowledge that the passage condemns not only homosexuality but also numerous heterosexual behaviors.
Furthermore, Paul mentions “effeminate” individuals, emphasizing a gender-related sin. This group comprises men who act or try to become women. While some translations use the term “effeminate,” it is crucial to recognize the cultural context and understand that it encompasses more than just homosexuality.
Lastly, three sins pertain to financial matters, including theft, greed, and swindling. While two of these sins are outright crimes, one represents a moral choice rather than an illegal act.
- Repeated Sins
Within this list, we find repeated sins. Paul employs various words to describe stealing, highlighting both robbers and extortioners or swindlers. Upholding thieves as unfit for heaven, the Greek word used for “thieves” translates to “kleptomaniac.” This term aligns with the portrayal of Judas, infamous for stealing from Jesus and the Apostles.
Additionally, Paul uses different words to address homosexuality: “effeminate” and “homosexuals.” The former encompasses a broader scope, including the passive partner in homosexual relationships.
- Non-Exhaustive List
It is essential to recognize that this list does not exhaustively outline those who will not enter heaven. Murders, for instance, are not explicitly mentioned here; they are, however, addressed in Revelation 21:8. It is worth noting that Paul’s list may differ in Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:3-7.
- Legality of Sins
Although theft, slander, and extortion are illegal, the majority of sins on this list are, in fact, legal. Greed, idolatry, and even sexual immorality find legal acceptance in today’s society. However, legality does not equate to morality. Just because something is permissible does not mean it is commendable.
- Commonness of Sins
Paul’s list remains relevant, despite being written two thousand years ago. The sins prevalent during Paul’s time continue to plague society today. This serves as a reminder that the majority does not always dictate what is right or acceptable. It is undemocratic to assume that popular behavior aligns with moral standards. Romans 12 emphasizes the need to resist conforming to societal norms.
- Acceptance of Socially Unacceptable Sins
Interestingly, many items on this list are now considered socially acceptable. Society has embraced homosexuality, even labeling it an alternative lifestyle. However, the Bible deems it a sin that excludes individuals from heaven. Hence, Paul’s statement starkly contradicts prevailing culture.
Numerous sins mentioned here are no longer regarded as wrong. Homosexuality has gained social acceptance, and same-sex marriage is legally recognized in the United States. Drunkenness is perceived as a disease or addiction, rather than a sin. However, it is crucial to note that the Bible does not view drunkenness as a sickness but as a sin. It is pertinent to question whether certain arguments, like comparing alcohol addiction to other addictions, hold weight.
The Bible does not condemn drinking per se; in fact, Jesus and Paul both consumed wine. However, excessive consumption leading to drunkenness is what Scripture cautions against. Similarly, the Bible does not condemn sex itself, as it is a gift created by God (Hebrews 13:4). Rather, it denounces the abuse of sex.
Four Profound Lessons for Today
- The Deceptive Nature of Salvation
This passage serves as a grave warning to professing Christians. It speaks directly to the Church at Corinth, admonishing them not to be deceived. Many assume they are heaven-bound when, in reality, they are destined for eternal damnation. This problem is not exclusive to the Corinthians; countless church members today face the same predicament (cf. Matthew 7:21-23).
Merely attending church services and receiving baptism cannot guarantee salvation. Living a lifestyle that contradicts godly principles while hiding behind the notion of eternal security is a self-deception. The wicked will not inherit the kingdom. Eternal security does not grant free license to live in sin; it is antinomianism.
- Transformation Upon Salvation
Following the enumeration of various sins, Paul declares, “And such were some of you.” Some of the Corinthians engaged in such sinful behaviors before their conversion. They were formerly defined by these sins, but no longer. Salvation brings about a transformative change, washing away past impurities, sanctifying believers, and justifying them through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God.
Throughout this passage, significant conjunctions—BUTs—are employed. Take, for instance, the phrase: “And such were some of you: BUT ye are washed, BUT ye are sanctified, BUT ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11 KJV). These connectives course through the Greek text, unequivocally illustrating the inseparable bond between religion and morality. James corroborates this connection, asserting that faith without works is dead. Genuine salvation leads to a transformation that manifests both internally and externally.
- The Exclusion from the Kingdom
The Bible confirms that entry into the kingdom of God is not universal. Some will enter, while others will be excluded. Some will possess the kingdom, while others will remain outside. This refutes the notion of universalism, which claims that everyone will eventually be saved.
