Calvary Road Baptist Church

“AND SUCH WERE SOME OF YOU”

First Corinthians 6.9-11

 

Let us begin this morning by quickly overviewing Paul’s first Corinthian letter. If you are willing to stipulate with me that First Corinthians, being an inspired letter, has both an introduction and a conclusion that brackets the main body of the letter, then the main body of First Corinthians neatly falls into three extremely well-defined divisions.

The first main division of Paul’s letter deals with matters of concern that had been reported to him across the Aegean Sea separating the port city of Corinth on Greece’s Achaean Peninsula from the sea port of Ephesus located in Asia, or what is now known as Turkey. Notice what we find in First Corinthians 1.11: “For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.” Paul first acknowledges that he had received a bad report from a family, and then he proceeds to address those matters throughout the first part of the letter to First Corinthians 4.21.

The second main division, and the shortest, covers chapters five and six, beginning with these words: “It is reported commonly. . . .” First main division dealt with things reported by a family. Second main division dealt with things commonly reported, the gossip mill. Sin was tolerated to such a degree in the Corinthian congregation that the cause of Christ was scandalized, and the rumors of wrongdoing had reached all the way to Ephesus. That would be comparable to problems in our church being rumored down in San Diego.

The final main division, and the longest, begins with First Corinthians 7.1 with the words, “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me.” It contains Paul’s counsel regarding a number questions the Corinthians wanted the Apostle Paul to clear up, from matters related to sexual conduct and the proper way to observe the Lord’s Supper, all the way to the doctrine of the resurrection and the collection of the offering Paul was gathering to relieve suffering believers back in Judea.

The issue that we are going to address this morning might at first seem to be a fine point in discussions about sin and salvation. However, it is a matter of such importance that it can literally make the difference between heaven and Hell. The question is whether Jesus saves sinners in their sins or from their sins. Keeping in mind what the angel very specifically told Joseph when he disclosed to him that Mary was a virgin who was chosen by God to bring the Christ child into the world, I read to you Matthew 1.21: “she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

If you point your finger to Matthew 1.21 and ask someone if Jesus saves sinners in their sins or if Jesus saves sinners from their sins, he will readily admit that the angel declared Jesus would save His people from their sins. However, what divides real Christianity from Christendom, what divides real Christianity from merely professing Christianity, and what divides real Christianity from just about all of evangelicalism and, sadly, most of fundamentalism is consistency concerning this matter.

Turn to Second Corinthians 5.17, which reads, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This verse would seem to be compatible with the salvation Jesus provides being a deliverance from sins instead of some sort of deliverance while the sinner remains in his sins. That said, I know people who have committed adultery dozens of times, others who have abused drugs hundreds of times, and still others who have gotten drunk more times than they can remember, all the while insisting that this verse describing Christians applies to them.

Do you see the problem we are faced with? The question is whether words actually have meaning. Save sinners from their sins means from their sins. A man who is in Christ is either a new creature, with old things passed away, and all things are become new, or words do not really have meaning. Do words have meaning? Does the Bible mean what it says and say what it means, or not? If words do not have meaning, then the Word of God is without meaning, and Jesus (Who is the Word, after all) is also without meaning. Since we are agreed that words do have meaning, and that being saved from sins is not the same as being saved in sins, and being a new creature in Christ means you are not an old creature in your conduct or your behavior, it is safe for us to begin to make our way to this morning’s text, which is found in the middle main portion of First Corinthians, in chapters five and six.

First Corinthians chapter five is where we learn that the Corinthian church members were entirely too tolerant in their treatment of sin, going so far as to allow in their midst a sin so awful that even the wicked Gentiles who lived in Corinth were shocked by it. Their problem, of course, they were church members who were entirely too casual about really important things. Then, in the first half of chapter six, we find them doing the opposite of tolerating sin within the church. They actually aired out their personal grievances in front of lost people outside the church, with church members taking other church members to court. Being too casual about important things in chapter five, chapter six shows they were far too serious about relatively unimportant things. Things they should have dealt with they let go, and things they should have let slide they went to court about. So you see, these people were all mixed up and upside down about the will of God for their lives. A careful study of First Corinthians reveals that their problems were the direct result of the combination of profound ignorance and just being unspiritual. Is that not the problem so oftentimes faced today? A person who does not actually study the Bible so as to solve the problem of his ignorance, and does not actually serve God so as to solve the problem of being unspiritual, still has strong opinions that are very difficult to dispel, despite the fact that his opinions are misguided and uninformed. I trust you are not that way, but are teachable.

Let us now get very specific by turning to our text, which you will find on the back of your bulletin, which is First Corinthians 6.9-11. When you find that passage, stand along with me for the reading of God’s Word:

 

9      Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10     Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

11     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.

