What we were!
The way we were or what we were ... ?
I am not really sure if this should be the title of this post today or not. On Sunday, I woke up and read my devotional on the Bible app, which is about the Holy Spirit. One of the passages overwhelmed me, 1 Corinthians 6:9 - 11.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NIV) (emphasis added)
9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. 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 6:8-11 (NJKV) (emphasis added)
9 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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 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 and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NASB) (emphasis added)
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.
As believers, doing wrong or continuing to do wrong is not our goal, or it certainly shouldn’t be. What struck me first about this passage was how Paul listed out the wrongdoings. Now, according to the NIV, one would think that the sexually immoral would encompass adulterers and men who have sex with men. It seems here that the God didn’t want to leave anything to chance or to conjecture or to over generalization.
But what really grabbed me the most was this statement in verse 11, “And that is what some of you were. ...” Some of us were sexually immoral. Some of us were fornicators. Some of us were adulterers. Some of us were homosexuals. Some of us were idolaters. Some of us were thieves. Some of us were greedy or covetous. Some of us were drunkards. Some of us were slanderers. Some of us were revilers. Some of us were swindlers or extortionists. Before Christ, it is without question that we all were sinners. We were sinful. This is what we were, as hard as it is to admit it. We were all wrongdoers (Romans 3:23).
Thankfully, verse 11 didn’t stop there, “...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.” As believers, we have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. Now, behind that, let everybody Praise the LORD! I know that God loves us for real because He sent Jesus to save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and to forgive us of our sins (Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:9).
Just think about if one of those sins mentioned earlier were done against you or against someone you are close to. How would you feel if someone cheated on you or violated you or stole from you or tricked you or used you? Without God or in our flesh today, I suggest that we would not personally surrender our very lives to redeem people who had been so vile towards us, others, or themselves.
Whew ... Thank you, God, for being God! God loves people (John 3:16). Jesus loves us (John 15:13). The Lord Jesus Christ's blood had to be shed (which He did willingly and obediently) to bring about our cleansing from our sins, our being made holy (the opposite of sinful), and our being declared not guilty from sins we definitely and repeatedly committed. And God doesn’t do anything halfway. Our cleansing, sanctification, and justification are secured by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, who indwells us as believers. Again, let all the saints say, "Praise the LORD!"
One might ask why did this overwhelm me. Well, honestly, I have been guilty subconsciously of counting people out or perhaps thinking that they were a lost cause based on their sinful or wretched lifestyles; borderline condemning. So hard to say that out loud. And I know better because “with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).”
Lord, please forgive me, in Jesus’ Name, amen.
When one has been saved for a while, it is easy to forget that we were once wretches (Amazing Grace ... that saved a wretch like me ...) and sometimes still act like wretches. And then there are some sinful lifestyles that seem stronger than most and even unfathomable or hard to comprehend, especially if it is not what we would ever do or think of doing. Shame on me.
While it may be true that we are subject to still committing such sinful acts, they
no longer define us or have control over us because greater is He that is in us
than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4). We have power through Christ and the
Holy Spirit to overcome.
So, what overwhelmed me was the keen awareness of the hope that we have despite the depraved or evil realities of this world we live in, which is filled with every sin mentioned in the passage plus some. There still remains hope for those who are lost, no matter how vile or reprehensible their sinful lifestyle might be. There is hope. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this hope.
As believers, we are the bearers of this good news. It’s imperative that we move past being repulsed or repelled by sinful behaviors or having the mindset of ‘how could they’ or ‘why would they’ or ‘shame on them’ so that we can fulfill our mission of making disciples and being His witnesses as we follow Christ, who Himself came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). May we never forget, that once upon a time we were lost.