God’s love extends to all (John 3:16), and His desire is for none to perish (I Timothy 2:3-4). Nonetheless, the Scriptures also teach that many will perish, with the majority destined for destruction (cf. Matthew 7:13-14). Hence, Paul emphasizes that not all will enter the kingdom of God.
- Salvation for the Worst Sinners
When Paul says, “And such were some of you,” he acknowledges that members of the Corinthian Church were once involved in egregious sins. Former homosexuals, adulterers, and idolaters found redemption through salvation. God’s grace extends to murderers, drug addicts, prostitutes, and alcoholics. The gospel holds transformative power, irrespective of the person’s background. This truth transcends political figures or any earthly influence. It undermines the notion of being irreversibly gay, alcoholic, or any other label associated with sinful lifestyles.
Over five centuries ago, John Calvin pointed out that even though Paul states that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God, technically, they can inherit it. Skepticism often leads people to ask whether God can save murderers, homosexuals, or prostitutes. The answer lies in genuine repentance. Every sin listed in I Corinthians 6:9 can be forgiven and has been forgiven. Jesus Himself affirms that all manner of sin and blasphemy can be pardoned (Matthew 12:31), even the most abhorrent transgressions. Notably, the sin of sodomy, which warranted the destruction of Sodom, could be forgiven upon repentance.
- Must One Be Sinless to Enter Heaven?
Paul does not assert that sinlessness is a prerequisite for salvation. Achieving sinless perfection is impossible. While forgiveness for all sins is necessary to enter heaven, living a sinless life is not feasible. Paul does not advocate for a salvation based on works. The kingdom is not merit-based; it is an inheritance received upon death. It is an unearned gift, bestowed upon those who are part of the family. Scripture identifies all believers as heirs (Ephesians 1: 14, 18; Colossians 1:12; 1 Peter 1:4; Acts 20:32; Romans 8:17; Titus 3:7).
- Can a Christian Commit Any of These Sins?
Paul does not claim that a Christian cannot commit these sins. In fact, it is possible for a true believer to fall into any of these transgressions. Many biblical examples exist, from David’s adultery to Solomon’s idolatry. Noah succumbed to drunkenness, while Samson engaged in sexual immorality. However, a Christian cannot habitually indulge in sinful lifestyles and still inherit the kingdom of God.
- Does This Indicate the Possibility of Losing Salvation?
This passage does not support the notion of losing salvation. Paul does not suggest that committing these sins results in losing one’s inheritance or being disinherited. Rather, he states that those who commit these sins will not receive an inheritance. Inheritance is exclusively reserved for family members, implying that such individuals were never genuinely saved. Losing an inheritance is not the central theme presented here.
- Can One Be Gay and a Christian?
This question has sparked extensive debate, with opposing viewpoints filling books. While some assert that one can be gay and a Christian, others argue against it. It is crucial to focus on what the Bible communicates rather than relying solely on personal opinions, societal norms, or psychological perspectives. Biblical teachings often diverge from prevailing cultural attitudes, media portrayals, and entertainment industry perspectives. As Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds us, God’s thoughts transcend our own. Consequently, what is esteemed among men may be detestable in His sight (Luke 16:15-16).
In this passage, Paul declares that homosexuals will not enter the kingdom of God. This proclamation is not personal opinion but a biblical declaration. It is important to note that Paul does not solely single out homosexuals; the passage addresses other sins as well. It is not a matter of Christians struggling with or falling into a specific sin but persevering in it, justifying it, and reinterpreting the Bible to align with personal desires. Such individuals claim that God created them this way and manipulate the Scriptures to fit their narrative.
Rejecting the Bible’s clear teachings on various topics differs from claiming to be a Christian while living in direct opposition to its principles. Such individuals revise and reinterpret the Bible to validate their behavior. However, the notion of a gay Christian remains biblically contradictory. The same applies to Christian adulterers or Christian drunkards.
In conclusion, this profound passage offers invaluable insights into who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. It serves as a sobering reminder to critically assess our lives and ensure that our actions align with God’s standards of righteousness. Salvation brings about a transformative change, demonstrating itself internally and externally. As believers, we must adhere to the teachings of Scripture, rejecting societal norms that contradict God’s Word. Ultimately, God’s grace encompasses even the gravest of sins, offering redemption to all who genuinely repent.