 

This passage has several profound implications. To discover those implications, take note with me of two things, the parallelism of verses 9 and 10, and the pronouncement of verse 11:

 

First, THERE IS THE PARALLELISM OF VERSES 9 AND 10

 

9      Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10     Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Parallelism is a common feature in the Hebrew scriptures, where a statement is made in one way and then immediately restated in a slightly different way to expand or elaborate on the truth that is communicated. Therefore, it is no surprise that the Apostle Paul, being both a Jewish Christian and a scholar of the Hebrew scriptures, would be prompted by the Holy Spirit to make use of parallelism. Please look at the back of the bulletin so I can explain three features of the parallelism found in verses 9 and 10.

The first portion of the parallel phrases can be found at the beginnings of the two statements found in verses 9 and 10. Notice how verse 9 begins: “Know ye not.” Now locate the beginning of the very next sentence, which can be found in the middle of verse 9: “Be not deceived.” In both phrases Paul is alarmed about the ignorance of the Christians he writes to, with the first statement highlighting the fact of their ignorance, while the second statement reveals the reason for their ignorance. They had been deceived in some way.

 

9      Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

 

Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10     Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 

The middle portion of the parallel phrases follows what we have just looked at.

 

9      Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

 

Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10     Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Paul labels as “the unrighteous” a category of people who are also described in the parallel statement as fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners. It is very clear to Bible students that those who are unrighteous are those who have not come to Jesus, who do not enjoy the benefits of the imputed righteousness of Christ that comes by faith. In short, “the unrighteous” are those who are unsaved. What we have in the parallel statement is a list of those who are unrighteous, though it is not an exhaustive list. It is, however, a list of those who would without argument be recognized as not having experienced the transforming power of conversion, since they continue to practice their scandalous wickedness.

As a brief aside, let me elaborate on this list of individuals. Please keep in mind that this is not a list of sins people commit, but a list of sinners the Apostle Paul has labeled by that sin they characteristically commit.

Fornicators. This is someone who engages in sex outside the bounds of marriage.[1] You see, sexual activity is ordained of God to take place between husband and wife only, within the limits of marriage. Any sexual activity outside of the boundaries of marriage is fornication.

Idolaters. The Greek word for idol simply means “likeness.” When you pay homage to, or worship or bow down to, a likeness you are engaged in idolatry.[2] Is not Roman Catholicism an idolatrous religion? Of course it is. Are people I dearly love who say they are Christians but who steadfastly remain loyal to the Catholic Church really saved? Ask Paul. And how about people who worship and pay homage to money? Ask Paul.

Adulterers.[3] This is the same act as fornication describes, with one exception. Whereas fornication might be sex outside of marriage, adultery is sinful sex with someone you are not married to, though you are married. It is a violation of the marriage covenant, which makes it even more serious a sin than fornication, since it is a direct assault on the home, on the institution of marriage, and on society as a whole.

Effeminate. This comes from a Greek word meaning “soft.” It refers both to men who are not masculine in their behavior and to both men and boys who allow themselves to be sodomized.[4] What company is kept by men and boys who do not act in a particularly masculine way? Boys and men who affect feminine behavior are described with the same word as those who are used by sodomites to gratify themselves. Folks, don’t you let your boys grow up prissy. When a man gets saved, the Holy Spirit begins to work in him to act like what he is . . . a man.

Abusers of themselves with mankind. This phrase translates a single Greek word that describes a man who practices sodomy. This is the New Testament word for homosexual behavior.[5] So don’t tell me that sexual perversion is condoned by God.

Thieves. These are people who steal.[6] A shoplifter is a thief, but so is an income tax cheater, and so is the time thief who doesn’t give eight hours work for eight hours pay. By the way, when the offering basket was passed around, were you a thief? I speak directly because sharp rebukes make strong Christians, Titus 1.13.

Covetous. This is an adjective that describes a person who is greedy to have more. This is basically one who lusts for possessions, one who is materialistic.[7] Colossians 3.1 is where the apostle Paul identifies covetousness as a form of idolatry.

Drunkards.[8] We all know what a drunkard is. If you don’t know why drunkenness is soundly condemned by God, and why getting drunk completely destroys the Christian’s testimony, let’s go for a drive some Saturday night and park where we can watch guys coming out of bars late at night. A more tragic and potentially dangerous spectacle you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere are drunks making their way to their cars to drive home when the bar closes down.

Revilers. A reviler is verbally abusive to people. This is the guy or gal who reads people the riot act when he gets angry or when she gets mad.[9] Proverbs 25.24, 26.21 and 27.15 give examples of this kind of behavior.

Extortioners. This word refers to taking or seizing, by force, something that is not rightly yours.[10] Plundering soldiers are extortioners, as are playground bullies who take lunch money away from younger children. Then again, so is a boss who unmercifully works an employee without proper compensation, under the threat of firing should he or she protest.

Can any of this be construed as Christian behavior? Would the Apostle Paul refer to a believer as unrighteous? If you argue that the railer is a Christian, or the drunkard, or the adulterer, then so is the homosexual and the car thief. If words have meaning, then it must be admitted that Paul’s list refers to behavior characteristic of those who are not saved. The great tragedy, of course, was that his readers, both then and now, were ignorant by reason of some kind of deception, thinking that such a person could possibly be a Christian.

Notice that the last phrases of each part of the parallelism is identical, once and for all putting to rest any denials about these two verses containing perfect examples of parallelism.

 

9      Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

 

Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10     Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 

Both sections end with the words “inherit the kingdom of God.” Thus, Paul is clearly stating two things in slightly different ways, with the first part of the parallel containing a concise statement, and the final part of the parallel containing a somewhat more detailed statement, but both statements describing who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Thus, it must be admitted by those who are both honest and who believe that words have meaning that “the unrighteous” are unsaved, as are those labeled fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners are unsaved. Their eternal destiny is not heaven, is not the kingdom of God, but eternal torment.

 

Next, THERE IS THE PRONOUNCEMENT OF VERSE 11

 

Paul writes, “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.”

 

There are two parts to Paul’s pronouncement:

First, there is that part having to do with their past: “And such were some of you.” I get so weary of Christ-rejecting people accusing Christians of thinking we are better than other people. Does this sound like Christians think we are better? Is not Paul asserting that the Corinthian Christians had been among the most wicked of men? Of course, he is. The very fact that someone claims to be a believer in Jesus Christ, the Savior of sinful men’s souls, is an admission of sinfulness. You cannot become a Christian without first admitting your sinfulness. First John 1.9 begins, “If we confess our sins. . . .” It should also be stated that not only have Christians admitted that they were sinful, but we own up to the fact that we are sinful. First John 1.8: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Let us not, however, confuse the Christian’s past with what must be the genuine Christian’s present.

 

“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.”

 

While admitting that verses 9 and 10 are accurate descriptions of a Christian’s past, Paul vehemently denies the same with respect to the Christian’s present. Deny this, my friend, and you are denying that Christ makes a difference. Paul not only contrasts the believer’s past with his present, as well as differentiating between the condemned conduct of the lost and the consecrated lifestyle of the saved, but explains why it must be so. Christians, you see, are washed. Christians are sanctified. Christians are justified. Washed refers to the cleansing in Christ’s precious blood to wash away our sins. Sanctified has to do with being set aside, being consecrated. Justified has to do with a man’s faith being counted for righteousness, as had happened in the case of Abraham in Genesis 15.6. The death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus on our behalf is the basis for so glorious a salvation from sins as is ours in Christ, and the Spirit of our God is the divine Executor of the transaction that brings a sinner from death to life, from defiled to cleansed, and from estrangement to reconciliation.

 

I close by relating to you the testimony of a hero of mine, not for the purpose of proving anything taught in God’s Word, but for the purpose of illustrating what the Apostle Paul teaches in our text.

He started adulthood as a wildly promiscuous young man who had fled the difficult life on his father’s sharecropping farm. He made his way for several years by living the life of a hobo and riding the rails back and forth across the country. He was a quiet and extraordinarily handsome man of about five feet ten inches in height, having light brown straight hair and blue eyes. Being a farm boy, he was both powerfully built by a lifetime of hard labor and very strong.

After riding the rails a while he settled in Los Angeles, where he enlisted in the Army, and was shipped to the Philippine Islands sometime in 1941. Then the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Philippine Islands took place and our country was plunged into war.

He was with the holdouts at Corregidor, waiting for the rescue that never came, was eventually captured and placed into a brutal Japanese prison camp, and ultimately shipped near the end of the war to a prison camp on the Japanese main island. When he was liberated, that powerful farm boy who had weighed 180-190 pounds had wasted to 85 pounds.

The cruelties he had endured, some of them unspeakable in mixed company, resulted in him falling ever more deeply into the pit of drunkenness and flagrant adulteries, which the Bible tells us almost invariably travel together. He even rejoined and fought in Korea in the Marine Corps, and was almost captured again at the Chosin reservoir, but the downward spiral of drinking and cheating continued.

His drunkenness continued for twenty years, accompanied by the ever-present adulteries. Then, one day, his mother’s prayers for his soul were answered, and the gospel messages he had heard as a child, gripped him. He turned to Christ and was dramatically saved from his sins.

He never became a perfect man, but he did become a different man. What the Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians was very much true of my hero, “and such were some of you.” What happened? He was washed, he was sanctified, he was justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

It happened when he truly and genuinely obeyed the gospel and turned to Jesus. He could never have turned to Jesus without turning away from his wicked lifestyle, because you cannot have them both at the same time. He is in heaven right now, and I look forward to seeing him there someday. Please pray your love ones will follow my hero’s lead and turn to Jesus, so loved ones would be included in that group about which Paul wrote, “and such were some of you.”

Would you like for your biography to be like my hero? It will be if what happened to him ever happens to you, and you truly come to Jesus. Then you, too, will be included in that blessed group about whom it was written, “and such were some of you.”



[1] Bauer, Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), page 855.

[2] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 402.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Bauer, page 547.

[7] Rienecker, page 402.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org